V.M. Ybor has a sex offender problem, residents say

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Hillsborough County has an ordinance against clustering sex offenders, but no one enforces it.

When Kim Headland first moved to the V.M. Ybor area 20 years ago, she said there were few if any sex offenders registered in her neighborhood.

“Since then, hundreds —  if not thousands — of offenders have been funneled into our community,” she told the Tampa City Council on Thursday. “Much to the financial benefit of a few property owners and the perceived benefit of TPD.”

V.M. Ybor is named for cigar manufacturer Vincente Martinez Ybor. It’s part of the larger Ybor City National Historic Landmark District and is one of only two national landmark districts in the state where people live.

It’s also home to the city’s highest concentration of sex offenders.

According to the Tampa Police Department, there are 803 sex offenders with registered addresses within city limits. There are another 29 listed as homeless. Of those offenders with physical addresses, 100 live in the V.M. Ybor area.

“The cause of multiple sex offenders residing at one location around Ybor is likely due to the limited housing options in Tampa where certain sex offenders on probation, community control, supervised release, or who have been convicted for offenses involving children under 16 can reside,” Chief Ruben Delgado wrote in a memo to the City Council.

Certain sex crimes, like those involving children, have residency requirements as a condition of release. Part of that condition is a residency requirement that the offender not reside within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, park, or child care facility. Delgado said 74 of the V.M. Ybor offenders have that restriction as part of their release.

Delgado spoke to Council members about the clustering of sex offenders around Ybor during Thursday’s City Council meeting. He said the state and the Department of Corrections are in charge of residency requirements.

“Due to these statutory 1,000-foot residency requirements,” Delgado told Council members, “Department of Corrections has identified only three limited areas of the city with low-income housing where these sex offenders may reside.”

In August, Council members Guido Maniscalco and John Dingfelder requested a report on the status of sex offenders in the city, particularly in the Ybor area.

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Residents, like Headlund, lined up for public comment at the meeting. Complaints ranged from general safety to decreasing property values and a deteriorating historic district.

Delgado said the problem isn’t easy to solve. First, he said the recidivism rate around Ybor is only 1%, which is low. And in cases where offenses involve minor children, it’s rare that the offense involves a stranger. And attempting to decluster offenders can lead to more transient offenders. Delgado said that can make tracking and monitoring offenders exponentially more difficult.

Hillsborough County does have an ordinance restricting clustering sex offenders, but its language is unclear and, despite being 13 years old, has never been enforced by the city or county.

Dingfelder wasn’t okay with that.

“If I’m a citizen of V.M. Ybor and I look to the law to protect me,” he said.  “And I find a county ordinance that is there to protect me and my family and my children and then we say ‘well we’re not gonna abide by it, we’re not gonna use it,’ I can understand their frustration.”

The City Council, led by a motion from Council member Charlie Miranda, directed TPD to update them with possible solutions at the first meeting in February. It also directed TPD to meet directly with residents of V.M. Ybor within 60 days.

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected]


6 comments

  • Fac Speaks

    November 6, 2021 at 7:37 am

    Chief Ruben Delgado is correct in saying that the problem is with the limited housing options due to the residency restrictions. In many parts of Florida, counties and municipalities have passed their own residency restrictions, with some going up to 2500 feet. This is a straight-line distance from the outer border of the property of places where children may congregate.

    Additionally, these residency restrictions only apply from 10 pm to 6 am, when children are NOT at school, parks, or daycares.

    All research shows that residency restrictions are ineffective, including research by the U.S. Department of Justice:

    Residency restrictions do not achieve its intended goal of reducing recidivism. (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0011128712449230)

    Maryland had no residency restrictions because research has shown that they do not prevent sexual offenses from occurring and, in most situations, the victims and offenders know each other. (See question 15 at https://www.dpscs.state.md.us/onlineservs/sor/frequently_asked_questions.shtml)

    The Kansas Department of Corrections states that research shows that there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses. This conclusion comes from the Iowa County Attorneys Association. (https://www.doc.ks.gov/publications/CFS/sex-offender-housing-restrictions)

    Residency restrictions demonstrate no evidence of preventing recidivistic sex crimes. The U.S. DOJ SMART Office recommends against residency restrictions. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304990286_Grand_Challenges_Social_Justice_and_the_Need_for_Evidence-based_Sex_Offender_Registry_Reform)

    The sexual re-offense rate for people on the registry is also low as evidenced by the very low re-offense rate in Ybor.

    At least 90% of FUTURE sexual crimes will be committed by people NOT on the registry, and 93% of children know their perpetrators. If Ms. Headland really wants to protect children, she is watching the wrong group of people.

    Kudos to Chief Delgado for using research-based facts.

  • Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com

    November 6, 2021 at 9:38 am

    It is simple math– if you pass an ordinance where a certain group of people can only live legally in three locations, then every person in that group seeking to legally live will concentrate in one of those three areas.

    Math must not be a basic school curriculum down in FloriDUH because politicians seem to have a problem figuring that out.

    I have a better solution. Repeal residency restriction laws.

  • Dustin

    November 8, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    People (less sex offender registrants, apparently) have the freedom to live where they choose that is within their means, but they DO NOT have the right to decide who else lives in the area.

    Any resident of Ybor who “feels unsafe” due to the sex offender registrants living there is perfectly free to move elsewhere. Unlike registrants, they have no restrictions on where they can reside.

  • Maestro

    November 8, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    Hey Floriduh, remember the days BEFORE the registry existed? Remember there were still sex offenses back then, too? Remember when a person did their time and the got back to being a part of society? I’m sure you all remember that. Oh, and remember when the SOR was first implemented, there WERE NO RESIDENCY restrictions? What happened? I know what happened… each year the SOR existed, you all had to keep the fear mongering alive and well, so you started scaring people into thinking that where a person on the registry lives, somehow determines if they’ll commit another crime.
    You fool only those who accept being fooled and fear mongered.

  • Will Allen

    November 8, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    I cannot believe that people are still falling this “sex offender” idiocy. No amount of facts will inform people. That is America these days. America has more “alternative facts” than anywhere else in the world.

    In is a fact that no one needs the big government Sex Offense Registries. It is a fact that they aren’t useful. All that is completely trivial to prove.

    But even worse, the Registries are counterproductive. They even radicalize people. They put all Americans in more danger.

    But big government is addicted to the money now. So is everyone else around it, addicted to the money, gossiping, and getting their jollies from their Registries. It hasn’t protected anyone and never will.

    So many people love their alternative facts.

  • For Y.M. Yabor

    November 8, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    Wow, Daniel, thank you for sharing that with us! As a follow up, can you please report on all of the sexual assaults, kidnappings, and molestations that must be happening because of all the sex offenders concentrated in town? I haven’t heard a peep about any of this occurring in Y.M. Yabor. Can you please help us understand why?

Comments are closed.


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