Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

To conserve water, St. Petersburg eyes xeriscaping incentives to discourage use of St. Augustine grass

ST. PETERSBURG — To conserve water, city officials want to limit St. Augustine grass, the lush, thirsty turf prevalent among suburban subdivisions, public lawns and golf courses.

The City Council passed an ordinance Thursday that establishes incentives and regulations to discourage the use of St. Augustine turf and promote xeriscaping.

The proposed law would limit the use of St. Augustine grass at private properties with new construction and provide financial incentives such as a partial refund on building permit fees to property owners who do not use any St. Augustine turf.

But the ordinance will have no impact on the miles of St. Augustine grass already planted on city medians, parks and lawns.

Instead, city officials said they have identified more than 20 public sites where they could someday plant drought-tolerant landscaping. But uprooting the grass and replacing it with xeriscaping anytime soon would be too expensive amid ongoing budget struggles, city administrators said.

Environmental activists, however, had hoped the city would lead by example.

City Hall needs to "show they are committed to conserving resources for human beings to drink rather than staring at squares of green," said Beth Connor, a Sierra Club activist. "Why be timid when we are in the middle of a drought? It's time for bold action."

Council member Karl Nurse introduced a far more ambitious version of the proposed measure last year. At the time, he said the city should replace any grass not used for recreational activities, including the lawn outside City Hall, with pine, flowers or other native plants that do not need frequent watering. That proposal had few supporters in City Hall.

Still, the legislation approved Thursday was an important first step, Nurse said.

A public hearing and second affirmative council vote must also take place before the measure becomes law.

• • •

The City Council also voted on a measure that was initially intended to protect taxi drivers and customers following a string of cab robberies in 2008.

Council member Jim Kennedy had suggested the city require cab companies install security cameras and safety shields in their vehicles, but industry leaders pushed back, calling the measure punitive and unnecessary.

The compromise after months of intense policy debate? An ordinance that establishes the same permit requirements for peddlers, cab drivers and fortune tellers.

To conserve water, St. Petersburg eyes xeriscaping incentives to discourage use of St. Augustine grass 05/21/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 25, 2009 5:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.