If you are here because of the recent sign and or news reports please excuse the mess. In the rush to get this site up and running the look and function is very basic. It does however get the message across.
Why is this site here? Well the story goes back about three years now. We live on 22nd Ave. North in St. Petersburg, FL. 22nd Ave is an interstate feeder road with tens of thousands of cars passing our home daily. At the front of our property is a nine to ten foot hedge that is neatly trimmed and maintained. It does not block the view of traffic, it does not impede travel along the sidewalk, it causes no one any problem. The hedge is there for our personal protection and privacy and has been there since 1993. In 2003 we received a letter from the City of St. Petersburg code inspector Marueen Barnes, which demanded we cut the hedge down to at least six feet. When questioned her as to what danger the hedge posed to the general public and none was given. Since the intent of Fl. Statute 162 which gives cities the right to create a codes department states that codes enforcement is there to protect the "health, safety, and welfare" of all citizens we figured that there must be some valid reason for the demand. After hearing that none existed we simply refused to comply. We were threatened with fines that would be secured with a lien on our property so I decided to do a little research. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that liens on homestead property were FORBIDDEN by Article X SECTION 4 of the Florida Constitution. The city decided to ignore the law and went ahead and certified three false liens on our property. We had them removed at our expense and then the city filed a criminal charge against Debbie, one of the property owners. The fine, $81.00 of which the city stood to collect $40.00 of, the rest being for court costs. It cost the city over $200.00 just to file the charge in county court. Goes to show that when it is other peoples money govt. is quick to waste it. That case is pending right now in the 6th District Court of Appeals and we figure the city has spent thousands of our tax dollars trying to collect the $40.00 it feels it is owed. All through this matter I have done extensive research and found that not only is the city acting in bad faith, they are also violating our property rights which are secured by the US Constitution and have repeatedly violated our civil rights as well. So why the giant sign on 22nd Ave? Well we received another letter last week (10/5/2005) from a Patricia Simpson giving us until Oct. 17th to remove the hedge or face more court dates. We just thought the public has a right to know how much waste is going on in the codes department. We encourage all to look at the LAW and learn how to fight back for your property rights. If your an attorney with the guts to take on the city and have some free time let me know. The hedge is not going to be cut down, the sign will be removed before permenant damage to the hedge sets in (week or so), we will fight the illegal actions by code enforcement for as long as it takes.
10/15/2004 We received a letter from an assistant city attorney today. It said we have a right to file for a variance to the zoning commission and for a fee they may or may not grant us the "privilege" of exercising our guaranteed rights. Amazing, they want us to pay a fee to do what we already have the right to do. Call us a couple of cranks if you want to, but we don't think we need permission from anyone to enjoy our property the way we see fit as long as we don't infringe on the rights of others.
10/19/2005 Letter was delivered today from code enforcement officer Patricia Simpson that said the "Freedom of Speech" sign along 22nd Ave. N. exceeds the allowed six square feet. Property will be reinspected on 10/20 at which time sign must be removed or you will be cited again. I informed Ms. Simpson that two recent Supreme Court decisions have affirmed our right to political speech and size limits are not allowed. I don't think she or the city cares about our rights, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to let her know where we stand.
Personally I think Ms. Simpson may be a little slow on the uptake, but it just may be she is following orders from her superiors.
10/21/2005 Sign will have to come down for the approach of Wilma. After the storm passes the sign will come back until the November election.
Thanks for your support...
Jim & Debbie Shanklin
Have an illegal lien on your property? This is what we used to invalidate it.
Contact all city council members Let them know how much you appreciate the illegal use of your tax dollars!
Contact the Mayor of St. Petersburg Let him know how happy you are that the city uses extortion to collect money!