Since its inception in 1988, the Tampa Homeowners Association of Neighborhoods has gone from a largely ignored group of concerned citizens to a major player in city politics. Bill Duvall, a Seminole Heights resident and two-term president of THAN, has been there all the way and, consequently, has learned a thing or two about how to effectively petition the city. While the neighborhoods have vastly changed over the years, Duvall says the issues have remained the same: zoning, transportation, affordable housing and lack of water. From his favorite coffee shop — the Starbucks in Seminole Heights — Duvall shares his thoughts on:
THAN's relationship with Mayor Pam Iorio:
"This mayor, in particular, has actually used us as a report card. She'll sit down [in quarterly meetings with THAN] and say, 'How are we doing? How am I doing?'"
THAN's mission to the neighborhoods:
"What we don't do is advocate for one neighborhood. We're not a group that supports one idea or one neighborhood. We try to look at the broad-based stuff."
The upcoming budget crunch:
"Understanding the budget is hard enough, but influencing the budget is even harder."
The struggling neighborhood of Sulphur Springs:
"It takes a pioneer to go into that neighborhood. If there were enough people who saw the architecture potential and had the mindset, it might change. They're lacking the people who will buy into the neighborhood. ... What a wonderful neighborhood that would be."
How to keep people involved:
"You do some fun things — a picnic, concert, home tour. Then you're formed for when the next big crisis hits."