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Today's Letters: Developers don't want a dialogue with residents

Letters to the Editor
Published November 11, 2007


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Leaders decry apathy on tourism Nov. 4, story

Let's see if I understand: The county has lost hotel rooms because they were converted to condominiums, and tourism is flat, so the answer is obviously to triple our density and build more condo-hotels. Does this mean that when the condo market comes back we can convert more? It appears that by tripling our density, which can only mean huge towers along our shores, our contribution to the tourism industry in this county can be maintained.

The hoteliers and developers are worried that we residents don't understand this. On the contrary, we understand it just fine. What we don't want is what their plans would do to our city and our lives. This is the most densely populated county in Florida, and our city is among the densest in the county. Why on earth would anyone think this is a good idea?

The article talks about developers' wanting a dialogue with residents. They don't mean a dialogue because the conversation runs along parallel lines with few, if any, common points. The developers (and their partners, the large-resort owners) want to build tall condo-hotels, which would increase our traffic, increase demands on infrastructure, which then would increase our taxes and costs, and generally reduce the quality of life in our city. The revenue to the city from this industry is less than 15 percent of city income. The residents are here because of the quality of life we have found.

My experience with past "dialogues" is that basically all the resort owners and developers want to do is "educate" us as to how important their needs are (and how unimportant ours must be). They have shown no interest in our reasoning. To borrow a line from St. Pete Beach Commissioner Linda Chaney, they want to educate us into submission.

I suggest that if they built real hotel rooms and not condo-hotels, they could get the rooms they want in half the height or less. The residents would still be stuck with most of the bills. For resorts that have not been renovated, I think that is a business decision. It is difficult for me to understand how letting a property go is the fault of the residents.

If the objective is to get the residents to agree to adopt the latest county effort to promote more development in an already overdeveloped community, I think there would be some advantage to the residents in the plan. I don't see any.

My opinion is that these are rich people who want to get richer and want to sacrifice my city and the quality of my life to do it. And let me pay for it. What a deal.

Lance Peterson, St. Pete Beach

A tip: Show servers some love Nov. 4, letter

20% tip rarely deserved

With the economy the way it is, there are a lot of people who cannot afford to tip a server much, if anything, after they find the money to go out.

Who set the standards for what the tips are supposed to be anyway? I leave 15 percent every time my wife and I go out, with the occasional exception of when we get terrible service. Then I leave only 10 percent.

The letter writer says that since we choose to go out and eat, it is our responsibility to include a gratuity in our meal expenses. I've yet to see that posted on the door before walking into any restaurant I've visited.

She makes it seem as if I am her only customer while I eat my dinner, when, in fact, she probably has three to five other tables going at the same time. Our meals normally run $35 to $40 for the two of us. So if I pay her 20 percent for our meal and she gets the same for the others while we're there (although, there's usually more than just two people for dinner), during a running hour she'd be making up to $48 per hour in tips alone. Pretty good supplemental pay if you ask me.

If I ever find a server worth 20 percent, I'd pay it. I wonder if her boss likes her telling his customers to stay home if they're not going to tip her 20 percent no matter what service they get.

This is about putting more cash into their pockets, not about good service. If you give good service, you'll get great tips, and you won't have to write letters to newspapers to get them.

Gary E. Price, St. Petersburg

A tip: Show servers some love Nov. 4,

Don't keep the change

The letter writer commented that one cannot expect the best service if you are not going to compensate the servers properly. The expectation of good service should come first, then the tip. The server should be compensated on that good service, be it 15 percent, 20 percent or more.

What I find disturbing is the number of restaurants where the servers fail to provide the correct "change." Several popular restaurants apparently condone this practice. If my bill is $9.53 and I pay with a $20 bill, my change is expected to be $10.47. Instead, the only change provided is $10. At first I did nothing about this, thinking it was just an error, but I now see it to be a trend.

When I ask for all of my change, I am met with a stupid gaze. I am often told that the 47 cents is considered as part of their tip.

Should I not be the one to determine how much tip I want to leave? Forty-seven cents may not be much, but if you multiply that by the number of people paying cash, times the number of shifts worked, that money adds up month after month.

I consider this the same as stealing. I have discussed the matter with several restaurant managers and they appear to be taken aback by that news. They swear that practice will swiftly come to an end, but it does not.

What the servers don't realize is that they would most likely get more of a tip if they leave it up to the customer, instead of taking it upon themselves to keep the change.

M. Parker, St. Petersburg

Apartments not needed Oct. 31, letter

What about the water?

I want to add a comment to this great letter, which was in response to your story Pasture makes way for people. I agree with every point taken by the letter writer but want to add my concern.

Where is water supposed to come from for all these apartments? We constantly read and hear about our severe water shortage and water rationing, yet cities keep approving development we don't need.

Elaine Salter, Seminole

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We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by fax to (727) 893-8675 or through our Web site, www.sptimes.com/letters. They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.

[Last modified November 10, 2007, 22:09:04]


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