Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sidewalk Blockages

If you are handicapped in Seminole Heights, you can often forget about using sidewalks to safely get some place. There are many places I see people park on sidewalks.

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Dan said...

Half the time there aren't even sidewalks anyway. When I take my 5am "wheel" I make sure have plenty of blinking reflective lights on the chair.

Anonymous said...

If you are handicapped, you can forget using the sidewalks in almost all parts of Seminole Heights. We have none. Bayshore has one person killed crossing ths street and they get instant crosswalk light and a task force. Our great Mayor insisted on building a new Riverwalk park so that the homeless would have a nicer place to hang out, and our neighborhoods do not have sidewalks. However, you can tell next year will be an election year, she just did a presentation to City Council renewing her "commitment to neighborhoods" She must need more votes than her South Tampa Friends can give her. Someone will be hurt on 12 street. Cars go to fast and there are no sidewalks (Going to a Public park!!!!!!) What kind of sense does that make?

Mike Ferlita said...

We have literally been BEGGING for sidewalks in our neighborhood for YEARS and NOTHING!! You would think that in a neighborhood that has such a high number of pedestrians, that something as simple as sidewalks would be a priority. NOPE. We have also been asking the police and code enforcement to make a practice of ticketing those who park ILLEGALLY on the sidewalks guessed it.....NOTHING. I certainly understand the need for large public infrastructrue projects like the Riverwalk, BUT what about the quality of life within our own neighborhoods??? I would use a Riverwalk maybe once a month, but I would be able to use a sidewalk EVERYDAY!! And $40,000,000 would buy ALOT of sidewalk. PLEASE LISTEN TO US.

Anonymous said...

We took a walk this weekend and there is a house 1 or 2 blocks west of Central near the garden center (corner lot) that filled their sidewalk in with gravel! That can't possibly be allowed or can it? It's crazy!

Anonymous said...

Bungalowlady is the gravel expert.
She got her own neighbor in a very expensive pickle.
She doesn't care who's toes she steps on and that is why I am nominating her for the August feature in the jerk of the month club.
Bungalowlady...did you offer to help him rebuild the granite curbs one Saturday or did you just turn him in...
We all want to know..

ranbar said...

To anon 9:36:

Normally I refrain from responding on this blog. However, I am tired of your relentless, ill-informed and personal attacks on BugalowLady. The driveway was turned in only AFTER it was illegally constructed without permits and in a major violation of the overlay district, destroying 90 year old granite curb in the process. It was red-tagged to prevent any further overlay and code violations. Had the owner pulled permits the potential violation would have been caught by building services and the association would have been notified of any variance requests if the owner decided to still move forward. At that point, we could have worked with the owner, like we have worked with many other homeowners and developers, usually to a mutually satisfactory conclusion. In short, Susan was only doing her job as chair of OSHNA's code enforcement committee (a committee that every neighborhood association in the city has) when she reported the violation. As president of OSHNA, I am ultimately responsible for any actions by committee chairs. In this case, I (and the board) fully supported red tagging in order to prevent further violations and to hopefully mitigate the damage that was done. If you have an issue with the way this case was handled, or any other complaints concerning the actions of OSHNA, I suggest that you call me directly instead of continuing to anonymously attack Susan. My number is 234-9080. I look forward to your call.

Randy Baron
Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association

Anonymous said...

Like I would want to call you when you cant even get your own chairperson in check.
"Call me, I am the President..Look at me..."
No one has answered my first question...Did Susan offer to help him rebuild the drive?
The answer has to be no since you sideswiped it.
So you are telling me that you work with homeowners and tell them what to do with their own house??
By the way...I am not the only anonymous poster about the drive but I will take all the credit.
Are you saying that after 90 years of wear and tear..the curb shouldn't have come down anyways or should it just continue to look like sh!t until it is replaced by the city which will probably be never.
The point I have had with all of this is that from reading looks like Susan pushed her own personal agenda because she also lived on Broad Street and she seems to have a personal problem with this guy.

I think you all should be able to separate your personal lives from what goes on in the board or you are just as guilty Mr. Baron yourself for not doing anything to prevent future abuses of city systems.
As for the other posters, I can't say what they are upset about.
It just baffles me to this day that she was able to do that to her neighbor with no checks and balances.
Hence the nasty postings have taken place and may continue.
Did you think that no one would notice?
Everyone in SESH notices everything.
I would never do that to my neighbor without first offering to help him fix the things that were wrong.
If Old Seminole Heights wants to make it up to the guy, why doesn't the association offer to help him correct this situation so you all don't continue to look like fools.

