Blog

  PBA uses this blog to post individual articles from our monthly newsletters. Members can comment on these articles.
  • 10/16/2014 7:41 AM | Anonymous

    Voters on Pensacola Beach will choose their elected representative on the Santa Rosa Island Authority during the General Election on November 4th. This is a non-partisan election. Make plans to vote – in person Nov 4th at the Beach Community Church or vote early starting Oct 20 at the Election Supervisor’s office or by absentee. You must be a resident and registered voter to participate in the election of this SRIA position. New voters can still register and vote in this election. Get more information on www.escambiavotes.com.

     THOMAS CAMPANELLA  TERRY PRESTON

    With so many accomplishments on Pensacola Beach, I honestly don’t know where to begin.  I have been an island resident for over forty years and operated a dental practice for thirty-seven years.  My wife, Debbie, has been a teacher for 26 years at Pensacola Beach Elementary.  My daughter is a UWF marine biology graduate.  My son is a lieutenant with Escambia County Fire Department on Pensacola Beach.

    I, Thomas, am a former president of the original Pensacola Beach Residents and Leaseholders Association, former PTA President, church board member, Optimist Club member, one of the Krewe of Wrecks and PBYC founders, Elks member, PBA member, and Ivan survivor.  But what is important is I have served the community for twelve years with the SRIA in an unselfish and unbiased manner.  I have no special interests – not groups, individuals, or businesses.

    Pensacola Beach is the “Public’s Playground”.  We choose to live here and therefore must share our playground.  All the beach development is done; parcels of land are allocated.  Balance and preservation are now necessary - balancing tourism, business, leaseholder and residential interests while preserving our unique community style. Escambia County receives approximately one-third of its income from Pensacola Beach’s existence.  

    We lost our tax battle, fee simple ownership is on its way, and no one knows what the future holds. The Escambia County Commissioners - not the SRIA - are the ultimate decision-making authority.  With the SRIA, I have forged and developed understanding among our Escambia County leaders.  Combat is over; compatibility is emerging.  We need experience more than ever as our governing style will certainly be changing.

    As your elected SRIA Board Member I have strived to do my best and to do my duty for the community we cherish.  To continue to protect and preserve Pensacola Beach please vote to re-elect Thomas Campanella for SRIA. Thank you!!!

    It’s time for some new ideas on the Santa Rosa Island Authority, and I am the person who can think “outside the box.”  I graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy in 1978, received a Masters in Public Administration from UWF in 1992, and have spent over 35 years as a seagoing officer, program manager, EHS Director and business owner.

    In 2009, I joined the Pensacola Beach Advocates. As a member of the Governmental Affairs committee, I attend SRIA meetings regularly.  Even though we are now all paying taxes on improvements, and many are also paying taxes on land, no-one on the SRIA is advocating to the County on our behalf for a reduction in lease fees to offset the taxes that we are already paying.  Instead, they plan to wait for the land lawsuits to play out.  

    We need to return to  “Leave only your footprints” on the beach.  Having been President of the PBA for the last year, I have been able to build consensus on issues like environmental protection with both residents and business owners.

    My goals as your elected representative are:

    • Continue the push to end double taxation NOW.  At a minimum, lease fees should be reduced immediately and some county tax dollars spent to fund SRIA operations.
    • Work with the county to define what the SRIA should become post-lease fees, while maintaining the levels of service that our visitors and residents currently enjoy.
    • Work with business and government to achieve environmental and aesthetic improvements so that we only leave our footprints in years to come!

    For more information, please watch my three-minute video from the Meet the Candidates event on October 2. Or visit my facebook page.

