Saturday, September 29, 2007

Missing Person - NO JOKE

I know this unuasal but I wanted to post it anyway. I found this flyer on my truck at Big Lots today and call his sister, she gave me permission to spread it around the Internet. She said the police are doing what they can but she would apreciate any help we could give. She also gave me permission to post it the blog spot. Please take a moment to look at the flyer she made and pass it on to your friend.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Update on found pitbull

Well, the owner called and has missed two appointments to pick her up. At this point the mission has turned from finding her owner to finding her a home. Doga is a really sweet little girl, has had her shots, and is spayed (according to the owner).
If you, or anyone you know can provide a good home to her, please call 813-500-3205.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Found Dog

She appears to be about 1-2 years old, a boxer mix. She was in my yard at N.Boulevard and Sligh on Tuesday night, I now have her in my backyard in hopes I can find her family rather than take her to Animal Services. I took her to the vet and she is not micro-chipped.

My number is 813.758.0558/Anthony

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fun ! Fun !! Fun !!!

Don't forget to set your clocks, your watches, stomachs and anything else you have to remind you to be at Merino's Seminole Heights Deli this Friday

Super Exemption update

Two days ago a judge struck the Amendment from the January 29th ballot. Since the legislature has a special session beginning on Oct. 2nd. That gives them plenty of time to modify the proposed ballot initiative to meet the requirements of submitting it 90 days before the election. The initiative would grant homestead exemption on 75% of the first $200,000 in assessed value. That could be a huge benefit to most of our newer Seminole Heights neighbors. (it also exempts 15% of assessed values between 200k and 500k)

It would allow people who prefer their Save Our Homes status to retain that on their current property. It is a win-win for both our long time neighbors and new neighbors. It would also help those who want to down-size but feel trapped by the tax implications.

Hopefully, folks will call and write their state legislature members so this can be infront of voters when they vote in the January primary.

Eating of

One of our new neighbors found Creative Loafing's best of choices for places to eat lacking some catagories and set up his own. His post can be found at: Eating Tampa . It is a shame and source frustration that Seminole Heights can't dominate the list but we are getting more choices. We have Merino's, Cappy's, Three Coins, Nicko's, Martha's, Front Porch, Rincon Catracho, and others. We are getting there but our choices are still limited.

Are you ready?

Merino's Seminole Heights Deli is getting ready for the mixer of a lifetime.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sports Bar & Grill - Last Phase of Approval

Below is the city council's minutes, but basically Greg Smith is one city council meeting away (i.e., two weeks) from being approved his wet zoning permit, which means Seminole Heights is one meeting away from being granted a brand new construction Sports Bar & Grill!

Here are the basics I pulled out of the meeting for you:
1 )Wet zone is 3,000 square feet, which 2,400 of them will be located inside of the building.
2) There will be about 400 seating seats and 18 of them will be located outside of the building.
3) The sale of alcohol would be incidental to the primary function of the building.

The propert owners says, "Plan to put up a 2,800 square foot sports bar. And sporting events, games."


