Anne Lindberg - 2/50 - SaintPetersBlog

Anne Lindberg

Redington Beach may be able to regulate short-term rentals under proposed local bill

In 2008, Redington Beach passed an ordinance banning short-term rentals.

But last year, they discovered that the ordinance was not enforceable because it had never gone to the voters as required by the Town Charter. That left officials with no way to handle two short-term rentals that left neighbors complaining.

But members of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation may come to the rescue.

Under a local bill proposed by state Rep. Kathleen Peters and state Sen. Darryl Rouson, the ordinance would go before Redington Beach voters. If it passes with at least two-thirds of the vote, the ordinance would be retroactively effective to Feb. 6, 2008, the date the town commission passed it.

That would free the commission to ban the short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals became an emotional issue in Redington Beach last year after a Canadian couple purchased a house to rent out short-term. Neighbors complained to the town because of noise and other issues.

Redington Beach cited the Canadians under the 2008 ordinance that prohibited short-term rentals. The case went to a special magistrate but stopped there because the couple’s attorney discovered the 2008 ordinance had been passed without first going to a referendum.

Mayor Nick Simons said the attorney argued a clause in the Town Charter required such ordinances to be approved by voters before taking effect. The attorney argued that the law was unenforceable.

Simons said the ordinance did not go to referendum because the town’s attorney said it was unnecessary. Since then, Redington Beach has hired a different attorney, Jay Daigneault of Dunedin, who agreed the Canadians’ attorney was right.

The town could not simply pass another ordinance because of a 2011 state law banning municipalities from restricting short-term rentals. If the municipality had an ordinance on the books, that would have been allowed to stand.

The proposed local bill, if approved, would give Redington Beach that status.


Pinellas legislative delegation could dissolve contractor licensing board

Members of the Pinellas Legislative Delegation are scheduled to consider a local bill to dissolve the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

The bill is one of two regarding the PCCLB sponsored by state Rep. Larry Ahern and state Sen. Jack Latvala. A local bill applies to a certain area only, rather than the entire state. In this case, the law would only affect the PCCLB, not any other licensing boards.

The other bill would increase the number of members of the board from 21 to 22 and directs what organizations will be represented on the board.

They will be considered at Tuesday’s delegation meeting.

Ahern, from Seminole, said the measures are designed to give delegation members a choice of how to handle the PCCLB. If members think the problems lie with the membership of the board, they could choose just to change the membership.

On the other hand, if they believe construction licensing and complaints could better be handled under the control of the county, they could vote to dissolve the agency.

Ahern said he believes licensing oversight is needed, but that it might be time to change the way it’s done. One possible advantage to dissolving the board and giving control to the county, he said, is the possibility of using other agencies, such as the Sheriff’s Office, to beef up enforcement.

The proposed dissolution bill would ban the PCCLB from incurring “any additional obligations or indebtedness” and directs it to “avoid wasting its assets.” It additionally gives a deadline for board members to wind up the board’s business: “By Dec. 31, 2017, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board shall wind down its affairs, including liquidating all of its assets and satisfying all of its obligations and indebtedness.”

The other bill increases the number of members of the board from 21 to 22 and directs what organizations will be represented on the board.

The PCCLB came under fire after a Tampa Bay Times story alleged that homeowners and contractors feel “cheated, ignored and even stonewalled” by the PCCLB. The board has called that story false and misleading.

Construction board says eliminating it will leave home, business owners unprotected

Faced with the possibility that members of the Legislative Delegation could move next week to eliminate it, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is fighting back.

In a 15-page memorandum to the delegation, the board argues that its existence is necessary to protect home and business owners against unscrupulous and unlicensed contractors.

Eliminating the agency “opens a dangerous door for Pinellas County home and business owners to be unprotected, reverting the construction industry back to the stone ages of the early ‘7Os where ‘anything went ‘ — in essence removing the voice for ethical, licensed contractors,” the memo says.

It adds, “if the work of the PCCLB is shifted to the Pinellas County government or the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation …  the costs of the 1,500-2,000 cases per year would be pushed directly onto the taxpayers to the tune of over $2 million dollars annually.

“The PCCLB currently handles two­ thirds of the cases for the DBPR, which would increase the already overloaded caseload on the state. Current delays for hearings range from two months to three years with the DBPR as compared to the PCCLB’s appeals board which take an average of two weeks to schedule and grant a hearing.

“Put that in perspective for average Joe Homeowner or Business owner filing a complaint against an unlicensed contractor — the statute of limitations would expire in one year which could leave many high and dry on the waiting list.”

The memo comes two days after Pinellas County Commission Chair Janet Long wrote to both the board and the Legislative Delegation. In her letter, Long told them to get their house in order. In the letter to the delegation, she asks for the county to have the power to determine how best to serve Pinellas residents and business owners should the delegation turn the agency’s duties over to the county.