Seminole Heights said...

Personal Responsibility

From what I understand is that a homeowner puts in an illegal driveway, removing historic curbing and anonymous 10:43 expects he should get some help from the association in fixing the problem? Are you nuts?

Why should anyone help the homeowner rebuild the drive? He choose to put it in illegally. Therefore he should be responsible for taking care of the mess he created and suffer the consequences.

Checks and balances? Hmmm. This was an illegal driveway. Code enforcement investigated and found it so. A code board confirmed it. Those are your checks and balances. If it was not illegal nothing further would have happened.

It does not matter whether this was called in by a neighbor on the same street or by the association.

It matters that someone did something majorily wrong and was caught and is being held responsible for those actions.

Get off it. This guy was caught and now is being held responsible.

This was a righteous call.

Rick F. said...

Personally, I wish OSHNA would pay more attention to the rampant code violations in their forgotten turf between 15th and 22nd streets. It is the only area in Seminole Heights that has deteriorated across the board in appearance in during the past 20 years.

By the way, granite curbs are not protected in the overlay district.

ranbar said...

Anon 10:43 - Thank you for reminding me why I don't respond on this blog. However, the offer still stands to call me. Or you can come to a board meeting (this month it is on Monday the 14th, otherwise it is the 3rd Tuesday of the month) and express your concerns. I have found that the best way to solve problems is to get involved.

Rick, I agree with you about east of 15th. You and I have had discussions about how to get that area more involved and it is something I would like to focus on in the coming year. As for rampant violations, OSHNA could ask Code Enforcement to do a sweep. However, before we do that, the 3 Seminole Heights neighborhood associations are in the process of organizing a Code Enforcement education seminar. Perhaps, after attending, people will better understand their rights, responsibilities and the process. Also, we are lobbying to include a "plain english" explanation of rights and process with all citation notices. The current notices are, in my opinion, uninformative and unnecessarily intimidating.

As for the granite curb, you are right, they are not protected. However, the violation was for building a driveway that abuts to the front of the house, the so-called "driveway to nowhere". The curb was just an innocent bystander that got chewed up in the process.

Anonymous said...

The new guy at that address could obviously use some help.
It's not his fault that the neighborhood has pursued him they way they did.
Maybe they could volunteer to help him.
I am sure he didn't know what you all are assuming he knew about the property when he bought even though their was a small allowance.
If all he has to do is fix the driveway then you all could help him knock that out in a day.
No one is nuts just reasonable.
The old owner messed him up and now the new owner has to clean up his mess.
How is that his fault?
I would help my neighbor if they had troubles with code and I have volunteered my time with many things.
I have cut lawns, built fences, painted, babysat, and given food away so many times.
Who is wrong for wanting to help out a neighbor?
A new neighbor at that.

Anonymous said...

Who does a driveway hurt? Anyone? Please take your heads out of your asses long enough to see that there are more important things like say, WAR? Global warming? People are dying left and right here and overseas and all you can do is squabble over as goddamn driveway? Because you don’t like looking at it and you had to run and see if it violated a code? If you want everyone telling you what to do and what not to do and what color to paint your door move to Hunters Green or another subdivision. I am sure they’ll be glad to have you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:43

It is pretty obvious that the driveway was a code violation from the start - when a vehicle is parked in the "driveway" that ends at the bedroom window then noone is able to use the sidewalk as the end of the vehicle blocks the sidewalk - you have to walk into the street to go around the vehicle and continue on the sidewalk. There is no room to park without blocking the sidewalk. Even if it did not end at the bedroom window there is no room for the correct depth to keep the car out of the sidewalk.

The current owner is the one cleaning up the mess but he was aware of the situation when he bought as the code citation was on the property and should have shown in the title search. I understand he accepted $2,000 to resolve the issue at closing from the seller - the seller makes his big bucks flipping the property and the new owner is left holding the bag.

Susan did not turn the issue in - she only monitored the process of the code violation as the chair of code enforcement as she does with others turned in - the job she volunteers for - how is that having the board of OSHNA not be able to control her?

A code violation is a code violation weather a neighbor turns it in, the code inspector files the report or the code chair forwards the e-mail on to code for followup. Who cares how it comes to code - fix the problem and all the issues go away.

How would you have reacted if someone came to you and told you of a code issue on your house? I'm sure they would not have been able to walk away before you had your gun pulled and threatened them about tresspassing on your property - I'll take the association code committee anyday over a showdown.

