Saturday, April 30, 2005

Connie Burton discussed further

On Sticks of Fire Tommy posted about the Connie Burton story. Blunted commented on the posting stating that he had some issues about the law in this case and that essentially he does not believe in these guilt by association laws. Fair enough.

The law in this case was a federal one strikes law that if you live in a housing authority project and a guest of yours or someone in your household was arrested for drug sales, then you could be evicted from your home in the project.

This law came about because many people in the projects were using drugs and selling drugs or people were coming into the projects and selling drugs and too many people were turning blind eyes to what their household members or guests were doing. These blind eyes were making life miserable for the other residents who did not use drugs and who wanted a safe place for their family to live in. As noted in the US District Court decision regarding Connie Burton's appeal:

"In the late 1980's the drug epidemic had become corrosive in many aspects of
our society. Public housing areas suffered along with many other segments of our
society during the drug war. In 1988, in response to the deteriorating safety
and overall quality of life due to drug-related crime and violence in public
housing, Congress granted to local public housing authorities (“PHAs”) a “new
tool” in striking a balance between providing affordable low income housing
which was also safe to live in. Id. 42 U.S.C. § 1437d(l)(6) was this tool,
and it mandated that every lease entered into by a PHA include a provision
permitting termination of tenancy when “a public housing tenant, any member of
the tenant's household, or any guest or other person under the tenant's control”
engaged in “drug-related criminal activity on or near public housing

We had something of a similar nature in our neighborhood. One of the homes was the headquarters for the drug trade. Drugs would be sold on the property and in the road front of the house. People would use the house as a base of operations and ride bikes in the surrounding streets circling around looking for people wanting to buy their drugs. These same people were part of the drug market crowd on 15th Street. These drug dealers along with the prostitutes made the neighborhood a lot nastier place to live.

The owner of the property, refused to do anything about it. Neighbors repeatedly advised her that her grandchildren were selling drugs. She was not at the home a lot because she was working three jobs to support those same grandchildren, or so she has said. She was advised to kick out those grandchildren and to trespass their friend. She refused, stating that they were her kin. She was actually witnessed abetting one known drug dealer in his efforts to avoid police.

Various neighbors and the neighborhood watch made call after call to the police. Many neighbors offered the use of their houses are watching posts. Some people confronted the drug dealers. However despite the arrests, the drug dealing continued. Neighbors then asked the police to begin public nuisance actions against the grandmother

In the public nuisance request to police in March 2004 it was noted:

“This home is a focal point for drug dealing in the area. Drug dealing occurs on the property and also the home is used as base of operations while drug dealers conduct drug dealing on foot and on bicycle in the immediate vicinity and on the streets surrounding the home. Drug dealing has been observed at that location for a minimum of 3 years, if not much longer. There have been 71 "calls for service" at that location since 12/14/2000 with 47 of those calls for services since June 2003. In addition, numerous calls or face-to-face contact reporting the criminal activity has been made directly to QUAD, Firehouse COPS and police administration. In the past year there have been multiple drug arrests at that location.”
However, because the appropriate public nuisance laws were not being utilized by the city, a meeting needed to be held with the city attorney’s office.

“….. at the meeting held two weeks ago with Assistant City Attorney Gina Grimes,
Municipal Prosecutor David Shobe, Major Jane Castor, George McNamara, and several Old and SE Seminole Heights Neighborhood Watch members it was agreed
that public nuisance actions can now be taken in these types of cases by the Police and the City under Florida Statutes 893.138. Furthermore it was agreed there could be possible criminal action under the F.S. 823.10."
Before public nuisance actions could be taken, in one bust, the grandmother was arrested along with two of her grandchildren. The arrests were for misdemeanor drug and drug paraphernalia possession. I suspect that the grandmother did not actually have the drugs in her possession but that since they were found in her house and she was in the house at the time, she was considered to be in control of the drugs. As it turns out the State Attorney dropped the charges. That was okay because the point was made because, lo and behold the drug dealing stopped. Finally once the owner of the property was essentially held responsible for the actions of those on her property, things changed.

So I can understand the laws used against Connie Burton.

Is the law fair? In the long run, probably. For those who want to live in a drug free housing project. For those who do not want their children to grow up and become drug dealers. for those who do not want to deal with the violence asssociated with drug dealers. Again from the District court decision:
"Similar to the factual situation in Rucker, Ms. Burton's son engaged in drug-related criminal activity outside of her apartment. As Judge Sneed points out, it is not likely that the tenant or the wrongdoer will admit to the fact that the tenant was aware of the drug-related criminal activity, especially since tenants and household members are often immediate family members. Hence, the only reliable source would be other residents. However, Congress concluded that other residents were equally unlikely to present the necessary testimony. “Tenants are frightened. They are scared for themselves and their children. They are afraid to report drug incidents to the PHA management and to the police because usually nothing is done by either agency.” The Drug Problem and Public Housing: Hearings Before the House Select Comm. on Narcotics Abuse and Control, H.R.Rep. No. 101-1019, at 66 (1989) (summary of testimony of Nancy Brown, Chairperson, State of Connecticut Task Force on Public Housing and Drugs); “The fear of retaliation makes it almost impossible to provide normal police protection.” H.R.Rep. No. 101-1019, at 69 (summary of testimony of Vincent Lane, Chairman, Chicago Housing Authority)."

There are too many people who turn a blind eye to criminal activity and thus allow it to continue and that needs to stop.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Connie Burton booted from home and WMNF

Connie Burton just lost a second trial over her eviction from public housing at the Robles Park Housing Project. (Tampa Housing Authority Critic's Eviction Stands - Tampa Tribune 4/29/05)

Connie Burton is a controversial figure. She is a member of the Uhuru Movement. a group that has organized many demonstrations and rallies about issues facing the African American community. She is a vocal and constant critic of local government and of what she perceived to be institutional and individual racism. She was a president of the Robles Parks Resident Council for years until removed from the post by the Tampa Housing Authority. She was arrested for inciting a riot and for battery on a police officer. She was acquitted on those charges.

The Tampa Housing Authority sought to first evict her after her 19 year old son was arrested in 1999 for posession of drugs with intent to sell At the time he was on the lease to the apartment and this arrest violated the "one strike and you are out policy" ( See also Tampa Trib 4/26/05.) She appealed her first loss and lost that appeal but was then granted this new trial when it was found a juror had slept through the trial.

An essential piece to the eviction is that she placed her son the lease so see could participate in a Housing Authority job training program. During the course of this eviction process she has denied that her son lived there. This means she was lying to the housing authority when she put her son on the lease. Or she was lying to the courts when she said he did not live there. (Of course to put this matter in perspective, how many parents lie when they have their child go to a school outside their zone and then give the school the address of a relative in that zone and say the child is living there.)

This loss comes shortly after the decison in January by radio station WMNF to terminate Ms. Burton's talk radio show Straight Talk.

According to March 5 St. Pete Times article WMNF terminated her

"..........saying she was divisive, used hate speech and raised money for the Uhuru movement, WMNF's board of directors upheld a management decision to take Burton off the air.........the board found that Burton's shows often featured the terms "traitors," "uncle Tom" and "black butt kissers" to describe some community

Also, Burton pushed the Uhuru Movement, often announcing upcoming meetings, rallies or other Uhuru-sponsored events. At one point last year, Burton solicited donations on air for the Uhuru Movement, according to a WMNF timeline."
Connie Burton has a right to say whatever she wants even if it is ugly and meanspirited. However that does not mean she has the right to do so at WMNF. Let her get on another radio station (If any will have her, as WMNF is the second radio station she tried ot have a show on.) Let her create her own microstation. Let her get a blog.

What I find interesting is that she is unemployed and has been for years. Nowhere have I read that she is disabled. She managed to host a radio show for 9 years so she does not lack the intellectual functioning to hold a job. A neighbor says she is a good speaker as long as she does not lose it. Is she unemployed because she just "does not play well with others." Or does she enjoy being a victim? Or does she enjoy the spotlight too much? Or did she not learn how to separate what goes on outside of work from what goes on the job and keeps getting fired? Or is there some other reason?

She lives in a 4 bedroom apartment with her 6-year-old grandaughter. I'm sure the other tenants with more family members would love to have an apartment where they could have two extra rooms. Is she being selfish?

One thought I have is that Ms. Burton makes it easier for a more moderate group to get things done with government because they can point to her and say "it is either us or this rabblerouser." Rabblerousing has a place in activism. We have used it in our neighborhood However to be an effective activist you need to move on beyond rabblerousing and be willing to come up with solutions and work side by side with government. So for that reason is Connie Burton and by extension the Uhuru movement ineffective in their causes?

Ms. Burton's supporters have a website.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

In order to sucessfully survive and prosper in an urban neigborhood you have to help each other. We have many such neighborly efforts.

2 weekends ago we had Paint Your Heart Out! Tampa "...... a city-wide program that enables citizens, businesses, clubs, and organizations to lend a helping hand to low-income, elderly citizens in our community. Over the past 16 years, volunteers and sponsors have given of themselves to paint the homes of more than 1,600 grateful and deserving homeowners." SE Seminole Heights has been involved in the program since 1989, one of the earliest neighborhoods. My house was a PYHO house in 1993 under a elderly prior owner.