15:58:55 The case number was Z-06-27, PD.15:59:05 Petitioner is requesting 2(COP-R), the sale of beer15:59:08 and wine, at the 6401 north Nebraska Avenue.15:59:15 In association with the restaurant.15:59:16 Wet zone is 3,000 square feet, which 2400 of them will15:59:23 be located inside of the building.15:59:27 There will be about 400 seating seats and 18 of them15:59:33 will be located outside of the building.15:59:36 The sale of alcohol will be primarily -- would be15:59:40 incidental to the primary function of the building.15:59:43 At this time, there are no other wet zoned locations15:59:45 in the area.15:59:48 There are residential locations, residential uses, as15:59:51 well as the institutional, at this time petitioner is15:59:55 requesting the waiver to the distance separation.16:00:01 At this time, when I went to the location, it's a16:00:06 vacant lot.16:00:08 (off microphone)16:00:21 As you can see the wet zoning.16:00:29 Land development has no objection.16:00:42 Land development has no objection.16:00:53 The petition has been forwarded to the Tampa Police16:00:54 Department.16:01:00 >>> Officer Don Miller, City of Tampa police16:01:02 department.16:01:02 We have no objections to the wet zoning.16:01:05 >>GWEN MILLER: Petitioner?16:01:11 >> 1400 Gandy Boulevard.16:01:19 I have not been sworn.16:01:21 (Oath administered by Clerk).16:01:27 >>> Yes.16:01:30 >>GWEN MILLER: What do you plan to do?16:01:32 >>> Plan to put up a 2800 square foot sports bar.16:01:38 And sporting events, games.16:01:54 >>GWEN MILLER: Is there already a building you are16:01:56 renovating or what?16:01:57 >>> No.16:01:58 It's flat.16:01:59 >> You are going to build a new building?16:02:01 >>> Yes, ma'am.16:02:02 From the ground up, construction.16:02:04 >>GWEN MILLER: Mr. Dingfelder?16:02:05 >>JOHN DINGFELDER: Are you aware, sir, under this16:02:07 zone, that you are requesting, that the sales have to16:02:11 be 51% as a total sale?16:02:15 >>> Yes.16:02:18 69 is there anyone in the public that wants to speak16:02:20 on item 121?16:02:23 When they are done speaking you may come back.16:02:27 >>> Susan Lauren, treasurer of the Old Seminole16:02:30 Heights association.16:02:31 I have been sworn.16:02:34 We have been working with this owner for on and off16:02:38 for probably two or three years.16:02:43 To meet our requests, we strongly urge to you approve16:02:47 this request.16:02:48 Thank you.16:02:49 >>GWEN MILLER: Any questions by council members?16:02:51 >>CHARLIE MIRANDA: Move to close the hearing.16:02:53 >> Second.16:02:53 (Motion carried).16:02:54 >>CHAIRMAN: Do you have an ordinance?16:02:56 >> I move an ordinance upon second reading, making16:03:11 lawful the sale of beverages containing alcohol of16:03:13 more than 1% by weight and not more than 14% by weight16:03:16 and wines regardless of alcoholic content beer and16:03:19 wine 2(COP-R) for consumption on the premises only in16:03:23 connection with a restaurant business establishment on16:03:25 that certain lot, plot or tract of land located at16:03:28 6401 north Nebraska Avenue, Tampa, Florida, as more16:03:32 particularly described in section 2 hereof, waiving16:03:34 certain restrictions as to distance based upon certain16:03:37 findings, providing for repeal of all ordinances in16:03:39 conflict, providing an effective date.16:03:41 >>JOHN DINGFELDER: Just for clarification that's first16:03:43 reading?16:03:45 >>THOMAS SCOTT: First reading, thank you.16:03:46 >>GWEN MILLER: Motion and second.16:03:47 (Motion carried)16:03:52 >>GWEN MILLER: Item number 122, anything on that?16:04:00 >>JOHN DINGFELDER: Good luck.16:04:01 >>GWEN MILLER: When you open list know.16:04:04 >>MARTIN SHELBY: It's going to be coming back in two16:04:06 weeks so it will be final when the council votes again16:04:08 in two weeks.16:04:09 Thank you.16:04:12 >>GWEN MILLER: You don't have to come back.16:04:21 >> You should.16:04:22 >> You should come back.

Tampa's Codes Throttle Progress

I have no idea who wrote this, as the St. Pete Times gives no credit, but I think it voices what most people say on the blog. Actually, to the point, it's kind of the same ole ... but at least it's getting print.

STORY: The softening of the housing market forces cities to be aggressive in building their tax bases through commercial investment. Yet city codes in Tampa undermine that effort by overly restricting development. Some of Tampa's oldest neighborhoods, such as Seminole Heights, underwent a face lift during the recent housing boom, as owners renovated block after block of traditional homes. Yet these same neighborhoods lack many of the basics that once made them self-sustaining, such as restaurants and retail shops, because city codes don't accommodate the unique challenges of rebuilding older, urban settings.

