ST. Petersburg raises hourly parking rates
Just in time for playoff baseball, St. Petersburg's on-street parking rates will increase on Monday, climbing from 75 cents an hour to $1. The 25-cent increase is expected to boost revenues by $313,000 to help maintain the city's downtown parking programs and garages, as well as help balance the city's general fund. The fund pays for an assortment of services, including police and firefighting. The parking rate increase is necessary in part because Mayor Bill Foster and the City Council approved another year of decreases in property taxes. City crews will change meter stickers beginning Saturday and should be done by Wednesday.
Red light cameras start on Tampa intersections today
And in other traffic news, don't say you weren't warned. Starting today, 23 red-light surveillance cameras will begin snapping photos of wayward motorists at more than a dozen of Tampa's busiest intersections. As part of a phase-in period, a warning with no fine will be mailed to the owners of vehicles caught running red lights. On Nov. 1, those warnings will turn into citations with $158 fines. City officials say they expect the cameras to lead to safer driving and generate $2 million a year in city revenue. For camera locations, visit tampagov.net.
Appeals court splits on rulings concerning homeless
A federal appeals court has upheld two tactics used by the city of St. Petersburg in restricting behaviors associated with homelessness. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta approved a prior court's ruling that supported the city's right to arrest people for sleeping during the day on sidewalks and for storing personal property on public land. But the court struck down the city's trespassing ordinance because recipients of a trespass warning had no formal procedure to challenge it. Also, the court objected to the city's enforcement of trespassing at Williams Park because it included the public sidewalk around it. That infringed on the right of all Florida citizens to "chat on a public street … stroll aimlessly … saunter aimlessly," the opinion stated. The city will decide next week whether to appeal the trespassing issue.
Guard member? FHP may have a trooper job for you
Good news if you're a Florida National Guard member looking for a job: The Florida Highway Patrol is allocating 150 seats and offering priority placement for Guard members in its March 2012 trooper training program. The unemployment rate among Florida Guard members is about 16 percent — well above the statewide average for civilians. Priority placement doesn't guarantee a job, and candidates must meet all FHP requirements. For details, go to BeATrooper.com.