Picture of the Tampa Bay skyline with TPA written across it.
Oct 22, 2021

Axios Tampa Bay

๐Ÿ… Congrats, it's Friday!

๐ŸŒค Warm and dry today. High in the upper 80s โ€” low in the upper 60s.

Situational awareness: FBI officials said yesterday dental records confirmed that the remains found at Carlton Reserve are Brian Laundrieโ€™s.

Today's newsletter is 963 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The future of streeteries

A parklet outside the Pint and Brew in downtown Tampa. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

Two years into a pandemic-altered lifestyle, downtown planners have learned people really love one temporary change โ€” outdoor dining at "parklets" or "streeteries."

  • The future of parklets was a hot topic at this week's 67th annual International Downtown Association convention in Tampa.

Flashback: When downtown traffic dropped off in 2020, U.S. cities rushed to transform unused parking spaces into outdoor seating.

  • The move helped restaurants and cafes survive, but was largely unregulated and meant to be temporary.

What's new: The parklets are popular. A survey of mayors by website Governing showed that 92 percent created new space for outdoor dining and 34 percent planned to make the changes permanent.

Yes, but: Popularity presents a slew of challenges to cities, many of which rushed to allow parklets without regulation.

  • Even if downtown parking demand hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels, some cities want the revenue back from restaurant-occupied parking spaces.
  • Some have struck lease or rent deals with restaurants for the spaces, but restaurants might not invest much in a temporary solution, meaning many streeteries are aesthetically awful.
  • Cities like St. Petersburg have ended parklet programs over protests but are working on a compromise.

Case study: Early in the pandemic, the Tampa Downtown Partnership asked some 165 restaurants if theyโ€™d like one of four parklets the partnership could construct using platforms and barriers.

  • Only four requested one, but the partnership built the parklets and had local artists paint them. Cost: roughly $5,000 each.
  • When vagrancy and cleanliness became an issue, they added signage to discourage loitering and asked the cityโ€™s roving clean team to care for the space.
  • The parklets are popular and have since been rotated to other restaurants, but they look temporary.

Whatโ€™s next?

  • ADA compliance. Lack of regulation has meant some customers were excluded.
  • Safety, liability and health-code compliance come with increased regulation.
  • More focus on aesthetics.

๐Ÿ’ญ Ben's thought bubble: Some of these are cute. Most aren't. But in cities where permits are less temporary, restaurants are investing more to decorate the streeteries so they look and feel more like an extension of the restaurant โ€” even heating and cooling them. Hello, Tampa Bay.

  • In cities that welcome permanence, the parklets have the potential to completely change downtown streetscapes.
2. DeSantis to call session over vaccine mandates

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Gov. Ron DeSantis has laid out his legislative plan to combat vaccine mandates.

Driving the news: At a press conference in Clearwater yesterday, DeSantis listed his policy priorities to undermine federal COVID vaccine requirements, Axios' Yacob Reyes reports.

  • He plans to call a special session next month for legislators to consider laws he says will protect employees from government control.

What he wants passed: A proposal making businesses liable for any medical harm from a mandatory vaccine.

  • An addendum to the 2021 law that would undo protections from coronavirus-related liability if businesses mandate vaccines for their employees.
  • A measure covering attorney's fees for parents who win lawsuits against school districts for enacting illegal coronavirus restrictions.
  • A law restating the illegality of vaccines for local government employees.
3. How to step up your Halloween display

Peter Schorch's Halloween display at his St. Pete home. Photo: Allison Davis

Florida Politics editor Peter Schorsch loves putting up Halloween displays at his St. Petersburg house but didn't realize how much his neighbors loved the tradition until he heard someone ask, "Is the big pink house doing Halloween lights?"

  • That's when he knew he had to step up his game.

His advice for decorations:

1. Be tasteful: Schorsch's wife, Michelle Todd, had a health scare this year and asked him not to do graveyard decorations.

  • "I think there's a difference between scary and morbid," Schorsch tells Axios.

2. Don't rush: Schorsch says his collection has snowballed into three storage units of decorations. It takes him two days to get the stuff into his garage and about a week to actually decorate.

  • "Then you've got to test all the inflatables, reassemble all your skeletons, get fresh batteries and make sure everything's working," Schorsch says.

3. Plan ahead: Don't just throw up spider webs and skeletons willy nilly. "You have to know where you want everything to go."

  • And stick with a theme. Decide if you're going to have a pumpkin patch or a skeleton army, whether to be spooky or not spooky.

4. Don't be scared to get help: He credits Clearwater's Decorating Elves for professional help with his lighting.

Bonus tips for next year: Buy your inflatables early to avoid supply chain issues.

  • Another trick: Check eBay first. "It's great for nicely used stuff and you don't have to spend a boatload of money," Schorsch says.
4. The Pulp: I can't get no citrusfaction

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿค‘ Raymond James plans to buy a Pittsburgh business bank for $1.1 billion. (Tampa Bay Business Journal)

๐Ÿšถ Tampa City Council will consider changes to city code that would develop more sidewalks, which Mayor Castor supports. (Fox 13)

๐Ÿงณ Tampa International Airport will unveil eight new curbside check-in lanes in mid-November. (Tampa Bay Times)

5. Things to do this weekend

Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

๐Ÿš Saturday Block pARTy: Check out the Studios at 5663's haunted interactive exhibit, which might even feature a spooky Bob Ross. Plus a costume contest.

๐Ÿ Discover the Island: Learn from experts about the Edgemont Key's rich history dating back to the 1800s, listen to folk music by members of the Egmont Key Shanty Singers and eat "the best hot dogs on the island."

  • Saturday and Sunday. Ferry service from Fort DeSoto 9am-2pm. Last return ferry at 4pm. $15-$30.

๐Ÿพ Party for the Paws: Compete "fur" prizes in a doggie costume contest and dig into the tie-dye station.

  • Saturday 6-9pm at Bayboro Brewing in downtown St. Pete. Free!

๐Ÿฆ‹ Dade City Monarch Butterfly Festival: A celebration of Dade City's commitment to becoming a Monarch City USA, the festival includes presentations, live displays and hands-on kids' activities.

  • Saturday 10am-3pm in Hibiscus Park. Free!

Looking for Tampa Events? ThatsSoTampa has a pretty nice list!

๐Ÿ“บ Ben is watching "Succession."๐Ÿ•ด

๐Ÿ’ฎ Selene is excited to see Jennifer Coolidge do more rich white lady screaming. ๐Ÿ™‡โ€โ™€๏ธ

We just realized our subscribe link has been broken in the last few newsletters. Share this new one, would ya?

See you Monday.