Urban areas, unlike the suburbs, are not a blank canvas. Developers looking to turn homes or factories into other uses or to locate a business in a neighborhood are limited by man-made and natural features, such as existing homes, roads, utilities and other public works. Land typically is more expensive and difficult to assemble. That is why development standards appropriate for the suburbs may not fit the urban core. A dry cleaner on a residential block cannot be expected to provide the same parking as one in a strip mall. Urban neighborhoods in Tampa and elsewhere were designed before the car, and the geography forces the city to balance development standards with practicality and convenience.

The fact that it took months in Seminole Heights to open a coffee shop and allow parking for a pizzeria shows how lacking the city's development posture is in the very areas gentrification has primed for commercial development. Residents flocked to the city and rebuilt homes because they wanted an urban experience. A new approach the city is examining, called form-based zoning, is a step in the right direction, for it would look beyond the elements of a project to the impact it would have on the neighborhood.

Flexibility is about more than reacting to a slowing residential property market. These residents are already there - in Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights and other neighborhoods near downtown. Serving them is an opportunity to grow and diversify Tampa's economy. The city can maintain strong development standards by making smarter use of its regulatory power. That begins by remembering that people and commerce together make cities work.

[Last modified September 23, 2007, 22:12:46]

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bike Riders Tour Seminole Heights

Sounds like the event was a success. Congrats to you Alan and to all that participated.

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS - About 30 residents ages 7 through 60-plus pedaled off Sept. 15 on a 5.2-mile jaunt through the neighborhood.

Organized by resident Alan Snel, the bike ride was the first of what he hopes are many more to come. Snel, a former Tampa Tribune reporter, is coordinator for South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, a group of retail bicycle stores.

The slow-paced ride started on East Powhatan Avenue, with a route that included North 12th Street, Park Circle, Central Avenue and a victory lap around Lake Roberta. Participants showed up with required helmets and an array of bikes, from a tandem to mountain and road bikes.
The rides are designed to highlight areas of Seminole Heights and promote bike riding in the Tampa Bay area. The next ride is set for 8:15 a.m. Oct. 13. Snel said he's considering an 8- to 10-mile ride, possibly heading west of Interstate 275.

For information, go to or e-mail Snel at

Friday, September 21, 2007

Another Biz Location Op


Property Description: This freestanding historical gem is almost 5,000 sf of Office/ Retail/ Apts and is most recently known as the RealMarc Properties headquarters. Boasting over 200' MLK frontage x 100' depth on the front commercial parcels (both zoned CI Commercial Intensive) w/ half of that being a vacant (leased) storage lot (additional parking, redevelopment &/or just as-is for leased parking and storage), the front of the structures 1,000 or so sf is professional offices occupied by the owners w/ the additional 2-story 4,000 sf of apartments (fully leased), which were actually used as (and can be again) small incubation offices (to grow new businesses years back), a front curb cut b/w the 2 front parcels, an alley for rear exit/ entry to Highland Ave, another additional paved rear parking lot (zoned RS-50) that fronts IDA St.
PS - I have no vested interest in this property, other than wanting someone (who cares about helping to revitalize the S.H. and T.H. communities) to take it over and do what's right for the residents.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Little Good PR for the Neighborhood

Yes -- this entry's title (above) is sarcastic.

STORY: Most of the eight dogs are still considered puppies. The youngest is just five months old.

Vets say every one is infested with fleas and in dire need of medical care. But their biggest concern is wounds from abuse a neighbor said some of the animals had to endure.

"There was a grave concern from this witness who saw this person hitting his dog with a chain in the backyard," Hillsborough County Animal Control investigator Pam Perry said.

That backyard at the Seminole Heights home is familiar to animal control. Officials say they've been there many times since February, warning both Everell Forbes and Chavonne Jennings to take better care of their animals.

This time, authorities say the conditions were even worse than before. And this time, their discoveries didn't end with the dogs. They say Jennings, a convicted felon, was also hiding a handgun, drugs and kits used to make crack cocaine.

Long-time neighbor Andy Betancourt watched as the animals and their owner were taken away Tuesday afternoon, both alarmed and relieved to see it come to this.