Now comes this article in the Tampa Tribune about a new "grassroots" (I'm feel no remorse for the pun) reduced rate lawn cutting program for the elderly started in Old Seminole Heights.

"Apr 28, 2005
A Neighborly Cut Above

The trimmed lawns and tree-lined streets were what Nancy Dessart liked about the Seminole Heights neighborhood where she bought her home five years ago.

But then the 62-year-old didn't figure on the work it would take to keep her home trimmed. She tried several lawn services and hired neighborhood children to mow, clip and edge. Nothing quite worked.

``I was questioning the wisdom of purchasing a house,'' Dessart said, rethinking her decision years ago not to buy a condominium.

Enter the Grass Girls Lawn Service - a 10-member volunteer team of women who live in Seminole Heights and do it all grasswise for $10 a lawn or $20 for a double lot.

Dessart's dilemma, and that of other seniors living in Seminole Heights, is exactly why the grass girls cranked up mowers and revved blowers.

Too many seniors aren't able to do the heavy lifting anymore or they have limited income, said Diane Jenkins, who heads the green space and beautification committee for the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association.

She heard horror stories from two older residents about a man who mowed their lawns and then demanded a fee plus $40 extra to repair a lawn mower blade.

Jenkins talked to more neighbors.

``It got us to thinking if this is happening to two people in the neighborhood in a week, this must be pretty big,'' Jenkins said.

They surveyed 25 seniors in Seminole Heights about a nonprofit lawn service for older and medically needy residents.

``They were very receptive, and some people told us they kept lawn services because they felt bullied,'' Jenkins said.

That was nearly two lawns and a year ago. The grass girls now mow 20 lawns, exclusively in Seminole Heights, for residents who are 65 or older, or who are medically disabled. Their oldest customer is a 93-year-old woman.

``She's pretty spry, but she can't push a lawn mower,'' Jenkins said.

The grass girls have a waiting list, and more volunteers are needed, Jenkins said.

Yardwork generally is scheduled on weekends. Volunteers work in pairs and as often as possible mow lawns closest to their homes, Jenkins said.

For now, everyone supplies her own equipment, but the grass girls have applied for status as a charitable organization.

Jenkins said the group will apply for state grants to help buy sturdier equipment. There is also the possibility that grants could be used to contract some work to professional lawn services, Jenkins said.

``It wasn't designed to undercut lawn services,''

Jenkins said. ``It's not a money-making business. It's designed to give people respect they deserve but give them a product they're looking for.''

Money collected in excess of expenses is donated quarterly to different charities, including the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. This quarter's recipient will be the American Heart Association.

Melody Brown sees her work as a grass girl as almost selfish.

``You want neighbors' yards to look good, so you give up a bit of your time to help out,'' she said.

``You get to know your neighbors. Some of these people are so isolated.''

Yardwork and socializing come together, Jenkins said.

``They always come out and talk to you and always want to give you something to drink,'' she said.

Dessart said she enjoys her home more now that she no longer worries about lawn chores.

``I putter with flowers, but there are a ton of things I can't do,'' she said. ``I don't even think about it anymore.''

For information or to volunteer, call Jenkins at (813) 237-0287.

Reporter Kathy Steele can be reached at (813) 259-7146.

This story can be found at: "

Good work Diane and Melody!! Someone nominate them for a Neighborhood of the Year award from NUSA.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tanga-Ray's Men's Club

So what exactly is a Men's Club?

This place just opened up and I have been wondering about the sign.

Is this one of those gentlemen's club you would see in old english movie where old men sit in wing back chairs in front of fireplaces, drinking tea or sherry, reading the Times of London and sharing tales of wild adventures in far off lands?

Or this one of those social clubs that where old men sit in wooden hard-back chairs, drinking strong coffee or whisky, playing dominos and sharing stories of wild adventures coming from the old country to America?

Or is it something else? The name Tanga is well known in Tampa and nationwide as part of the name of an infamous nude bar (Tanga Lounge) - or a least is used to be before it was torn down for a road project. (sidenote: Tanga Lounge was owned by Joe Redner, Tampa's famous nude bar king and of course a Tampa City Council and Hillsborough County Commission candidate. He lost both times.)

This is odd because Bird Street and Nebraska Avenue is not a part of town where strip joints are seen. Also, usually strip joints have images of nude and partially nude women as part of the exterior decor and this does not. Hmmm. Curious. Well, we shall see what is uncovered.

Perhaps it is a place where old and young men men sit in cheap vinyl covered booths, drink beer, ogle waitresses and brag about of imaginary adventures with wild women.

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Tampa Trib Reporter's Ethical Breach

Well, the Tampa Tribune has joined the ranks of the big time newspapers in having its own ethical breach.

The Tampa Tribune has a a front page apology for an ethical breach by Brad Smith, one of it's (now former) reporters. The article stated that:

"The problem appeared in an article under the headline ``Private Towing Largely Unregulated.'' It tells the story of Tracey Sievertson, whose Jeep was towed from a lot on Platt Street in Tampa.

It is true that Sievertson's Jeep was towed. But reporter Brad Smith fabricated the opening paragraphs of the story, painting a picture of Sievertson's shock when she emerged from a night of club-hopping to find her vehicle missing from the parking lot where she left it.

Sievertson had not been out that evening. She hadn't been ``club-hopping.''In fact, she'd been home with her child. She had lent her Jeep to a friend. Sievertson had not been present when the vehicle was towed, but reporter Smith was. He and a friend had met Sievertson's friend socially that night. He was present when they discovered that the vehicle had been towed. He and his friends called Sievertson, and they went to pick her up to take her to retrieve her Jeep. "

Shame on Mr. Smith. I feel sorry for his colleagues who do good work reporting on real events. I appreciate the immediate front page apology by the Tribune that included the signature of the executive editor. The story by Mr. Smith came out on Wednesday. The apology came out today, one day later. Good quick action by the Tribune.

"This ethical breach does not represent who we are as journalists at The Tampa
Tribune. We recognize that we have a covenant with our readers: to be truthful,
to be fair, to be credible. I am sorry that we've failed you in this case. We
will rededicate ourselves to earning and keeping your trust. "

Dear Tampa Tribune. You are forgiven.

Now Mr. Smith should apologize. In public. To Ms. Sievertson, to his coworkers and to us, his readers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Tampa General Expansion - Continued

The City Council meeting was cancelled last night. It was rescheduled for May 17 at the Tampa Convention Center. I presume this was done because they are expecting a large crowd to show up.

Riding A Garbage Truck

Every year the City of Tampa has a NEAT (Neighborhood Environmental Action Team) cleanup in each neighborhood. All of the neighbors bring out all of the items they have not gotten rid of in the previous year, or perhaps maybe the results just from Spring Cleaning. The Parks Department brings mowers and weedeaters and cleans up the curbs and right of ways. The Solid Waste Department brings garbage trucks, front end loaders and dump trucks. Hopefully the neighborhood supplies residents who volunteer to ride and help load the garbage trucks. Community Service volunteers (is anyone on community service really a volunteer?) mostly help the Parks people pick up trash from curbs and roads, with a lucky few riding the garbage trucks with the residents. This weekend the NEAT Team comes to one part of Old Seminole Heights. SE Seminole Heights which is normally cleaned up in May for some reason this year will be cleaned up in August.

As early as the week before people start putting items out on the curb. Some wait until Friday or early Saturday morning and a few sluggards only bring stuff out after the NEAT trucks have passed by once.

This accumulation of items brings a out the NEAT pickers the night before or even while the NEAT pick up occurs. Professional junkmen look for big ticket items such as stove, refrigerators and other metal items. Neighbors looking for that slightly used plastic turtle sandbox, or milk crates, or pavers, or a 1940's brass fire extinguisher or whatever. It is amazing what items people throw away that others are able to be reuse.

Prior to our neighborhood clean up I always send the following as an email out to our neighborhood email group to encourage participation.

"You can participate by putting out the night before all of that stuff you have not been able to get rid of all year long. You can help by helping load the stuff at your home into the garbage trucks and/or by offering water or snacks to the neighbors riding the garbage trucks You can also help by riding the garbage trucks (This is the most fun) or by working with the grounds crews. Our neighborhood usually has the highest number of volunteers in all of the NEAT clean up. (Actually we are one of the few neighborhoods to help out). We are also one of the first neighborhoods to participate in the program (even before it was called NEAT.)

One year Mayor Sandy Freedman rode on a truck

Last year we collected 192 tons of trash, the most ever. I am proud to have been part of a crew that collected 24 tons. Normally without volunteers, it takes 2 days for all of the trash to be picked up. We always get it done in one, saving the City a lot of Sunday overtime. For the neighbors who volunteer to ride the trucks and for garbage truck drivers and parks department people we will be having barbecue afterwards. How can it get any better than this? A ride on a garbage truck and free food afterwards. If this were Busch Gardens you would have to pay $49.95 for the experience and food."

"This is part of an article my wife, Susan, wrote for the neighborhood newsletter the first year we participated in NEAT.

"My husband, Scott and I participated in the N.E.A.T.clean-up for the first time this year. We moved here on May 30 of last year from Pasco County, and have witnessed first hand the need for this program. I know that NEAT is practised city wide, so when I mentioned to friends in South Tampa that we would be riding on a garbage truck and they responded with horror, I realized not EVERYONE else in the city actually HELPS to rid their neighborhood of trash! It made me proud of the people in our community. People who are willing to spend a Saturday getting sweaty and dirty loading everything imaginable onto garbage trucks.

We all met at Giddens Park early on May 19 and were dispersed three and four to a truck. Scott and I rode with Frank Roder (a NEAT veteran) and Stephanie Houser. They were energetic and enthusiastic, and I was glad to get to know them better. Our driver started us out slow and gentle, so after the first hour I loosened my death grip on the handle of the truck and began to relax. About that time the tempo seemed to pick up. I lost a glove trying to catch the truck as he took off from a stop. Branches repeatedly aimed for our heads and the corners were definitely going by faster! Scott and Stephanie were left at one stop while Frank yelled at the driver and I mashed on the "driver" button on my side of the truck. He finally reined in a block away and they climbed back aboard. Our driver was merciful though, when we pulled up to piles that looked like monuments. He called for the front end loader and we collectively sighed.

Riding through S.E. Seminole Heights on the back of this monstrous vehicle
wasn't a bad way to see the neighborhood, once I adjusted to the odor of freshly crushed trash. Stephanie added cheerful announcements to our finds such as, "First Toilet","First T.V.", "First Sofa", and so on. We lost track of how many T.V.'s we heaved, but Scott at the controls got great satisfaction out of smashing all of that glass and hardware! And we all waxed sentimental when facing the demise of some child's teddy bear or rocking horse. All in all it was a very worthwhile experience, ridding our community of all that trash.

I certainly developed a deeper appreciation for the many people who have volunteered in the past, and for our city's trash collectors who endure this everyday.""

2 years ago I was so bummed out because I was sick and could not participate. I am so looking forward to this year's cleanup!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More on TGH expansion

There are two articles of interest in today's Tampa Tribune regarding the expansion of TGH that I wrote about yesterday. (Save Our Waterfront Park and Tampa General Hospital)

1. Davis Kin Now Favor TGH's Use Of Parkland by JOSH POLTILOVE. This article notes that the family of the D.P. Davis, the developer of Davis Island, previously was against TGH's request.

However the article then goes on to state that "In an April 14 letter to the city council, Nancy Davis, whose husband is the grandson of D.P. and Marjorie Davis, said that after a recent visit to Tampa, ``it became clear that we had spoken too soon about a subject of which we were not fully educated.''

Davis, of California, said the 0.4-acre parcel is ``cut off from the rest of the park and surrounded by TGH.''
She said TGH's plan to add a 0.7-acre linear park along the seawall near Seddon Channel would mitigate the loss of the parkland. "

2. The Tampa Tribune also came out with an editorial today in favor of the TGH expansion.
TGH Parking Lot Is Essential
Published: Apr 26, 2005

"C ity council's public hearing today on Tampa General Hospital's proposed expansion is likely to be highly charged. The council is scheduled to make its initial decision on the project, although another vote will be necessary in several weeks.

Some members of the Davis Islands Civic Association vehemently oppose the project because it would allow TGH to build a parking garage on part of a small waterfront park.

Waterfront parks are hard to come by, so the residents' sentiments are understandable. But the greater good here is clear and compelling.

Tampa General Hospital - the region's only Level 1 trauma center - is essential to the community's well- being. It must expand if it is going to meet the public's growing needs.

The hospital is constructing a 280,000-square-foot addition that will almost triple the space for emergency services. The University of South Florida is planning a 126,000-square-foot facility at Tampa General, its primary teaching hospital, to group specialties in ways that better serve patients.

There is no other place for the hospital to build a badly needed seven-story, 1,400-space garage. The hospital's existing garage is overwhelmed. The overflow frequently spills onto neighborhood streets. More than 200 employees must be shuttled to work from remote parking lots. It will be difficult for the hospital to recruit and retain workers if that situation continues.

In contrast, the 1.7-acre park is no natural prize. It is a pleasant grassy area with some trees facing Seddon Island, surrounded by the bustle of the hospital. Mostly exotic vegetation and crumbling seawall line the shore. The garage will take up only 0.4 acres of the tract.

Moreover, TGH plans to build a riverwalk along the channel that will provide far more public space - and waterfront access - than what would be lost to the parking lot. This would surely be used far more than the present park, which attracts few visitors. The hospital also could replace exotic vegetation and naturalize the shore during the project.

In addition, TGH officials have offered to donate $1 million for bike paths and other improvements sought by Davis Islands residents.

Hospital officials did not help their cause with some caustic remarks to opponents in the early going, but since then they've met frequently with the public and sought to address neighbors' concerns.

The loss of any waterfront open space is regrettable, but to undermine the region's most important medical facility for a sliver of land with scant environmental value would be a travesty. Council members should give the request the go-ahead."

So now both major newspapers, the relatives of the developer and the Davis Island Chamber of Commerce are in favor of the expansion.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Automobile Architecture 3

5608 N. Florida Avenue - Dealer's Choice

We have many used car lots in Seminole Heights. The most unliked of our scenic features. Asphalt or dirt lots filled with cars, ugly chain link fences, and used car salesman. (I sometimes wonder if the chain link fences are as much to protect us by keeping the used car salesmen in as it is to protect the cars from being stolen.) The only redemeeming quality (quality and used cars - oxymoron?) are the old interesting signs. If the car lots go away, I hope the businesses that replace them keep the signs. These signs are part of the historic fabric of the neighborhood. (Of course they are a loud fabric like plaid.) We do not see signs like this anymore.

Posted by Hello

Automobile Architecture 2

6112 N. Florida Avenue - ABC Auto

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Automobile Architecture 1

6001 N. Florida Avenue - 101 Auto Sales

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"Save Our Waterfront Park" and Tampa General Hospital

“Save our Waterfront Park” says a flier from the Davis Islands Civic Association that was sent to me via email. That association is leading an effort to stop Tampa General Hospital’s (TGH) expansion efforts, especially the request by TGH to the city to rezone land for a parking garage on a piece of Marjorie Park. This request also includes a new office building on the hospital campus and permission to add a floor to the expansion currently under construction.

I am a neighborhood activist in one of the most assertive neighborhoods in the City, greater Seminole Heights, as made obvious in my repeated postings about Starbucks. (See Starbucks One Last Time, We Have Starbucks, and Starbucks) I also work for Tampa General Hospital. This could put me in a quandary as to who to support.

It does not.

The park in question is a small isolated plot of land crammed between Tampa General, Hillsborough Community College and the City of Tampa Parking Garage. The people who benefit most from the park are TGH employees and visitors. Davis Islands has a significant amount of parkland and green space (according to the St. Petersburg times article below, the most of any neighborhood in Tampa). This does not include all of the private and common area waterfront views Davis Island Residents have. Tampa General plans to replace the 0.4 acres of land with a 0.7acre linear waterfront park adding 1,100 feet of waterfront view. Many times I have had a relaxing walk on the seawall where the linear park is going be placed and thoroughly enjoyed the view of the channel, the boats across the way and cityscape.

Nothing is lost. More is gained.

Also, as in the Starbucks hearing, economics and revitalization is an issue. This may be why the Davis Islands Chamber of Commerce supports TGH.

This expansion will also economically benefit Davis Island, the Kennedy Boulevard area and more importantly, one more piece in the revitalization of the downtown area. This expansion will tie USF to Davis Islands. More staff and visitors to the TGH campus means more people who need to spend money on food, gas, gifts, and if from out of town, places to stay. (Many of our guests come from other parts of West Central Florida. Some even come from Latin America.)

So as both a neighborhood activist and a TGH employee I would ask City Council vote “Yes” to the TGH request.

More commentary on the issue

***An article in the St. Petersburg Times TO GROW, OR NOT TO GROW // Unhealthy relationship? April 22, 2005

***Information from Tampa General to City Council
"Tampa General Hospital has applied for a rezoning to accommodate the tremendous growth experienced by this community asset. Your support over the years for this great institution has resulted in TGH being recognized as the region’s only Level 1 trauma Center, the region’s only burn center, the region’s only solid organ transplant center, and a valuable part of our community.

To continue to provide these desperately needed services, we have proposed building an additional shelled floor to our expansion that we can make available in the future. We also have proposed a multi-purpose building for the University of South Florida College of Medicine to help accommodate patients and university physicians, and a garage to help us meet the needs of our patients and their families, physicians and employees. In over 78 years of service to this community this is only the second time we have asked to expand beyond our campus footprint.

In order to be the best neighbor we can be, we have worked hard to accommodate the needs of our friends and neighbors on Davis Islands. We have solicited their thoughts and ideas with three island-wide mailings totaling more than 20,000 pieces of mail. We have met numerous times with the Davis Islands Chamber of Commerce, the Davis Islands Waterfront Property Owners, the Davis Islands Neighborhood Task Force and the Davis Islands Civic Association.

At the hospital’s expense, we hosted an open house April 6 for all Davis Island residents to share our plans, answer their questions, and solicit their ideas. To help offset some of the perceived impact of this project, we have added more than 1,300-feet of linear parkland along the Hillsborough River, an addition of more than 1,100-feet than what would be affected by the rezoning. It would provide people-friendly access to the water that does not exist today.

Our efforts did not stop there. We are also committed to providing one million dollars to help fund and implement the long-range vision plan adopted by the Neighborhood Task Force after input from more than 1,000 Islands residents. "

***A comment by one of my neighbors:
“These issues about the park on Davis Island never come up until the hospital needs to do some expansion. Otherwise the neighborhood couldn't care less about it. The rest of the green space on DI is occupied by, a waterfront little league field, a waterfront tennis court complex, the Junior League building, and the DI Garden club. Not to mention the Community College's admin. headquarters. All of theses uses provide specific purposes and attempt to eliminate general public access. Now they are up in arms about the hospital's need for more parking for a facility that meets the needs of the entire West Florida region. I am always for protecting green spaces, but I find the stance of the Davis Island Civic Association hypocritical.

--Mike Ferlita”

***A letter to the Editor from Tampa Tribune
"TGH And Davis Islands
Published: Feb 17, 2005
Regarding ``TGH's Parking Garage Plan Necessary If Regrettable'' (Our Opinion, Feb. 9):

The Davis Islands Civic Association should remember what it wished for. Several years ago, after the privatization of Tampa General Hospital, I was nominated by the Davis Islands Civic Association to the Hillsborough County Hospital Authority, the board that owns the land and buildings and holds the lease for the hospital.

My assignment was to protect the citizens of Davis Islands and to do my best to see that the hospital remained on Davis Islands. Residents were fearful of what would replace the hospital. I'm now in my third term and thrilled that we have this wonderful medical center in the heart of our community. If the citizens want the hospital to remain here, they must support its progress.

A Level 1 trauma center must keep up with the latest technology and expand to fill the needs of our growing population. Ron Hytoff is proposing a wonderful compromise in his linear park plan. Residents of Davis Islands can now have the best hospital in the state and more green space than the 0.4 acres the hospital needs.


***An editorial in the April 21, 2005 edition of the St. Petersburg Times
“...... Several community leaders on Davis Islands, where Tampa General sits, object to the hospital building a garage on part of a waterfront park.

The park is a park in name only. Tucked behind the existing garage, the land is tiny, hidden from public view and used mostly by employees as a cut-through between lots and buildings. The hospital wants to take less than half an acre to construct a 1,400-car parking garage, part of a larger expansion Tampa General needs. In return, the hospital would build a walkway along seven-tenths of an acre of adjacent waterfront on Seddon Channel.

The affluent community of Davis Islands might have more parks than any other neighborhood in the city of Tampa. Having more is always good, but there are better places to start. Why does Hillsborough Community College have an unpaved, surface parking lot on city land just steps away from the parkland in dispute? This land is easier for the public to access, and it would compensate for the land Tampa General wants to build on. Let HCC park in the garage. The city could also do more with the waterfront strip behind the nearby Little League park, extending an already popular walkway along the Seddon Channel.

Protecting parks is separate from milking a taxpayer-supported hospital. The island needs to realize that many others have a stake in how the hospital spends its money, from patients and their families to the average taxpayer. That $1-million should go for medicine, not to humor people whose priorities are out of whack.”

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Stealth Bather

Odd things happen in a urban neighborhood.

One of my neighbors went out to water her plants Friday morning and found two bars of Ivory soap by her small front yard pond. The only conclusion she could draw was that someone needed a bath. Very curious since they would have had to go inside her front yard picket fence to get to the pond and then bathe very quietly or else someone would have heard. Well at least our prowlers are clean prowlers.

A couple of years ago every so often I would find a grocery store bag of packages of meat from the local grocery store in the back corner of my side right of way, in the bushes. I never found out who was doing it, but my suspicions were that they shoplifted the meat and the person was trying to sell them to a specific house near me and when they could not sell all of the meat they just threw it away. Very odd. Real mystery meat!

Another time I was riding around the neighborhood late one night as part of a neighborhood vehicle patrol. I was a passenger in the vehicle and I happened to glance out the window to the bus bench and observed 5/6 mens outfits on hangers, just laying on the bench. I always wondered where they came from. Perhaps the bus, like many department store dressing rooms would only allow some many changes of clothing into the bus.

Friday, April 22, 2005

New Art Museum in Tampa

The City has announced plans to turn the old Federal Building into the New Art Musuem. Hoorah!

The current museum looks as if it was designed to seperate the art from people. It is a suburban design with the building way back from the street. No one could just pop in. It took me a long time to actually realize where the museum was, stuck way off the street. The entrance way was hidden behind a ramp. This was an art elistist museum

Then we got the horrible proposed Bus Terminal design on which spent over 7 million dollars designing. Over 7 million dollars. Over 7 MILLION DOLLARS!!!. That could have paid for the conversion of Federal Building.

Now the new location is much better. Anyone can pop in. It is in the center of things, backing up to the Marion Street bus lines. Multiple office buildings surround the location placing the museum in peoples minds as they look out the window, as the walk out for lunch and as the drive around. This will bring art closer to the people.

Way to go Mayor Pam Iorio!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Illegal Boarding Houses

When I moved into the neighborhood in 2000, I found out there was a boarding house several blocks down the street from me. 1303 E. New Orleans Avenue. I 'd see many of the residents as they walked by my house and I got to know several. One is a gentleman who suffered from a stroke in his past who rides his three-wheel bike from Seminole Heights to Bayshore and back almost every day. His bike is festooned with all sorts of found items. I'd seen him for years as I drove home from work before I moved into the neighborhood.

At some point I noticed that the boarding house expanded their services, apparently moving residents into two houses next door at 1307 and 1309 New Orleans. The manager apparently lived across the street at 1302 New Orleans. At some point I then noticed the two neighboring house vacated and go up for sale.

I regularly check Tampa Police Department Request for Reports to see what crimes have been reported in the area. I always noticed a lot of calls to those addresses. One days I counted them up and found that from 1/1/04 to there have been 81 calls for service/reports at those addresses. I compared these with 2 other boarding houses in our neighborhood and found that the FSJ Boarding Home at 4202 N Nebraska Ave had 11 calls for service since 1/1/04 and Gail's ALF at 811 E Osborne Ave had 1 call for service since 1999. This indicated to me there was an excessive number of calls at the New Orleans Avenue boarding house.

I became curious and started to do some more research.

Clifford Hill Boarding House is a rooming house located at 1303 E. New Orleans. (13th and New Orleans) . This property is zoned as RS-50 (Residential Single Family Dwelling 50 foot lot) This facility started out as an Assisted Living Facility (ALF). ALFs are allowed in residential zoning (RS-50) with 6 or less residents. If they are a ALF Small Group Facilities they need Zoning Administrator approval.

ALF's are licensed by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA.)

In 2002 Clifford Hill Boarding House (AHCA license number 7286) had fines from the AHCA from several years of deficiencies totaling $30,750. (Case numbers 2000-05568, 2001-05487, 2001-055540, 2001-05541, 2001-06530). On 7/12/2002 the Agency for Health Care Administration denied their ALF license renewal. At this point, Clifford Hill should have shut the facility down and reverted back to a single family dwelling. However instead they began operation as a rooming house.

However per City Ordinance it is not permitted to operate rooming houses in RS-50 Zonings. I think the only way to do so would be seek a change the zoning to Commercial or Residential Multi Family. Of note is that as the houses around are Residential Single Family.

City of Tampa Code Enforcement cited them in early 2004 for failure to cease operation of illegal rooming house and found guilty by the Code Enforcement Board on 8/18/04. Due to non-compliance, fines of $60.00 a day were levied from 9/23/04. Additionally they were cited in early 2003 for: Failure to Remove accumulations of junk, trash and debris from property and right of way; Failure to make repairs of walls, doors, doors frames, eaves, floor coverings, electrical fixtures in rear of building; Failure to repair or remove unsound shed. They were found guilty on 9/15/04 and have had fines of $30.00 a day from 11/04/04. As of 4/20/05 the current fines for both citations could be $16,550. The City may be exploring foreclosure.

TPD did some research and found that over the last several years there have been over 200 Tampa Police Department calls for service at Clifford Hill. These have included multiple calls for Assault/Battery, Petit and Grand Theft, Disturbance, and Burglary.

Rooming Houses are licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Clifford Hill’s current license is TRM391145. They were recently inspected by DBPR and Tampa Fire Rescue and were found to have multiple violations. They were given 30 days to correct the violations.

They may also be investigated by DBPR regarding a possible violation in their application regarding their loss of their prior ALF license. In the application form it states "Has any person interested in the operation of this establishment, whether owner, operator, agent, lessee or manager, had a license for an Adult Living Facility at this establishment denied, suspended or revoked pursuant to section 400.414, FS, within the last five (5) years?." Assuming their ALF renewal was denied pursuant to 400.414, how is it they obtained a Rooming House license?

I find it interesting they were able to operate for as long as they did illegally and how long it is taking to get them in compliance especially when you consider their ALF issues.

I have been told that proper zoning for a facility is not something DBPR looks as part of their licensure/inspection process.

So this has prompted me to look at other rooming houses and to see what they are zoned as and I found 2 others with possible issues:

1. Thelma Street Boarding House at 3001 Thelma Street. DBPR license TRM3901399. Per Property Appraiser this is RS-50 zoning also

2. Emily Street Home Inc. DBA as Crawford Street Apartments at 815 E Crawford DBPR License (Applicant) . Also possibly FARMERS MARKET RESTAURANT (DBA Name) NRM391553. RS-60 zoning per property appraiser.

It is not clear if these other boarding houses are in any violation of anything, but on the surface, their zoning would not seem to allow boarding houses also. Perhaps they were grandfathered in.

I wonder whether DBPR should require compliance with all zoning laws before approving licenses. Perhaps as part of their license screening process they should verify with local government that the facility is zoned correctly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Starbucks - one last time!

The following are some excerpts from close captioned transcripts from the City Council meeting held on 4/14/05 regarding Starbucks

>> Tony Garcia, Planning Commission staff. This location is at the core of three Neighborhood Associations that represent the area. Old Seminole Heights, Southeast Seminole Heights, and South Seminole Heights. Each proposed development in an urban village offers different opportunities to the area and must be viewed on a case-by-case basis, based on location, transportation connections and potential impacts to residential uses. I have labored for the last three years in the Seminole Heights community with both residents and commercial property owners. In developing a potential to bring a rift that's occurred in the last three years in this area, three to five years. There were several of you that were on Council when we went through the Walgreen's debacle. We had a great rift created between the residents and the commercial interests in the area. We also had the save-a-lot a very contentious rezoning along Hillsborough Avenue. What happened as a result of that was a terrible divide between the commercial interests and the residential interest in the area. And I would say a perception had been created and a huge mistrust among all these people in this area which is sad because when you look at Seminole Heights you have three Neighborhood Associations but it is Seminole Heights in its entirety. The greater Seminole Heights community……… On that separate note I had to add what I've gone through in the last three to four years with both commercial interests in the area and residential interests in the area and what I find fascinating is you have at my count by looking through the lobby, you have two Neighborhood Association presidents here that I think are going to be supporting a commercial use, which is unprecedented in the Seminole Heights area. So I think --[ LAUGHTER ] I'm serious when I say that. Because what you're seeing here, you may also see a much greater thing. You may be seeing the potential for some ties here between the residential component and the commercial component that have had some genuine mistrust of what could potentially benefit their area overall and this could be something significant for them in that respect. [ APPLAUSE ]

>>KEVIN WHITE…. I think the people in this audience speak volumes tonight because the old Seminole Heights Civic Association as well as the southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association as well as South Tampa Civic Associations are very, very protective of their neighborhoods. They don't -- South Tampa they don't want trees cut down. And Seminole Heights, code enforcement and conformity to the neighborhood and the character of the neighborhood is paramount in Southeast Seminole Heights and Old Seminole Heights. But to have something come in that does not meet the character of the neighborhood and have both organizations come out in droves to say they support this speaks volumes for these two neighborhoods. And it is an awful ugly site that needs to be developed.

>>My name is Victoria Valdez. …. Seminole Heights is a historic neighborhood, but not a museum neighborhood, only meantto be enjoyed and viewed by passersby on weekends. We are a living breathing, working neighborhood. We need businesses in our neighborhood that will support the economic growth of our neighborhood. And especially a business like Starbucks that I consider to be in keeping with our front porch community style of neighborhood that we have. Where people can meet other friends. They can walk their dogs. They can sit and have a cup of coffee and enjoy Seminole Heights just like we do from our front porches.

>> David Scott Banghart ….. I support Starbucks because, one, I want my coffee…….. You can't have a historic house if that historic house has been burnt down. Economic blight will destroy any history that you have. …… A.R.C. was founded due to public clamor to protect our neighborhoods. But I think in this particular unique -- this unique circumstance, you need to look at the public clamor and let us have Starbucks.

>>Mark ………. The last comment that I'll make, the last point I want to raise, when you guys were running for this wonderful job of yours, you all made statements like crime is bad. Education is good. And probably somewhere along the line, you said I support neighborhoods.That's all we're asking you to do tonight. Thanks.

>> My name is Jeff Craft…….. And I am the president of Seminole Heights business association. I'm a CPA and tomorrow is a big day for me. I'm just a bean counter. But I'm a pretty good bean counter, and one of the things that I've done is just look at the economic impact.We have a piece of property that pretty much is an economically stagnant. I know it pays some real estate taxes. According to my calculations, intangible taxes paid. Tangible taxes paid. City licenses paid. Increased real estate taxes paid. At a minimum, I think there's an extra six to ten thousand dollars a year in revenues coming into various governments and what have you. And over, of course, the next ten years that could be 60 to 100 thousand in new revenues coming into the city governments and what have you. I'm doing what bean counters do, just count beans. Nothing could make this bean counter happier. Than to sit at a Starbucks sniff that wonderful aroma of all those coffee beans and think, they need to be counted.

>>Randy Baron. I am the president of the old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association. I have to tell you, I am just proud to represent a neighborhood that can turn out this kind of support, support of something that they so vastly and dearly want to have and need to have in this neighborhood..… I don't think that the purpose of the guidelines is to re-create fabric that is gone. It is -- once we've determined that the commercial area is in the district, I think we should use that as an opportunity to attract businesses and make sure that they are compatible with building design, that there is something that when people enter Seminole Heights, they can look at that building and say that's different…...It will bring vastly improved economic development. Anything is better than 25 car lots between Hillsborough Avenueand the river. I counted them. 25 car lots, two restaurants.…..So I urge Council to look at this support including Jeff Craft and the business alliance because this is a historic day when they get together. And understand that we are thirsting, no pun intended but we are thirsting for this development and I urge you to vote in favor.

>>GWEN MILLER: I would like to say to each and every one of you, I would like to say thank you. You were very understanding. You were patient. You were just wonderful. We have never had so many neighbors to come out on a support of a project that you have done tonight. We want to continue to say to you, stay together, work hard like you've been doing, come back again and be understanding and we are really honored to have you here……….. I would like to say really thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you all are doing.

>>ROSE FERLITA: ………When he (Tony Garcia) said it was unprecedented that all three Seminole Heights areas got together, he's absolutely right. I can attest to that. Many times the interstate was the line of demarcation between Southeast Seminole Heights and Old Seminole Heights. I never could understand why one portion of that community that has so much to offer would stay away from the other instead of uniting. And now all of a sudden, it's an area that is incredible. You've got South Seminole Heights, Southeast Seminole Heights, Old Seminole Heights. I have seen that community come together, be stronger than any of the Civic Associations that I've seen throughout the city. ……Each proposed development in an urban village offers different opportunities to the area and must be viewed -- and I think this is the key -- on a case-by-case basis based on location, transportation connections, potential impacts to residential uses………………..So we have to look at guidelines, but sometimes there are exceptions and we go back to the case by case that we talked about versus your concerns about precedent. So in closing, when you (Bruce Gibson) said -- and this should be my closing as well as yours and we go forward from here, communities must require better to get better. And I submit to you and to this audience that this is what Starbucks is going to do for that community.

>>SHAWN HARRISON: With the possible exception I think of councilman Dingfelder, every single one of us up here represents some of or all of Seminole Heights. And those of us who have been on the Council for more than a couple of years now know that this night is truly unprecedented. We have never seen the type of cooperation, the type of unanimity that we have seen on this particular project. It's really mind-boggling when you think about the history of this particular area

>>LINDA SAUL-SENA: This might be the biggest response we've ever had to a zoning hearing………Tonight is extraordinary, and I have to say that what impressed me the most is the passion of everyone inhere for the betterment of your neighborhood. And I think that it's important to understand that those of us who are skeptical of this proposal is not that we didn't want Starbucks. It's that we really want something that is superb design and oftentimes as you've seen by the previous petitions at Council, if you present things to a petitioner, they come up with something even better. I guess the franchise template is the best we're going to get in this place. But at least it's a Starbucks and not a Checkers. And I think that -- and I think that Bill Duval's suggestion that we look at how we can improve the commercial side of the design guideline so that there will be more and better commercial, I think Seminole Heights is fabulous. You all have worked so hard. Your homes are fabulous. The commercial side needs work. And I think together we can all work to improve the guidelines and make sure that in the future that there are more exciting petitions that everyone can embrace.

>>JOHN DINGFELDER:………..And another thing very persuasive and I don't know who said it, but it was very well said, was that we do go out and talk a lot about supporting neighborhoods, that we support this neighborhood, we support that neighborhood. And I think we really try and support neighborhoods. And in this case, the neighborhood is speaking very loud and clear. And then finally, the best e-mail that I saw in this little packet was from David Banghart who really put it all in perspective and he says: We need Starbucks because we need coffee.

>>MARY ALVAREZ: I want to chime in a little bit here, too, and say that a lot of good comments have been made here tonight and very appropriate and especially the one this young lady said it's a historic district, not a museum. I wholeheartedly concur with that. And design guidelines are just that. Guidelines. So we can tweak the guidelines to make them fit. I don't know what is so historic about a car lot. I just can't support that. I mean, if we can get all those car lots out of this and put some good businesses in there, I think we would really have a good historic district in there.

Taconazo - The Taco Bus

One of my favorite restaurants, El Taconazo was in the news recently.

As mentioned in the St. Petersburg Times in an dining review article by Chris Sherman (Mexican food, fast and from scratch) on 4/14/05.
"I gave Chipotle Mexican Grill, the hip MexDonald's for the new millennium, a tough test. Some might say unfair.

I stopped into its first Tampa Bay location the morning after dinner at El Taconazo, better known as the beloved taco bus in Seminole Heights. It is, or was, a rolling taqueria until it came to a dead and lively stop in a crummy parking lot made into a punk art patio with outdoor lights, bamboo walls and paper streamers. El Taconazo serves classic tacos, burritos and tortas made by hand, real food at unreal prices of $1.50 a taco and $5.75 for a whole meal you can't finish.

A standard too high for fast-food chain Mexican and most new generation wrap traps, yes. But it is my standard, and thankfully it's met at tiendas and taquerias from Clearwater to Wimauma

He also put El Taconazo in his BEST MEXICAN FOOD EAST OF CLEARWATER category in an article on 1/13/05 about the best Tampa Bay restaurants

The taquerias of Tampa.
True tacos, gorditas and ceviche are best found north of downtown, heading up N Armenia Avenue and along Waters Avenue. Favorite stops are Mi Mexico, which starts cooking the good stuff before dawn, or the old schoolbus rechristened El Taconazo and parked where it can deliver authentic tacos to old Seminole Heights.

Sandra Thompson from the St. Pete Times mentioned El Taconazo in her article from 5/2/05 "How do you put a value on a great building?"

Our next stop was the taco bus on Hillsborough Avenue in Seminole Heights. Here is a different sort of re-invention, a school bus turned into a restaurant kitchen. You can eat inside in an actual building, but it's so much more fun to eat outside in view of the bus. The owners are from Mexico, and the name of the restaurant is El Taconazo, a word that was translated for us the first time we ate there as the sound a flamenco dancer's heel makes when it hits the floor. It has nothing to do with tacos.

El Taconazo can be found at 913 E. Hillsborough Ave. Tampa, Fl 33604 (813) 232-5889
Open Wednesday-Sunday Closed Monday and Tuesday.

(Just remember this is real Mexican food not the Americanicanized version that we get at Taco Bell)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Oaks at Riverview Terrace

The former Riverview Terrace Housing Project will reopen in June as The Oaks at Riverview according to an article "Rebuilding to blend in" in the St. Pete Times by Sherri Day. This is great news. The Oaks "will serve renters and homeowners in search of public housing, Section 8 accommodations and market-rate units" with "mid-rise apartment buildings, townhouses and bungalows." There looks to be 250 units for rent and 96 single family bungalow homes for sale. The bungalow will sell either below market rate at $140,000 or market rate around $180,000. This should add about 750 to 1500 people to Seminole Heights. In addition to the residences there is some commercial space. More money to be spent in Seminole Heights! More business opportunities!

Stories about Pat Chamburs

In my posting about Pat Chamburs retiring JoEllen Schilke left a comment that there is going to be a party for Pat Chamburs "probably at the end of May, when his many fans can come and tell him in person about all the love they have for him."

I'd like to honor Pat Chamburs for all the years of pleasure he gave us listeners.

If you have some fond memories of Pat Chamburs at WMNF or at any of the other radio stations he worked at (WFLA, WDAE, WYNG-WABA) please add them as comments to this post. Was there a particular show you really enjoyed? Did something memorable occurred while listening to his show? Was there a song he played you really liked? Do you have a funny story about him? Were you a student at UT when he ran the bookstore and club nearby and have something interesting to tell? For that party I would like to collect comments to give to Pat Chamburs. ( I keep saying Pat Chamburs instead of Pat because I never met him, except by listening to the radio. To call him Pat feels disrespectful and to call him Mr. Chambers sounds so formal after years of listening to him.)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Weekly Planet Article on Seminole Heights

In case you never saw it, here is the link to the 3/2/05 Weekly Planet article on Seminole Heights.

Seminole Heights Starbucks and Art

Tampa Trib did a story Council OKs Starbucks For Seminole Heights.

Some Ideas:

To make this Starbucks more unique and more Seminole Heightsian I propose the following:

1. If there is enough room, Starbucks buys existing or commissions some new outdoor art from Seminole Heights Artists, and places in it the outdoor eating and grassy areas.

2. If there is room and if it meets corporate standards, place on the walls Burgert Brother's photographs. However don't use the photos everyone has of downtown Tampa. Use some of ones that Steve Gluckman has unearthed of Seminole Heights. This is to show old Seminole Heights.

3. Place on the walls the photos of the houses on both home tours (Old and Southeast). Each year change them out for latest homes on the tours. This is to show the current Seminole Heights. (If South Seminole Heights has a home tour add theirs.)

4. Place on the walls artwork from Seminole Heights that is illustrative of Seminole Heights or repesents the values seen in Seminole Heights.

5. Maybe Starbucks could join the brochure that Sherry Taylor-King put out listing the Seminole Heights Businesses on Florida Avenue. Starbucks would have copies of the brochure for its customers.

So why would Starbucks do this?

Because we gave them a big victory they can trumpet when they go into other neighborhoods. They can use what was said in this meeting by us and city Council when they go into any other historic neighborhood.

Because it would show how much they care about neighborhoods.

Because people might stay longer to look at the art and photos and buy more.

Because in the Best of the Bay edition the Weekly Planet would have to call this the best and most interesting Starbucks in Tampa and more people would come to the store.

Or simply because we asked.

When they break ground there ought to be a ceremony and the various presidents of the civic associations, and business alliance, city council members and mayor ought to be there. Along with the biggest Starbucks big cheese (or would that the Corporate Grande') they can find. How about Howard Schultz - Chairman, Orin C. Smith - President, Chief Executive Officer or Jim Donald - President, Starbucks North America.

Friday, April 15, 2005

We have a Starbucks!!!

Last night Tampa City Council unanimously approved the variance request of Starbucks. Over 120 people overflowed the council chambers to show their support for the request. City council members stated they have never seen that many people show up for a zoning issue. They described the event as historical because the 3 Seminole Heights civic associations and the Seminole Heights Business Alliance all joined together in supporting this project. This event was described as the helping repair a rift between the residents and the business community from prior zoning issues, namely Walgreens and Save-A-Lot. City Council expressed great pride with the Seminole Heights community. The issue was taken up about 9:35 P.M. and it was not until 11:15 that City Council was able to make their decision.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Stolen Bike

Recently my one of my neighbors came home after a day trip to find their children’s scooters and a bicycle missing from their porch. With the help of some neighbor children, 4 days later they were able to find the stolen items. Apparently two young children were with an older cousin. The cousin just walked on the porch took the bike and then gave the scooters to these two children. My neighbor found out where the two children lived and spoke to them and their mother. The children’s mother indicated she would take care of it. The items were supposedly all at the cousin’s house. The items were returned with most of the stickers, decals, and handler bar streamers removed, obviously done in an attempt to disguise to whom the items belonged to. My neighbors are good people who chose to deal with the issue in a positive manner, inviting the children to come and play at their house where the children could use the bike and scooters. Their hope is that they can develop a positive relationship with these children and be a good role model for them.

I think they are choosing the right approach and hope they are successful, else we will be seeing them as teenagers ripping off cars.

I have issue with the mother of those two young children and the mother of the cousin. We don’t have a bike and scooter fairy in our neighborhood so they had to know they were stolen items. This mom is teaching her children that crime is okay.

Actually it was fortunate it was young kids who liberated the items. If it were older kids or adults who stole the bike and scooters were would have never seen them again. They would have been sold for drug money at our local stolen property redemption centers (aka pawn shops.)

These neighbors are doing a good thing. They have a safe supervised child friendly house that has drawn out many of the neighboring children from the isolation of their houses to play with their own children, helping building a sense of community for those children and their families. My neighbors try to establish relationship with the parents just as their children establish relationships with the other children. They hold events such as Easter Egg hunts, Halloween parties and Christmas Parties open to these children and their parents. In a small but significant way they are also helping rebuild and revitalize this neighborhood.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Style Has Retired

Well, the Style has gone from the airwaves of Tampa area.

Pat Chamburs, host of the Pat Chamburs show, retired last Wednesday at age 78 or so. His show was heard at the community radio station WMNF 88.5 (based in Southeast Seminole Heights) every Wednesday from 7-9 PM. His show is hard to categorize but is described on the radio station website as "jazz and jive." Pat Chambur's theme song was "Style Is Back In Style".

A 1998 article in the St. Pete Times "ballad of a Bohemian" provides all sorts of fascinating details about his life. He started in radio in 1947. He worked at WFLA and WDAE in the Tampa Bay area in the 1950's. In 1961 he owned a book store near University of Tampa called the Tenth Muse and Only One Grace and a coffee house next door called the House of Seven Sorrows where he had live jazz and beatnik poetry readings. One of his girlfriends for three to four years was Lauren Hutton. He traveled all around, including a stint in Japan, but kept coming back to Tampa area. He joined WMNF in 1983. His photo taken in the 50's or 60's (I guess) can be seen at Tedd Webb's website in Where Are They Now.

Another little bit trivia about Pat Chamburs can be found in Andrew Tobias' book "Fire and Ice" about Charles Revlon. Revlon had an Ad campaign in 1952 called Fire and Ice which consisted of a dazzling model, Dorian Leigh, in an icy silver-sequin dress with a fiery scarlet cape; and on the facing page, the headline, ARE YOU MADE FOR FIRE AND ICE? DJ were sent questionnaires to answer. "Pat Chamburs of radio station WFLA in Tampa answered this way:

Which qualities do you think make for Fire and Ice in women?
1. Ever so slightly pouted lips.
2. Smoldering, sad eyes with a "I wanta, but only with you" look.
3. Lovely, large, and prominently displayed bust.

Would you marry a Fire and Ice girl?
Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, YES!!!
(Could we take my wife along?)

Name a few of the women who epitomize Fire and Ice to you?
Marilyn Monroe, Antonel la Lualdi, Rossana Podesta, Silvano Mangano, Linda Darnell, Marilyn Monroe. "

My wife and I always tuned our radio in to his show every Wednesday whether at home or driving around. Susan's favorite was his Christmas Show and mine was the Halloween Show. He knew so much about jazz, and came across as unflappable and matter of fact. He was the definition of cool! The most recent fund raiser show was hilarious because JoEllen Schilke kept trying to get Pat in trouble.

We will really miss Pat. Good Luck!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Starbucks - ongoing coverage

Here are 2 articles on the Starbucks issue:

St. Pete Times "Reviewers recommend a tweaked Starbucks" by Sherri Day and Tampa Trib "Starbucks Compromise Heading To City Council" by Kathy Steele. For more details on the plans by the neighborhood to let city council know of our support for the Starbucks go to SeminoleHeightsHomes.Com. They are looking to get at least 150 people to show up.

While doing some research on the issues I came across this comment " I understand that, but not to rain on anybody's parade, starbucks and saks fifth Avenue are not interested in this part of Hillsborough Avenue.I represent both. It starbucks next to Dale Mabry on -- next to malio's. They are not interested in this part of the City, unfortunately." (Tampa City Council Meeting 9/12/2002 - Closed Captioned Transcripts) This was made in 2002 by an attorney representing a pawn shop that wanted to expand their zoning into a residential part of the SE. Seminole Heights neighborhood. This business is a few blocks away on Hillsborough Avenue from the now planned Starbucks location. So much for that attorney's forecasting ability. Ha! He tried to play us for rubes at the time but lost when he came up against our active and powerful civic association.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Drive Through Portolet

(Warning this post is earthy and involves a discussion around the subject of nightsoil.) A new bungalow is being built down the street and this is their restroom facility. What a location!. How could anyone be comfortable using a Portolet so close to the street?. I do imagine it is an effective Portolet, because if I were sitting in the portolet when a big semi comes by, rumbling along, it would scare the (insert bodily byproduct here) out of me. I think this puts a new meaning to the song "On The Road Again"
Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Plumbing Archeology

In an earlier post I noted I had to dig up my backyard to deal with a plumbing problem. While digging it up, I found all these huge nails, that must have been used to build the house in 1922. Obviously they got bent while being hammered in. Imagine the size of the claw hammer needed to pull one of those out!

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Home Improvement Team

In SE Seminole Heights (and also in Old Seminole Heights) there is a activity called Home Improvement Team. This was started by Maria Garcia, and members work on each other's houses once a month sort of like a barn riasing (See St. Pete Times article). This program won SE Sem. Hts. the 2003 Neighborhood of the Year from NUSA. The most recent home to be HIT was Barbee's house. Here is a link to photos

Life In Seminole Heights 2

Tonight I stopped at the BP station at Sligh and Nebraska to get some gas. I go in to prepay and standing by the register is this tall, blond hair, ball capped 40ish guy. He was waiting for one of the store clerks to get a case of beer deep from the interior of the cooler. The clerk comes out and hands him a case of Natural Ice. He gets in line in behind me. I tell him to go ahead of me as he was there first. He tells me he does not mind waiting because once he gets home he has food, a hot woman and now a case of beer to enjoy the whole weekend. He reiterated with glee that his old lady told him to get the beer since they have a weekends worth of food and they will get naked. He had a big smile on his face as he left the store and ambled down the street. (He kind of looked like he had a few too many naked beer food weekends.) I can see a new ad campaign " Natural Ice - the beer of choice for Naked Food weekends!

To paraphrase Yakov Smirnoff " What a Neighborhood!"

ARC versus Starbucks

I've heard that Starbucks told ARC in Monday's meeting, that they've made some minor changes to their plan but are essentially are sticking to their plan. ARC basically said we will not approve your plan but if you change your mind and agree to the ARC plan, then ARC will give approval.

Now the big battle comes to Tampa City Council. City Council normally goes along with ARC but in this case the pundits think City Council will overrule ARC due to the overwhelming support by businesses and residents. (for an exception to the support for Starbucks read CaraH's comments to my first Starbucks posting.)


So we need to call, email, and write City Council or jump up and down outside the the Council Chambers, chanting "We want our coffee, we want our coffee."

Here is contact info: 813/274-8131 or email all of the council members at

To paraphrase the General Cigar Dave - "Deep Sips". (from Smoke This - radio show)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Life In Seminole Heights

Article In St. PeteTimes/ > Living & Style

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Mangos, ganja and a guy named Animal
By Shannon Breen

When I bought my house in Old Seminole Heights a year ago, my Realtor told me I was moving into an "up-and-coming" neighborhood.

Since then, I've learned to broaden my definition of "up-and-coming."

On the first night in my house, some friends and I were painting the living room when the doorbell chimed. It was a shirtless, hunched-over fellow, holding a plastic cup filled with Jack Daniels. He introduced himself as Animal, noting I was too young to know why he was given such a moniker..

Pointing to his house, which had a cardboard yard sign that read Junk Man, he invited me to stop by if I needed anything. I extended the same hospitality, suggesting he might need some milk or sugar. His response: "Don't tempt me, honey."

I didn't sleep very well that first night. I kept peering through the window at Animal's place. A few times, I heard him silence his neighbor's barking dog by screaming expletives about the dog's mother. He didn't seem to be a pet lover, even with a name like Animal.

The next day another neighbor, accompanied by her friend and the friend's young daughter, came by. They told me they saw "the troll" make his way over to my house the night before.

They warned he must fancy me if he left his home beneath the bridge.

After that visit, I implored my altruistic brother to install a peephole in the front door.

Next up: the husband and wife neighbors from Jamaica. They noticed I had an in-season mango tree in my yard, hinting they loved mangos. Supplying them with a plastic bag, I told them to take as many as they liked.

Shortly after, another neighbor stopped by with her son, in his 40s. When I tried to shake his hand, he reacted as if that was the first time he'd seen such a custom. I was taken aback by his striking resemblance to Billy Bob Thornton in the movie Sling Blade .

His mom asked if she could take some mangos. Sure, I bought this house just to supply the neighborhood with tropical fruit.

Ding dong.

It was the Jamaican couple again. They supplied the plastic bag this time. They supplied plastic bags every time for the next few weeks.

I implored my brother to hang garlic and vials of holy water around the house.

Knock, knock.

It was a friendly looking family of four. They brought me a bottle of red wine. They seemed so normal. So welcoming. So uninterested in mangos.

We exchanged numbers. I eventually exchanged numbers with the mango paupers, too, who subsequently asked if I'd like to smoke some ganja with them. Oh, I get it. Quid pro quo. I supply them with mangos, they barter pot.

Sitting on my front porch a few weeks ago, an old friend and I were catching up. As I was explaining how I felt more at home here than in some cookie cutter, suburban area, a seemingly intoxicated woman stumbled on the street in front of my house.

My dog barked at her as she twitched her head around, mumbling. The woman leaned against my chain-link fence and began barking at my dog.

There's a sense of neighborhood camaraderie.

I wave at my neighbors. I talk to my neighbors. Even Animal.

It's starting to feel more like a family. Perhaps the Addams Family , but, nonetheless, family.

-- Shannon Breen is a staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times .

More Home Tour Photos

Home Tour - Backyard pond - literally step out the back door and there it is.
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Home Tour - bead board ceiling paneling. I think.
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Home Tour - Tin Ceiling
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Home Tour - These tiles look painted
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Home Tour - This house needs to be in Southern Living Homes. Pool with nice covered side porch.
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Home Tour - office/rec room - Cool Retro Bar!!
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Tampa Tribune Reporter Sean Lengell

Sean Lengell, reporter for the the Tampa Tribune, whose newsbeat was Seminole Heights, is now handling the Ybor City and Housing Authority beats. He had a good sense of what was going in Seminole Heights not only from living in the neighborhood, and from attending all of the various civic association meetings and neighborhood activities but also from being a member of the Southeast Seminole Heights email group. He and Sherry Ackerman did extensive reporting on the anti-prostitution activities and as part of which he participated in some of our late night Exercise Club walks. This reporting significantly helped our efforts to deal with prostitution problems. Sean is a good guy and real "fair and balanced" reporter showing all sides to this neighborhood. He will be missed.

His replacement is Kathy Steele whom he used to work with at a newspaper in Georgia. Sean gives her a good reccomendation. We look forward to working with her. Welcome!

One of the many reason Seminole Heights had a lot of success in its civic activism has been in having good relationships with the newspaper reporters covering the area.

In some people's minds having a reporter listening in on a neighborhood email group could be risky because negative issues could be brought out to the rest of the city. My response is "so what". This is life in the neighborhood, good and bad but at least interesting.

With the St. Peterburg Times we are fortunate to have Sherri Day on the SE Sem Heights email group from which she has already done a story about WILD 98.7 and their antics in the hood. (a future posting).

A little turnabout reporting on the reporters!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Old Seminole Heights Home Tour Photos

More photos will follow, in next few days.

