Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa City Council declines to schedule panhandling referendum

TAMPA — The City Council declined Thursday to schedule a referendum on a panhandling ban after hearing from the organizer of a petition drive to put the issue on the city's March 1 ballot.

It's the second time in two months that the council has opted not to vote on the issue of banning aggressive roadside begging.

"It is a dangerous situation," said Spencer Kass, who is leading the effort to gather 18,000 signatures by Dec. 26 to put the issue on the ballot.

Kass, the president of the Virginia Park Neighborhood Association in South Tampa, started circulating petitions last week. But he said the task of gathering the required number of signatures in a little more than two weeks is daunting — and unnecessary.

"City Council, by your motion, can place this on the ballot today," he told council members. "The very least you can do is let the public decide how they want their streets used."

Only one council member was ready to act.

"We should have the guts to put it up and vote on it," said council member Joseph Caetano, who has called for a ban for more than a year.

Allowing panhandling drives away people who might otherwise live or work in Tampa, he said.

"People don't want to come here when they see 10 or 15 people standing on the corner of Fowler" Avenue, he said.

But other council members brought up the cost of enforcing the ban, the need to seek a consensus of opinion from neighborhood groups and the possible impact on charities that also seek donations from motorists.

"You can't just say, 'I don't like these people. Get rid of them,' " council member Charlie Miranda said. Shriners, firefighters' boot drives to raise money to fight muscular dystrophy and vendors trying to make a living by hawking newspapers could all be affected.

Miranda asked city staff members to investigate whether traffic is heavier during certain hours or on certain days so the city can tailor regulations that don't take a one-size-fits-all approach.

"It seems real simple," he said, "but it becomes much more complex when you look at it."

Despite the council's inaction Thursday, council Chairman Thomas Scott said it is working on the problem.

Scott said he is talking to city attorneys about a possible ordinance to ban panhandling on major arterial roads in the city. The goal, he said, is to develop something the city can defend in court.

"It will be challenged," he said.

In October, council members cited high unemployment in rejecting calls from neighborhoods, Mayor Pam Iorio and police to ban panhandling on city streets. Proponents of a ban said Tampa's streets have gotten worse since June, when St. Petersburg enacted a wide-ranging ban on panhandling and roadside vending.

Hillsborough County has an ordinance banning solicitation within 4 feet of the right of way. Temple Terrace and Plant City also limit solicitation. Tampa allows it, but requires people to wear safety vests when asking for money, raising funds or selling items.

The County Commission has created a committee to study why current rules are not working as they are intended. City Council members said they want to hear from that committee before moving ahead with changes to the city's rules.

Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403 .

Tampa City Council declines to schedule panhandling referendum 12/16/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries

    Blogs

    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.