City Ready to Sweep the Homeless Out of Downtown

Jim Shanklin, who fought the city of St. Petersburg for four years over the 10-foot hedge in his yard, sends me this missive questioning why citizens have to worry about code enforcement, but city officials can turn a blind eye to the trash collecting around City Hall due to the homeless sleeping there at nights.

He addresses Mayor Baker and the City Council:

Your code department spends four years and thousands of our tax dollars taking my wife and I to court over our hedges. The reason was that a 10-foot hedge in the front yard is "aesthetically displeasing" (but a picture of one is just fine). This past weekend we went to Baywalk and passed city hall on the way. There were piles of personal belongings, shopping carts, bicycles, and just plain crap all over the sidewalk around the building. It was not what I would call aesthetically pleasing to the eye and creates a real public safety issue. What do you plan to do about it? Or is storing personal items in front of city hall now allowed? If so I will empty the storage space I rent and bring all my stuff on down and store it there for free. Is this an issue I need to come to the next code enforcement hearing and ask about? It seems pretty hypocritical to me that code enforcement would cite homeowners for outdoor storage and levy fines when bums can do it on the public sidewalks in front of public property. Am I going to get an answer? I doubt it.

On another note I was in Tampa yesterday and passed city hall. It seems that Mayor Pam does not have piles of crap in front of her office. What is your problem?

Shanklin’s point is well taken, but city officials do have a plan for that mess at City Hall. On Thursday, the City Council meets for a first hearing on a new ordinance that would ban all storage of property in the right-of-way, including sidewalks. Those who defy the ordinance will have their property impounded and/or disposed of.

This ordinance joins two other “quality of life” statutes that the City Council will introduce this week: the expansion of the no-panhandling zone downtown and a prohibition against sleeping or “reclining” in the downtown area during daylight hours.

Is it any coincidence tourist season is now in full swing?

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