In an effort to settle a minor dispute with a neighboring village, Coral Gables commissioners voted to stop enforcement of a mosquito removal ordinance outside of the city’s boundaries at Tuesday’s meeting.
The ordinance, which was approved at the Feb. 9 meeting, allowed for the city and its code enforcement department to issue fines to properties where there’s an “active mosquito infestation.” The law included language that allowed them to enforce the fines in neighboring communities and was primarily focused on a former Florida Power & Light site near the King’s Bay area, 6525 SW 152nd St.
Gables leaders will meet with counterparts at Palmetto Bay. Following that meeting, the Gables city attorney will draft an amendment to the ordinance for city commission approval that will likely remove the language applying to neighboring municipalities.
“The problem, hopefully if we work together in a cooperative spirit, would be resolved,” Mayor Jim Cason said.
The village of Palmetto Bay raised some concerns with the ordinance and frustration that the village wasn’t notified of the law until it passed. Village Attorney Dexter Lehtinen and Village Manager Edward Silva both addressed the commission at Tuesday’s meeting.
“The biggest issue we have here is a failure of communication,” Silva said.
Commissioners said that they ultimately included the language to ensure that quick action was taken at the site and they apologized for the lack of notice to Palmetto Bay.
“We as the elected representatives of the city had to do something and had to be aggressive,” Vice Mayor Frank Quesada said.
Charles Knight, an FPL area manager, said the company began spraying on the 82-acre site last month and will continue to deal with the insects.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to make sure mosquitoes are no longer coming from our property and affecting the residents of Coral Gables and Palmetto Bay,” Knight said.
Enforcement of the ordinance will still apply in the city and violators can be fined up to $500 a day.
The discussion also touched on the commission’s effort to be precautionary due to concerns over the Zika virus increase in South Florida. Knight said that the mosquitoes found in the area are not likely to carry the virus or similar viruses.
The Florida Department of Health has reported 29 cases of the Zika virus across the state with 11 in Miami-Dade County. So far, all of the reported cases in Florida have been travel-related.
Waterway board: Final approval was given for a new Waterway Advisory Board made up of residents living along the city’s coastal areas and other waterways.
The commission approved the creation of the nine-member board, the number of members was one of a few changes from the ordinance’s first reading at the Feb. 9 commission meeting.
Each commissioner will appoint a member, two members will be appointed by all five commissioners, another member will be chosen by the board and the city manager will appoint the ninth member.
Eight of the members must have lived along a Coral Gables waterway for more than six months before their appointment. The eight members must also represent each of the following areas: Coral Gables, Snapper Creek, Gables by the Sea, Gables Estates, Matheson Hammock, Deering Bay, Entrada Channel and Mahi. The remaining appointee is only required to be a city resident.
The board members will also select a chairperson and vice chair and they will each serve one-year terms.
Booting and towing: Drivers might not have to worry about big bills when their cars are booted after the city commission gave initial approval to an ordinance that would reduce booting fees in privately owned, metered parking lots.
Lot operators will only be able to charge up to $25 for a boot to be removed and it can only be placed if a vehicle has been in a space for an hour after the expiration of their metered parking. The ordinance requires the lot owners to remove the boot within 10 minutes and if they don’t then the city’s parking or police departments will remove the boot.
Additionally, vehicles will only be subject to towing if they are directly blocking a vehicle’s ability to leave the lot or if the car is blocking the entrance or exit to the lot. Lot owners may face fines of up to $1,000 for two violations of any of the ordinance requirements. A third violation could lead to the operator losing their business license.
THE NEXT MEETING
When: 9 a.m. March 15.
Where: Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables.