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Politics / Issues

"Clean Zone" Proposed for Republican National Convention in Tampa

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With the ongoing Occupy movement, you can bet that thousands of protestors will show up in Tampa for the  Republican National Convention in August.

And now, they may find it a little bit harder to protest anywhere close to the action.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is proposing a "Clean Zone" in a large area surrounding the convention center and Tampa Bay Times Forum.

What, you ask, is a Clean Zone? It seems to have several components:

- Parks will close at 3 a.m. No overnight camping allowed.

- No weapons are allowed

- Any group of more than 50 people needs to get a permit

- Large groups can only gather for one hour at a time

That 60 minute limit is a problem for the president of the Florida ACLU, Mike Pheneger.

"If you have 1,000 people or more who would like to demonstrate, trying to pack that all into 60 minutes and manage it just seems unreasonable and unnecessary," Pheneger said.

The ACLU plans to ask the Tampa City Council to amend that part of the proposal before they pass it.

People who break the ordiance face up to a $500 fine and/or up to 60 days in jail.

If the Tampa City Council approves it, the ordinance would be in effect from August 27 to September 1.

Mayor Buckhorn said, “The Republican National Convention is our chance to tell Tampa’s story to the world about why it is the best city to live, work, raise a family, and start a business, and we are invested in it being a success. We want everyone to be able to make their voices heard."

The full press release is below:

Buckhorn Proposes Temporary Ordinance during 2012 Republican National Convention

Tampa, Fla. (March 28, 2012) – Mayor Bob Buckhorn is proposing a new, temporary ordinance that will be effective during the week of the Republican National Convention, which will promote the well-being and protect the safety of residents and visitors in Tampa during the Convention.

“The Republican National Convention is our chance to tell Tampa’s story to the world about why it is the best city to live, work, raise a family, and start a business, and we are invested in it being a success. We want everyone to be able to make their voices heard,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “This ordinance lays the ground work so that they can do so legally and establishes both the Clean Zone, and the Public Viewing Area, which will give residents and commuters working in downtown a sense of security.”

Under the ordinance, the City of Tampa will establish a Clean Zone. The borders are as follows: West is Rome Avenue, North is Columbus Drive, East is N. 22nd Street then Channelside Drive, South is the water. The Clean Zone will include all of Davis and Harbour Islands. All city parks located within the Clean Zone will close at 3 a.m.  Certain items, including weapons such as knives, axes, mace and clubs, will be prohibited in the Clean Zone.

A Public Gathering Permit will be required for any gathering of more than 50 people held in the Clean Zone, and the ordinance streamlines that permitting process to make the application easier and more accessible. The duration for the permit will be for 60 minutes, and the City has reduced the permit fee to $50. All permits will be issued through the Parks and Recreation Department, Office of Special Events.

A Public Viewing Area will be created by the City, which is where protestors can be closest to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the delegates.  The City will also prohibit certain items within the Public Viewing Area, including ropes, coolers, and gas masks.

The City will prohibit the wearing of masks within the Clean Zone, unless the person is in the Public Viewing Area or on the Official Parade Route.

Properties within the Central Business District may apply for a rights-of-way permit to construct temporary fencing. The fencing must be removed no later than September 5, 2012.

In addition to the temporary ordinance, please note that the City of Tampa will create an Official Parade Route to minimize disruption to traffic patterns in downtown.

Penalties for violating the temporary ordinance are a fine not to exceed $500 and/or imprisonment for no longer than 60 days.

The new ordinance, once approved by Tampa City Council, will be in effect from August 27, 2012 to September 1, 2012, with the ability to extend to September 8, 2012 should the Republican National Convention be delayed. It will go before Tampa City Council April 5, 2012 for first reading.

To view the ordinance, please visit tampagov.net/pao.