NewsPinellas County


St. Petersburg leaders to discuss commercial rent increases and electric scooters

Posted at 6:34 AM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 07:42:48-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — During Thursday's city council meeting, St. Petersburg leaders have two important issues on the table. One of the most pressing, rising rent for downtown businesses.

ABC Action News spoke to one of the first business owners along Central Avenue, Manny Matalon of Daddy Kool Records. Now, he's making the tough decision to move to the Warehouse District because his rent went from $3,000 to $9,000. Several other small businesses have decided to leave or close up shop for good.

St. Petersburg's city council wants to incentivize property owners to keep rent affordable for small businesses by giving them $10,000. They'll also discuss giving those businesses $15,000 for renovations.

E-scooters are also on the agenda for St. Petersburg city council. Last October, Mayor Rick Kriseman tweeted a photo of him taking a Lime scooter for a spin. That's the same company Tampa approved to bring 1,800 scooters downtown in December. Riders would pay a small fee at a stand and hop on, like the bike share program.

By January, the city threw out all the bid applications to fix some of the language in the contracts. And in February, they announced after a longer than normal permitting process, the Lime scooters should launch after April 1st.

Recently, there's been a couple of unfavorable reports about e-scooter safety. Currently, the CDC is working on safety recommendations after a spike in EMS calls and injuries out in Texas. Earlier this month ABC Action News reported e-scooter brands Lime and Bird can be hacked through bluetooth. Hackers can make the scooters suddenly stop and go. As of now, the software hasn't been updated to fix that loophole.