"There's been a lot of drugs coming out from that house," Betancourt said.

The question now becomes what will happen to the dogs. So far, animal control officials say they seem healthy enough to survive.

"There's no excuse for this," Perry said. "These people knew exactly they had to do and they failed. They failed the dogs."

They're Watching Us

I can't belive it took me this long to notice, but from the 2nd floor of my 2 story house I can see one of those I275 traffic cameras mounted on an 80 ft pole. My immediate reaction was and is "if I can see it from my window, it can certainly see me." And of course, it's true and scary for all of us living near the Interstate or many local intersections.

Here are some clips from a story I found that speaks of it:

At major intersections and interstates, you may have noticed another type of camera perched atop light signals or 80-foot poles. These traffic cameras, white-and-black dome-shaped devices resembling R2D2, are closed-circuit TV cameras operated by local, county or state departments of transportation.

"We'd like to have a camera every mile," says Bill Wilshire, who heads FDOT's Intelligent Transportation Program that calls for cameras to line I-275 ... and all major roadways and intersections ...

Officials say the cameras help identify accidents, alert emergency authorities and help the public avoid long delays.

Then why do local governments need high-tech cameras that can pan, tilt or zoom, wonders Brown, the surveillance critic.

"If you need to passively observe traffic flows at an intersection, you don't need a camera with pan, tilt or zoom -- you can use a fixed camera," he says by phone from his New York City home. "It exceeds what they're trying to do with it. If the Department of Transportation wants to see if there's a traffic jam at a certain intersection, that is OK, but it seems that they should be limited to what kinds of cameras they're using, especially if they can peer into automobiles." *Blog entry author note: If this is possible, looking into homes flanking those roads has to also be possible.

Jacobs says the zoom allows them to see a half-mile down a roadway, helping them to gauge how far traffic is backed up in any one place. But he doesn't discount that as the cameras become more integrated with communication systems used by emergency personnel, the video could one day be used for enforcement.

"That seems to be almost a reverse of 'Peeping Tom' statutes," he says. "A Peeping Tom cannot stand outside your window and photograph into your window, and the same thing seems to apply that someone shouldn't shoot out of a window indiscriminately for the purpose of entertaining people."

Of course, as you can tell, I'm pretty weirded out by the situation, but to see both sides of the story I pulled from, visit:

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Hours - Ybor Pizza

Just an FYI. Ybor Pizza is now open on Sundays, per the owner.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tampa Area Marine Parents Association new website

The Tampa Area Marine Parents Association was started by Cyd Death in SE Seminole Heights.

"The mission of the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association is to give support in whatever areas are needed and whenever possible while continuing to be an active and visible presence to all branches of the military in our communities, the state of Florida and wherever we are led."

They have a new website

Rincon Catracho

An email I received from "Lisa" (whom I know):

Rincon Catracho

As a resident of Seminole Heights and a relatively recently returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV, 95-98), I have been embarrassed and down right ashamed of the lack of open mindedness and support shown for the Rincon Catracho on Florida Avenue by an overwhelming majority of my fellow Seminole Heights residents. Come on neighbors, where's your spirit of adventure? Try something new and be proud that these spirited entreprenuers with international experience picked OUR neighborhood in which to "give it a go".

It's true, this restaurant is not the "avante garde, tres chic, wine drinking, upper crust of the town", but you know what? It's as AUTHENTIC as it gets. The only thing that distinguishes this restaurant from one that you might find in the Central American country of Honduras is their, now-by local demand, English language menu. By the way, the translated descriptions of their economically priced and absolutely soul satisfying authentic Honduran cuisine just doesn't do the food justice. If you were to get on a plane for Honduras right now, you'd be sitting in the lap of luxury to find a restaurant that even served seafood, let alone one that supplied the music AND video AND occasionally live music or the hottest soccer match.

In Central America you might discover that the music is loud;service is offered at a leisurely pace; and usually, the menu depends on what's locally available and in season. So what, isn't that part of why we seek out international cuisine? To pretend that, even if momentarily, we can be transported to another world, another way of life, full of new flavors, new sounds, and new traditions?

