(WSVN) - A small win for a man whose longtime family home is surrounded by a massive commercial development in Coral Gables. 7’s Heather Walker has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

A small home, in a big development, at the center of a Coral Gables controversy, once again.

Orlando Capote, homeowner: “Definitely trying to make my life difficult so that I will leave.”

At a recent commission meeting, Mayor Vince Lago wondered which news outlet aired the latest story about the city’s famously defiant resident.

Mayor Vince Lago: “I’m not sure which channel it was.”

It was 7News that aired a story about a “notice of intent” to put a lien on Orlando Capote’s home. He was cited for a code violation involving this decades-old carport.

Orlando Capote: “It says that I owe them over $29,000 in fines.”

The notice clearly read the amount due was a whopping $29,958. Despite that, the city told 7News that “there are no fines on the property.”

So why the letter stating there was? The city now says, it was a mistake.

Coral Gables Assistant City Attorney Gustavo Ceballos: “Code enforcement didn’t enter in our extensions. We did them through emails. We were dealing directly with their attorney and, simply, our code enforcement system didn’t.”

Mayor Lago: “Honest mistake. It’s an honest mistake. But it flew like wildfire.”

Perhaps it flew like wildfire because every chapter in the Orlando Capote saga ignites passionate response from the public. And for the past 5 years, as the largest development in the city’s history began surrounding his home, we have been there to document it.

Orlando Capote: “I am in a bad marriage with the city of Coral Gables.”

But divorce is not likely. Orlando says he’s staying put in the home his late parents bought back in 1989.

Orlando Capote: “We came to America looking for the way of life, and this is not what has been done to me.”

Which brings us back to the carport, a structure not even visible from the public street and, Orlando says, it was here years before they moved in.

Orlando Capote: “As I told them, this has survived hurricanes and all the storms in the last 34 years. So when they look at the canopy cover, they say, ‘Well, that is not an acceptable cover.'”

Emails obtained by 7 Investigates in 2023 revealed the code enforcement case started after an employee for the developer complained to the city about conditions at Orlando’s property.

Orlando Capote: “This is what bothers me. What triggered this complaint was the developer.”

Fines of $150 a day started to add up, as Orlando and his attorney tried to resolve the issue.

Orlando Capote: “The city finally said, ‘OK, you can keep this structure,’ and that’s when we start trying to get the material approved.”

This is what the carport covering looked like when we visited last summer, and this was Tuesday, the day the new, city-approved cover was installed.

Orlando Capote: “This is not the biggest issue, and yet it’s being made a huge issue by the city. It has been a long, long, frustrating experience.”

But this battle ended in victory for Orlando. The cover passed inspection on Wednesday.

As for the future…

Orlando Capote: “I don’t think this is the end. I think they are just going to keep coming after me, making my life difficult.”

The city tells us, “Our goal is to work in a cooperative manner with Mr. Capote.”

Orlando Capote: “If you believe in something, wouldn’t you battle it and fight for it?”

7News Producer: “Forever?”

Orlando Capote: “Forever.”

Heather Walker, 7News.


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