Tampa leaders consider requiring security at Ybor City parking lots to reduce crime

Ybor City neighbors are fed up with parking lot parties and crime at private lots in their neighborhood. They want council to make a change, requiring security guards at pay-to-park lots. 

The city’s public parking lots already have them.

"Right now, Ybor continues to be plagued with trash-filled, poorly maintained and crime-ridden surface parking lots," said Ybor resident Stephanie Harrison Bailey.

"As a resident, I can personally tell you the problems that we are seeing. Partying, drinking, loud music are not happening in city lots," said Chris Curry, another neighbor. 

On Thursday, city council discussed the changes to the code which would put the private lots on par with the city’s public lots.

TPD data shows there were 167 offenses in 2022 and 2023 in those privately owned lots, including stolen cars, assaults and rapes.

"You have three times as many public parking spaces in Ybor City lots than the private lots and yet they have more crime," said another neighbor.

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TPD data showed there were fewer crimes in the city lots, which have security guards. They say that requirement for private lots could go a long way in reducing crime in Ybor.

"We as the experts in crime are saying that can be accomplished with a security personnel, as proven," said Major Eric DeFelice.

Representatives for those parking lot operators asked council to hold off.

"You can’t distinguish between paid and unpaid lots. The regulations ought to apply across the board," said Steve Michelini.

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Some of the parking lot operators have said they are in favor of additional security, but they believe that should be the city's job.

"We are not in support of police officers having that role," said DeFelice.

There will be another public hearing on the proposed change in July.

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