When the Republican National Convention comes to Tampa Bay from Aug. 26-30, restrictions may be imposed to limit what people can carry, where they may go and even what they may wear within a proposed "Event Zone" in St. Petersburg.
On Thursday, July 19, the City Council will start discussions about a proposed ordinance to create an "Event Zone" around Tropicana Field. It would regulate a parade route and public viewing area for the opening event, which is Aug. 26 at the Trop.
Within the zone, there may be bans on carrying certain items or on engaging in certain activities during the Convention.
The proposed RNC event zone will extend from Fifth Avenue North to Seventh Avenue South and from 22nd Street to the Bay.
According to Mark Winn, chief assistant city attorney, the ordinance is modeled after Tampa's. He said in a message to council members that the ordinance would be amended to "reflect our differing situations," between Tampa and St. Pete.
In a memo sent to Council, Winn said, "Masks are prohibited in the Event Zone but allowed in the public viewing area and parade route. There are prohibitions against obstructing or inhibiting the ability of the general public and governmental officials from freely moving about on rights-of-way and rappelling."
The proposed ordinance states the law is necessary because:
"The magnitude and significance of the RNC create unique challenges for the city that require additional regulations to assist in promoting and protecting the general health, safety and welfare of the residents and visitors of the city during the RNC."
Winn said business owners could apply to have fencing put up in front of their business.
"The ordinance would also create a temporary use permit for the installation of security fencing for any private business that deems it necessary to provide that type of protection for their property," Winn added.
All temporary use permits for fencing would expire on Sept. 1.
Items restricted regardless of intent of use
- Rope/chains/cable/wire/tape or material in similar nature having tensile strength greater than 30 pounds and longer than six feet
- Fragile materials such as glass bottles, glass ornaments, light bulbs and ceramics
- Material designed or intended to be used as a shield
- Gas masks
Items restricted with the intent to harm or cause property damage
- Large pieces of lumber/wood
- Metal, plastic or other hard material, whether hollow or solid
- Aerosol cans
- Containers filled with human liquids/waste
- Containers filled with liquid/solid/gas
- Any object that shoots/launches/sprays any substance, which includes water guns and super soakers.
In the proposed ordinance, Winn said no outdoor assembly permits or street closure permits will be issued during the RNC. Additionally, no park permit will be issued on Aug. 26 for any activity requiring the city services and until Aug. 30 for any activities requiring police services.
Sec. 5 of the ordinance states citizens and visitors, "should be protected from riots, routs affrays, disturbances, and disorderly assemblies and disorderly parades."
Sec. 8 of the ordinance makes it unlawful for any person to, "occupy any tent, hut, lean-to shack or other type of temporary shelter on public property."
Matthew Miller of the U.S. Secret Service shot down rumors that business access would be limited or that residents would be unable to get to their homes during the Aug. 26 RNC kick-off party.
“Because of the way Tropicana Field is designed, (security) won’t impact much of the residential or business communities,” Miller said in a meeting with neighborhoods.
Some residents may be asked by police to show driver licenses if they live in specific areas around the Trop, he said.
“We will make every effort to work with folks,” Miller added. “I don’t think you will be that unhappy.”
At the RNC official kick-off party, nearly 20,000 delegates and members of the media are expected at the home of the Rays.
After approval from Thursday's Council meeting, the public hearing on the proposed RNC Event Zone ordinance is set for Aug. 2.