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MAJOR HEADACHE: CITY SIGN ORDINANCE UNFAIR

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Citizen Given 54 parking tickets totaling $2035.00

First Draft: 01/08/2006

My name is Janet Plunkett and I have been a resident of Coral Springs since 11/90. I have 2 sons, one in college and one who is a junior at Taravella. I served on the Coral Springs Tackle Football Club Board of Directors for 6 years and was one of the founders of the Coral Springs Lacrosse club. I am now being forced to move out of the city when my lease is up in December.

THE ORDINANCE
Sec. 18-5. Parking and/or storage of commercial and/or recreational vehicles.
(A) Definitions.(1) “Commercial vehicle:” Any vehicle listed below which either has outside lettering displaying information identifying a business or other nonpersonal use of any kind or which is defined by reference to the Florida Statutes as a:

(a) Truck;
(b) Truck/tractor;
(c) Semitrailer;
(d) Trailer;
(e) Tractor crane;
(f) Power shovel;
(g) Well driller and such other “off-road” vehicles so constructed and designed as a tool and not a hauling unit, even if such equipment may be used on the roads and highways incidental to the purposes for which designed;
(h) Bus;
(i) Non-emergency ambulances;
(j) Wrecker;
(k) Hearse.

(2) “Recreational vehicle:” Any vehicle listed below and which may be further defined by reference to the Florida Statutes as a:

(a) Truck camper;
(b) Travel trailer;
(c) Camper trailer;
(d) Private motorcoach;
(e) Boat;
(f) Boat trailer;
(g) Ultralight aircraft;
(h) Airboat;
(i) Motorhome;
(j) Park trailer.

(3) “Private passenger van, or private passenger pickup truck.” Any private passenger van or private passenger pickup truck having a scale weight (vehicle only) of five thousand (5,000) pounds or less and used solely for personal activities; however, any such vehicle with outside lettering displaying information identifying a business or other nonpersonal use of any kind, for the purpose of this section, shall be determined to be a commercial vehicle regardless of scale weight.
(4) Private passenger utility vehicle – a utility vehicle (automobile) with a chassis and body similar to that of a light panel truck but containing passenger seats rather than open cargo space, but a utility automobile does not include any such automobile used primarily:

(a) In the occupation, profession or business of the owner, or
(b) For the transportation of passengers, other than members of the insured’s family and incidental guests.

(B) Lettering required:

(1) All commercial vehicles as defined above shall have permanently and prominently displayed on each side of the vehicle the following information:

(a) The name of the person, natural or corporate, who owns or leases the commercial vehicle; and
(b) An address and telephone number of the person, natural or corporate, who owns or leases the commercial vehicle; or
(c) If the commercial vehicle is owned or leased by a corporation and said corporation has adopted a company decal or insignia, then the corporation may display the corporate decal or insignia in lieu of (a) and (b) above.

(2) The above information shall be bold letters and numerals at least one and one-half (11/2) inches high distinctly contrasting in color with the background and permanently affixed to the vehicle in such a manner as to be readily distinguishable from a distance of not less than ten (10) meters (32.8 feet).

(3) A commercial or recreational vehicle covered with a tarpaulin (tarp) or the covering of the commercial lettering on said vehicle with magnetic signs or tarp shall be considered a violation of this section.

(4) For the purposes of this section, any indication of non-personal use of a commercial vehicle which does not include lettering as required, shall be indicative of a commercial use and a violation of the section.

(C) Restrictions: Except as hereinafter provided, no owner or person having the use of a commercial vehicle, or recreational vehicle shall park said vehicle for any period of time between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. or for any period of time on Sunday on a public right-of-way adjacent to or on private property zoned “R.” This restriction shall not apply, however, to the following:

(1) Vehicles parked in a garage or carport, providing that the carport shall screen the vehicle from view on three (3) sides utilizing an immediately adjacent wall, fence, or hedge at least four (4) feet in height. Said wall, fence or hedge shall be permitted only when placed in accordance with the applicable building and zoning codes.

(2) Vehicles owned or operated by a physically impaired individual when a medical doctor has certified that the vehicle is necessary due to said physical impairment.

(3) Private passenger vans, private passenger pick-up trucks, when said vehicles do not exceed a scale weight (vehicle only) of five thousand (5,000) pounds.

(4) Private passenger utility vehicle (automobile).

(5) Private passenger automobiles with permanent lettering provided that no alterations have been made which change the contour of the vehicle.

(6) Vehicles on emergency service calls.

(D) Violations; liability for payment of violations. The owner of a vehicle cited for violation of this section shall be responsible and liable for payment of any tickets unless the owner can furnish written evidence that the vehicle was, at the time of the violation, in the care, custody, or control of another person. In such instances, the owner of the vehicle is required, within a reasonable time after notification of the violation, but not to exceed fifteen (15) days, to furnish to the appropriate law enforcement authorities the name, address and date of birth, of the person or company who leased, rented, or otherwise had the care, custody, or control of the vehicle. The owner of a vehicle is not responsible for parking ticket violations if the vehicle was, at the time, stolen or in the care, custody, or control of some person who did not have permission of the owner to use the vehicle.

