City commission votes in new restrictions for pay phones
commissioners, citing concerns about a proliferation of pay phones
they say serve as magnets for criminal activity in some neighborhoods,
agreed 4-1 last week to new restrictions.
voted to cancel all pay phone permits as of July 1. Every telephone
company from BellSouth, which operates hundreds of pay phones in the
city, to smaller companies operating a handful of phones, must reapply
under new guidelines that take effect Oct. 1.
officials said 27 telephone companies supply more than 1,200 pay phones
in the city.
agreed to a controversial new restriction, increasing the distance
requirement between pay phones to 500 feet after City Manager Carlos
Gimenez said existing pay phones will not be affected.
just stops the proliferation of more phones on the public right of
way," Mr. Gimenez said.
officials said the ordinance institutes uniform procedures for all
pay phones in the city. In the future, suppliers must pay $200 for
each phone installed.
now there's not a level playing field," said Elaine Buza, city
telecommunications coordinator. "We want everyone on the same
page of music."
Jackson, city director of public works, said the ordinance will make
it easier for the city to enforce permit requirements. Officials said
decals will be installed on approved telephones, allowing inspectors
to easily spot illegal pay phones.
Green, spokesperson for the Florida Public Telecommunications Association,
an entity representing small to medium-sized companies, hailed the
decision to equalize pay-phone permitting, saying that in the past
BellSouth, unlike smaller companies, was not required to pay application
Ms. Green criticized the decision not to waive or reduce the $200
permit fee for smaller firms that have already paid installation fees.
Green also criticized the new minimum distance between pay phones.
The city manager introduced the 500-foot rule only recently.
officials criticized the ordinance, opposing a requirement that for
every 10 pay phones installed in high revenue-generating locations
companies must maintain one in a low revenue site.
officials defended the decision, saying the rule guarantees the availability
of pay phones at city-owned facilities. Officials said pay phones
may be needed in emergencies.
need to protect our citizens," Commissioner Willy Gort said.
telecommunications ordinance floundered, failing twice before Commissioner
Johnny Winton agreed not to oppose the 500-foot rule. He said distance
requirements should have been debated by the industry and staff ahead
Gimenez said the ordinance timing was crucial to establish city revenues.
s Regalado alone opposed the measure. He said the last-minute decision
to increase distance requirements sends a negative message to companies
considering doing business with the city.