RPB Council OKs Final Reading Of Parking Changes

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved the final reading of an ordinance last week to amend parking regulations for SUVs and boats intended to enable better enforcement and restrict them from parking closer than 15 feet from a roadway.

About 50 of the same residents who had shown up for the preliminary reading of the ordinance were back at the Nov. 17 meeting to voice their opposition or ask questions about the amended regulations.

The ordinance also regulates boats and SUVs parked in positions considered inappropriate, such as horizontally or diagonally to the street, or otherwise parked in a manner considered inconsistent with the design of the driveway.

Boats and RVs must be parked on an approved surface, such as concrete, asphalt, brick or approved pavers. No mulch, loose stones, crushed concrete or concrete strips are acceptable.

Community Development Director Rob Hill said that the ordinance establishes that single-family homes will be limited to one RV and one boat, and that they must be parked 15 feet from the edge of the roadway.

The front or back of the boat or RV must be perpendicular to the roadway so that the narrowest side is facing the roadway, except for those parked on curved, circular, side-entry or rear-entry drives in a manner that does not block access to another space on the driveway and does not block the sidewalk.

A boat or RV can be parked on the side of the house as long as it is on an approved surface.

“We heard what was said at the first reading, and we clarified that,” Hill said.

Councilman Dave Swift said he was still concerned about boats and RVs blocking the line of sight to sidewalks for vehicles backing out of their driveway and proposed moving the boats and RVs 10 feet farther back.

“Imagine a kid is on a skateboard or bicycle and they’re going down the sidewalk, and this person decides to back out, and the driver’s line of sight is blocked by the recreational vehicle,” Swift said. “They can’t see the bicycle, and they’re already on the sidewalk. That, to me, is an unsafe condition.”

He proposed an amendment to require that vehicles parked on the side of the house be at least 10 feet from the sidewalk or 25 feet from the roadway.

Village Manager Ray Liggins and several council members said that Swift’s concern is valid, especially in the case of RVs, where the line of sight is completely blocked, but Liggins added that if the council accepts the amendment, the village would have to re-advertise the ordinance.

Several residents spoke in opposition to the ordinance, and several had questions about how the ordinance will be enforced.

Resident Billy Cole asked how far back he can park a boat or RV, and Hill said it can go to the back of the house but cannot extend into the back yard. Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said that rule is already in place.

Boat owner Sandra Ferreira said she moved to South Florida 20 years ago and chose Royal Palm Beach because of the flexibility of its codes, but she would be out of compliance if the code were amended to require an additional setback from the sidewalk.

“This is a very unique village, and this is mostly why we are all here,” Ferreira said. “My boat has never caused any health or safety issues to anyone.”

One resident asked whether he is allowed to have two boats on his property, and Liggins said current regulations do not permit two boats unless one is in the water.

“Boats that are in the canal are actually not on people’s property,” he said, explaining that the canal is village property.

Hmara made a motion to approve the ordinance as presented, and it carried 4-1 with Swift dissenting.

The council also approved a separate ordinance amending regulations to expand the definition of junked and inoperable vehicles parked at residences. Under that ordinance, canvas or tarps are not considered concealment. The vehicles cannot have flat or missing tires, missing or disassembled essential parts, be 50 percent or more rusted, have extensive body damage, or have missing or disassembled interior parts such as seats or steering wheels.

The vehicle’s interior cannot be used as storage that makes it inaccessible to operate, cannot be on jacks or suspended by other supports, or have an accumulation of vegetation, water or debris. It must also have a current tag and registration. The vehicle must also be moved at least every 30 days.

Several residents said they objected to the new ordinance, including one who said he had an antique vehicle that was rusted but worth $60,000.

Mayor Fred Pinto said the amendments are intended to bring certain residents into compliance who have been in violation and receiving complaints from their neighbors for years.

“We’re trying to address that and not sit around and say there’s nothing we can do, when those citizens who live in that neighborhood have to deal with the situation,” Pinto said.

Swift made a motion to approve the junk vehicle ordinance, which carried 5-0.