Days after two people, including a 14-year-old boy, were fatally shot in Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood, Mayor Jane Castor is calling for a juvenile curfew in the area starting at 1 a.m.
Castor, a former city police chief, made the remarks at a luncheon Wednesday, blocks from where the shooting erupted in the early hours of Sunday morning in the entertainment district still crowded with Halloween revelers. At least 15 people were injured and a 22-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder.
The shooting, which police say broke out between two quarreling groups, has stirred debate about the evolving identity of one of the city’s most storied neighborhoods, prompting both calls to temper late-night activity and concerns that local businesses will be pushed out.
City attorneys will present a draft ordinance for the juvenile curfew at the regularly scheduled council meeting Thursday, city spokesperson Adam Smith confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times. If met with support from Council, the curfew could be in place within a few weeks, he said.
The mayor’s curfew proposal comes on the heels of calls from Tampa City Council member Gwen Henderson, whose district includes Ybor, for local businesses to close at 1 a.m. for the next six months.
The mayor supports a temporary early closing time “assuming legal questions are ironed out,” Smith said.
At the luncheon — held by the Rotary Club of Ybor City at the Columbia Restaurant — the mayor also emphasized there will continue to be a “strong law enforcement presence” there, Smith said.
Ybor is in “transitional phase and has been for years,” Castor told the Times earlier this week, from a nighttime-focused economy to a greater mix of residential properties and daytime businesses.
In the wake of the East Seventh Avenue shooting, developer Darryl Shaw, who is bringing 5,000 homes to the area in the next 10 years, said the historic district faces “hard conversations.”
Shaw has indicated support for fewer alcohol-related businesses along East Seventh Avenue. “I think there is definitely a desire to temper some of the late-night activity,” he said earlier this year.
Settled by Spanish, Cuban and Italian immigrants, Ybor has had many faces: a thriving community built on a fabric of cultures, the epicenter of Tampa’s cigar industry and a haven for local artists. Its wide sidewalks, once thronged with people heading to and from tobacco-rolling jobs, are now lined with bars and, increasingly, arts and culture offerings such as the recently opened Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.
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Business and homeowners are “looking for long-term solutions not a knee-jerk reaction just to appease them. We need to work on systemic long-term solutions,” council member Bill Carlson told the Times in a statement.
“The underlying cause of this terrible incident was the failure of the last two mayors to address issues of public safety and real economic development. These problems should have been solved years ago,” he said. “Continuing to ignore them will not resolve the situation. We also have to focus on a positive vision for the future that is respectful of Ybor’s rich culture and heritage.”
Resident Fran Costantino has worked for years to shift associations with Ybor from bullet casings and crime scene tape to small businesses and cultural events. Sunday’s shooting, she said, “is a blow to those of us who’ve worked so hard to make everyone feel safe here.”
At Thursday’s regularly scheduled Council meeting, Henderson will make a motion to ask staff to identify sources of revenue “to expand community policing and step-up code enforcement to crack down on noise violations, loitering, public drinking, and other infractions,” according to a statement from her office.
She is also asking the Hillsborough County Public School district to consider stressing to the parents of high school students that Ybor nightlife is “not a place for teenagers.”