  • 09/30/2014 9:30 AM | Anonymous
    (Article courtesy of Shelley Waters Johnson, www.myislandtimes.com)
    Do you want to know more about the candidates? Are you registered to vote? The Pensacola Beach Optimist Club has you covered. They are hosting a Candidate Forum, Thursday, October 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Pensacola Beach Community Church. Optimist Club President Carleen Wheeler announced that all candidates from the gubernatorial race to the one-elected Santa Rosa Island Authority seat have been invited to appear. The format allows three minutes for each candidate to address the beach voters. The candidate presentations will be followed by a proctored question-and-answer period. Attendees will be able to submit questions in writing at the meeting. Questions will be posed to candidates as time allows by Wheeler. “We want everyone to join us,” said Wheeler. “Hear the candidates and stick around for refreshments after the presentations are over.”

    In addition to the Governor’s race, Beach voters will have an opportunity to choose the Florida Attorney General, Chief Financial Offi cer and Commissioner of Agriculture. Mike Hill and Jeremy Lau face off for State Representative in District 2. Escambia County Commission District 4 incumbent Grover Robinson, IV, is taking on challenger Michael Lowery.

    In 1983 Pensacola Beach residents earned the right to vote for one delegate to the Santa Rosa Island Authority Board. Thomas Campanella and Terry Preston are running for the SRIA seat. There are over 2,400 registered voters on Pensacola Beach. During the August 26 Primary Election voter turnout was relatively low with 436 voters from Pensacola Beach casting ballots.

    Getting registered to vote is easy. The League of Women Voters will be on hand at the Candidate Forum to register attendees. If you prefer, you can register online or in person at the Elections offi ce. Go to www.escambiavotes.com for forms or call 850-595-3900 for assistance.

    The deadline to register is October 6. The Pensacola Beach Optimist encourages everyone to attend the Candidate Forum. It is open to the public at no charge.



  • 09/06/2014 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    In the last two years the number of visitors setting up tent blockades on the Gulf side of the beach has increased significantly. Groups will setup large tents with chairs and coolers and beach coolers and leave their things in "their spot" overnight for an entire week.

    Not only is this an eyesore but it is an impediment to turtles during their summer nesting season. The mama turtles can get tangled up in the beach gear and not make it to their nesting spot on the shore.



    After getting input from the PBA Beachkeepers and an outcry from the people who patrol the beach for turtles and dawn each morning, the the SRIA has implemented a Beach Ambassador program to see if an informal education program could be effective with our visitors, instead of implementing another ordinance that restricts leaving any items on the beach after dark. 

    If you own rental property on the beach, please inform your guests not to leave their gear out overnight, to turn off bright lights at night during turtle season and not to leave big holes on the beach. 

    Thanks to Kimberly Blair with the PNJ who has done an excellent job of covering this and other important beach issues. You can read the full text of her article on the Ambassador program in the PNJ.com article.

    Also if you want to read more about the sea turtles and see some videos of baby loggerhead sea turtles hatching visit the link below.

    http://on.pnj.com/1oOHyZN

    The article was written by PNJ reporter Kimberly Blair and the videos taken by beach resident, PBA member and turtle patroller DJ Zemenick.






  • 09/03/2014 8:54 PM | Anonymous

    Earlier this year, the Pensacola Beach Advocates conducted a survey of its members on important issues for Pensacola Beach. The survey was mailed to all PBA members and Pensacola Beach leaseholders. It was also accessible via the PBA website. The results reflect the opinions of those who took the time to respond. Included in the respondents were residential and commercial leaseholders, PBA members, beach residents, and non-Beach Escambia County residents.

    The majority of respondents feel that the PBA should focus its efforts the passage of fee simple title legislation to eliminate leaseholders’ double taxation and pursue the refund of lease fees from Escambia County that were paid in conjunction with taxes. Additionally, the survey showed that many believe it's important that the PBA help ensure that Pensacola Beach remains a quiet, peaceful and natural location for both residents and tourists. Restructuring the current form of two tier government (Escambia County and Santa Rosa Island Authority), pedestrian safety, and beach improvements should also be part of the PBA agenda. Less than ten percent thought that the PBA should spend time on increasing business and tourism on the beach.

