TREASURE ISLAND – In the workshop portion of the Treasure Island City Commission meeting Feb. 17, a good chunk of discussion turned to the art of auto repair.
Specifically, the city is entertaining how and when residents can work on their own cars.
City manager Reid Silverboard noted that the city has received a growing list of grievances from residents of neighbors keeping cars up on blocks or in disrepair in their driveways for days, weeks and sometimes months, all under the guise of being under repair.
A proposed ordinance Silverboard floated was that if a resident was to be working on a car more than one day, it needs to be in an enclosed garage or in a private area. The ordinance, if passed, would allow residents to work on their cars outside so long as it didn’t take longer than a day.
Silverboard explained some residents have kept cars on blocks inoperable for all manner of repairs including body work, changing transmissions and other major work.
Commission Phil Collins liked the spirit of the ordinance but wanted to take it a step further by banning residents from changing their oil or transmission fluid or other fluid changes as, he contended, spillage occurs and the discharge eventually finds its way into the bay.
“I do know people have flushed their radiators in their driveway,” Collins said. “Let’s face it, we’ve all spilled something. But putting it into the streets we should be concerned with. To me this is unacceptable.”
Commissioner Ed Gayton echoed Collins’ concerns. The two commissioners were OK with residents adding fluids, but not changing fluids.
Commissions Alan Bildz and Bob Minning weren’t as open-minded. Both thought such a restriction was too encroaching.
“There are provisions from dumping this into our waterways, this is a federal law,” Minning said. “Before we get too restrictive ... but I agree we should prevent any discharge into our waterways.
“I have a problem telling people they can’t change their oil and are forced to go elsewhere to do it, that only the pros can do it.”
Minning explained there is a worse problem from common leakage from vehicles than there was from accidental spillage with residents changing their own oil or transmission fluid.
“I don’t like this ordinance at all,” Bildz said. “I like the intent, but I don’t like the major or minor repairs or how long it takes. What do we care? I don’t want to see spilled fluids but we’re getting into a question of private property and being too restrictive of a government.
“If you don’t have a garage what are you going to do?”
Not only were the commissioners split, so too was the city’s staff. City Attorney Maura Kiefer and Silverboard began to bicker over the wording of the ordinance.
Kiefer suggested the ordinance define major repairs as $500 or over. She also wanted to review the proposed ordinance. Kiefer was convinced someone would challenge the ordinance in court.
Silverboard said the ordinance was written similar to other cities’ ordinances and that Kiefer was nitpicking.
“We’re making too big of a deal with this,” Silverboard said. “Trying to get a code officer to determine if it is $500 value and look at a repair book is getting beyond the pale. You can pick these things to death. Just decide whether you want to do this.
“No one has written a perfect ordinance.”
Kiefer responded, “If you want me to look into it I will. If not, that’s fine. If other cities have this ordinance, that doesn’t make it right.”
To which Silverboard said, “Staff just needs to use common sense. We’re not idiots.”
The proposed ordinance was moved to the March 3 meeting for further discussion and public comments.