City officials are putting finishing touches on the latest incarnation of an ordinance that would allow boats to be parked in private yards and driveways.
But there are key points of disagreement between its sponsor and the city commissioner who has been the strongest advocate for the principle that has fueled it.
City Commissioner Mark Rossi will introduce the plan, which requires that boats and their trailers be kept on private property have valid registrations and be no longer than 25 or 26 feet.
But Commissioner Tony Yaniz is likely to express disagreement with the registration provision when the matter comes up July 17, arguing that keeping a boat on one's property is a right, and that if cars on private property don't have to be registered, then boats should not have to be, either.
"It's illegal, and it's a question of what is fair," Yaniz said of the registration restriction proposed for boats.
City Attorney Shawn Smith, who has been hammering out the Rossi proposal, said Tuesday afternoon that he could not comment on the issue at this time.
Yaniz and Rossi cannot privately discuss aspects of the proposal due to Florida's Sunshine Law.
"It's to ensure the boat is being used and not just sitting there wasting away," Rossi said of the registration requirement. "We're meeting them halfway. We are saying there is nothing wrong with parking them in their yards or their driveways."
The ordinance would also allow recreational vehicles to be parked in yards upon payment of a fee to the city.
At present it is a code enforcement violation to park a boat or RV in one's driveway or yard unless it is screened from view by hedges, scrims or some other visual barrier. Nonetheless, boats and RVs are parked all over, particularly in New Town neighborhoods. Many Old Town streets are too narrow for boats or RVs to be considered.
A moratorium on enforcement began last year as commissioners tried to come up with a compromise. Also halted was enforcement of the ban on parking boats in city rights of way. There is a proposal for street parking -- in front of one's home after purchase of a permit -- that has not yet been aired by the commissioners, but it may get a hearing at the July meeting. The on-street program would authorize RVs as well as boats.
City staff has said the ordinances, as written, are difficult to enforce except when specific complaints are made. That has often resulted in complaints being called in when there are disputes between neighbors. In other situations, calls have been made to report boats parked in places where they shouldn't be while their owners are in the hospital or on vacation.
Some boat owners who park on streets or in front of their homes have complained that they can't afford to keep their vessels at marinas, where the monthly charge can range from around $180 per month and up, depending on the size of the vessel and the individual marina.
People who want to see the ban remain in place have complained that boats in driveways have a negative effect on property values, although local Realtors say they have seen no proof of that.
A resolution allowing driveway and yard parking of boats was defeated at a City Commission meeting last week.