For Damian, 74, the issue goes to the heart of preserving the Gables’ strict regulations, with rules for the colors houses can be painted, the maintenance of front lawns, setbacks and other aesthetic issues.
“There are maybe 300 to 400 people with trucks who purchased them during the moratorium,” he said. “There might also be 400 who want chain-link fences, which we cannot have in Coral Gables. There might be others who want to pave over their lawns because they don’t feel like mowing.
“We feel this is one of the many regulations that have preserved values and our way of life over the years.”
But people are finding the item.
Earlier this week at the Coral Gables Library, a polling place for early voting, Gables residents Frank Halpern, 28, and Bonnie Seipp, 55, made sure to navigate through all the ballot items.
Halpern, who does not drive a pickup, voted to modify the ordinance. He says there isn’t a lot of difference between today’s pickup truck and the popular SUV or Hummer, neither of which are restricted.
“It should be OK to have pickup trucks in the yard — not everyone has a garage. There’s a trend toward SUVs getting smaller, and that’s the same with pickup trucks getting smaller and more fuel-efficient. Pickup trucks are not taking away from the aesthetic,” Halpern said.
Seipp preferred to maintain the ordinance. “Now people have them and it’s subtle, but if you lose the ordinance there will be a lot more,” she said. “It won’t be nice.”
If only . . .
Slesnick, like Anderson, wishes the City Commission had made the decision in June.
“If I had been mayor on the council, I would have made a decision. That’s leadership, that’s what they elect people for,” Slesnick said. “I wrote to the mayor that if you are going to change it after all these years, then put it to a vote. But if the commission felt it shouldn’t be changed, we had fought a lawsuit, we had held on, just keep it that way. Let somebody do a referendum from the grass roots if they want to.”
Resident Ani Victoriano, whose son has a pickup, was prepared to do so, having collected more than 2,000 signatures earlier this year in the hope of persuading the commission to vote to modify the ordinance. Since the five-member commission did not do so, she is still pounding the pavement to promote a change.
“We’ve been doing a lot of phone calls, canvassing door to door, and have been getting a lot of positive feedback from people all over,” Victoriano, 49, said. “So far, I’m very optimistic.”