Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Council votes to keep Ybor City signs

A Seventh Avenue sign in Ybor City has a Spanish language counterpart using the slang “La Setima,” approved in 1998.


A Seventh Avenue sign in Ybor City has a Spanish language counterpart using the slang “La Setima,” approved in 1998.

TAMPA — History won the hearts of City Council members Thursday in a controversy over honorary signs on Ybor City's Seventh Avenue.

The council voted to leave up the secondary signs that label Seventh Avenue, Ybor's main drag, "La Setima," a term used by the historic district's early residents.

Ybor activist Fran Costantino lobbied the council to get rid of the signs, saying the proper spelling is "Septima." The current signs, approved by City Council in 1998, makes Tampa look ignorant, she argued.

"We know it's a colloquialism, but the tourists and Super Bowl people coming don't know that," Costantino said.

But supporters of the existing signs say they are a nod to Ybor's past.

"This is about memory, this is about history, this is about making a good story," said Ybor City Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Keating.

The Ybor City Development Council, a city agency, also supported leaving the signs alone.

Council members Linda Saul-Sena and Mary Mulhern voted to eliminate them.

"What I'm proposing is that we remove the controversy," said Saul-Sena, who wanted to eliminate the Spanish language signs altogether. "We should call it Seventh Avenue."

Dialects and pronunciation vary, Mulhern said.

"But spelling is pretty cut and dried," she said. "I'd like to see us use the correct spelling and people can say it however they want."

Mulhern said that, as someone who relocated to Tampa from Chicago, she sees a city that resists change.

"This sort of thing could possibly make us look less literate," she said. "And I think it's important for this to be known as a city that knows how to spell."

Mulhern said she found the controversy interesting, and planned to bring it to the attention of New York Times writer William Safire, who writes a column called "On Language."

However, a majority of the council, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, rejected the idea.

"I was born in Ybor City, I was raised in Ybor City," said council member Charlie Miranda, who voted to leave the signs in place.

As a kid, he said, he often didn't know the names of his neighbors, but when he referred to the "blonde lady's daughter" or "the guy with one eye," everyone knew who he was talking about.

"We nicknamed so many things, and those nicknames stuck," he said.

Council member Tom Scott said as an elected official, it's impossible to "remove controversy," as Saul-Sena suggested.

"You either make somebody unhappy or you make them happy," he said. "It's as simple as that."

The cost of removing the signs was estimated at $1,328 to $3,110.

Costantino said she had backing from dozens of people who wanted the signs taken down, but the battle is now over.

"I tried to give the people who wanted it changed a forum and we didn't win," she said. "As far as I'm concerned the case is closed."

Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Tampa Council votes to keep Ybor City signs 01/15/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 15, 2009 11:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way


    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

  2. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism


    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, according to a new court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]
  3. Pinellas School Board approves plan that aims to close achievement gap


    After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that aims to tackle the achievement gap in 10 years and settles a long-running lawsuit over the education of …

    "I'm an optimist. I think this is going to work," Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner said Tuesday after the board was presented with a plan that aims to settle a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students and close the achievement gap. The board voted 7-0 to approve the plan. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. With big concerts approaching, Tampa Bay venues remain vigilant after Manchester attack

    Public Safety

    In the aftermath of an explosion that killed at least 22 people — including children — moments after a pop concert ended in England on Monday night, local venues are assuring the public that security will continue to be tight at the Tampa Bay area's upcoming big-ticket shows.

    Fans cross Himes Avenue in Tampa toward Raymond James Stadium before the start of Beyonce's Formation World Tour in Tampa on April 29, 2016. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  5. Kahwa Coffee to open second drive-thru store in St. Petersburg


    Kahwa Coffee will open its 12th location and fourth with a drive-thru in a former "farm store" in St. Petersburg.

    Kahwa Coffee will open its 12th location and fourth with a drive-thru in a former "farm store" in St. Petersburg.
[Times file photo]