Give South Pasadena Residents Time to Speak
Dear Editor: The South Pasadena City Commission is attempting to reduce the amount of time it allows the public to make comments during quasi-judicial hearings. Following a contentious public hearing for the Special Exception Use Permit for the expansion of the docks at Causeway Village on April 13, 2021, which stretched late into the night, the Commission was told by the city staff that it could change the amount of time allowed for public comment in those hearings by amending and revoking Resolution 95-28, which outlines procedures for conducting a quasi-judicial hearing like the one held on April 13. However, the public comment time limits are codified by ordinance (Chapter 14, Section 14-6 City of South Pasadena Codes). Only the procedures for allocating that time are ruled by Resolution 95-28. An ordinance cannot be changed by a resolution.
In addition, there were several changes included in the amended resolution that would have severely restricted public comment at the “sole discretion” of the commission. Public objection and a legal opinion submitted to the city attorney resulted in the amended resolution being removed from the regular commission meeting agenda on July 1.
Our concern now is that the city attorney stated that pulling the item from the agenda would allow the opportunity to fully explain the different land use processes and process for public comment. Also, the attorney intends to review additional sections of the Code of Ordinances to determine whether other amendments to code are appropriate. We believe there will be an attempt to change our city code to reduce speaking time and opportunities during quasi-judicial public hearings.
The public comments already made to the commission is that citizens of South Pasadena do not want the time limits to speak to be reduced or to allow the commissioners to arbitrarily restrict public comment to allow them to feel more comfortable and take less of their time during hearings. This is a matter of our right to be heard. We are concerned that the commission will attempt to change the ordinance and reduce public input into quasi-judicial matters.
If you are a resident of South Pasadena, please be aware that your right to speak may be abridged by the city commission. Visit the website mysouthpasadena.com to watch for upcoming commission meetings in which this issue may be raised again. – Marj Lorand, South Pasadena
What’s With All of the Abandoned Boats?
Dear Editor: Four years ago, my husband and I moved into our home here in Gulfport and began spending time on the bay paddle boarding and riding our jet skis. During that time, I have noticed, like many of you, that there are over a dozen abandoned vessels right here in Gulfport’s waterways. Some have been inspected and tagged by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) dating back many years. The tags say that if they are not removed by their owners within five days that they will be removed and disposed of. One particular vessel named “The Grateful Dad” appears to have been tagged in 1999, yet it is still lodged in the shallow waters of Clam Bayou. Fifty yards to the south, another abandoned sailboat rests on its side. If you paddle further into the shallows of Clam Bayou, you will find another abandoned vessel, a small power boat that has been stripped of everything but it’s floating shell and left by it’s owners. For two years, a derelict pontoon boat bobbed in the waters 100 yards off of our property on Baywood Point Drive until it finally broke free and washed ashore at the Boca Ciega Resort down the street. Finally, in November, several boats were tossed around in Hurricane Eta and as many of you recall, boats washed up on shore along the public beach around the Gulfport Casino and into the docks downtown. One very large boat washed up at the 49th Street bay access. The five boats downtown were all removed rather promptly. The one boat that washed up at 49th Street is still lodged there. We have called the City of Gulfport numerous times, who passed us off to the harbormaster, who passed us off to FWC. The FWC sent an officer out to take pictures. The boat is now falling into decay. People have ransacked it and stolen the windows. Children and curious tourists try to climb on it. It is now holding water inside and is full of mosquitoes and larvae.
Why hasn’t the City of Gulfport removed this boat? According to FWC, and their 2020/2021 Derelict Vessel Removal Grant Program, the municipality is responsible for removal and the state reimburses them 100% of the cost. The FWC pursuant to sections 206.606 and 376.15, F.S., established the program specifically to provide grants to local governments for reimbursement for the removal of derelict vessels from the public waters of the state.
Who is overseeing this? Why were they able to remove the boats along the beach and dock area so quickly but not this boat? It has been eight months. It is starting to look like the City of Gulfport plans to just keep letting these abandoned vessels litter our bay. It’s not just unsightly, it’s dangerous.
Link to Grant Program at myfwc.com/boating/grants-programs/derelict-vessel. – Stephanie Christie
Thank You, Gabber!
Dear Editor: As you know I’ve been donating to the Gabber on a monthly basis for the last 12 months. I started with six months to make sure you’d be around, and then renewed for another six months because it looked like you were going to make it. So now, I’m reading the Gabber story about Black Americans in Pinellas County/Gulfport and how poorly they’ve been treated for the last 150 years. It’s an amazing story and while I’m not proud of the history, I’m extremely proud of the Gabber for bringing this history to light. Therefore, I’m renewing my contribution to the Gabber for another 12 months with heartfelt gratitude for all the work you and your staff are doing to benefit/enlighten the community. – Victor Carr
Commentary to the Gabber’s Facebook Page This Week
Belated Grand Re-Opening
Hooray! What a perfect night to celebrate our home and our precious hometown newspaper. The Gabber knits us all together, truly helping the arts, the businesses and the people of Gulfport to thrive. –Heart McQueen
Hurricane Elsa Coverage
Thank you for your great follow-up of Elsa and keeping us informed. –Margarete Tober
I’ve been wondering about this project and looking for an article that had some quick and comprehensive info. Nice work, Abby! –Rain Turner
Big waste of money. –Rob Schmidt