Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gulfport residents decry code enforcement effort

GULFPORT — The city prides itself in being weird but a trashy appearance is unsettling for some residents.

So beleaguered city officials are finding it difficult to define "trashy" without some residents accusing them of violating their civil rights.

A recent move to ban sofas being used as lawn furniture — something most people consider unsightly — spurred a resident to question the nerve of city officials telling people what they can and can't sit on in their own yards.

Elected officials reacted to this push and pull by clamping down and easing up on rules as they try to please constituents.

The trickle down from that ever-changing stance has city employees feeling dizzy as they enforce city codes at the direction of the City Council.

But this is nothing new.

"Staff has heard both sides of this issue. It has been part of this community for the past 20 or 25 years," said City Manager Jim O'Reilly.

In those years, the city has wavered on letting code violations slide and enforcing them stringently, O'Reilly said.

At last week's council workshop, O'Reilly presented a list of residents' complaints and common problems that must be detailed in ordinances so the city has a basis for non-compliance.

Residents had objections to most of the suggestions.

"These are ideas we brought forward based on your direction," said Fred Metcalf, community development director.

"My staff worked hard with the city attorney to produce these," he said.

Despite Metcalf's frustration, the council took no action on the suggestions, deciding instead to hold a public hearing. A date will be announced later.

David Hastings was the lone council member to defend city employees on the continual flip-flopping on the issue.

"Regardless of any decision we make, we're making people unhappy," he said.

Several of those unhappy people told the council it was running people out of town with its attempts to clean up the city.

One of the proposed ordinances requires garbage cans to be stored out of street view.

Patricia Mallward, who lives on Gray Street, said no one in her house is healthy or strong enough to put the garbage cans behind the house.

"I'm an 80-year-old woman with a bad back. Do you want older folks to move out?" she asked.

Another ordinance would limit the number and location of vehicles parked in yards.

"I have six vehicles, all tagged and insured. I use three every day. Do I have to park them in my back yard?" asked Ron Dibucci, who also lives on Gray Street.

And, Pat Dunham, who lives on 53rd Street S, took aim at the city's attempts to keep indoor furniture from becoming outdoor furniture.

"Defining lawn furniture? Who thinks of this?" she asked.

A couple residents do want things cleaned up.

Al Davis, who lives on Clam Bayou, defended a more stringent enforcement.

"There is a groundswell of people who would like to see a basic cleanup," he said.

Bob Newcomb, who lives on Fremont Street S, is one of the founders of the Gulfport Neighbors group, formed, in part, to target and clean up sections of the city. He urged the council to stand firm on items that are clearly detrimental to the community like trash, filth and abandoned houses.

fast facts

The first targets

The most common codes the city wants teeth to enforce:

• Remove nonoperable/unregistered vehicles parked in the front yard

• Require edging of curbs or street/edges; trimming of landscaping

• Define lawn furniture and prohibit all others for outdoor use

• Define and limit the number of boats, trailers, recreational vehicles in front yards

• Shorten time debris can sit on curb from seven to three days

• Get garbage cans out of street view

• Specify how many and where recreation vehicles can be stored

Source: City Manager Jim O'Reilly

Gulfport residents decry code enforcement effort 10/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 5:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

    National

    WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]
  2. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. He is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed it but are open to negotiations, which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy. [Associated Press]
  3. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  4. Manslaughter charges eyed in deadly London fire sparked by refrigerator

    World

    LONDON — Manslaughter charges are among the offenses under consideration in the devastating Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 79 people, London police said Friday.

    A view of part of the Burnham residential tower on the Chalcots Estate showing the bottom section of the building after cladding was removed, in the borough of Camden, north London, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Tests so far have found that at least three high-rise apartment buildings in the U.K. have flammable external panels like the ones believed to have contributed to a fire that killed 79 people in London, Britain's government said Thursday. The local council in Camden, a borough of London, removed cladding from one of its buildings for further testing after tests they commissioned showed some of their panels were of the flammable variety "and not the ones they ordered." It was unclear whether the Camden example was one of the three mentioned by the government. [Associated Press]
  5. PolitiFact: 6 questions about the Senate health care bill and transparency

    Perspective

    Now that a Senate health care bill has been unveiled, senators will be jousting over its provisions to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks following a closed-door strategy session, at the Capitol in Washington on June 20. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)