Hillsborough legislative delegation offers support for Water Street Tampa District expansion
Tampa, Florida, USA downtown city skyline over the Hillsborough River.

Tampa, Florida Skyline
The bill would add about 5 acres to the district.

Hillsborough County’s legislative delegation met Monday morning to approve the filing of a local bill and hear from constituents. 

The delegation, which is made up of Hillsborough County’s nine state representatives and four state senators, unanimously offered approval for a local bill that would amend the Water Street Tampa Improvement District boundary.

The legislature created the special district in 2018, giving it the power to manage and fund its infrastructure and projects. It performs as a local government management entity to fund features of a proposed $3 billion development in the city’s Channelside area.

Tampa Rep. Jackie Toledo, who presented the local bill, said the amended district will simply move the northern boundary to Whiting Street to include property that was acquired by Ardent Mills. The amendment of the district boundary adds about 5.2 acres for a total of 73.8 acres, she said.

“It does not in any way modify the powers and duties of the district as set forth in the 2018 legislation establishing the district,” Toledo said. “The amendment of the district will not have an impact on the current state or local revenue, as the district will continue to be its own sustainable independent government and the amendment only changes the boundaries.”

The delegation also heard from residents who addressed criminal justice reform and eviction legislation concerns.

Several speakers on criminal justice reform referenced the federal investigation that uncovered myriad abuses at Lowell Correctional Institution, with constituents urging action from the Legislature.

Some spoke in support of Rep. Dianne Hart’s bill “Oversight of Correctional Facilities” (HB 537), which seeks to provide independent oversight over correctional centers across the state. The measure would establish a council made up of former inmates and industry professionals and would rely on appointments from leadership in the Florida Legislature.

Although Hart filed the bill in the 2020 Session, it died in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

Other speakers voiced concern over the mounting number of evictions caused by the pandemic, waving in support of legislation that would provide help to those evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The supported bills included Sen. Shevrin Jones’ SB 576, which would prohibit landlords from refusing to enter into a rental agreement with a prospective tenant solely based on an eviction that occurred during the pandemic.

Several Tampa Bay lawmakers have filed similar bills related to evictions, including Sen. Darryl Rouson’s SB 412 and SB 926.

Eviction Records (SB 926), would allow for defendants to move to seal their eviction record if the court finds the evicted person was adversely affected by COVID-19. The bill would apply to eviction complaints filed after March 1, 2020.

The Residential Tenancies bill, SB 412, would help address housing insecurity by referring matters of eviction to mediation in circuit courts with established mediation programs. It would also remove the requirement for the tenant to deposit money owed during eviction proceedings into the court registry.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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