I say keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

She turned him in.
The new owner didn't commit the crime and is now doing the time.
I sure bet he would like some assistance to make it right.
I say Susan needs to go help him like everyone in SESH would do for our neighbors if we saw this guy in a pickle.
I am sure they didn't disclose the cold hard facts to this guy when he bought the house and that the woman across the street would turn him in immediately.
They probably just said sign here, here, and here.
The guy may be able to sue him but that takes money and who has that when you have to fix an expensive drive.
Not everyone is as familiar with codes as you all would like to think.
I am sure I don't know a lot of them myself.
I am here to stand up for the new neighbor and tell you all that you are wrong on this one.
No doubt in my mind she turned him in and personally followed through with it (even though she sits on the chair.)
Enough is enough.
To turn someone due tyo a problem is one thing but it is the attitude of the board that they are so against this drive but so unwilling to help this guy make it right.
I would have been over there in less than a second if he lived next to me.
No doubt in my mind.
That was just wrong.

Anonymous said...

We had a driveway put in at our house. We did not know the rules but assumed there might be some so we hired a person who has worked with the ARC in our neighborhood & knows what guidelines need to be followed. Before it was put in we had to meet with someone from the ARC to make sure it was going to be okay. NOPE... the driveway is certainly NOT located where we wanted it because the ARC said "no way" but that's just the way it is around here. It is our responsibility when living in a Historic neighborhood to do our homework. It's not always fun & we get heated up about things we consider stupid too but it is what it is. If you aren't sure... do your homework.

getting a headache from all the whining said...

"I would have done it ...if..
blah blah blah

You seem to know everything going on including where he lives,etc..

Why don't you go over there and offer to help? Oh wait , but then you couldn't write your whiny-ass posts here.

You seem to have a problem with what you deem authority, or is your issue with women in general or just Susan in particular?

If you REALLY REALLY felt this guy's pain, like you say you do, you would just STFU and go offer to help.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the guidelines are for putting up a gate? I have noticed two properties where the gates are or have been in dispute. What is appropriate and acceptable?

Anonymous said...

There is the problem with the way it was done.
The guy that lives there "bought it that way."
No problems with Susan until I feel that she abused her position and obviously, I am not the only one.
No one has ever answered the question of "Did Susan offer to help this guy or did she just crew him?"
The answer must be a no.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Broad street is not historic.
I called zoning.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:47

regarding gates - if you are in the historic district then check with ARC BUT most importantly check with zoning.

The gate issue that came in front of ARC last night for the property at Central and Powhatan was in violation of code and zoning and then the owner had not gotten approval for the gate through ARC.

She had to come in after the fact and admit that she had not gotten approval but the bigger issue is that she or the contractor did not pull a permit for a mechanical/motorized gate which required electricity to be run and then had designed and built an 8 foot gate when zoning will only allow a 6 foot gate anywhere in the city.

She is caught between a rock and a hard place - no permit and a zoning violation. She now has to go back to the "licensed" contractor who was paid $7,000 to design and install the gate and fight with him to correct the errors that they should have know about as a licensed contractor doing business in Tampa.

So it's not so much about the gate but all the other little details that need to be addressed.

ranbar said...

To Anonymous 10:28/10:31:

Broad Street is not in a Historic District and is thus not under the purview of the ARC. It is within the Seminole Heights Residential Overlay District and is thus subject to those regulations. The overlay district took over two years to develop and was subject to several public meetings before receiving unanimous approval at City Council. The goal of the overlay district was to develop some basic requirements to help maintain the look and feel of the overwhelming majority of residential structures within Seminole Heights. Chief among these are the requirements of roof pitch, minimal floor height above grade and the prohibition of "snout houses" (where the garage is closer to the street than the front of the house) and driveways that abut to the front of the house. In other words, to encourage structures that are compatible with the neighborhood and discourage in-fill housing and additions that are more representative of Carrollwood and New Tampa. Compliance with the overlay is determined at the permitting stage and does not require additional review by the ARC. In general, the overlay has been successful. As an ordinance of the city of Tampa, compliance is a legal requirement.

To answer your question of whether the association "offer[ed] to help this guy?", the answer is no. We will, however, support any requests to the city for reasonable extensions, upon evidence that that a sincere attempt is being made to complete repairs. But the driveway has to go. In addition to being an overlay violation, it is also a safety hazard to pedestrians along Branch because a car cannot be parked on it without extending into and blocking the sidewalk.

