For months, citizens and city leaders have been discussing, brainstorming and moving forward with stricter code ordinances in an effort to improve curb appeal in Gulfport.
During Tuesday night's meeting the Gulfport City Council voted on second reading for three code enforcement issues: trash can placement, banning indoor furniture outdoors and shortening special pick-up times.
Indoor Furniture Outdoors
After an extensive discussion and debate about the wording of the ordinance, the Council voted 3-2 to pass ordinance 2012-02, which prohibits indoor furniture from being stored outdoors.
City Manager Jim O'Reilly explained that the aim is to keep people from leaving couches in their yard. "Trying to eliminate indoor furniture from being used outside," O'Reilly said.
During public discussion one resident said the ordinance is too broad and doesn't specify how long something needs to be outside to become a nuisance. Another stated this is a "non issue" and "I don't see a problem here."
Following public discussion Council member Jennifer Salmon made an amendment to change the wording to read “instead of furnishings not designed for outdoors use . . . just say upholstered furniture.”
"What you do behind your fence, you do behind your fence. I think we're most concerned with those that leave furniture out in the public view of the building," Salmon added.
The original ordinance:
"Furnishings not designed for use outdoors, such as interior furniture, may not be stored outdoors. Construction materials, unless such materials are located, shall not be stored outdoors on a residentially zoned property."
Salmon wanted to amend the ordinance to read:
"Upholstered furniture may not be stored outdoors. Construction materials, unless such materials are located, shall not be stored outdoors on a residentially zoned property."
Council member Barbara Banno said she was comfortable with the original wording.
Vice Mayor David Hastings suggested removing the second sentence, "I'm comfortable with leaving the first sentence in and taking out construction materials, forward out."
City Attorney Andrew Salzman explained that the second sentence allows people to store construction materials while you have a building permit. Stating that it's an exception.
Hastings replied, "Wouldn't a building permit already allow that?"
Salzman said: "no."
At one point Mayor Yakes said they were "going nowhere with this," and suggested they bring it back.
Council member Barbara Banno spoke up, "Our goal is outdoor furniture, I think we're taking this too literal."
Council Member Sam Henderson, "I think it says a lot that we started out with these ordinances and now we're trimming them back so much. I think what we're finding is that maybe the level that we wanted to legislate, what people do in their yards, is not really the level that we're ending up at."
"If we're trimming this one back so much, maybe it's an ordinance we don't really need. If there's a health of safety issue somewhere else in the codes, that can be addressed."
"I don't feel like we need to do this at all."
"I took a bike ride around . . . I saw all kinds of people that would probably end up being in violation of this and it wasn't an aesthetically unpleasing thing . . . and it was intentional.
"We don't want to legislate to this level," Henderson said.
Council member Barbara Banno, "I think we're picking this apart too much . . . now we're just nitpicking and trying to redefine this stuff."
"I want to vote on this ordinance as it reads," Banno said.
Council member Jennifer Salmon made another amendment to read, "no indoor upholstered furniture may stay out overnight outside," however no one second the amendment and the council voted on the original wording.
In the end, the ordinance passed with a 3-2 vote with Henderson and Salmon voting no.