Regulations in Dean Park

Established in 1920, Dean Park does not have a “homeowners association” and does not have the usual homeowners association “rules and regulations.”  Instead, activities in Dean Park are regulated by the ordinances of the City of Fort Myers and the laws of the State of Florida.  When Dean Park became Dean Park Historic District in 1997, it also became subject to the historic preservation ordinance  administered by the Historic Preservation Commission.

City ordinances are enforced by Code Enforcement, a team headed by Chief Code Enforcement Manager Michael J. Titmuss.  Requests for Code Enforcement can be made by calling 239-321-7950.  You can make a request to the City by downloading an “app” on this link:

Here – in alphabetical order by topic — is a summary of the laws and regulations affecting Dean Park:

 Alley Maintenance.  The original 1920 Dean Park subdivision map shows 20-foot-wide alleys extending along the rear of lots on First Street, Providence Street, and Rhode Island Avenue.  The 1905 Evan’s Addition plat (which established the lots on the southerly side of Michigan) has 10-foot-wide alleys.  See copies of both maps in the “Maps” section of this website.  The City has determined that these alleys are public rights-of-way and not private property.  However, under City Code, adjacent property owners are still responsible for maintaining alleys adjacent to their property, up to the centerline of the alley.

 Alley Parking.  Parking is not permitted in the alleys in Dean Park.  Every property owner abutting an alley in Dean Park has the right to use the full 20-foot width of that alley for access to the rear of their property, including access to garages located on that alley.  Therefore, the installation of landscaping, fencing or other improvements that interfere with use of the 20-foot right-of-way is not permitted.

Bicycles.  When riding a bicycle in the roadway:  you must follow all the laws of the road that a vehicle would follow, ride on the right if you are riding slower than normal traffic, and move to the right curb to allow vehicles to overtake you.  When riding a bicycle on the sidewalk:  you must follow all the laws and due care required of a pedestrian, must not leave the curb and veer into the path of a vehicle, and must cross roadways only at intersections or marked crosswalks.  For more bicycle regulations, see Section 316.2065 of the Florida Statutes.  For enforcement, contact the Fort Myers Police Department.

 Dogs.  All dogs in Lee County must be walked on a leash and must be restrained by a fence or other secure enclosure when the dog is outside on your property.  Report any animal issues to Animal Control at 239-533-7387.

Garage Apartments.  Dean Park is the only neighborhood in which garage apartments are allowed by right.  The garage apartment may be leased, and the tenant does not have to be related to the occupant of the main dwelling.

 Historic Preservation Commission – what approvals are required?  HPC approval is required for virtually all exterior improvements in Dean Park, including the demolition of any historic structure.  Exterior improvements include all new and remodeled houses, garages, sheds, porches, stairways, ramps, windows, doors, trim, shutters, fences, gates, pergolas, pavilions and any other structure.  It includes additions and expansion to any home or other structures.  It includes patios, walkways, driveways and other hard or semi-hard surfaces.  HPC staff is Planning Manager Nicole DeVaughn, 239-321-7976  Also see the HPC ordinances and forms in the “Links” section of this website.

Historic Preservation Commission – what does not require HPC approval?  HPC approval is not required for landscaping, house colors or for repairs that do not change the exterior appearance of a structure.

Lawn Maintenance.  City ordinance requires that all lawns, grass, weeds and underbrush be maintained at a height of 12 inches or less.  Complaints for non-compliance can be made to Code Enforcement, which will contact the property owner.  If there is continued non-compliance, Code Enforcement may cut the lawn of a vacant and unoccupied property and bill the property owner.

Occupancy limits.  In an owner-occupied house, the maximum number of occupants permitted is determined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and related to the number of bedrooms and room dimensions.  In tenant-occupied house, no more than four (4) unrelated persons may occupy a rental unit.

Outside Storage.  Only items designed for outdoor use may be stored outside.  Therefore, no appliances, building materials, cans, cardboard, discarded furniture, trash, junk or debris may be stored outside.  Carports are treated as garages, and items appropriate for garage storage may also be stored in carports.

Parking – Boats, RVs and Trailers.   Boats, recreational vehicles and trailers may not be parked in the street; they may only be parked in the rear yard or side yard.  They may not be parked within the front yard setback.  Furthermore, only the property owner or a tenant may park his/her boat, RV or trailer on his/her lot.  Boats, RVs or trailers belonging to a friend or relative many not be parked or stored on your property.    Storage of any abandoned vehicle (one without current tags and not in running order) is prohibited.  See Section 86-65 of the City Ordinance.

Parking – Vehicles.  On-the-street parking in Dean Park is permitted only in those areas designated by signs.  Temporary on-street parking for loading, unloading, parties and the like is generally permitted.  Vehicles parked outside on your property must be parked in the driveway or other improved hard surface of your lot.  They may not be parked on grass or other unimproved surfaces.  They may not be parked on the sidewalk and impede pedestrian traffic.  They may not be parked in alleys and interfere with the public access to use the full width of the easement for access to and turning into garages and rear driveways.  Contact the Fort Myers Police Department for enforcement.

Rentals.  Under City Code, leases of 30 days or more are permitted in areas zoned residential.  Rentals of less than 30 days are considered a commercial use and not permitted in residential neighborhoods.

Sidewalks.  You are responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk along your property line, including removal of overhanging foliage and plants that grow over and across the sidewalk.  For enforcement, see “Lawn Maintenance” above.  If a neighboring property is poorly maintained and you desire to maintain the sidewalk in front of someone else’s home, Code Enforcement recommends that permission be obtained from the responsible property owner.

At the same time, sidewalks in Dean Park are in the City’s right of way, which consists of the street, the sidewalk, and the area in between.  Accordingly, the City is responsible for maintaining the concrete sidewalk itself, unless the sidewalk damage is caused by the homeowner.  To report sidewalk maintenance requests, use the City request line:

Trees.  Only the City may cut down or trim a tree between the sidewalk and the road, because this area is within the City’s right-of-way.  You may not cut down a tree located on the property line between you and your neighbor, unless you obtain your neighbor’s permission.  If the branches of your neighbor’s tree hang over your yard, you may trim them at your expense, so long as you do not kill the tree.  However, if dead branches from your neighbor’s tree (or your neighbor’s dead tree) falls on and damages your property, your neighbor may be legally liable.  For details, see the “Handbook of Florida Fence and Property Law” online.

Vacant Lots.  No use may be made of a vacant lot.  No “accessory use” (such as a garage, swimming pool, patio, storage shed and the like) is permitted on a vacant lot because there is no “primary use” (no house) on the lot.  Similarly, no vehicle, boat, RV, trailer or any other items may be kept on a vacant lot.  No trash, junk or debris may be kept on a vacant lot.  A vacant lot must remain vacant.