St. Petersburg parking meters will run to 10 | June 6, story
Meter extension dooms downtown
As a two-year resident and a longtime visitor of the St. Petersburg area, I was initially impressed with what appeared to be the progressiveness and forward thinking of Mayor Rick Baker's administration. There were the clear efforts to revitalize downtown, the national exposure gained from the Grand Prix auto race, neighborhood initiatives — all high-profile endeavors that surely promoted any political ambitions the mayor may harbor.
Now with the Tierra Verde annexation clearly, at minimum, a public relations debacle, comes a lower-profile proposal that almost ensures a dismal future for the downtown district: the proposal to extend the parking meter hours until 10 p.m. What are they thinking?
The ostensible reason is "consistency." Who are they kidding? It's a short-term and shortsighted attempt at a budget fix, one destined to imperil the survival of the restaurants, clubs, etc., that depend on car traffic and ease of parking.
In a few years when the businesses have failed and we're staring at empty storefronts whose owners and tenants are paying no taxes, the Baker administration will be long gone, having patted themselves on the back for their "prudent" revenue enhancements.
John J. Roberts, South Pasadena
St. Petersburg parking meters will run to 10 | June 6, story
Pain will be greater than the revenue
As a resident of downtown St. Petersburg who walks to the shops, entertainment venues and restaurants, I am concerned that the city's efforts to standardize parking in the downtown area are misguided and will contribute more to the demise of a vibrant downtown than the revenue generated will to the city coffers.
The only ones who will benefit will be the owners of parking lots convenient to some businesses. Many people seem to prefer the closer outdoor lots to the covered, multistory city-owned lots.
Downtown restaurants are struggling in this period of belt-tightening. BayWalk is almost a ghost town as it is. Storefronts along Central and even Beach Drive are empty.
Adding the burden of having customers either leave early or refuse to come at all because they can go to outlying areas where there is free on-site parking will hurt downtown businesses more than it will help them.
Willi Rudowsky, St. Petersburg
Walk to read sign or pay a hefty fine
A few years ago while I was living in Tierra Verde, I had parked downtown in St. Petersburg on Second Street to dine at my favorite restaurant nearby. After dinner when I went to get my car, I was surprised to find a parking ticket on my windshield for parking there after 7:30 p.m.
The only sign I saw was on a pole way, way down the street. As a handicapped person with a Florida handicapped license tag on the back of my car, was I supposed to walk that far down the street to read the sign? Ugh!
St. Petersburg should have added another sign where I could've read it without walking so far.
A comedian name Rodney Dangerfield used to say many times, "Nobody gives me any respect," and I could say the same for St. Petersburg. Oh, yes, I had to pay, I think, a $45 fine. Ugh!
Why bother driving to downtown St. Petersburg when you can get a lot less stress parking at several malls in Tampa in order to dine and to go shopping?
Oh, yes, did I mention bringing coins to feed the parking meters? Why bother?
I feel that St. Petersburg has a lot to learn.
Richard W. Rice, Silver Spring, Md.
St. Petersburg pedestrians worry as bicyclists share sidewalks | May 31, story
Polite approach works quite well
I'm a senior resident of downtown St. Petersburg. In the close to five years I've lived there, I've come to count on my bicycle as my primary, and preferred, means of transportation.
I use and enjoy the bike trail whenever possible and ride on the road when necessary, but also travel on the sidewalk any time it seems (and often it is) the safest way to proceed. I approach that privilege with great respect for the pedestrians sharing the walkway with me.
For example, I ring the bell on my handlebars, catching the attention of those in my path long before I get to them. When approaching from the rear, I watch for an indication they've heard the bell and as I get closer I shout, "Passing on the right (or left)," to clarify my intentions. This tactic not only works well but often stimulates a pleasant exchange in the passing.
When approaching head-on, I slow down, gauge and decide upon the path of least resistance (to the right or to the left), signal my intent and wait for clear acknowledgement they agree. This approach, too, often inspires a nice exchange in the passing.
For individuals refusing to yield an inch one way or the other, and for groups two or more wide who stubbornly refuse to allow even the slightest break in their sidewalk dominating ranks, I wait and then bicycle on.
These are lessons learned by using good common sense. Still, if the city powers-that-be want to further stimulate public education or awareness, I'm all for it.
Recent changes in the ordinance allowing bicyclists to use sidewalks may require some adjustments in the way we approach the flow of pedestrian, bicycle and motorized vehicle traffic, but I believe our evolution as a city is worthy of any energy we might expend in that direction.
Eleanor L. Bailey, St. Petersburg
Alarm fines offset losses, reduce risk | May 31, editorial
Alarm companies should also pay up
The editorial board agrees that homeowners who have residence alarms installed by the alarm companies should pay a fine for "false" alarms due to the burden placed on law enforcement agencies in responding to these alarms.
The more important issue that the editorial did not address is the role of the alarm companies that install the equipment. This role most often begins with representatives of the companies obtaining information of burglary victims from the various police agencies. They then contact the victims and inform them that they can install alarm equipment for a monthly fee, and that the police agency in their area would quickly respond to the alarms and take proper action.
A reasonable person would conclude that the alarm companies should also pay a "fee" for each alarm that police respond to.
Van E. Vergetis, Holiday
There's no need to dole out hate
We pass them every day in our travels — those wayward souls on the street corners with signs asking for help. The signs might read "Homeless — Please Help" or maybe just "God Bless."
Most people just drive by, but I noticed one motorist who felt the need to give the middle finger salute as he drove by a sad looking man with a sign asking for help. Why have such a reaction as this? What harm are these people to us?
Go into any church on Sunday morning and there is a minister or priest or other church official asking for money at some point. How about the television ministries? How about Jerry's kids? We plunk change into firemen's boots without a second thought. What is it that bothers some people about seeing these people on the street corners asking for help?
Would you be out there if you didn't have to be? Is their suffering too close or too visible? If you have change and want to give, do so; otherwise just drive by. Don't make them feel worse about themselves by hateful actions.
Ed Hotchkiss, St. Petersburg