Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Concealed weapons, limited drinking now allowed in Hillsborough parks

TAMPA — Residents will soon be sipping beer during events and carrying concealed weapons in Hillsborough County parks.

The new park rules, which also require helmets for horseback riders younger than age 15, were approved unanimously Wednesday by county commissioners. They should take effect by the end of the week.

The same ordinance also exempts bicycle riders from the 15 mph speed limit in parks and creates a $30 fine for not paying entrance or boat ramp fees.

The new rule lets park visitors possess concealed weapons or keep them in vehicles. It also creates a process that allows alcohol to be sold and consumed, but only during special events that are permitted. The changes were made to update a 2008 parks ordinance, officials said.

In other business, commissioners discussed ways to deal with panhandlers.

A committee formed to analyze the issue met Sept. 2, interim County Administrator Mike Merrill said. The committee would like to meet with nonprofit and faith-based groups as well as other agencies that help the homeless. The committee meets again Oct. 22.

Tom Atchison, a pastor from New Beginnings of Tampa Church, said he works with many people who live on the streets.

"Panhandling is enabling these people. It's increasing the homeless problem," he said.

Commissioners were looking for quick action.

"This problem has become intolerable," Ken Hagan said. "Come back with something enforceable immediately."

Kevin White said on a recent drive he saw panhandlers staking out many different road medians in the area.

Hillsborough County already has a law banning panhandling within 4 feet of any road. Commissioners want to see if Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City would adopt a similar law.

The push comes months after St. Petersburg adopted strict measures banning solicitation along major roads. Police began making arrests after they went into effect June 13. In addition to panhandlers, St. Petersburg's law applies to people selling newspapers and raising money.

In Tampa, solicitors can panhandle as long as they wear brightly colored safety vests and don't impede traffic.

County Attorney Renee Lee said a more restrictive ordinance should not limit free speech or restrict the activities of newspaper hawkers or those raising money for charity.

"We should be sensitive to the vendors out there," Lee said.

Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or

Concealed weapons, limited drinking now allowed in Hillsborough parks 09/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 11:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shell of Old GM Surfaces in Court Fight Over Ignition Flaw


    DETROIT — For eight years, the shell of prebankruptcy General Motors has lingered on in the form of "old GM" — first as a corporate entity and now as an obscure trust designed to settle debts and claims left over from the company's huge financial collapse.

  2. Bucs' Mike Evans motivated by deep ball that got away


    JACKSONVILLE — Bucs receiver Mike Evans had an efficient half of football Thursday night, with six ball thrown his way and five catches for 57 yards in Tampa Bay's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) reaches for a pass as cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends during training camp earlier this month at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Gerald McCoy: Bucs defense wanted to 'set the tone' vs. Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on 7 carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 win.

    And they were disappointed.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, right, watches practice alongside outside linebacker Lavonte David, left, earlier this month in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. City bus crashes into South Tampa office building


    TAMPA — A city bus veered off the road and crashed into a South Tampa office building on Friday morning.

    A city bus veered off the road and crashed into a South Tampa office at 2503 W Swann Avenue on Aug. 8, 2017. [10News WTSP]
  5. Andrew Gillum saw the sights in NYC with suspected undercover FBI


    WCTV reports:

    Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is speaking out after a new photo has surfaced showing him in New York City with an alleged FBI agent.