(WSVN) - A South Florida man who has lived on the same property for years is now being told by the city to get rid of his RV. But he thinks he should be grandfathered in and allowed to keep his trailer, so he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

His friends know him as George Hysell, but that’s not his real name.

George Hysell: “My real name is Bear Heart. That’s my Native American name.”

Bear Heart. A Sioux Indian from South Dakota.

George Hysell: “And I used to be ashamed, when I was young, to even tell anybody that was my name. Now, I’m proud of it.”

Very proud, and right now, very upset with what is happening in his backyard.

George Hysell: “They said I have to move it.”

George has lived here since 1980, on what was once a dirt road in Miami-Dade County.

In 1985, he bought this RV. In 2003, the City of Miami Gardens was created.

For years, things were fine. And then…

George Hysell: “They came up and cited me for a food commercial truck.”

George explained it wasn’t a commercial truck in the back of his property.

George Hysell: “The dining room table, it lets down to a bed.”

The city inspector came out.

George Hysell: “And they did a walk-through, walked around, looked at it. They told me I could get my parking permit.”

George paid for a permit to make his vehicle legal. It said he couldn’t park in the front yard.

He keeps it in the back. You can’t see it from the road, so he thought he was OK.

And then Miami Gardens cited him again for having a commercial vehicle.

George Hysell: “Why would you repeat the same thing all over again? Knowing that you did an inspection, that it’s a recreational vehicle.”

Across the street from George is a box store with tractor-trailers and several pieces of construction equipment like bulldozers.

George says that’s fine, but he is baffled why Miami Gardens is focused on his RV a few yards away.

George Hysell: “I asked him, ‘Could I be grandfathered in? Since I’ve been here before Miami Gardens even existed.’ And they said they don’t do grandfathering in.”

The city then started fining George $500 a day and threatened to put a lien on his property.

George Hysell: “And here you got property. You try to have something and work for it, and then somebody wanted to take it from you.”

Well, Howard, can an owner be forced to remove an RV that has been there years before the city ever existed?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “If you live in a two-story house, and a government agency creates new rules to ban two-story houses, they cannot make you tear down the building, because the law considers it grandfathered in. But a vehicle that can move is more vulnerable, because it’s less of a hardship on the owner to conform to the new laws. George could sue, and a judge could rule in his favor, but that’s expensive.”

We contacted Miami Gardens, where we learned the fines against George were now $212,000.

The city spokesperson wrote they gave George “temporary permits” to give him time “to become compliant.” But “heavy trucks over 5,000 pounds” are not “permitted to park” in residential areas.

We then went with George as he tried to reason with a city magistrate about his RV.

George Hysell: “I had tried to reach out to the mayor and other people, and they never responded.”

George explained what he had told us. The magistrate made his decision

Magistrate: “I am going to find that you are in violation, and you are still in violation. What I have done for you though, is reduce the $212,000 fine down to $2,000.”

George had gone in with hope.

George Hysell: “I thought Miami Gardens would give me some leniency.”

The next day, George moved the RV that had been in his backyard for 39 years. He fought Miami Gardens. He lost.

George Hysell: “It’s like taking your house from you. They can just fine you and do what they want to do.”

Now, if you could afford to sue the city, George might have won by not only arguing the city had ignored the RV for years but gave him a permit to keep it. A judge might look at that and say you can’t give permission and then take away permission.

By the way, George moved his RV, but it’s expensive to store it. If you have a space for him, let us know.

Your city hall become four-letter words for you? Need the code to enforce your rights? Try us. We’ll never give up fighting for you.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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