The PCCLB memo comes days before Tuesday’s delegation meeting, the agenda of which has an item concerning the PCCLB. No details were available about the agenda item.

The PCCLB has been under fire recently from a series of articles by the Tampa Bay Times, which allege, among other things, that homeowners and contractors feel “cheated, ignored and even stonewalled” by the PCCLB.

The bulk of the PCCLB’s memo is taken up with a point-by-point reply to the Times’ allegations. The allegations, the board says, are “false, misleading, misstated and misquoted.”

Pinellas commissioners ask for power to revamp construction licensing board

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long sent a strongly-worded letter to the head of the county’s construction licensing board telling him to get the agency’s house in order.

Long also sent a letter to state Sen. Jack Latvala asking that Pinellas’ legislative delegation give the county the power to determine how best to provide the board’s services to residents.

The construction licensing board regulates certain construction and home improvement contractors practicing in Pinellas County, including all local municipalities. In addition, the PCCLB provides countywide certification and registration of contractors and countywide certification of journeyman.

The agency has come under fire recently for a lack of accountability and a failure to adequately police those contractors who come before it, especially if the contractor serves on the board. A study by the Tampa Bay Times concluded that homeowners and contractors feel “cheated, ignored and even stonewalled.”

Long referred to the Times story in her letter:

“On behalf of the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, I am writing about continuing  concerns related to the practices of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB).

“As the Legislature looks at potential options for reform, we strongly encourage the PCCLB to address the issues reported in the Tampa Bay Times to increase accountability and oversight, eliminate conflicts of interest, and adhere to Florida’s Public Records and Sunshine Laws. The public and Board of County Commissioners desires the PCCLB to operate in a transparent, ethical, and fair manner in order to restore the public’s trust and confidence in Pinellas County’s institutions.”

The Pinellas County delegation is expected to discuss the matter at its meeting next Tuesday.

In a letter to Latvala, who heads the delegation, Long wrote:

“Enclosed please find the attached letter to Mr. (Paul) Skipper, Chairman of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB). The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners encourages the Legislature to seek an expeditious solution to the ongoing issues with the PCCLB. We also ask that, should the PCCLB be dissolved and its activities assigned to the Board of County Commissioners, the county administrator be provided the latitude to  determine  the  structure  needed  to  deliver  these services  in an  efficient  and  effective manner.”


Rick Kriseman to join with Muslim leaders to host city’s first Iftar dinner

Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Wednesday that he and Muslim leaders from throughout Tampa Bay will host St. Petersburg’s first Iftar dinner welcoming residents of all faiths to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The event will be held June 14 at St. Petersburg’s historic Coliseum.

“Now more than ever, we must be expressive in our love and respect for people of all faiths,” Kriseman said. “I am excited to bring the community together to honor our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Abdul Karim Ali, the president of the Tampa Bay Area Muslim Association, said: “We know that breaking bread together helps a community work together for a common cause, and so we thank Mayor Kriseman and his team for their leadership in ensuring that the sun shines bright on all residents and faiths in St. Petersburg.”

Kriseman made his announcement on the same day that President Donald Trump signed an executive order that moved the U.S. closer to building a wall along the Mexican border. The executive order also seeks to beef up border patrols, increase the deportations of illegal immigrants and crack down on sanctuary cities by stripping them of federal grant money. Sanctuary cities are those that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.


Pinellas Realtors recommend Safety Harbor, St. Pete Beach candidates

The Pinellas Realtor Organization has issued recommendations in three upcoming elections.

In Safety Harbor, the group recommends Joe Ayoub for mayor and Damon Lister for Seat 1 on the City Commission.

In St. Pete Beach, Realtors recommend Alan Johnson for mayor.

The member-only candidate screening committee reviewed questionnaires and interviewed candidates before making recommendations. The group says that there are thoughtful, qualified candidates running, but each race had a candidate stand out for overall commitment to the community, understanding of economic issues, and advocacy for private property rights.

Ayoub, a former Safety Harbor mayor and commission member, is running against Janet Hooper, who holds Seat 1 on the commission.

Ayoub has said that, if elected, he will lead with a positive tone and inclusive style, focus on making our downtown more vibrant, add amenities to the city’s waterfront park, protect property rights and values, reduce the height and scale of the proposed seven-story condo building in Safety Harbor’s downtown. Ayoub has said he believes in responsible budgeting.

Hooper has resigned her seat to run for mayor. Lister is one of four candidates for the position. The others are Nancy J. BesoreCameron Boozarjomehri and Scott Long.

In the St. Pete Beach mayor’s race, Johnson is facing incumbent Deborah Schechner and John-Michael Fleig.

Both elections are March 14.


