Hoping to eliminate mosquito infestations in and around Coral Gables, the city commission on Tuesday approved a set of fines for anyone who allows their property to be overrun by the flying pests.
Commissioners approved an ordinance that makes it unlawful for a property to be overrun with mosquitoes without action being taken. Violators can be fined up to $500 a day.
The item was sponsored by Commissioner Patricia Keon, who expressed concern about a former FPL site, 6525 SW 152nd St., at the Jan. 26 commission meeting. The site is just outside the boundaries of Coral Gables but has drawn complaints from residents in King’s Bay because of the insects.
“It’s a public nuisance issue, and it’s a health issue,” Keon said at that meeting.
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FPL area manager Charles Knight said at the Jan. 26 meeting that the company is working to eliminate the issue at the site.
The commission also thought the item would help serve as a precautionary measure as concerns over the Zika virus increase in South Florida.
The Florida Department of Health has reported 16 cases of the virus across the state with six in Miami-Dade County. So far, all of the reported cases in Florida have been travel-related.
In addition to the ordinance, Assistant City Manager Frank Fernandez urged residents to be vigilant about standing water around their homes.
“We have to make sure that wherever we see standing water we’re doing everything possible to deal with it,” Fernandez said.
Waterway board: A new voice for residents living along the city’s many waterways is on its way through the creation of a Waterway Advisory Board.
The commission gave initial approval for the creation of the seven-member board. Each commissioner will appoint a member, one member will be appointed by all five commissioners, and the city manager will appoint the seventh.
The members appointed by individual commissioners must have lived along a Coral Gables waterway for more than six months. The two other appointees are only required to be city residents.
Commissioners also discussed the idea of each member representing a certain coastal area or neighborhood along a waterway. That will be considered when the item comes for final commission approval at a future meeting.
Styrofoam ban finalized: City commissioners gave final approval to an item that will ban the use of expanded polystyrene, primarily known as Styrofoam, by chain stores, chain food stores, city vendors and at special events.
The item was first approved in December and gives businesses that still use polystyrene until August to phase out the product. Code enforcement will issue warnings to violators from August 2016 until the end of the year. Starting in January 2017, businesses will be subject to fines that begin at $50 and can increase to $500 after a third violation in a one-year period. After that third violation, the fine increases to $1,000.
The city will partner with the Gables Chamber of Commerce and business improvement district on an education campaign for business owners.
“The objective here is not collecting fines, we’re looking to educate people and really change the culture,” Commissioner Vince Lago said.
Bid recommendation options: The commission gave initial approval to an item that gives the city manager an additional recommendation option when city leaders consider awarding contracts.
If approved with a second vote, the manager would be allowed to recommend an alternative bidder or proposal beyond what’s recommended by an evaluation committee, and the decision would not require a bid waiver.
Currently, the city manager can suggest that the commission approve the evaluation committee’s recommendation, reject that suggestion and ask the committee to reevaluate, reject the proposals or suggest that the proposals be rejected.
THE NEXT MEETING
When: 9 a.m. Feb. 23.
Where: Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables.