03/06/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Almost three years after embracing red-light cameras, St. Petersburg is now the first city in the region to turn its back on them.
With a 6-2 vote, the City Council decided Thursday to kill the controversial camera program by Sept. 30.
If the city's 22 cameras, now placed at 10 intersections, fail to be profitable before that date, they will come down sooner....
Admit it. You looked outside today, saw the rain, the grey clouds, and wished you could "work from home."
Here's something to cheer you up.
Gap just came out with a new line, and it channels exactly how I'm sure many of us feel right now. The collection is called "Lived In," and it's obvious what vibe designers are going for.
Casual, comfy. And stylish, of course....
03/05/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A day before a scheduled council vote on whether to end the city's controversial red light camera program, Mayor Rick Kriseman said he is likely to remove the cameras in September if they are no longer profitable.
Just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, communications director Ben Kirby released a memo the mayor wrote to the City Council.
"At the current pace, the revenues are expected to fall below the costs of the program in September of this year," Kriseman wrote. "Should the program continue beyond tomorrow's City Council meeting, and should red light running behavior continue to improve resulting in revenues which fall below the costs of the program, we will remove cameras at that time."...
03/04/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A dozen years ago, the city embarked on a months-long endeavor to get feedback from residents on what they wanted the community to look, feel and be like for the next generation.
That exercise, which came to be known as Vision 2020, laid the groundwork for reworking city land use regulations.
Later this year, the city will once again seek input, this time about the waterfront. The same planners will be tapped to lead this effort, too....
03/04/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The city's port has befuddled officials for years.
Despite its downtown location, it is small and often overshadowed by its big sister across the bay.
Officials have tried various ideas to jump-start economic development at the site, ranging from attempts to woo cruise ships to a fresh seafood market.
None have been that successful. Last year, port revenue was $57,875, but it cost more than $300,000 to operate, including about $100,000 for security....
03/03/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — City Council member Wengay Newton will once again try to persuade his colleagues Thursday to kill the city's red light camera program.
This time he might have a chance.
Newton plans to ask the council to cancel the city's contract with the Arizona-based camera vendor American Traffic Solutions. He also wants the city to refund money to nearly 2,500 drivers who were ticketed at intersections where it was determined the yellow light signal time was calculated incorrectly....
02/27/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — For two years, red-light cameras have been under a near-constant glare of scrutiny.
So far, the program has survived every attempt to squash it.
Yet the cameras, strongly supported by Mayor Rick Kriseman, the Police Department and city staff, appeared to be on shaky ground during a nearly three-hour workshop on Thursday, as council members and a frequent critic again raised questions about operations and cost....
02/23/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — It's almost impossible to find a weekend parking spot on Beach Drive.
City and business leaders think they've found a creative solution in the now defunct Pier, where the parking lots are almost always empty.
Starting next month, free trolleys will shuttle folks to and from Beach Drive. Pickup and drop-off will be at the Dolphin Parking Lot along the Pier approach, which will be renamed the Beach Drive Parking Lot....
02/21/14 Local Government
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman proclaimed he wouldn't sit at the dais for every City Council meeting, and he wasn't there for the start of Thursday's meeting.
During the public comment period, Dr. David McKalip railed about the cost of the proposed curbside recycling program and noted that Kriseman wasn't there to protect the "struggling, vulnerable and voiceless."...
02/16/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A few months ago, eight strangers came here to immerse themselves in the city's downtown.
St. Petersburg gets thousands of visitors every year, but these ones were different. They were a team of professionals from the Urban Land Institute, with specialties in everything from real estate and economic development to infrastructure and city planning.
They were being paid by the business community and the city to provide an honest assessment of the area, as well as suggestions for improvements....
02/13/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A budget forecast presented to the City Council on Thursday warned that the city could end the fiscal year in September with a $2.3 million deficit.
One big factor, according to budget director Tom Greene, is the falling cost of fuel and the mild winter, which has translated into fewer utility tax collections.
Officials had projected the city would take in about $212.7 million in revenue for fiscal year 2014, but now believe collections will fall $1 million short....
ST. PETERSBURG — Residents will soon see tangible evidence of Trader Joe's highly anticipated location on Fourth Street.
City officials have approved most of the permits for the specialty grocery store, which will be between 28th and 27th avenues N.
The chain still needs approval for demolition permits that will allow it to knock down the buildings that housed a handful of other businesses, including a couple of restaurants, a thrift store, a barbershop and a gym, said Rick Dunn, the city's top building official....
02/07/14 Local Government
A new sheriff
St. Petersburg City Council members are known for long-winded debates during meetings. But it appears there's a new sheriff in town. New council Chairman Bill Dudley, left, reminded members about time limits this past week — and also warned he would be enforcing them.
"When you hear that buzzer, I'll let you finish your thought," Dudley said during Thursday's meeting. "A thought isn't another two minutes."...
02/07/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A few years ago, 80 to 90 boats that were either improperly anchored or broken down littered city waterways.
These days, that number is down to 20 to 30.
The city attributes much of the improvement to a pilot program set up by the state and run by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Florida law does not allow local governments to regulate the anchorage of non-live-aboard vessels. The pilot program made an exception....