(E) Ticketing procedure. Vehicles parked in violation of this section shall be ticketed by the Coral Springs Police Department, Code Enforcement Division of the Coral Springs Fire Department, or any other authorized personnel, said ticket to be affixed to the offending vehicle.

(F) Refusal to accept and sign citation or “notice to appear.” Any person who willfully refuses to accept and sign a citation or “notice to appear” issued pursuant to this section, when requested, shall be guilty of a separate violation of this section and that person may be arrested by any law enforcement officer of the City of Coral Springs, and subject to the penalties provided by this Code.

(G) [Reserved.]

(H) Penalty. A fine of thirty-two dollars ($32.00) shall be assessed for each violation of this section. Should the responsible party elect to proceed in the court of competent jurisdiction, section 1-8 of the Code of Ordinances shall apply. In addition to the penalty, the city shall impose and collect a surcharge of five dollars ($5.00) upon each civil penalty imposed for violation of this section. The proceeds from such surcharge shall be used to pay the costs of the Coral Springs Police Department’s School Crossing Guard Program.

My fiancé Dale Cline works for Neff Rental. He is an emergency road mechanic. His job requires that he keeps his pickup truck with him at all times as he is on call 24hrs day. Since 3/01, we have received 54 parking tickets totaling $2035.00; all of which have been paid promptly although this has caused financial hardship.

I feel that we have been singled out by the CS police regarding the commercial vehicle ordinance. Dale’s truck is legally and permanently marked as is required by the ordinance. Almost every morning, we wake up to a ticket on our windshield although trucks parked across from us or a few spaces away do not get ticketed. There is a van right across the street with a magnetic sign that does not get ticketed.

Magnetic signs are illegal in Coral Springs. Realtors, with magnetic signs that claim their vehicles on their taxes as business vehicles are exempt from this ordinance. Why is that right? My tickets have doubled since writing a letter to the CS Police Department in May. Numerous police officers have said that this ordinance is a pet peeve of someone in the police department and we made a mistake bringing our dilemma to their attention.

My son was told 2 weeks ago by one of the officers that frequently ticket our vehicle that he was to drive into our parking lot to look for our truck and ticket it. What about the other commercial vehicles in clear sight of ours? This is selective enforcement of the commercial vehicle ordinance. Sometime during the evening or early morning of 7/15-7/16, there was a felony vandalism occurring in Eagle Trace on a piece of Neff Rental construction equipment. However, we can all sleep soundly because the someone’s  orders were carried out, Dale’s pickup was ticketed. Does everybody feel safe now? This is starting to feel like extortion.

I have been told by officers to cover the p/u and we would then not be ticketed. This is against the city ordinance. I have been told to park at the mall but with all the car break ins within the city, we can’t take the chance. Dale has $15,000 worth of his own tools on the truck; losing those would put him out of a job.

I have been told by numerous officers that they won’t enforce this ordinance as it keeps people from earning an honest living and it dictates what you can do to earn that living. Our p/u fits in one single parking space located right outside our bedroom window in a private, secluded lot that is included in our rent.

Amendment 14, Section 1 of the Constitution states that no one shall deprive any person life, liberty, or property w/o due process. It does not give individual states or cities the right to dictate how we earn a living. This ordinance forces us to spend 20% of our income on tickets, therefore dictating the life style in which we can live.

I have been told to rent a storage facility. This pickup is Dale’s only means of transportation; our work schedules conflict; how does he get home after dropping his truck off? Who owns these facilities in the city? How is Dale to provide timely service for all the municipalities that he services, including Coral Springs, that he does emergency work for. He has serviced equipment at the Coral Springs gun range, the Coral Springs Charter School, the water treatment plant and the police/fire station itself. The city expects prompt emergency service, but don’t park your vehicle where they can see it.

The dozens of residents of Coral Springs- private homeowners that I have spoken to, are shocked by our situation. This makes me believe that this ordinance is what a select group wants in place, not the majority of the people. I understand that there needs to be safety guidelines for parking but what I don’t understand is why Dale’s truck is illegal when a 20yr old rusted, dented car is ok. Who determines what is aesthetically ok- certainly not the majority of our residents.

It is time for the residents of Coral Springs to speak up. We need to get this ordinance changed. When I spoke at the City Council meeting on 7/17/01 the Mayor looked at me when my 3 minutes was up and said that there was nothing that he could do about the ordinance. He did say that he would look into the selective enforcement of this ordinance. Mr. Mayor, thank you for that, I have not received a ticket since 7/18/01.

I have spoken to electricians, plumber, landscapers, mechanics and builders – all who have been forced to leave Coral Springs because of this ordinance. Don’t let this happen to you. This city needs it’s doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc., but it also needs people like Dale who keeps this city running, the people who keep your lawns manicured, your roofs from leaking, your pools cleaned, your vehicles running and your land being improved upon.

I will be starting a city wide petition to get this ordinance changed but I need your help. Let me know if you can help. Don’t let the City Council force you to leave YOUR city.

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Howard Melamed

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