St. Petersburg Tenants to Hold ‘Emergency Sleep’ Demonstration at City Hall to Demand Rent Control | Tampa Bay News | Tampa

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Photo by Dave Decker

A protester at St. Petersburg’s City Hall holds a sign demanding rent control.

In response to skyrocketing rents in St. Petersburg, tenants stage an overnight “emergency sleep protest” at City Hall to demand rent control.

A number of groups including the St. Petersburg Tenant’s Union, Faith in Florida, St. Petersburg Tri-Partisan Canvas and PSL Tampa Bay are hosting the slumber event, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 3 and lasts until the city council on Thursday the next morning.

Groups say there will be music, speakers, food and more overnight, and encourage attendees to bring their own sleeping gear.

At the morning meeting, tenants will demand that council declare a housing emergency, so voters can decide if they want rent control in the city.

SPTU believes that if other municipalities can move toward rent control, so can St. Pete.

“Tampa and Orange County have moved forward with declaring a state of emergency and will vote for rent control in their November polls,” SPTU wrote in a post about the event. “We need the same here in St. Pete, where rents are up 22.4% over last year!

Miami-Dade County has also taken steps to control rents by declaring a state of housing emergency, but has yet to enact rent control.

Last week, after months of outcry from residents, the Tampa City Council voted 6 to 1 to declare a state of housing emergency and put the issue of rent control on an upcoming ballot for voters to decide.

Florida law 166.043 presents a challenge to rent control measures, but does not make them impossible. The law prohibits local governments from imposing rent controls unless the municipality provides a thorough rationale for why rents should be capped. After that, the measure can be put to a ballot for voters to decide.

The law ensures that even if voters approve of rent control, they must then vote for it again the following year, after again meeting all the criteria to prove that the rental situation in the city constitutes a rental emergency. of accommodation.

If St. Petersburg and Tampa were to enact rent control, along with the other municipalities, it would further challenge state law and draw more attention to the difficulties it presents to tenants during the unbridled housing crisis. , as landlords abuse rents across the state. .

The city of St. Petersburg has not yet responded to a request for comment.

At Thursday’s council meeting, the city is also expected to hear an ordinance that could potentially create “property tax exemptions for new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses that are expected to create new full-time jobs in the city.” of

If passed, this corporate tax break could be added to the vote in November, for voters to decide. Last year, the public voted against the same proposed measure.

SPTU is also calling on residents to speak out against the measure and highlighted the difference in how the city approaches business tax breaks versus tenant livelihoods.

“Corporations potentially have a second chance to trick people into voting for a big business donation, but the city government won’t even allow people to vote on rent control while working families are kicked out,” SPTU wrote. “We should call it what it is: blatant hypocrisy that runs counter to democratic values.”

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