Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State your case on Gulfport code crackdown Wednesday

Cheryll Grogan makes a statement on her lawn. “They treat us like trailer trash, like we’re not smart enough to think for ourselves.”

PATTI EWALD | Special to the Times

Cheryll Grogan makes a statement on her lawn. “They treat us like trailer trash, like we’re not smart enough to think for ourselves.”

GULFPORT — Artist Cheryll Grogan's latest work of art isn't one of her beautiful oil paintings of laid-back life in Key West.

But it is about laid-back life — in Gulfport — and city attempts to regulate it.

It's a tongue-in-cheek lawn display with a message.

It includes a sofa, refrigerator, beer cans, cigarette butts and a sign purposefully laden with misspellings lampooning the city's recently passed legislation banning smoking on the beach and its proposal to ban sofas as lawn furniture.

"They treat us like trailer trash, like we're not smart enough to think for ourselves," said Grogan, who has lived in Gulfport since 1996.

"I think they should listen to the people without snapping to judgment," she said.

Her lawn display is food for thought as a town hall meeting on city codes and their enforcement approaches.

Some residents have made it clear they don't want the city telling them what they can and can't do on their property. Others have said they are tired of unkempt lawns and front yards doubling as RV storage lots or junk yards.

What's a city to do?

Well, first, hear them out, Mayor Mike Yakes said.

City Manager Jim O'Reilly said a town hall meeting, away from council chambers, is the best way to hear from the community and have a "respectful dialogue" on the issue.

"In an older built-out community such as Gulfport, there are no perfect code enforcement answers or remedies and many contributing factors," he said.

"The job at hand is to hear from the people, make notes of the issues, and see how far we go with compromise to resolve it," Yakes said.

O'Reilly will present drafts of the same ordinances that drew community ire at a council meeting and led to this forum. Public comment will be factored into future drafts.

The man tasked with tidying up the town, code enforcement officer Bruce Earling, is the one most squeezed between a rock and a hard place.

He's under pressure to clean up things but has no teeth to enforce many problems — like garbage cans in the front yard or grass growing over curbs — because there are no ordinances against them.

While he thinks a tidy city improves housing values and deters crime, he said, "What I think doesn't matter. It's what they write in the code."

There's an even deeper wrinkle to his no-win situation. Some have accused him of selective enforcement, accusations that make the former police officer angry.

"I have ethics. Don't ask me to lie. Don't ask me to treat this guy differently because he's poor," Earling said.

If he could tell residents one thing, Earling would say, "Maintain the exterior of your property on a regular basis. That includes cutting grass, picking up trash and debris. Make the exterior of your property presentable. Make it look like something you wouldn't be embarrassed to have someone come take a picture of."

>>fast facts

Town hall meeting

7 p.m. Wednesday

Gulfport Senior Center

5501 27th Ave. S

The first targets

The most common complaints the city wants teeth to enforce:

• Remove nonoperable/unregistered vehicles parked in the front yard

• Require edging at curbs or street; trim landscaping

• Define lawn furniture and prohibit all others outdoors

• Define and limit the number of boats, trailers and RVs 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 RVs can be stored

Source: City Manager Jim O'Reilly

State your case on Gulfport code crackdown Wednesday 11/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  2. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  3. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  4. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.