    When asked how should the SRIA prioritize the RESTORE funds it receives from the BP Oil Spill, 61% agreed that Gulfside beach re-nourishment and dune walk overs is the number one priority. Followed by (2) updating the storm water drainage on the island, (3) creating pedestrian friendly crossings, (4) upgrading core area with turtle friendly and pedestrian lighting, (5) stabilizing all shoulders on CR 399, (6) resurfacing all roads and parking lots on Pensacola Beach, (7) widening and deepening approach to Little Sabine Bay, (8) improving Gulfside Pavilion including seating and stage facilities, and (9) installing lights at Park West parking lot.

    SRIA services are paid for by both residential and commercial lease fees. On a scale of excellent to poor, the SRIA received an average rating for administrative services such as policy, construction, code and fiscal management. Respondents were split among good and average for street and bike path maintenance. This category actually received the highest poor ranking (19%). The SRIA earned a good rating from the majority of respondents for Emergency Management communication; beach appearance and amenities such as landscaping and parks; and the cleanliness of the beach, streets and parking lots. Fifty-four percent of the respondents agreed that the SRIA is doing an excellent job with water safety and 48% awarded an excellence rating to beach events hosted by the SRIA such as Bands on the Beach and the Blue Angels Air Show.

    Most everyone interacts with the crosswalks on Via de Luna, either with a car or on foot, and 64% of respondents feel that for everyone's safety the crosswalks need to be illuminated with flashing lights. There was a strong sentiment in the comments section for this question that someone was going to get killed because the crosswalks are dangerous due to lack of lighting, lack of understanding of the law by drivers, and lack of enforcement by the deputies.

    Finally, when asked if changes should be made to Ariola Drive to alleviate parking congestion and safety concerns, 36% want no changes, but 64% believe there should be some kind of change -- from painting a white line to demarcate south side parking only (29%), to eliminating all parking on Ariola or making Ariola one way with the Avenidas fully cut through (14% each). Of note were the 7% who offered additional suggestions such as "No parking on Ariola unless issued a guest pass from a resident," "Add more consistently and evening spaced 'No Parking on this side of street' signs," and "Only residents of Ariola Drive should have input on this."

    The PBA will continue to ask for beach resident and leaseholders input throughout the year using such vehicles as surveys and social media.


     

  • 08/29/2014 10:03 AM | Anonymous

    Voters on Pensacola Beach will choose their elected representative on the Santa Rosa Island Authority during the General Election on November 4th. This is a non-partisan election. The Santa Rosa Island Authority is comprised of six members. Five are appointed by an Escambia County Commissioner and one is elected by the voters of Pensacola Beach every two years. The elected position can only be filled by a Pensacola Beach resident. The Santa Rosa Island Authority’s composition was amended from five appointees to include a sixth elected member in 1983 by the State Legislature. Pensacola Beach businessman McGuire Martin won the first election.

    Dr. Thomas Campanella is the incumbent and will face Terry Preston in the November 4th General Election.

    Dr. Campanella, a local dentist, has been on the SRIA Board for 12 years and lives in Villa Sabine. Terry Preston, a safety and environmental specialist and leasesholder since 1979 is currently serving as the President of Pensacola Beach Advocates. Look for more information on each of the candidates in upcoming newsletter. 

    The Santa Rosa Island Authority’s composition was amended from five appointees to include a sixth elected member in 1983 by the State Legislature. Pensacola Beach businessman McGuire Martin won the first election.

    Beach residents did not have any elected representation on the SRIA until 1983. It is important that we all exercise this important right to choose who represents us. Make plans to vote on November 4th – in person at the Beach Community Church, in person at the Election Supervisor’s office or by absentee. You must be a resident and registered voter to participate in the election of this SRIA position.  Get more information on www.escambiavotes.com.

  • 08/27/2014 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Pensacola Beach Advocates will hold our annual meeting on October 20 2014 at the Pensacola Beach community church from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. Elections for the PBA Board of Directors will be held. If you are interested in serving on the PBA Board as an office or as a director, please contact Liz Waters Hewson by email at  elizabethkhewson AT gmail.com. 




