Thursday, January 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Solving SoHo noise issue needs combined effort

Though it fumbled at times, the city of Tampa has worked in good faith to fairly resolve noise concerns in the bar district along S Howard Avenue. A lawsuit filed against the city faulting its noise ordinance as overly broad and unconstitutional is about the worst way of addressing the real and ongoing impacts that the commercial district is having on the neighborhood. The noise ordinance needs to be strong and clear, and the city must remain committed to balancing business interests with larger quality-of-life concerns in Hyde Park.

The tavern World of Beer claims in its suit that the city lacks the authority to regulate noise in the popular SoHo bar and restaurant area. That authority, the suit claims, rests with Hillsborough County's Environmental Protection Commission, which regulates noise as it does other pollutants, such as those affecting water and air.

The company, which this year received three citations for loud music, alleges the regulations are confusing, overly intrusive and arbitrary. And it claims the city lacks a "legitimate government interest in regulating sound that is compatible" with permitted land uses in SoHo — a salvo that points to how far development has unhinged sound planning along the Howard corridor.

The EPC's authority does not preclude other local government agencies from adopting a variety of other land-development rules of their own. If World of Beer wants clarity from the courts as a prelude to establishing clearer and more uniform noise limits — fine. And it's clear the city needs to sharpen its enforcement of the regulations. But sloppy ticket-writing does not make the noise limits moot or unreasonable. And the idea the city doesn't have a reason for regulating noise in a mixed-use neighborhood makes no sense. The residences were in Hyde Park long before the bars. And the homes and businesses long supported each other. The difference now is that SoHo's new brand identity is hijacking the entire discussion over what's appropriate for the area.

The city helped create this mess by allowing S Howard to overdevelop. But it's too late to turn back the clock. The city and business community need to recognize that the impacts are real and that noise and other nuisance problems on Howard diminish both the residential nature of Hyde Park and SoHo's commercial appeal.

The residents have legitimate complaints, and they should no more have to accept the noise on Howard than bar owners should have to accept an arbitrary noise ordinance. The city can do better and the bars must. And by working together, the two sides might find what they likely won't in court — a mutually beneficial and durable way to coexist.

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Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18