September 1, 2021
Dear PBA Members,
Finally the sun is shining, but those cloudy skies and pouring down rain did not stop the curious onlookers during Ida. The crossover near me has been packed. We are truly blessed to have been spared Ida. This just reinforces how important it is to have an evacuation plan and to be prepared. Please pray for all of those who are affected by the storm. Speaking of being prepared, please Save the Date for our Annual meeting…October 20th - 6 pm…The Beach Church. Pizza and adult refreshments like last year and all of that “fun” meeting stuff. More details to come on that. Please also save Sunday - December 12th for our Holiday Party and Lights Judging Contest. Now for some beach updates
First, an update on the meeting your PBA board had with Ms. Leigh Davis and SRIA legal counsel, Ms. Mary Jane Bass a couple of weeks ago. Our intention was to follow up on data submitted on our ideas to combat short term rental issues and protocol for 5g placement on the island. A gracious Ms. Davis allowed us to discuss “everything but the kitchen sink.” We were able to discuss lease language, and how it governs and legally applies to short term rentals, a proposed draft ordinance by Commissioner Bender to regulate short term rentals and manage them as businesses along with the fees, fines and enforcement provisions, and how to beef up enforcement at the SRIA for STR violations. Bill Wray, who has done extensive research on the topic, is hopeful that the ordinance will be able to pass at the county level. It, along with Ms. Davis‘s leadership at the SRIA should solve many issues. We should all be prepared to testify when it is introduced and debated. Check out our website to see a draft of the ordinance.
I believe Ms. Davis has quickly learned what is important to the beach. I also know she understands that we don’t necessarily believe our lease fees or tax dollars get spent to the best of their ability and that EVERYONE in the county is responsible for paying for beach renourishment. We also discussed how EVERYONE who comes to the beach could: pay a little something more to either cross the bridge, pay to park, and follow the rules if we could enforce them.
When it came to discussing 5g we all agreed that the SRIA board should have been more involved in the initial rollout. If not, then why do we have an environmental impact review committee? We pointed out that cities and counties all across Florida are requiring more information before they approve the placement of these poles. The municipalities are also winning on every front. Just like The SRIA used case law to settle the consideration vs. impact fee, they could also use case law to appeal to the FCC to move some of these poorly placed 5g poles. Heck, they could appeal to the FCC and ask to remove all of them because of their environmental impact on a barrier island. One of the biggest victories for those fighting 5g has been that the FCC just agreed that the emission standards from 1996 are inadequate to deal with 5g emission levels. They stated that new levels of what is safe need to be defined. (See ruling on our website). This is just one of the many discussions and debates shaping the conversation about 5g. ALL of the discussion is favorable for local municipalities, but the question is does SRIA have the will to stand up and fight for the residents? Clearly they could if they wanted to.
Upon discussion of what SRIA can and cannot do, according to a matrix written sometime ago and based on the powers given them in state statute, it became obvious that although SRIA has the ability to do things they may not because of the friction it may cause at the county level. It also became clear that while some actions by leaseholders may be illegal they do not want to enter into lawsuits because it is costly and timely. This tone was implied during discussions on both STR and with 5g. While I understand agencies not wanting to be litigious or at odds with the commission, at what point are they supposed to place the interest of the residents first? This has been a very frustrating area for me personally because the answer to the question is ALWAYS.
At the end of the day we felt the meeting was productive. We discussed the many public works projects involving crossovers and how the mobi mats are not aiding in the growth of the dunes like the crossovers do. We discussed the crosswalks, the boat ramp by the access road, the cut throughs, and the dog parks and lack of enforcement thereof. In many ways our county is broken and we as residents need to say enough is enough! We cannot continue to let the county impose more and more on us without getting angry and speaking our minds. It has been a tough two years on everyone. The businesses cannot find employees, our liberties have been checked, and more and more often government ignores the will of its people.
We must take the time, yes, make the time, to participate in local government. Our future and quality of life depend upon it. I hope you will join us in October at our annual meeting and in the meantime, challenge both the county and the SRIA to do what they are supposed to do