After 50 years, city may allow pickups
The affluent Miami suburb of Coral Gables has prohibited the overnight parking of pickup trucks for decades. Now the voters will decide whether to keep the ban.
The voters in the affluent Miami suburb of Coral Gables will face one of their biggest decisions in decades in this fall's elections: Should homeowners be allowed to park pickup trucks in their driveways?
The 52-year-old ban on pickups has been one of the city's most controversial issues for years. Four times, residents have taken the city to court, and four times, they have lost. The issue is so contentious that city commissioners decided to put it to the voters rather than decide themselves.
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"It’s always amazing to me that people come to Coral Gables because they love the aesthetic, love the police and the fire departments and the quick response times, and love this beautiful zoning, except when it comes to them when they want to do something out of the code area," said James Hartnett, an 80-year-old Coral Gables native, to the commission earlier this year, arguing to maintain the prohibition.
The strictness of Coral Gables city codes is notorious. If you want to paint your house, the city must first approve the color. You even need a permit to paint the inside of your house, though I believe the city does not weigh in on interior colors.
"Coral Gables has a legendary group of code-enforcement personnel who, for strict adherence to The Rules, make the Nazi Party look like a Grateful Dead tour," columnist Dave Barry, a city resident, once wrote in The Miami Herald.
Coral Gables is a city of about 43,000 near Miami International Airport. It has a thriving,
pedestrian-friendly downtown and tree-lined blocks of neatly kept, Spanish-style homes built in the 1920s and '30s. More than one president has slept there, staying in the historic Biltmore Hotel.
While the community is considered affluent, homes range in size from less than 1,000 square feet to mansions, and the city also includes small apartments and condo units.
As in many older Florida communities, most homes don't have garages. The city also prohibits parking pickup trucks on the street, the swale or in public areas, unless they belong to a licensed contractor. Contractors can only park trucks in the city during specific hours. Failure to comply with the law costs $100 for the first citation and $500 a day for subsequent violations.
In many newer communities, rules on aesthetics are enforced by homeowner associations, but the rules in Coral Gables apply citywide. As Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago explains:
There are city codes for everything, from what shade of pink you can paint your house, to what time you may take out the garbage bin (never before 6 p.m. the night before pick-up), to whether you can have a shed in the backyard (you can’t unless it’s an expensive, city-approved, pretty doll-house structure). …
If you don’t like rules, Coral Gables is not for you.
But Lowell Kuvin, a lawyer who brought the most recent case against the city, argued that the law discriminates against a whole class of people, those who like pickup trucks: "This is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the entire United States, and yet Coral Gables is telling certain people they can’t act out their cultural values," Kuvin, who has since moved to less restrictive Miami Beach, told The New York Times in 2007.
Even if the voters decide to overturn the ban on pickups, there will still be some restrictions. Trucks can have no more than four wheels and can't have any writing on them, they must be parked on private property, and residents will be limited to one pickup per home.
A requirement that the truck beds face the house was stricken because of the difficulty of enforcement at homes with circular driveways.
If i buy a house or a piece of property with my hard earned money, i wana do what i want to do to it and not have some stuck up HOA scumbag tell me what i can and cant do. Next they are going to start telling you what to wear and eat.
The HOS's are pretty much common sense rules that can actually be a good thing. You do nt have to worry about the value of your property going down because someone two houses down has a broken down car in their yard. The homes are always kept up, the lawns are maintained and property values rise.
I use to live in coral gables and was never aware of that ordinance.
That's why I like living in the south. In my neighborhood, the homeowner association says that there absolutely can not be more than two cars up on blocks in my front yard at any one time. And only one can be a GM product.
I've thought about moving to a less restrictive area, but I just hate to give up the class this neighborhood exudes.
Really?? Folks if you dont like the rules don't move there!! I just wish parking lots would have separate parking for cars vs SUVs, its soo difficult to see past them to pull out!
they are making the right choice by puting it up to a vote. let the people who live there decide what they want
The most ridiculus place I've EVER Heard of !
cant park a pickup in front of your house ?..absured !!..I hate small cars, the only thing i feel safe driving is my full sized pickup....I cant believe nobody has won a law suit over this ?
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.