1. Archive

Rules for PODS now in effect

Published Sep. 9, 2005

There haven't been many complaints about the storage units, code officers say, but new rules that took effect in January will be enforced.

PODS became a problem in northwest Hillsborough County. People were leaving the giant white containers in their front yards way too long, angering neighbors in some suburban communities.

The complaints mounted until several counties around Tampa Bay adopted rules to regulate the storage units, formally known as Portable on Demand Storage units.

Now Hillsborough is weighing in with its own ordinance.

The rules, which took effect in January, allow one POD per residential lot for a maximum of seven days. Use of PODS is limited to four times a year, spaced at intervals of 60 days. PODS can be placed on driveways, side or rear yards, but not in front yards. They cannot block a sidewalk or public right of way.

If a resident is involved in construction, a PODS unit can stay on the property beyond the seven-day period for as long as the building permit is in effect.

"Our ordinance has a lot of similarities with Pinellas County's because we worked closely with them," said Paula Harvey, manager of Hillsborough's zoning and growth management division.

PODS company representatives reviewed the ordinance before it went before the County Commission in December. The company often plays an active role when governments draft ordinances that will affect its business in new markets, said Jacquelyn Consentino, a PODS legal risk manager.

"We're very proactive," Consentino said. "Rather than wait until someone has a problem with us, we want to work with communities to create reasonable ordinances that allow us to exist. We know people don't want to see a white box in a driveway forever and we respect that."

Consentino said the city of Tampa does not have formal regulations on PODS. Instead it handles complaints on a case-by-case basis through code enforcement. If a resident complains about a PODS unit in someone's yard, a code officer might call the company and ask how much longer it will be rented there.

She said the company uses caution when renting PODS in the Davis Islands and Hyde Park areas because residents there are more prone to complain. New Tampa is not an area where complaints are high, she said.

Founded in Clearwater in 1998, the company now has 15 franchises in Florida and nine other states.

The company describes PODS as the biggest breakthrough in moving and storage since the moving truck. The concept is simple. Workers deliver a large crate to your driveway, you load it up, and the company stores it for you or delivers it somewhere else.

Hillsborough's chief code enforcement officer Don Shea said he was not convinced the county needed an ordinance to address PODS. But now that there is one, he will enforce it.

"We really didn't have that big a problem with PODS," Shea said. "We had the occasional instance where someone left one in their yard a little longer than they should, but it was really a rare occasion."

Shea said the most adamant complainers lived in deed-restricted subdivisions in northwest Hillsborough County.

In many cases, Shea said he would get a complaint about a PODS unit and by the time an inspector went to the site, it was gone. He said there has not been a case reported to his office since the new ordinance took effect Jan. 1.

"A temporary PODS unit just never struck me as being a problem," Shea said. "There are a lot more unsightly things to use for storage.

"I'm of the opinion that property owners have some rights too. I don't think everything you do with your own personal property should be dictated by someone down the street with nothing else to do unless it's unsafe or it's lowering property values."

_ To reach Tim Grant call 226-3471, or e-mail him at