City Council weighing options for Occupy Tampa encampment in private park listen07/19/12 Seán Kinane
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Some residents of West Tampa are trying to get the Occupy Tampa encampment to clean up its park. But this morning city staff told Tampa City Council that, while neighbors may consider the privately-owned land to be an eyesore, there’s not much that can be done. Dennis Rogero, the city’s director of budget and neighborhood empowerment, said when code enforcement visited Voice of Freedom Park, they found no violations that warrant a citation.
“We have found nothing that warrants a citation, and those few items we have found have been met with immediate compliance.”
Tampa Police Captain Charles Courtoy said a crime analyst report found that calls to the police have gone up since one month after the occupation began, but crime rates have gone down.
City Council is considering the issue because of a petition circulating among West Tampa residents like barber George Smith. He’s one of four people who spoke during public comment opposing the Occupy Tampa encampment.
Council member Frank Reddick is keen to support Smith by shutting down the occupy camp on land owned by strip club entrepreneur Joe Redner. Reddick called the encampment “bad for West Tampa.”
Five members of the public defended the camp. Some of them, like Nathan Schwartz, are actively involved in Occupy Tampa.
Assistant City Attorney Ernest Mueller said it’s unclear whether Tampa City Council can take any actions because the encampment has the permission of the property owner.
Tampa expects thousands of demonstrators for next month’s Republican National Convention. City Council member Lisa Montelione and others said they were worried hundreds would congregate in the park if the encampment is allowed to continue.