I find it extremely amusing to see how many groups of people are upset over the parking situation currently going on in the South Howard Avenue area of Tampa.
For years, the Tampa City Council gorged itself by awarding permit after permit to every bar, restaurant, condo complex and “upscale” apartment building practically before the ink on their applications had dried. Now everyone is looking befuddled and surprised that there is a parking problem in SoHo!
The outrage reminds me of the character Capt. Louis Renault from the film “Casablanca” when he was shocked to find there was gambling going on in Rick’s casino. Where have these people been all these years? The parking has been atrocious in SoHo for about 15 years. I refuse to even waste my time or money attempting to deal with the havoc in that area.
We also now find out that when the parking garage for the Publix Greenwise location was being proposed, the city was offered the use of a large ground floor area for parking, which it flatly turned down. Where did the various government officials expect the influx of cars to eventually park? There must be an invisible parking garage on another dimension that would handle the job.
But this debacle reminds me of many examples of shortsightedness in the Hillsborough canon of bad decisions. The over-development of both Dale Mabry Highway and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard comes immediately to mind. It seems every business, subdivision, chain restaurant and apartment complex was approved over and over. But did any of our elected officials ever wonder that perhaps these businesses and residences would eventually cause traffic turmoil?
So what did we get over the past 20 years and counting? Constant widening of lanes that seem to go on longer than an old Fidel Castro speech. No one ever thought of the future until it arrived with a vengeance. And now we see history repeating itself in SoHo.
When the next “hip” area arrives in town, I hope our leaders will learn from their past mistakes. But that seems as likely as the Rays winning the World Series this year.
James B. Scully