Beauty often requires sacrifice, and The City Beautiful takes its moniker seriously.
Thats why it might be easier to shift the course of foreign policy in Washington than to change the Coral Gables city code banning pick-up trucks from being parked overnight in front of a home.
The controversial ban dates to 1960, and opponents say it was a snobbish move aimed at keeping blue-collar workers out of the city. In the age of mammoth Hummers and SUVs both allowed in Coral Gables the ban ought to be reconsidered, they argue.
As it stands, the fine for having a pick-up truck parked in your Coral Gables driveway: $100 a day for first-time violators and as much as $500 a day for repeat offenders.
In 2003 the ban was contested by a resident, and the city fought all the way up to the Florida Supreme Court to keep it, spending a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees paid by taxpayers and winning.
But the issue has returned to the forefront as the role of pick-up trucks has evolved from work vehicle to family toy.
On Wednesday, the city will hold a public hearing to discuss various options for reform, and commissioners are expected to vote on whether to place the issue before voters on a referendum.
The mayor, who was the former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, thinks a public vote is the way to go.
Im a person that has lived in dictatorships where a small group of people make decisions on every issue for people, Mayor Jim Cason said at a workshop Monday.
He added: I think its a shame the referendum wasnt done before we spent our $253,000. The key issue is the construction of the language on the ballot.
While many of us outsiders may snicker and think this Beauty and the Beast topic is frivolous, the matter has split the city and its leadership, and closer to home, spouses (he wants his truck; she favors aesthetics).
But rules have served Coral Gables well.
Those immaculate lawns, classically painted houses and tastefully decorated yards are no accident.
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 cant unless its an expensive, city-approved, pretty doll-house structure).
The rules are not mere lines on paper.
Theyre enforced by vigilant code enforcement officers aided by neighbors who report violations on a daily basis.
If you dont like rules, Coral Gables is not for you.
But regardless, the city has an obligation to make rules equitable, and pick-up trucks have come a long way. If you allow Hummers essentially military utility vehicles and those enormous SUVs where one could easily rent a room, whats wrong with a $45,000 Sierra?
Some of us would never live in place as obnoxiously regulated as Coral Gables any more than wed drive a pick-up truck, but for Gableites who want to do both, there ought to be a way to accommodate the interests of beauty and beastly vehicles.
Having a diplomat at the helm of the city should help.