I am confused, however, as to what you think the responsibility of the neighborhood association is in this case. Pay for it? Well, OSHNA (like any other neighborhood association) cannot spend association funds for the benefit of a private party (especially one who knowingly violated code or purchased a home with full knowledge of the violation and actually received a credit due to the violation).

Help rebuild it? At one time we had a HIT Team program, similar to SESH, where neighbors helped one another on home improvement projects. The program sputtered out due to a lack of volunteers (although we are looking for someone to reinvigorate it - perhaps you?). However, as in SESH's program, the homeowner was responsible for all expenses, including breakfast and lunch for the volunteers.

I am also confused as to why you think Susan abused her position (and, btw, the initial complaint did not come from Susan but from another homeowner on the block). Do you think it was irresponsible to call in a violation (especially when the owner didn't pull a permit) when it is the stated position of all three Seminole Heights neighborhood associations to demand full compliance with the overlay district? Or to follow up on it to make sure that the violation is corrected? (I can assure you that if your neighbor had an egregious code violation that you wanted taken care of, Susan would be just as vigilant.) Yet you seem to imply that it is somehow the association's fault that the homeowner decided to break the law and was subsequently caught. Well, I think that Scott said it best in his post above - at some point the homeowner has to have some personal responsibility for his actions. Had the previous owner followed the law the driveway wouldn't have been in violation. And neither would the current owner have received a $2000 credit on the price of the home.

And before you continue to bash Susan, I strongly suggest that you educate yourself on her efforts to help people who have been cited for code violations. Such as the homeowners in Hampton Terrace who have been told to remove front yard retaining walls, or her countless hours spent explaining to people who have been cited that no, the city is not about to foreclose on their homes in 30 days, and then explaining the process and their rights in detail to nervous homeowners (and sometimes accompanying them to Code Board). Or helping those who are unable to fix violations to be registered in diversion programs so that they can get assistance. And you need to learn about the many nights she spent on Hooker Patrol to help clean up the prostitution along Nebraska Avenue. In short, Susan is a tremendous asset to Seminole Heights and your continued character assassination does nothing but erode your credibility.

Now, if you would like to learn more about the challenges that the association faces with respect to code enforcement, or you would like to help re-establish the HIT team, I welcome you to come to a board meeting or to contact me directly. If you personally want to help the homeowner with the violating driveway, I suggest you contact him directly. Now it's your turn to answer a question - have YOU offered to help him?

Randy Baron

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:28

How would you suggest that Susan help the guy?

Let's look at the facts
1) It is a violation of the overlay district.
2) It is a code violation.
3) it is a zoning violation.

Would you suggest that she fill out the permit paperwork (that was never completed to put the drive in) for him or take a shovel and start taking out the pavers? The only way to resolve the issue is to take out the driveway.

The owner was sold a bill of goods and knew that there were code/zoning issues at the time of closing - he choose to go forward with the purchase instead of resolving the issue before closing so now it sits in his lap to resolve. Informed buyer beware.

Had it never been turned into code then Susan would not be in the loop - it still goes forward as an issue even if code it taken out of the loop. I don't think it necessary for you to continue to focus on Susan when the driveway has bigger issues that will prevent it from staying.

Had I know that Susan has as much power with code as you think, then I would have been calling her night and day.

Give it a rest and give her a break

Anonymous said...

From what I heard from someone, the person in violation with the retaining wall is a friend of Susan's.
There she goes with another abuse of her position.
If she had helped the drive guy as much as she helped the retaining wall guy, he would be home scott free.
I hope the city doesn't grant a variance when the retaining wall is knowingly in violation.
If they are going to force the driveway guy to fix his stuff, then the retaining wall needs to be corrected too.
No doing favors for friends anymore.
The driveway guy isn't my neighbor so why should I go next door and help.
I have my own neighbor's to help.
He is Susans neighbor apparently so she needs to help him like she is helping her other friends get out of doing work.
I don't think Susan has any power with city agencies.
They have to follow the law like everyone else does.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:42

That's what you get from gossip and hearsay - incorrect information.

The connection between Susan and the homeowner you reference is related to code - they are aware of each other through the association - one is a member and one is the chair of a committee. The owner was sited and actually contacted me for some help - I directed them to the code chair to make sense of it all. I live in the neighborhood and know this cited individual.

There are actually about 5 houses that have been cited by code to remove retaining walls on this street. Many of these walls have been there over 20 years. The lots in this part of the street drop down sharply to the street grade and those houses that do not have retaining walls have their yards in the street. There are several grand oaks that are NOT being undermined by rain because of these walls - if they go away then it will just be a matter of time before the trees are in the middle of the street. These retaining walls are not there to be pretty - they serve a purpose plain and simple.

