CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – Changes could soon be made to the controversial ban on pick-up trucks in the City of Coral Gables.
Monday night, supporters and opponents of the ban showed up in force to the City’s planning and zoning meeting to discuss modifying the ordinance.
The Board voted unanimously to instruct the City Attorney to write a new truck ordinance. If approved by the Zoning Board next month, and by the City Commission after that the ordinance would allow residents to have one truck per household. But the following conditions would apply: each pick-up truck would have to have a hard top on the truck bed, the truck must be parked in a home’s driveway, as close to the home as possible, and with the truck’s bed facing the home, not the street.
Truck owners who park on the swales would recieve tickets.
The modified ordinance would also specify that the rule against parking pickup trucks in commercial parts of the City would take effect only when the parking meters run out. That is a change from the original 7PM to 7AM ban.
Supporters of the ban say outlawing pick-up trucks in the Gables keeps their property values high, but opponents say the law is outdated and some even believe it is elitist.
Ken Swindal loves his pickup truck. “I got over my little sportscar life about 20 years ago,” he told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
His love for his truck may be due in part to the fact that he likes to buck the system.
“When you’re a good ‘ol boy there’s nothing prettier than a purty (sic) pickup truck.”
Legally, he is not allowed to park his truck in front of the Coral Gables home he’s owned since the 80s. The City has a ban on outdoor parking of all pickup trucks in residential neighborhoods, except licensed contractors who can only be there at certain hours. Trucks parked in public areas of the City, except at parking meters and in garages, must be out of sight from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“They are just picking on a specific vehicle,” said Swindal.
Coral Gables City Attorney Craig Leen says the ban has an important purpose.
“What it’s about is preserving the beauty of the City and restricting commercial vehicles, and vehicles that are designed as commercial vehicles,” he told Zea.
A pick-up truck owner fought the City in court for seven years to overturn the truck ban. He lost and the City put the rules back in place in May, but it continues to extend a grace period allowing truck owners more time to either find a way to cram their trucks into tiny Gables garages, or to get rid of their pickups.
Swindal has done neither.
“I will always have a pickup truck if I can,” said Swindal.
If the ordinance stands as it’s written now and once the grace period ends, truck owners in the Gables who break the rules will be given one warning, then they’ll have to pay a 100 dollar fine. After that it’s a 500 dollar fine potentially given every day.
Swindal plans to attend a City Planning and Zoning Board meeting Monday night at City Hall to convince the Board to modify the ordinance or do away with it. He says times have changed since it was originally passed in the 60s.
“The concept is definitely outdated and it needs to be thought out again.”
Coral Gables homeowner Ed Bec wants to buy a pickup, but has an SUV because of the ban. But He believes he and his neighbors benefit from the city’s rigid rules.
“We want everything to look pretty here, I understand that. And the reason I moved here is because it’s so pretty.”