Wednesday, September 16th, 7:00 p.m. at the Country Club
Remember to bring non-perishable food for the Free Clinic’s Food Bank. On the agenda is someone from TECO (we hope!) to tell us what we want to hear about more natural gas service; update on the Lakewood Investment Group; a few words about new Codes Department procedures; conversation about deed restrictions; and how to make the best use of 2 new city laws on solication and nuisances.
Meetings of the Association are held 5 times a year, in January, March, May, September and November, usually on the 3rd Wednesday, at the St. Petersburg Country Club, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Save the Date – Our Next Meeting
SOUTHSIDE YOUTH SOCCER LEAGUE
Registration is now open for the Southside Youth Soccer League, boys and girls 4-19. Walk-up registration is available from 9-12 at the Lakewood Sports Complex (behind the country club) on September 5th. Online registration is also available. There is a discount for early registration. For more information, go to southsidesoccer.net
NEW CITY ORDINANCE REGARDING SOLICITATION
Enforcement of the new solicitation ordinance is going to be essentially a police matter, since Codes will not be around when someone rings your doorbell. This is going to make enforcement somewhat tricky.
We have to bear in mind that while the day-to-day annoyances are a problem, the bigger picture is the need to get the permits pulled or rejected for companies like Vivint that come in here and consistently ignore the rules. If the word gets out that you can forfeit your permit in this city for breaking our law, we will see a lot less of this.
With that in mind, here’s what we recommend:
If you have a NO SOLICITING sign (and we urge you to hop over to Ace Hardware and get one) and a commercial vendor rings your doorbell, do one or all of the following:
- Call out “Do you see that sign? We’re calling the police.” Then call 893-7780 and report the person – male, so tall, wearing this shirt and those pants, etc. – and your address. If you see the person walking way, try to determine which way he’s going and tell that to the PD. It’s important that the PD gets involved so that there is a record of the problem.
- Take your cell phone camera to the door, open the door, say smile, take the picture, close the door. Then do #1, above. We recommend you try to see what’s out there before you open the door – a permitted solicitor will be wearing a photo ID. Be cautious.
- If you do not have a sign and a solicitor manages to get you to the door and then refuses to show you his ID, refuses to leave or becomes abusive, call 893-7780 and report as above in #1.
- Call the police any time a solicitor refuses to identify the company he’s with or becomes evasive or shifty. Remember that with Vivint, one of their many big lies was that they are from your home security provider and are there for an ‘upgrade.’
- Keep a log of when a solicitor did any of these illegal acts because we may have to back up our complaints if and when the City writes up one of these folks and they end up in court. Note the date and time and the offense – no solicit sign, refusal to leave, threats, intimidation, obvious lies (we had one household last spring who was told they needed an update and they didn’t even have a system!). This will become part of the book the city will use if they decide to revoke a permit or not grant one.
- The city cannot be the plaintiff in a court case for this sort of thing – it’s going to require one or more of us going into court and testifying as to which part or parts of the ordinance were violated. Most of us don’t want to do this but it will take only 1 or 2 of us to get a company fined and then the word goes out – remember, the long-range goal is to send a message back to places like Vivint that they can’t come in here and prey on us. We don’t want to give the judge an excuse for throwing the case out of court.
- 6. Never hesitate to call my cell, 460-1586, and let me know there’s someone breaking the law here because if it’s during regular daytime hours (and sometimes even on weekends), I can often get some immediate attention.
Unwanted literature, flyers, posters, door-hangers: Keep what’s left at your door and turn it in to me – the new law also prohibits this stuff and this is evidence that someone has ignored your NO SOLICITING sign. If you leave it at my door (!), be sure to note on it where it was left (address) and the date. Realtors, pizza places, solar energy companies, so-called “energy auditors” – they are not allowed to do this if you have a sign. The Association will notify the offending company that they have broken the law and strongly suggest they not do it again.
This law makes no changes to the way we handle unpermitted solicitation, but while we’re on the subject, here’s a review of what we see and what we do:
Kirby Vacuums – they use lies and deception to get into your house
Window cleaners – they really want to get a good look inside your house to see what they want to steal at a later date
Driveway repairs – the first time it rains, the “asphalt” you paid for goes into the storm system
Magazine subscriptions for college students – they get the money, you get no magazines
Meat from a wagon – Some of these are licensed and we know people who have bought from them and found the meat of good quality. It’s your call.
Fish from a wagon – ditto
Mrs. Pump It Off – young teens with a squirt bottle full of ‘magic liquid.’ It’s ordinary household cleaner; they are licensed but they hide their badges so you can’t see their names. Mrs. Pump It Off is being pursued by the attorneys general of several states.
Tree trimming – there are several very good services that do solicit (although most without a permit) but there are a lot of others that know nothing about trees and sometimes the tree doesn’t survive. If you need a tree trimmed, contact the Association – we have a reliable source.
Any time you have an unpermitted solicitor, call that 893-7780 number and ask for an officer to run them out of here. It’s a low priority call but if an officer can get loose, he’ll oblige. Same rule about calling my cell phone –let me know right away who’s been at your door, what they look like and which way they went.
The new law does not apply to charities, non-profits and religious groups, who may ring your bell despite a NO SOLICITING sign. Very few of these still go door to door – the Girl Scouts are at the malls, and others are now using the internet to raise funds. (One of those excepted is “vendors of milk products.” When is the last time you saw a milkman?) We don’t want to single out any particular group, but we heard from a lot of people about “keeping the religious away,” so we will pass this on: If you don’t want the Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door, call the Kingdom Hall on 31st Street and asked to be “put in the book.” The Witnesses carry that book with them so they know which houses not to approach. It works. 866-0710
There is a list of exempt groups in the new law but the city is not quite happy with it and some time in the near future they will be revising that. In the meantime, the law goes into effect on July 16, as is, and we encourage everyone in Lakewood to do what they can to support and enforce it. If enough of us raise a stink, we can severely curtail the amount of “scamming” that goes on here.
Ace Hardware on 34th Street South, a Lakewood sponsor, is carrying a supply of two different sizes/types of signs. We encourage you to patronize them — Lakewood is always supportive of local businesses.
Recycle – The New Program
By now all the homes in Lakewood should have received their big blue recycle bins. Pick-up does not begin until Tuesday, June 30th, so please put your bin back by your house where you keep your regular garbage container. These containers do not seal as tightly as our garbage bins so be sure the lid is properly in place to avoid your container filling up with water.
As with your regular garbage pick-up, nothing left at the curb by the bin is going to get picked up. This is an automated process that does not allow for the driver to get out and give you personal service!
Pick-up for recycle will be every other week, so our next date after the program begins on June 30th will be July 14th.
There is a list of what you can and cannot put into the recycle bins – it came in the plastic sleeve you received with the container but if you’ve lost it, go to www.stpete.org and check out the Sanitation Department – instructions are there. Chief among the things you can’t put into these bins are pizza boxes, and the paper plates you ate the pizza off, or for that matter any used paper plates — these cannot be cleaned enough to make them recyclable.
This program is new to all of us, including the city, so it’s going to be a learning process. We will all need to be patient.
If you know of a vacant house with a blue bin sitting at the curb, pass on the address to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.