Code Enforcement Board Rules Against Cabana Club Restaurant
By Josh Valone
Photo by Sandy Pollick
The Clearwater Code Enforcement Board met Thursday afternoon to hear the case against Cabana Club Restaurant, and ultimately found the property owners guilty of multiple violations.
Residents living in the vicinity of the property were present in force, vocally demanding fines and assurances from the city that the "eyesore" would finally be dealt with in a timely manner. Much of the outrage seemed to spark not simply from the violations, but also from the city's sloth-like pace in dealing with the problem. A notice of violation was officially mailed to the owner of the property July 6th after the city received numerous complaints from members of the community, but the matter did not receive a hearing until six weeks later.
This gave local residents ample time to build a strong case to persuade the board to issue fines. First-hand accounts, bolstered in most cases by photographs, proved beyond doubt that the property was in extraordinary disrepair. Chunks of cement were shown falling from ceilings, exposing rebar, while jagged edges covered in rust were photographed at multiple locations around the property's abandoned pool. The pool itself was a major sticking point, as pictures showed, the deck surrounding the pool seemed to be in the process of slowly rotting away.
Many of the photographs actually exposed violations that were not present in the official notice. Protocol would require the process to start from scratch in order for any additional violations not in the notice to be included, so residents had to settle for making a case against what was officially listed.
A representative speaking for the owners of the Cabana Club Restaurant property did not contest any of the violations. The representative did note that repairs had already begun on several of the problems listed, and that all of the violations would eventually be rectified. He also made sure that the board would only fine the property owners for the violations listed in the official notice, and not any additional violations revealed by photographs during the hearing.
The board initially seemed to favor a $200 fine per violation, per day, starting September 25th. After lobbying from residents at the hearing, they were persuaded to instead issue the maximum fine of $250 per violation, per day, starting on the same date.
Residents showed exasperation at the prospect of multiple violations being passed over without a fine, and presumably any additional action to fix them being at least another two months away. Perhaps to address these concerns, a city representative made sure to add that the city would continue to pursue a course that would eventually see the dilapidated structure demolished.
For the time being, the property owners have until September 25th to address each of the violations listed without incurring the maximum penalty.
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