ST. PETERSBURG — The city has seen its share of lobbyists, but none quite like the ones that arrived Thursday morning.
A flock of plastic flamingos grazed on the City Hall lawn before today's 8:30 a.m. City Council meeting. They were planted there by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, which is objecting to efforts by state lawmakers to restrict local governments from regulating the use and sale of nitrogen and phosphorous-based fertilizers.
"It's their debut," Nanette O'Hara, the outreach coordinator for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, said of the pink birds. "It's hard to drive by without noticing them. We just want to bring attention to this issue."
The birds make up a campaign called "Be Floridian" that explains how excess nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers pollute our freshwater bodies, beaches and marine life. It highlights city and county ordinances that protect waterways. The local laws could be eliminated if state lawmakers approve bills that remove local authority from fertilizer oversight.
The Pinellas County's fertilizer ordinance, enacted in January 2010, supersedes the city's ordinance and is more restrictive. The county's ordinance bans fertilizer sales from June 1 to Sept. 30; requires training and certification of those who apply fertilizers commercially; mandates training of lawn maintenance employees; requires that granular fertilizers with nitrogen contain at least 50 percent slow-release nitrogen; and prohibits application of fertilizers if heavy rains are forecast.
City Council members were scheduled to approve a resolution objecting to the bills proposing to remove local oversight. The flamingos, O'Hara said, hopefully will help.