By Sallie James
Residents who park in the street due to limited space can breathe a sigh of relief. Their cars won’t be ticketed, at least for now.
A strict parking enforcement plan proposed by Mayor Michelle Gomez went down in flames on April 12 after three commissioners worried it would unfairly penalize residents with limited driveway space.
“What do we do with the residents who truly don’t have any other means than parking in the street?” wondered Commissioner Kicia Daniel at Wednesday’s commission meeting. “Now we are penalizing people who probably can’t afford a bigger house with more parking space, and we are going to charge them money for parking their car that is probably their livelihood?”
The plan would have allowed a code enforcement officer, BSO, or a fire inspector to ticket violators $21 per offense – repeatedly if necessary – if their vehicle was parked overnight along a city street or in a bicycle lane. No matter if the owner had a one-car driveway and nowhere else to park.
In addition, unpaid tickets would prevent violators from renewing their vehicle registration. The parking enforcement plan would have had a six-month grace period before going into effect.
“It is affecting other people’s property rights, and that is just not right,” said an irritated Gomez.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Capt. J.C. Cooper, Tamarac’s district commander, and Tamarac Fire Chief Michael Annese assured the Commission that residential street parking has never affected the safe passage of emergency vehicles.
Commissioners torpedoed the proposed parking enforcement plan with a 3-2 vote, with Daniel, Commissioner Morey Wright, and Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton voting “no.” Gomez and Commissioner Elvin Villalobos voted “yes.”
The issue will be discussed again at a forthcoming workshop.
An existing but unenforced ordinance prohibits parking along residential roads from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Gomez’s proposal would have made it illegal to park along the streets most of the night, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Daniel, Wright, and Bolton were concerned about the proposal’s fairness. The reason? Many of Tamarac’s original housing developments were built in the early 1970s with one-car garages, single-vehicle carports, and narrow, short driveways geared initially toward retirees with a single car. Some of the city’s oldest neighborhoods do not even have sidewalks.
Parking issues have emerged as young families with multiple vehicles have moved in. The result is limited space to park.
“I am going through my mind trying to figure out a way I could be amenable to this, and there is no way,” said Bolton, whose district includes some of Tamarac’s oldest neighborhoods. “You go to those communities, and people have to park on the street because there is just nowhere to park.”
Gomez said the issue must be addressed because residents had been “screaming” about street parking for years.
She said the topic of parking enforcement was discussed at length in 2022 and appeared annoyed by the pushback she received from the commissioners who were not in office at the time.
“I feel like we are sliding and not in the way we should be sliding,” said Gomez, who emailed residents outlining the proposed ordinance ahead of the commission meeting.
During a discussion of the parking plan, Gomez suggested that residents who currently park in the street should instead park in homeowners association overflow lots, ask neighbors if they could share their driveways, or find snowbirds who are gone part of the year and park at their houses.
Daniel pointed out that many HOAs do not have separate parking lots and that some communities do not even have HOAs.
“Thank you for those residents who made me aware of that so I wouldn’t just be selfish and want to fix my problem,” said Daniel, a Woodmont resident who had to expand her own driveway and noted that her HOA has no parking lot.
Wright acknowledged the parking challenges posed by multi-generational families with multiple cars living in older homes but said ticketing those with no choice is not a solution.
“We have to find a balance understanding those things,” Wright said.
Villalobos was unsympathetic and blamed street parkers for “not following the rules” of their respective communities.
“I believe … when you buy a home, you are interviewed by your association. You are told how many vehicles you could have. And people fail to actually listen to the rules,” Villalobos said at the meeting. “So, just to clarify. You’re not penalizing the people. You’re penalizing the people that break the rules.”
Under Gomez’ strict new proposal, residents who wanted to have gatherings for events such as the Super Bowl, or New Year’s Eve would have had to seek permission from their HOA or file an administrative form with the city so code enforcement would steer clear, she said.
Gomez suggested that residents clear out their garages to find space so they did not receive parking tickets.
“There are some people who are storing old cars not being used, or they are storing stuff and not a car … which is causing the issue with the communities,” Gomez said.
Said Bolton, “I’m not against people having a quality of life and being able to get in and out of their homes but to just go full throttle and try to start charging people $21 for parking in the street. That’s too much.”
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- Sallie James is a veteran reporter/blogger/copywriter who spent most of her writing career in South Florida, including 22 years at the Sun Sentinel. She has also freelanced for The Coastal Star, South Florida Gay News & Florida Weekly. Sallie is the mother of grown boy/girl twins, a Guardian ad Litem, an animal rescuer, and a longtime Tamarac resident. She earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Indiana University.
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