In closing, I beg you to try Rincon Catracho with a traveler's mind. And, please consider showing your utmost respect to your fellow diners. As you enter Rincon Catracho, pass along a "BUEN PROVECHO" to your fellow diners. It means ENJOY YOUR MEAL and it's customary to say as you enter a room where anyone is seen to be dining in Honduras and most of Latin America.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Heights Loses One of Our Own

Local musician and 20 year SH resident Jeff Wood has lost his fight with brain cancer. His prolific music career spanned local and international bands (though not an exhaustive list) The Moon Calves, Fugitive Kind, Forgotten Apostles, Monday Mornings, Smashmouth, Joe Popp, Barely Pink, Spiller, Nutrajet and many, many more.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The culinary underbelly of Tampa

Yesterday I took two of Tampa's food journalists on a tour of my favorite hole in the wall restaurants. The mission; to show that exceptionally good food can be found in the most unlikely looking places, that every day people with a passion for their trade can produce results every bit as good, or better, as the culinary elite.

Our first stop, and the one with neighborhood significance, was Martha's. While it may be old hat to some readers, to the uninitiated I must climb on my soapbox and sing it's praises.

Sitting at a rickety table and sharing the only menu between the four of us, we decided to share the biscuits and gravy and catfish and eggs. (We had 6 more stops to make, so moderation was the watchword of the day). The biscuits and gravy arrived post haste.

The term "food porn" has been thrown around quite a bit in culinary writing of late. While a perfectly seared piece of glistening foie gras may do it for some, this plate of biscuits smothered in white, pork filled goodness was my food porn. The biscuits, a cross between a quick bread and a yeast roll, were light, fluffy, slightly burned, and delicious. The sausage gravy, a whole that is greater than the sum of it's simple ingredients of sausage, flour, milk, and black pepper has the potential to be a gluey, gummy, glutenous mess of blandness to the nth degree, or a light, velvety, heart attack inducing, life changing experience. Yes, it was the latter, with just a trace of a soda waterish tang to get you in that spot where your jaws hinge. Moderation went out the window as I dove in to the plate again and again.

The catfish arrived with just a telltale trace of the frying oil streaking the plate that showed the pefect amount of use to the fryer, none of that squeaky clean, transparent, brand new grease for me, thank you. The simple anglaise breading of flour, salt, and pepper was all that was needed to seal in the moisture and preserve the texture of a perfectly fresh filet. The curious pairing with eggs sent all semblance of kosher running for the hills, but I was raised Irish catholic and don't need to worry about such things. The eggs were scrambled and cooked (possibly unkown to the cook) omlette souffle style, which resulted in an airy pillow of eggy goodness.

The passion and ethos demonstrated by the family run operation at Martha's is little heard of these days. One of the journalists was impressed to the point that he wants to run a feature on Ella and her food in the near future. I highly suggest that you sample their wares before anything happens that could send them the way of the dinosaur.

Mission accomplished, I exposed a culinary gem in a most unlikely box.

Other places outside of the neighborhood on the tour that you may want to look in to:
La Cabana Antiquena(Columbian)
Mi Mexico
Gold Ring
Big John's BBQ
Cephas Hot Shop (do NOT let him talk you into drinking the aloe before eating - that's a story for another day)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Yet More '2 Way' News

I attended this city council meeting and I must say that I am floored by the lack of care Transportation Department planner Daniel Lamb shows for our neighborhoods.

In the midst of concerns from residents about their safety when walking down Florida Ave. and Tampa St./Highland Ave. while thousands of cars pass dangerously close and at unsafe speeds, he not only ignored our pleas, he added insult to injury by stating: By 2030 traffic along the corridors is expected to increase by 50 to 60 percent.

So he wants run 60% MORE traffic through our neighborhoods at unsafe speeds and dangerously close to kids walking to school and people trying to walk to neighborhood business -- despite our concerns at the volume now??? What part of this doesn't sound CRAZY?

