ST. PETERSBURG — Sometimes City Council passes ordinances even in the face of major public opposition.
But at last week’s meeting, the strength of those who showed up to contest what council members had called a tenants bill of rights forced them to table the issue.
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If passed, the ordinance would have forbidden landlords from engaging in discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, political affiliation, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, veteran or service member status, or lawful source of income. Much of that mimics federal anti-discrimination rules and isn’t controversial.
The part that drove 32 people, mostly landlords and property managers, to speak against the ordinance was the “lawful source of income” reference. That portion would have forced landlords to accept public housing vouchers, which, they told council members, would subject them to all kinds of burdensome regulation.
The ordinance also would have forced landlords to notify tenants before assessing late fees.
Only two people, Stephanie Owens and Terri Lypsey Scott, both members of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, spoke in favor of the ordinance.
Council member Amy Foster, who spearheaded the bill of rights effort, suggested the body pass a stripped-down version of the ordinance, removing the references to source of income. Council members instead opted to take the proposed ordinance back to the committee level for more workshopping.