  • 08/24/2014 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    Recently PBA President Terry Preston contacted US Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio encouraging them to sponsor a bill in the Senate that would grant leaseholders on Santa Rosa Island with fee simple title. A companion bill was sponsored by Congressman Jeff Miller in February where it did pass the US House. 

    At this point the County and the SRIA don't have plans to reduce lease fees to a nominal amount ($1) until all of the pending tax lawsuits are still active. There is still an active lawsuit by the Portofino homeowners.

    Please take a few minutes to send an email to our Florida Senators asking them to consider this legislation during their short session after Labor Day. Contact info is at the bottom of this article. You may want to also contact Jeff Miller to thank him for his efforts.

    And we thank the current and past PBA board members who worked with the local government leaders to draft this legislation two years ago in preparation that we could lose our appeals in the Supreme Court.

    Here is the letter that was sent to both Senators.



    As President  of the Pensacola Beach Advocates, I would like to urge you on behalf of our

    450 members and the 3800 Pensacola Beach leaseholders, to sponsor a companion  bill in the Senate to H.R2954, the Santa Rosa Island Title Fairness and Land Preservation Act. At our urging and that of our local government officials, Congressman Jeff Miller sponsored this legislation and it passed the House of Representatives on February 6, 2014 and was referred  to the Senate on February 10, 2014.  It has since been referred  to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who have taken no action.

     

    Since passage of H.R. 2954, we have been notified by the Florida Supreme Court that taxation of our leasehold improvements will stand, leaving many on our small island with significant tax bills, continuing lease fees, and no ownership of the property that they are being taxed for. This bill would allow our local government to convey fee simple title to the developed leaseholds  on Santa Rosa Island, thus paving the way to end leases and reduce the burden of double taxation on many residents, some of whom are on fixed incomes.

     

    This bill also remedies some issues that are silent in the legislation that originally conveyed Santa Rosa Island to Escambia County. It guarantees that all public lands that are currently held for conservation, recreation  or preservation will continue so in PERPETUITY, thus preventing our beautiful natural island resources from being developed in future years. Please take action to pass companion legislation in this Congress and prove to your constituents that we have a Congress that can take bipartisan action!

     

    Regards,


    Terry Preston
    President, Pensacola Beach Advocates

     

    Contact Senator Marco Rubio: http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

    Contact Senator Bill Nelson: http://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill

    Contact Congressman Jeff Miller: https://jeffmiller.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm



  • 06/21/2014 8:47 AM | Anonymous

    Escambia County Tax Collector Janet Holley just reported that the tax bills will be mailed to Pensacola Beach residents on June 25. The deadline to pay the taxes - which were previously the topic of a court battle - is July 25. On July 26 the interest owed will jump from 12% to 18%.

  • 05/23/2014 1:38 PM | Anonymous
    Today the Supreme Court denied the motions we filed on the Pensacola Beach Taxes on Improvements. The lawyers representing all plaintiffs will be sending letters to all of the clients in both cases.

    They will be asking for permission to dismiss all of the improvements cases in Escambia County (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013) since they are now superceded by this decision.

    They will also be advising all clients that if you have not paid the taxes, do so now. Interest will jump from 12% through June 21 (probably extended until Monday, the 23rd), to 18% -- calculated from the beginning.

    The attorneys will also advise their clients on their chances of success in the outstanding lawsuits challenging the taxes on the land. If you do not receive a letter within the next week, you should contact your attorney's office.
  • 04/03/2014 8:47 AM | Anonymous
    PBA mailed a printed survey with our March 2014 newsletter to 3500 leaseholders in March. The survey is open to all stakeholders on Pensacola Beach - regardless of your membership status in Pensacola Beach Advocates.  Tell us what issues are most important for us to work on this year. We will close the survey on April 30th. 

    The survey is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8Q7DJQN

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