Transportation Chair Martha Boden with SPCA Tampa Bay kicked off the meeting, updating everyone about a meeting that Chamber members recently had with PSTA. The group advocated for the tourist perspective on the Downtown Circulator’s route, suggesting that it should include stops at the Dali Museum and the Chamber.
Chris Ballestra with the City shared that a groundbreaking for the approved $66 million Pier project that includes a 2,500-square-foot environmental education building and several spaces for restaurants will take place on June 28 at 9 a.m.
Claude Tankersley with the City commended his colleagues at City Council for their success in constructing several injection wells for $3 million each in seven months (the wells typically cost approximately $5 million each and take between 18 and 36 months to build). While City Council “took a lot of risks” to execute the plan, all involved—legal, purchasing, consultants, contractors and the State—worked together to do things “a little bit differently.”
Elizabeth Abernathy with the City shared that a zoning ordinance that stipulates floor area ratio (FAR) requirements is scheduled to go to City Council on July 13 for its first hearing. Research on recent home-building activity in St. Petersburg has shown that only 17% of recently-built homes would have surpassed the proposed FAR requirements and required one of the nine design bonuses included in the ordinance to have been built.
Public Policy Chair Bob Warchola with Schumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP shared that a meeting with the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) revealed that, contrary to recent claims, citations for noise violations have been issued and that officers routinely resolve noise-violation issues without issuing a citation. Some of the confusion about citations may stem from the citation issuance process; rather than being issued to the violating business, citations are issued to highest-level employee that is present at the business when the violation occurs. Additionally, the SPPD does not want to utilize noise-level measurement devices and is proposing that a civilian noise patrol be created.
PAC Chair Phil Clark with Raymond James shared that the Chamber’s PAC is finalizing a questionnaire that will be sent to mayoral candidates for the upcoming election and is also looking at hosting events to educate community members on Penny for Pinellas. All Chamber members are encouraged to support these initiatives by joining the PAC.
Transportation Chair Martha Boden shared that last week’s presentation on Tampa Bay Next came across as somewhat myopic as St. Petersburg was not on the map of projects that was presented. Additionally, the Pinellas County Community Working Group for Tampa Bay Next will meet on July 13 at 5:30 p.m., and all interested are encouraged to attend.
Chamber Advocacy Manager Travis Norton shared that a $1.2 million request for the Florida Institute of Oceanography, a $400 thousand request for Tec Garage and a $1 million request for the Tampa Bay Center for Innovation were vetoed.
Brandi Gabbard with Smith & Associates shared that seven flood-insurance bills were passed last Wednesday, and while most of them are “great pieces,” the passage of the 21st Century Flood Reform Act is disappointing. One issue with the piece of legislation is that it phases out grandfathering.
D&I Chair Ronnell Montgomery with the James B. Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center shared that members of the Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board have attended some great events and that the Advisory Board plans to transition incrementally from an internal focus to a community-wide focus.
Chair Janet Hall with Destination Better shared that the Sustainability Committee hosted a successful Lunch and Learn last week that educated attendees on what internships are and why they are valuable.
Finally, Art O’Hara with R’Club shared that R’Club Child Care has been licensed to complete a $600 thousand renovation, moving the Happy Workers Center to the renovated R'Club. This will expand capacity to serve 142 children from age 8 weeks to age VPK.
The Public Policy Council meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 a.m.