Monday, August 20, 2018
Transportation

Tampa's 5-minute parking rule for neighborhoods deemed unenforceable

TAMPA — Nobody knows how many Tampa homeowners have posted signs saying "5 minute parking, City Code 15-43," but there are a lot of them.

The 5-minute rule has been in the city's code since at least 1989. Some of the signs are plain. Some are fancy. City Hall doesn't approve where they go, or track where they are.

Instead, residents pay for the signs themselves, with no permit needed.

Historically, those who have cared enough have been able to call police to write tickets for cars left more than 5 minutes in front of a posted property.

No more.

Police don't keep readily available statistics on how many tickets they write for violations of the limit, but one last year went to a Tampa man who complained to the Florida Department of Transportation that the resident-installed sign where he parked was so low to the ground and set so far back from the street that he didn't even see it.

In response, the FDOT told the city in late December that the signs do not comply with the state law authorizing signs on both state and local roads. As a result, city attorneys say, if Tampa tried to continue enforcing the rule, it could lose state and federal funds.

"When we heard that, we knew it was going to be like kicking over the beehive," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. "And that's totally outside of our control. We were perfectly happy with the process as it existed. For a lot of the neighborhoods that are in or about commercial areas, those 5-minute parking signs are helpful."

Police stopped enforcing the 5-minute limit on Jan. 23, and officials are encouraging residents to take down the signs.

Meanwhile, city attorneys are scheduled to discuss the options with the City Council next week, but they plan to start by asking the council to take the ordinance off the books.

"We are moving forward with a repeal," Assistant City Attorney Kristin Mora said. "The statute says we have to try to act immediately to remedy the situation."

City Attorney Julia Mandell has told the council that steps after that could include seeking state approval for a different standard, amending the city ordinance to match state and federal standards — which could make producing the signs more expensive — or charting a different approach to regulating parking in residential areas.

The signs have been allowed all over Tampa, though they were especially prevalent in South Tampa and near the S Howard Avenue restaurant and bar scene. There, parking is just one of the problems, along with noise, that vexes residents who see their neighborhood inundated with nighttime partiers.

"I can feel the frustration of people," said City Council member Guido Maniscalco, whose office has gotten a handful of calls and emails since the city stopped enforcing the limit. "I've heard stories of (people) pulling up signs and parking."

In Hyde Park, where perhaps 10 percent of the 1,493 homes have posted the signs, the change could be "pretty impactful," said Jen McDonald, president of the Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.

"The biggest concern that we have is that residents should be able to park near their homes," she said. Some homes don't have driveways and, thus, lack off-street parking. And some streets are narrow enough that when you pack a lot of cars in, it's not safe for either residents or patrons of SoHo businesses. "It is something that we're pretty concerned about."

Even the guy whose complaint led to the rule's unraveling said he gets the purpose of the signs.

"I can understand and appreciate the residents, especially those that don't have driveways, wanting a reliable place to park when they come home," said David Osborne, 33, who got a $30 ticket on S Moody Avenue in January last year after going to visit a friend.

But he also sees the reasonableness of being able to park on a public street paid for and maintained with taxpayer money. At a minimum, he said, if there's a restriction, the notice ought to be in plain sight.

"I would have totally respected the sign had I seen it," he said.

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times.

Comments
Have you made up your mind on a transportation sales tax? Many candidates haven’t

Have you made up your mind on a transportation sales tax? Many candidates haven’t

TAMPA — Some 77,000 people signed a petition to place a sales-tax hike for transportation on the Nov. 6 ballot, but many of the 17 people seeking seats on the Hillsborough County Commission say they’re still making up their minds. Some c...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Transportation activists hope to pave over past referendum defeats

Transportation activists hope to pave over past referendum defeats

TAMPA ó The group behind a sales tax transportation initiative used hundreds of volunteers and spent at least $550,000 on a petition-gathering firm in a frantic six-week dash to qualify for the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.That may have been the ea...
Published: 08/11/18
Troubled SunPass vendor could have to pay $1.7 million, but Florida isnít asking for it

Troubled SunPass vendor could have to pay $1.7 million, but Florida isnít asking for it

The vendor responsible for recent problems with the SunPass tolling system could be on the hook to pay the state at least $1.7 million based on a review of documents obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.But the Florida Department of Transportation hasnít ...
Published: 08/08/18
Updated: 08/09/18
Petition succeeds, Hillsborough voters set to decide on sales tax hike for transportation

Petition succeeds, Hillsborough voters set to decide on sales tax hike for transportation

TAMPA ó As if there wasnít enough riding on the mid-term elections, a plan to raise the sales tax to pay for transportation projects is now set to go before Hillsborough voters.The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections confirmed Wednesday that ...
Published: 08/08/18

Flooding closes WPA Road in Brooksville; Rackley, other roads still closed

BROOKSVILLE ó Flooding on Wednesday led the Hernando County Department of Public Works to close WPA Road just south of its intersection with Mondon Hill Road.More than a foot of water is covering part of the road, east of downtown Brooksville, accord...
Published: 08/08/18
Ferry project waves goodbye to $4.7 million federal grant

Ferry project waves goodbye to $4.7 million federal grant

TAMPA — If the long-awaited commuter ferry service between south Hillsborough County and MacDill Air Force Base ever happens, it will likely be without federal money. Leaders of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit authority acknowledged Mon...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/07/18
High-speed rail firm scouting land for station and development around proposed Rays ballpark site

High-speed rail firm scouting land for station and development around proposed Rays ballpark site

TAMPA ó Brightline, the firm behind the passenger rail system between Miami and West Palm Beach, doesnít yet know if it will win a state bid to build a high-speed rail link between Tampa and Orlando.But the company is already scouting sites for a ter...
Updated one month ago
Southbound I-275 ramp to northbound 75 in Manatee County to close for 10 months

Southbound I-275 ramp to northbound 75 in Manatee County to close for 10 months

People who travel from Pinellas County to southern Hillsborough using the interstates may want to build in some extra time.The Florida Department of Transportation has shut down the ramp that shuttles motorists from southbound Interstate 275 in Manat...
Updated one month ago
Waterborne transportation a fact of life in other cities; why not Tampa Bay?

Waterborne transportation a fact of life in other cities; why not Tampa Bay?

Mark Hubbard, the owner of Hubbard’s Marina on John’s Pass, has watched two decades of uncertainty over the future of waterborne transportation play out in Tampa Bay. Just when it seems that Tampa and St. Petersburg have figured out how ...
Updated one month ago
One Florida agency rejected the troubled SunPass vendor three years ago. Hereís why.

One Florida agency rejected the troubled SunPass vendor three years ago. Hereís why.

When Florida wanted to consolidate its tolling systems into what drivers now know as SunPass, regional expressway agencies in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami were ready to work together. But when Xerox spinoff Conduent State & Local Solutions was chosen as...
Updated one month ago