The only way to fix the driveway is to remove it - when a vehicle is parked in the drive then access is blocked on the sidewalk - how do you "fix" that?? Tell someone in a wheel chair that they have to use the street because the current owner isn't at fault for parking in their drveway because they did not put it in but bought it knowing of the issue. Even if the code violation was dropped there is still the overlay violation and the zoning violation - code out of the picture - the owner still has issues to be resolved.

Ralph Wiggum said...

My cats breath smells like cat food

Anonymous said...

The lady put up the retaining walls to prevent any of the neighbors from parking or making u-turns not to keep the dirt from flowing.
The neighbors want it gone.
Where are you when those neighbors want it gone and are araind to say anything as they know you two are friends?

Anonymous said...

My cats breath smells like rats.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:00

that doesn't fly - there is still room to park at the street in front of the retaining wall. I have been in the area for 10 years and they have been there that long at least.

What are the neighbors afraid of?

Rick F. said...

Put the dog to rest about the driveway. The seller of the property had an obligation to disclose. If the buyer accepted a concession from the seller for the problem that was insuffient to remmediate the problem it is not Susan's or OSHNA's fault. He should have contacted an attorney and maybe he still should to see if the seller can be forced to make it right. On the other hand, I and several other's thought Susan could have presented the update at the April OSHNA meeting with a bit more empathy/compassion for the current owner. That still does not make the situation her fault.

The overlay rules are not that difficult to abide by. In fact I had my addition approved without delay or issue.

I provide the guidelines to any buyer or seller I am working with and make sure they all sign. Most folks don't know they exist. Most agents don't know they exist.

I think I remember something from Sunday school about the blind leading the blind....

Maybe the police officer who pulls you over for speeding should pay the ticket for you??? There is definately some twisted logic in these posts.

Anonymous said...

It is going to be the issue when some people have to follow the law and others don't.
The illegal retention wall is a BIG issue there.
One the association is fighting against from what we hear.
It is huge, ugly, causes traffic problems, and needs to go.

Anonymous said...

the association is not fighting it. They are assisting the owner of the property that received the violation work their reply/request through the system - as would be done with any other person that ask for assistance in navigating the code system. Just because they are assisting the owner with their answer to the violation does not mean that the code board will rule in the owner's favor.

And pray tell how the retaining wall causes traffic problems - it is a good 5 - 7 feet off of the road - does not impede the view of drivers in any direction as the property is in the middle of the block and does not block the view or driveway access of either neighbor. I think you are grasping at straws to complain about.

Any person that has a code complaint filed against them has 2 options - come into compliance or chose to take it to the code board to try and resolve in their favor. This owner chooses to go to the board with their issue and may still have to make the retaining wall go away. I think it is a good thing that they can take the violation to code board to dispute if they feel like taking that route.

Anonymous said...

if the neighbors have issues with the retaining wall then they are more than welcome at the code board reviews to voice their opinion on the violation.

Anonymous said...

I have to work.

Bungalowlady said...

I swore I wouldn't say anything, but here goes. The woman with the retaining wall was not a friend of mine. I never met her prior to this issue. She didn't understand the process and called me to find the name of an attorney to help her since code was taking "further legal action." I explained the
process and she asked for help.As always, I said sure.

The neighbor with the driveway issue is a nice man. He is young and a little naive. I like him but I don't like this driveway. It got turned into code and construction services because I received a call about it while I was teaching a class at St. Leo. I did my job and forwarded the information on to the appropriate people.

No, I did not offer to reapir his driveway. I am 60 years old, as most of you know. I do not dig and haul as well as I used to. So my help, although better than nothing, would not do him much good. Besides he has stated at Code Board that he does not want to remove the driveway and will take no action to do so. He has filed for a variance. The VRB will decide.

In addition, he has a shared driveway with his next-door neighbor. There is a 4' chain-link fence down the middle which keeps him from using it. However, it was suggested that he speak to his neighbor about removing the fence so he could use the driveway and park in back like the original owners of the house did. He has refused to do so. He stated, "I don't think my neighbor would agree to that.." I, however, have spoken to his neighbor. His neighbor is agreeable to pursuing the idea. Thus, there may be no need for the illegal driveway.

Code, Zoning and Construction Servces have all found the driveway illegal. We will see about the retaining wall that keeps a grand oak alive and the home from falling into the street as the yard washes away from the rains. Many people at code believe the retaining wall will be allowed.