Call Mayor Kriseman at 893-7201 and leave a message that says: “Put a stay on the order to fine Pamela Settlegood on her carport. Tell your staff to stand down and approve her carport”
Pamela Settlegoode must tear down her carport, or face a lien on her home that could mean the city of St. Petersburg will own it. Citizens of St. Petersburg are getting a direct lesson in who really is in charge of their lives. We are being shown that we are not a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Precedents are being set to ensure that the little people don’t labor under the delusion of self-government. The stifling hand of government is reaching down to make it perfectly clear that the lives of individuals belong not to themselves, but in the hands of bureaucrats with an axe to grind. The object of terror in this case is a carport in the Allendale Terrace neighborhood. But the object lesson is this: “Don’t get uppity little people; we have government of bureaucrats, by bureaucrats and for bureaucrats”. You get out of line, we will take your home.
Pamela Settlegoode lives on 38th Ave N. in a beautiful home in the Allendale area. She bought the house in 2005 and decided she needed a carport to protect her vehicles from sun and keep her dry during rain. She placed a beautiful canvas style carport on top of a sturdy black steel tubular frame that everyone in the neighborhood supports. But the City of St. Petersburg has a problem. They want her to build a carport with a circular tile roof that meet exact specifications of the city for setting back from the side property line by 3 feet. This despite the fact that the streets in her area were widened over the years, removing uses for her property from her. Most importantly, the bureaucrats wanted her to comply with their arbitrary view of what is “consistent” with that approved by the city. The battle has dragged on for 11 years and now Pamela must take down her simple carport or face a lien on her home that could result in the city owning her property. Fighting it in court would take tens of thousands of dollars.
The decision to continue to hassle this citizen over a simple carport rests with Elizabeth Abernethy, zoning official of the City’s Planning and Economic Development department. She has continued to rule that the carport must meet the standards of what she perceives as consistent with the neighborhood. This is despite the fact that her neighbors and the local neighborhood crime watch actually approves of the structure. The bureaucrat-in-chief has enormous power, her recommendations are usually approved by the Development and Review Commission (DRC), a group of well connected and well healed locals who review applications for “variance”. This group sits in judgement of the locals who decide they want some common sense and reasonable development on their property, that doesn’t quite fit into the city’s overly restrictive codes. A review of the 136 pages of documents from the May 4th meeting reveals an 11 year litany of inane abuse by the city bureaucracy against Mrs. Settlegoode. The DRC stood with the bureaucrats. The City council and the Mayor, allegedly the elected representatives of the people, have stood by and done nothing to stop the out of control bureaucrat abuse of citizens.
It is also noteworthy that the DRC and the city has ignored what appear to be dozens of carport violations all over the city for decades. There are about two dozen photos in Settlegoode’s application showing carport after carport that has been built right up to the property line. Yet these citizens have not been targeted. Now Mrs. Settlegoode is left merely putting Burma-shave style signs on the road next to her house to alert the citizen of the government abuse.
This is happening for a very clear reason. The bureaucrats must set an example. They must show that there is no rule of law, but only a “Rule of Man“. No person should be allowed to ignore their demands. No person should be allowed to proceed with common sense modifications to their property on their own – even if their neighbors like it. Every person shall bend their knee to the whims of their dictates. Any person who dares defy the government will face a city that will literally take your home away from you through liens. Any citizen who wants to challenge them in court, will be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars for the “privilege” and you will face a rigged system full of local cronies. Go ahead little citizen, we dare you to be free. Just try it.
St. Petersburg residents should be outraged. If the city and its unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats and cronies can get away with this, what else can they do? They can do anything. When the time comes for them to work on some arbitrary and capricious rezoning to serve some odd and unproven environmental agenda, they will win. When they decide that people should not live in certain areas so that the area can become more “wild”, the people will lose. Those who want to stop this injustice should call Mayor Kriseman and demand that he tell the bureaucrats to stand down. If he is really for “the little guy” and “social justice”, as he claims, he will prove it. Call him at 893-7201 and leave a message that says: “Put a stay on the order to fine Pamela Settlegoode on her carport. Tell your staff to stand down and approve her carport”