Minutes from the October 15 Pensacola Beach Advocates Annual Meeting
The meeting was called to order at 5:30 PM. Refreshments were served at 5 PM. President James Crittenden led all in the pledge of allegiance while Pastor Jim Coyl of the Beach church led us in an invocation.
President Crittenden started the meeting by giving a recap of the previous year. He mentioned his goals for filling out the pyramid and getting more people involved in the organization. He recapped the significant things that were achieved from the spring break meeting before Covid shut down the beach and he talked about those who violated short term rentals during this period and the problem with them in general.
The next item on the agenda was for the election of the 2021 board. Bill Ray, Jack Womack, and Glenn Windham were all presented as candidates and gave a brief presentation as to why they wanted to serve on the board. Rhonda Dorfman read a statement by Lyn Castel and nominations were opened to the floor to see if anyone was interested in serving on the board. No further nominations were offered so they were accepted as the new board of directors for the 2021 PBA board. Subsequently the board of directors met on October 20th and elected officers. The new PBA officers are Rhonda Dorfman – President, Jack Womack- Vice President, Glenn Windham - Treasurer, and Bill Wray – Secretary. Lyn Castel is serving as a general board member.
The President also gave a report from Lauren Campanella who chairs the environmental committee and it briefly detail the reasons why the baby shower in the Christmas parade were canceled… Due to Covid and the fact that the storage unit has been cleared out… And that government permitting, these two events would proceed in 2021.
The president then led the discussion on the most important item of the night: unregulated real estate. This prompted comments from the chair of the spring break meeting, Liz Hewson, and you can see her comments in the attached report. She also stated that she was not happy with the hurricane evacuation plans that the county implemented during hurricane Sally and the lack of fire protection when fire trucks were ordered off of the beach during that time period. She thanked the police for keeping everyone safe before, during and after the storm.
Discussion on the impact of unregulated Real estate or Hometels, which are larger than average homes intended to rent to 20 or more people, produced a lively discussion before the Q and A. It prompted a response from Escambia County Commissioner Robert Bender. He mentioned the limitations placed upon the county by the state and about some fiscal ways in which unregulated party and short-term rental homes could be monitored for compliance. He also stated that in 2014 the Florida state Supreme Court struck down the case dealing with the ability to regulate private property. He mentioned Flagler Beach as a possible model. Terry Preston, the governmental affairs committee chairperson gave a rundown on illegal leases, nonconforming leases, and commercial lease activity that is not regulated. Please also see attached her report.
Questions were posed to officer Pachucki who was in attendance from the Escambia sheriff’s office. All were regarding illegal parking, noise, and other enforcement issues.
Constituent comments were directed to the fact that nothing happens unless the constituents call in and complain. Constituents were asking that something proactive be done by the Island Authority about all the zoning enforcement violations.
Newly installed board member Jack Womack asked and gave an example of the right of way enforcement letters and then the lack of compliance. SRIA representative Thomas Campanella stated that they would just have to start the letters again and get the ball rolling again and then other constituents at the meeting stated that questions are still not being answered and complaints not followed up. During this time. The powers that be were thanked for getting residents back onto the island quickly after hurricane Sally.
After the Q&A process board member Rhonda Dorfman presented the idea for the neighborhood street representatives and asked all who were willing to sign up for their street. The purpose of this group is to act as a liaison from their neighborhood to the board to keep everyone informed on what is working and what is not working in their neighborhood. It is hopeful that this ad hoc committee will help bring more participants into the Advocates Affairs. Commissioner Bender was publicly asked to meet with the new board to discuss a document that outlines the role of SRIA.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:27 PM.