The Key West ordinance that officials say bans parking of boats on city rights of way also includes restrictions on trailers and various types of commercial vehicles.
But the city commissioner who most vigorously opposed the boat ban says a lack of enforcement on trailers indicates unequal application of the law, and the city attorney said he is researching how the law can be better worded to take care of the glitch.
"There is an obvious problem," City Attorney Shawn Smith said at Tuesday night's commission meeting. "In light of the parking ordinance, the question is, do you want to give those individuals the opportunity to come into compliance within a reasonable amount of time?"
"No, not exactly," replied Commissioner Tony Yaniz.
The solution -- in his opinion -- is to eliminate enforcement of the boat-parking ban until the city attorney's work is done and the ordinance rewritten.
Yaniz was unable to muster support from fellow commissioners.
"I don't think it's necessary to do a moratorium," said Commissioner Clayton Lopez. "We need to just give the city attorney time to construct an ordinance that can do exactly what we are saying needs to be done."
To understand the position of both Yaniz and commissioners who have locked horns with him over the parking ordinances, a review of the history is needed.
The boat-parking ban is not new. It is part of a 1997 set of ordinances that includes a ban on the parking of "commercial vehicles ... including trailers and the like." It says they shall not be parked "at any time in any residential district unless actually engaged in temporary work or service on the premise ... . There shall be no more than one commercial vehicle of any type parked overnight at any one residence in any residential district.
Advertising signs with letters more than six inches in height on commercial vehicles parked within residential districts shall not be visible to the public from the property."
A review of city ordinances shows little relating specifically to boats, but does turn up references to trailer parking.
The rules are found in two different sections of the code, increasing some of the confusion.
"It's convoluted, it's being enforced selectively and it is arbitrary," Yaniz said. "You either enforce all of it or you enforce none of it."
Police and zoning officers have been "red-tagging" boats, requiring they be removed from the streets within three days or potentially be towed.
Complicating matters, however, is that some construction trailers are exempted for certain periods of time. In addition, many people have business names or advertising on their company trucks, and park them overnight near their homes.
These could also be in violation of the law. People whose boats have been tagged called Yaniz and have complained that while they must comply with the law, their neighbors with construction trailers or work trucks do not, or at least that's how it appears to them.
A trailer belonging to Commissioner Teri Johnston's company, Affiliated Design and Construction, has been parked for an extended period of time at a job site on First Street near Fogarty Avenue.
Johnston did not return a message seeking clarification on the status of the trailer.
"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," Yaniz has said in reference to his colleague's trailers.
The issue is more complicated because Johnston was a particularly vocal supporter of the practice of tagging boats.
"Given my interpretation of the current ordinance, Johnston is in violation of the ordinance she is trying to push," Yaniz said Wednesday. "This is not a personal vendetta; I am trying to prove a point."
Yaniz said he supports the idea of allowing Johnston or anyone else park their trailers in front of their homes or businesses.
"It is their livelihood," he said, faulting the way the ordinance was written as broad and subject to misinterpretation.
The city's legal staff is in the process of trying to unravel the questions that keep coming up about the parking ordinances.
What is clear for now is that boats and campers can be parked in private driveways or yards, following the stripping of a law that had required all such items to be covered or screened from public view.
Smith maintains the problems can be clarified with a little bit of legal work.
"I hope to clean everything up from the 1997 ordinance," Smith said.
"And try to put all regulations in one section rather than the two areas where they are found."