Hey Mr. Lamb -- I've got an idea. Why don't we run 20,000 cars at 45-55+ mph in front of your house every day? Try it from our viewpoint some time and tell me you feel comfortable and safe.

Kudos to the few on the city council that are currently showing some common sense in this matter. Payback is due for letting the right of way for roads rule our neighborhood -- by first splitting it; then crippling its revitalization.

Furthermore, I also realize the FDOT is trying to make this an all four roads or no roads conversion deal. Let me point out that it is ok to work on a couple sections of one set or the other at one time, then move to others. This is exactly the way downtown is converting its roads to mostly two-way traffic (i.e., ala sections).

And Miranda -- your comment at the meeting about 5 roads coming together won't work where Aremenia and Howard come together if they go 2-way, you might want to look at the hundreds of other city's that promote those exact type of locations -- such as Little Five Points (Atlanta), 5 Points (Jacksonville), etc.

Those areas are meccas for their communities and loaded with community-serving businesses like restaurants, shops, etc.

We deserve better ...

One Day Only

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Glass Onion Opens

The Glass Onion, a new artist co-operative gallery and venue is now open in Seminole Heights. Clint Corfman, the owner of the former glass studio on Nebraska Avenue tells me that he plans to host weekly Tai Chi, Yoga, and Raw Food Preparation Classes with various volunteer instructors as well as a weekly Sunday market and other events.

Check out the opening this Saturday, September 8th @ 7pm with work by Jeff Spelcher, Crystal Kreuzinger, Regina Brady, and UFOS Art

Live Music by Sunset Bridge and DJ Humblelion

The Glass Onion is located at 6310 N. Nebraska Avenue, 33604
For more info contact Clint at 813-841-3292

More on 1 way vs 2 way On Council agenda 9/6 at 9am

Tomorrow Morning City Council has a committee report on the conversion of Florida ave. and Highland/Tampa to 2 way. So is it important???. That depends on whether you want Florida Avenue to function as a commercial corridor serving the neighborhoods of Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights. That depends on whether it is important for the residents in South Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights to not have a virtual freeway running through what is for the most part a residential area.

DOT has naturally weighed in to conclude "Conversion to two-way is not feasible". Well DOT doesn't want it so let's just shape the conclusion that you want. Let's even make it difficult to compare the two parallel roads.

From Palm Avenue northward to Hillsborough Avenue it is possible to change the configuration on Florida Avenue without impacting 275 access to the south. From Hillsborough to Palm it is possible to change the configuration without impacting 275 access to the south on Tampa St.

Traffic counts north bound north of 275 are 12,000 (Florida)...half of what they are south of 275
Traffic counts southbound north of 275 are 9,500 (Tampa/Highland)

Since these are basically parallel roads a change to two-way traffic would have an affect on the traffic volume. We have basically 21,000 car trips on these two roads, divided between both under a two way configuration you are talking 10,750 on both roads. So there is not some greater degree of stress on the road way. You would have slightly reduced traffic stress on Florida and slightly more on Highland/Tampa.

What would we gain in our communities? Slower average traffic speeds in the residential stretch of Highland/Tampa. A Commercial Avenue that would be more viable for commercial redevelopment in the case of Florida Avenue. Commercial property functioning at a higher or best use will generate more revenue to the city not less. We gain by having a less blighted roadway and hopefully will attract more neighborhood serving businesses.

Yes it means we need to convince the City to push DOT to do what it is not naturally inclined to do. Respond to the needs and desires of the community. Believe it or not folks, DOT did not build that wall on Hillsborough because they thought it was a swell idea. It was through a lot of effort, research, lobbying, and studies generated through the hard work of Kacy Curry and the OSHNA highways and by-ways committee which she did a supurb job of chairing.

Folks in Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights should turn-out at council tomorrow to show this is something the City should push DOT to do. While it is a committee report, having concerned bodies in the audience gives support to those Councilmembers who have been listening and thinking about this issue. IT TAKES US ONE STEP CLOSER TO FIXING A 50 YEAR OLD MISTAKE.