A group of Cape Coral residents asked elected officials to reconsider an ordinance that prohibits the parking of RVs and commercial vehicles in residential areas.
Citizens on both sides of the issue argued their case Monday during public comment at the regular Cape Coral City Council meeting. The issue was not on the agenda, only brought up by residents during the public input portion.
Southwest Cape resident Paul Barnes spoke out against the ordinance.
"I feel like you are discriminating against the working class," he said.
Barnes stated that he has to pack up his commercial truck every day in order to be in compliance, while his neighbor can have a potbelly pig running around in the front yard, and vehicles "wrapped" in Realtor signs are OK.
He called for code compliance to focus on blight in the Cape, including foreclosed homes, blue tarps on roofs and overgrown lawns. Barnes asked that the council change the rule, adding that the city would not change.
"The Cape will still look the same," he said.
As an alternative, Barnes suggested that a committee research the ordinance and come up with a referendum to put on the November ballot.
"And let everybody vote," he said.
Councilmembers Derrick Donnell and Chris Chulakes-Leetz liked the idea of putting together a group to review the ordinance and suggest changes.
"It seems totally responsible that we create a committee to work with city staff," Chulakes-Leetz said, adding that the group could also work with the city manager and make recommendations to the council on the ordinance.
He said the council could place a referendum on the November ballot, take action itself by making changes to the ordinance or decide to do nothing.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail noted that the ordinance has come up before.
"It's an ongoing issue that will not go away," he said.
McGrail explained that city ordinances can be changed "very quickly," but that is not the central problem behind the issue - it is dealing with it.
"Who wants to stick their head in the fire?" he asked.
McGrail said he owns a 32-foot motor home that he must keep stored in a North Fort Myers garage at the cost of $1,400 annually because of the rule.
"If it's parked in the driveway, I could camp in it," he said. "It's the unintended consequences."
Southwest Cape resident Lyndia Bradley opposed altering the ordinance.
"I knew when I moved to Cape Coral what some of the restrictions were," she said Monday. "I knew what was allowed and what was not allowed."
Bradley talked about first moving to the city and discovering she and her husband could not fit their boat in their garage. In order to be in compliance with the rules, they decided to let their son take the boat back up north.
"I don't want commercial vehicles and vans and stuff," she said.
Bradley called on council members not to start a committee because they are the "policy makers," though she said the ordinance could need tweaking.
"But if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile," she said.