Pinellas legislative delegation schedules meeting next week

State Sen. Jack Latvala, chair of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation, has scheduled the second regular public hearing for the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session.

The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 31 at the Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive in Largo. The library is located in the Central Park complex near the intersection of Missouri and East Bay Drive.

This meeting will include voting on proposed local bills, presentations focusing on jobs and economic development, as well as limited time to hear from local organizations and agencies.

For a speaker request form, contact Latvala’s district office at (727) 793-2797 or by email at You can also obtain a form by visiting the delegation’s website at

Treasure Island residents ask judge to declare development ordinances null

Two Treasure Island residents have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to declare two city development ordinances to be void.

If the judge agrees, the effect would be to prevent developments of certain heights and densities from being built in the beach city’s downtown special area. That would include developments that have already been approved under the rules.

At issue are two ordinances that were passed in 2012. Both involved the Treasure Island downtown special area plan, which allows mixed-uses in order to encourage development and redevelopment. The other creates the specific mixed-use category envisioned by the first ordinance.

To pass, both had to be advertised and that, according to the lawsuit, is where the city erred. Rather than advertising the type of rule changes the ordinances were going to make, the city advertised them both merely as “public hearings.” State law, the lawsuit says, requires that the type of change be specifically named in the advertisement.

As a result of the city’s failure to comply with the requirements of Florida statutes …, all of the ordinances … are invalid, unenforceable, and void ab initio,” the suit says.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Ken Weiss, who has filed other suits against Treasure Island and Madeira Beach alleging that both governments did not stick to the rules in approving certain developments.

A suit Weiss filed against Madeira Beach that was dismissed last year has since been reinstated. And a different suit filed against Treasure Island is also expected to be reinstated.

Beaches chamber schedules forums on Madeira Beach candidates, Penny for Pinellas

The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce has scheduled two forums for voters.

The first, planned for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 9 is a candidates forum for the March 14 Madeira Beach city election. It will be in the Madeira Beach City Hall, 300 Municipal Drive. Seven are running for three open slots, and all have said they plan to attend the forum.

In the mayor’s race, incumbent Travis Palladeno is facing challenger Margaret Black. In the race for the District 3 seat, incumbent Ingrid Ferro-Spilde is running against Nancy Oakley. In the race for Seat 4, incumbent Housh Ghovaee has two opponents, John Douthirt and David Hitterman.

Madeira Beach has a council-manager form of government in which a five-member council – the mayor and five council members – set policy and pass a budget. A city manager runs the daily operations of the city.

The second chamber forum is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb.16 and will focus on the upcoming renewal of the Penny for Pinellas, which will be on the ballot in November. The forum will be at the Madeira Beach Rec Center, 200 Rex Place. The guest speaker will explain how Penny for Pinellas has been used to complete necessary infrastructure, beautification and capital improvement projects throughout the communities. 

The discussion will include a list of future projects planned for completion if voters approve the renewal of the penny.

Among the projects completed with past Penny money:

— New bridges that span our waterways and neighborhood parks

 — Faster travel with 68 new lane miles, 16 major roads with added lanes 

— Safer communities with more than 20 fire and emergency facilities built or renovated

— More than 150 projects to enhance our stormwater systems and flood control

— Protection of natural resources with hundreds of acres of land preserved, upgrades to 21 parks and more than 50 new miles of multiuse trails.

Gulfport schedules candidates’ forum Feb. 2

Gulfport voters are invited to “Meet the Candidates” running in the March 14 Municipal Election.

This will be a live broadcast at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Catherine A. Hickman Theater located at 5501 27th Ave. S.  Facilitated by the League of Women Voters, the “Meet the Candidates” forum will allow the public to present questions on topics relevant to Gulfport.

Two seats are up for grabs in the election. The Ward 2 seat is held by Christine Anne Brown, who is running for re-election. She is challenged by Linda Bailey. The Ward 4 seat is held my Michael Fridovich, who is the current vice mayor. Fridovich has three opponents: Bobby L. Reynolds, Richard Fried and Ernest Stone.

The forum will be broadcast “live” on the city of Gulfport television station, Channel 640 or 97-6 on Spectrum Cable and on the City’s website:

Gulfport has a Council-Manager form of government. A five-person City Council is elected citywide by the voters, each for a two-year term, except for the mayor who is elected to a three-year term. The city is divided into four wards, each of which is represented by one of the council members. The mayor is the fifth member of the council and is elected at-large, not representing any ward.

The City Council sets city policies, including adopting the budget on or before the beginning of each fiscal year, establishing local laws, and approving large expenditures of city funds. The five members of the City Council appoint a city manager to run the day-to-day operations of the city. The city manager is responsible for city finances and personnel management, as well as other administrative duties.

City Council meetings are held the first and third Tuesdays of each month.


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