Home Tour - Graduated Paint
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Home Tour - Concrete Faux Log - Original to the house
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Home Tour - Decorated Shed
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Home Tour - BBQ - Concrete Counter Top with inset decorative fused glass
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Home Tour BBQ - Mobile Grill Cut down to fit.
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Home Tour -BBQ - Fused Glass Inset
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Home Tour - Right Side of Laundry Room
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Home Tour- Left Side of Laundry Room
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Home Tour- Laundry Room Posted by Hello

Monday, April 04, 2005

Old Seminole Heights Home Tour

Old Seminole Heights had its 7th Annual Home Tour on Sunday April 3, 2005. There were two good newspaper articles about it. I took photos of elements of the homes that I liked, or that I felt solved particular problems with these old houses.

11 Dive Onboard Annual Home TourBy SEAN


The Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association will be holding it's 7th annual tour of homes on April 3rd. This year the home of Christie Hess will be on the tour.

OLD SEMINOLE HEIGHTS - The green shag carpet aside, it was love at first sight for Christie Hess.

``When I first walked in this house, I had an immediate sense of, `I'm home,' '' Hess said last week while sitting in the newly remodeled kitchen of her restored 1923 bungalow.

The carpet has given way to hardwood floors, and the house at 1011 E. Broad St. has received a makeover worthy of Home & Garden Television. So after a decade of renovations, Hess and her husband, Stuart, are showcasing their home on the Seventh Annual Old Seminole Heights Home Tour.

``There's still a lot of work to do,'' Hess said. ``But where else can I go to get what I have?''

The tour, sponsored by the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association, is from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.Tickets are $7 and available the day of the event at the Seminole Garden Center. Ticket price includes a guidebook with a map and descriptions.

The tour is a fundraiser for the neighborhood associations. Costs also are underwritten by First Home Realty.

Free parking will be available at the garden center and at Seminole Heights United Methodist Church.

Free transportation to each home will be provided by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority's yellow trolley buses. The buses will depart from the garden center every few minutes.

Artisans will sell wares, and a neighborhood Boy Scout troop will sell food on the garden center lawn. A Tampa Police Department mounted patrol unit is scheduled to make an appearance.

The self-guided tour will feature 11 houses of various architectural styles, many dating to the 1920s, including Tudors and bungalows - the neighborhood's signature style. All houses are on the tour for the first time.

Two of the houses were built since 2000s but designed to replicate historic bungalows.

The annual event is one of the most successful home tours in the city, routinely drawing more than 1,000 visitors. The 2003 tour set an attendance record with more than 1,600 visitors.

Photographs and descriptions of houses shown on previous tours are on the neighborhood association's Web site,

Old Seminole Heights was developed in the early 1900s as one of Tampa's first suburbs. The neighborhood is bounded by the Hillsborough River on the north and west, Hillsborough Avenue on the south, and 22nd Street on the east. A panhandle extends from Hillsborough Avenue south to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Florida and Interstate 275.

The community, hit hard by suburban flight in the 1960s and '70s, has undergone a renaissance in recent years, spurred largely through a migration of new homeowners. Two historic districts were designated in the neighborhood in the 1990s.

Old Seminole Heights has priceless qualities impossible to replicate in newer or more expensive neighborhoods, Hess said.

``There's a sense of community, there's a lot of architecture, and the trees - they make a wonderful entryway into the neighborhood,'' she said. ``It's not cookie cutter.''
As people discover and renovate old homes in the neighborhood, the stock of tour- quality homes increases every year, Hess said.

``It's a great neighborhood,'' she said.

Reporter Sean Lengell can be reached at (813) 259- 7145. This story can be found at:

'Blue house' regains 1930s glory; [STATE Edition]
ELIZABETH BETTENDORF. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Apr 1, 2005. pg. 1.H

Everyone in the neighborhood called it the "blue house." The color resembled a bad '70s wedding tuxedo.

Eric Krause and Chad Daughtrey hated the hue, but fell in love with the house: a handsome-but-neglected 1939 Tudor right on Central Avenue in one of Tampa's largest historic neighborhoods.
Indeed, the colors were icky, the rooms sterile.

Krause remained undaunted. Right away, in his head, he started tearing down walls and arranging furniture.

"My goal was to make it feel as warm as possible the minute you walked in," Krause explains.

"The kind of place where you could sit around, kick back and take your shoes off without worrying about smashing the pillows."

Krause, 31, who works for Gage-Martin Interior Design, and Daughtrey, 36, a computer programmer, were both adept at fixing old Florida homes. They had each owned much smaller fixer-uppers in Seminole Heights. And both knew what would be involved in taking on a more sizable restoration, particularly for a serious preservationist like Krause, who always opts for original rather than reproduction:

"All the way down to the doorknobs," Daughtrey says.

One year after buying the 2,400-square-foot, four-bedroom, two- bath house, the couple will open their doors Sunday for the annual Old Seminole Heights House Tour.

The neighborhood's sprawling boundaries, which measure roughly north to the Hillsborough River, south to Hillsborough Avenue, west to the river and east to 22nd Street, take in some of the most unusual old homes in the city. The area offers such a wide swath of architectural styles that tour organizers rarely feature a repeat house unless it has been significantly remodeled.

This year's tour, heavy on historic Tudor and bungalow styles, features 12 houses, two of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Expect to join about 1,200 people at the event, which takes place 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and costs $7.

Several new homes, built to look as if they sprouted at the turn of the century, also made the 2005 tour. That goes to show, tour chairman Christie Hess says, "that you can still build in an old style with all the modern amenities and not have cookie-cutter construction."

Krause and Daughtrey paid $210,000 for the house in March 2004 and estimate they've already put $70,000 more into it.

"That may not be a realistic goal for everybody," Krause says. "We've actually saved a lot of money because we're both very handy."

In a year, they managed to coax the exterior and interior into pristine, house-tour shape. They say they are still hard at work on the restoration but feel the house is ready to greet the usual throng of curious visitors.

"They did a great job in a very short period of time," Hess says. "I joked with them a year ago about whether they'd have their house ready in time for the tour - never dreaming they'd actually do it."

Inside, Krause has decorated with an eclectic blend of antiques, original abstract artwork, Oriental rugs, traditional furnishings and a few, choice-but- meaningful possessions.

"It's a clean design look but dates back to the period and authenticity of the house," he explains. "I also use a lot of antiques. It's definitely not contemporary."

For example, he converted an old brass carving platter once used in the dining room of a 1950s cruise ship (he found it in a salvage yard near the Port of Tampa) into a cocktail table by setting it on a wooden scissor stand base.

He restored a $25 Goodwill mahogany sideboard and topped it with an old French Onyx clock that weighs 80 pounds and that he purchased when he was broke.

"I didn't eat for a week," he recalls, laughing. "That's how much I wanted it."

The "Irish wake" dining room table is a new piece made from recycled barn wood held together with square-peg dowels.

The two joke it was one of the few pieces in the house they could agree on, though Daughtrey bought Krause as a birthday gift a quirky antique corner cabinet he once admired at the Missing Piece.

An old English secretary chest was a gift from one of his design clients who was moving out of town.

Around the fireplace, the couple chose to install a warm-toned granite that matched the original copper Mercury tile. All the doorknobs and related fixtures are duplicates of the 1930s originals in the house (all antiques and all rustled up by Krause, who loves to raid eBay for original architectural fittings).

Though the house was blue on the outside, the entire interior was painted the same shade of yellow.

Krause warmed the spaces with a sophisticated, masculine paint palette: a shade of brown latte by Ralph Lauren in the living room; a crimson red by Benjamin Moore in the dining room.
He also made liberal use of table lamps, including candlestick varieties and, by the front door, an old Chinese vase he converted into a lamp.

"Lamps cast a really warm light into any space," he says. "I like incandescent light combined with natural light. It warms up wood tones and warms up the way you feel. It makes you feel good."

The only truly new room in the house, Krause says, is the kitchen. He chose to gut and redo the room - notice the French Provincial cabinets - because he loves to cook and wanted a fresh space for food preparation and entertaining.

Upstairs, Daughtrey converted a second kitchen into a sleek bar and added a small, smoked glass-front beverage refrigerator he snagged for $100 at Home Depot. The cabinets are made of Jamestown cherry wood, the granite counter, a color he calls "absolute black."

They made good use of the two extra bedrooms by converting one to an office and the second to an attractive guest room where they've gutted and refurbished the closet using beadboard, their standard treatment for all closets in the house.

They've enjoyed the restoration so much that they recently bought the 1926 Craftsman-style cottage next door. Between them, they now own three houses in Seminole Heights.

As for the color of their Tudor house, the blue is out, out, out.

A warm taupe turned it from the color of a wedding tuxedo to a tasteful kind of place that invites a visitor to hang out on the front porch a while.

"Even the chimney was blue," Krause recalls. "It took the workers four days to sandblast blue off the brick."

Caption: New lighting fixtures and new wall colors are some of the changes Eric Krause and Chad Daughtrey made inside the living room and dining room of their 1939 Tudor-style home. ; Eric Krause, 31, and Chad Daughtrey, 36, stand on the porch of their; home on Central Avenue in Seminole Heights.; Photo: PHOTO, STEFANIE BOYAR, (2)