IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
APPELLATE DIVISION

J.C. SANDERS and ROSALIND SANDERS,

                                                Petitioners,

vs.                                                                                                        Appeal No. 99-6600-CI-88A

CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG,
acting as the governing authority of the
CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA,
a Florida Municipal Corporation,

                                                Respondent.

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ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

            This cause came before the Court on the Petition For Writ Of Certiorari, the Response and the Reply.  Upon consideration of the same, the Court finds that the Petitioners have raised two issues in their Petition.

            1.  The first issue raised in the Petition For Writ Of Certiorari is whether the Respondent, City Council of the City of St. Petersburg (“City Council”), departed from the essential requirements of law when the City Council denied the Petitioner’s Demolition Appeal, Case No. 99-8698.  The Petitioner asserts that in denying his Demolition Appeal, the City Council did not weigh the testimony of the city’s engineer against the evidence presented by the Petitioner that it was his engineer’s opinion that the condemned structure’s integrity was not sufficiently compromised by weathering to justify demolition.  The second issue raised is whether the City Council departed from the essential requirements of law by disregarding the valuation criteria in Section 8-383(d) of the St. Petersburg City Code.

            2.  After a review of the entire record, including the video and transcript of the September 2, 1999 appeal hearing, the Court finds that the City Council’s decision to deny the Petitioner’s Demolition Appeal conforms to the essential requirements of law and is supported by competent substantial evidence.  Further, the Court finds that the City Council satisfied all procedural due process requirements.  Haines City Community Development v. Heggs, 658 So.2d 523, 530 (Fla. 1995).

            3.  The City Council found, based on substantial competent evidence, that the subject of the Petitioner’s appeal, the structure located at 2585 Gomaz Way South, St. Petersburg, Florida, was unfit or unsafe and therefore should be demolished and removed. The record reflects that the City Council heard testimony of the Petitioner and did consider and admit into evidence the report of Petitioner’s engineer regarding the condemned structure’s integrity.  The report was considered by the City Council even though the report was unsworn and contained a handwritten word (Petitioner had handwritten the word “not” in the sentence “…as a result of weather sustained this damage does not warrant demolition…”).  The Petitioner’s engineer did not appear to testify.

            The City Council also heard the testimony of the City’s Building Demolition Coordinator, Building Official, and consulting engineer.  The City engineer’s report was admitted into evidence and considered by the City Council.  The City Council recognized that both the Petitioner’s engineer and the City’s engineer cite numerous structural deficiencies and unsafe conditions of the condemned structure.  The record indicates that the City Council did not make its decision to deny the Petitioner’s appeal lightly, but thoroughly considered all the testimony and evidence presented, including both engineer reports.  Therefore, this Court finds the City Council did not depart from the essential requirements of the law in denying Petitioner’s Demolition Appeal.

            4.  The second issue raised by the Petitioner involved the valuation criteria set forth in Section 8-383(d) of the St. Petersburg City Code.  Section 8-383(d) is contained in Division 5 of Chapter 8 of the St. Petersburg City Code.  Division 5, Abatement of Public Nuisance, contains a valuation test which states that if the rehabilitation costs of a public nuisance is in excess of 50% of its assessed value, the City may permit the owner to present a viable rehabilitation plan. 

            Petitioner was not cited under Division 5, Abatement of Public Nuisance, but was cited under Division 4, Nuisance and Unsafe Structures, specifically Section 8-366, so that the City Council did not depart from the essential requirements of the law by not applying the valuation criteria of Division 5.  Even if the Petitioner was cited under Division 5, the offer of a rehabilitation alternative to demolition under this division is left to the City Council’s discretion.  Furthermore, upon a review of the transcript and video of the appeal hearing, it is apparent that the City Council did discuss various alternatives to demolition in an attempt to assess whether rehabilitation or repair of the condemned structure was a viable option.  The City Council concluded, based on competent substantial evidence, that a viable stipulation agreement to rehabilitate or repair the condemned structure was not feasible. 

            It is therefore,

            ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition For Writ Of Certiorari is DENIED.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this 29th day of June 2000.

                                                                                                                                                

                                                                       

___________________________________
CHARLES W. COPE
Circuit Judge, Appellate Division

 

Copies Furnished To:

Robert J. Jones, Esquire

6500 Central Avenue

St. Petersburg, FL  33707

Attorney for Petitioners

Robert Eschenfelder, Esquire

Assistant City Attorney

175 5th Street North

St. Petersburg, FL  33701

Attorney for Respondent

Beatrice Griswold

Chairperson of the City Councel

175 5th Street North

St. Petersburg, FL  33701

Honorable David Fischer

Mayor, City of St. Petersburg

175 5th Street North

St. Petersburg, FL  33701

Staff Attorney, Appellate Division