PBA uses this blog to post individual articles from our monthly newsletters. Members can comment on these articles.
  • 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

  • 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 

  • 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!



    Terry Preston
    President, Pensacola Beach Advocates


    Contact Senator Marco Rubio:

    Contact Senator Bill Nelson:

    Contact Congressman Jeff Miller:

  • 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
  • 04/03/2014 8:30 AM | Anonymous
    In a letter to the Pensacola Beach Tax Case Liaison Committee, attorney Danny Kepner says:

    In accordance with the decision of the majority of the Committee on Friday, I will be filing a motion in the Florida Supreme Court for clarification of the March 20, 2014 ruling. Under court rules, such a motion must be filed no later than Friday, April 4, 2014.

    Filing such a motion will suspend the finality of the March 20th ruling until the Court rules on our motion. Once we have filed it, the opposing attorneys will have 10 days within which to file a response.

    The focus of the motion will be the fact that the Court has indicated some of your leases provide for perpetual renewals, but has given no guidance as to which leases are in that category. Since we still have cases pending related to taxation of the land on Pensacola Beach (2011 and 2012) this needs to be clarified. 

    While the odds may be against us in obtaining the clarification, the Liasison Committee and our firm believe the potential benefit justifies this effort.

    Once the Court rules on this motion, all of our clients will be required to pay all of the unpaid tax on improvements (plus 12% simple interest) for years 2004 - 2012 within 30 days of the ruling, failing which, interest on all unpaid balances will increase to 18% per annum. We anticipate that a ruling on this motion would come within the next 6-8 weeks, but cannot predict the timing with certainty.

    Very truly yours

    The two opinions may be found here:

    1108 Ariola v. Jones (Pensacola Beach improvements):

    Accardo v. Brown (Navarre Beach land and improvements):

  • 04/01/2014 8:02 PM | Anonymous
    This article was published in the printed March 2014 newsletter sent to all residential and commercial leaseholders.

    • Worked with County and Congressman Jeff Miller to draft “Fee Simple Title” legislation to be ready in case of leaseholders losing tax litigation.
    • Kept our members updated on beach tax litigation. We notified everyone in our contact list about Tax deadlines and the Supreme Court decision the day the opinion was issued.
    • Acted as a “watchdog” in the SRIA’s annual budgeting process to assure that residential lease rates would not be increased.  This saved PB residential leaseholders $250,000 for the fourth year in a row. This may have saved you 10% per year increase in your lease fees .
    • Worked with Escambia County and beach businesses to pass a new Noise Ordinance that restricts noise levels in residential neighborhoods.
    • Helped draft a Sea Turtle Lighting Ordinance that was passed by Escambia County.  This will gradually darken the light footprint on the island to help protect nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings. It also puts Pensacola Beach in compliance with new FL Dept of Environmental Protection rules, thus allowing for sand re-nourishment of our eroding beaches.
    • Sponsored annual Earth Day Island Style event with sea turtle education, recycling, free document shredding and a community yard sale.  
    • Worked with the Tourism Board to set up an independent Visit Pensacola board to better market the Pensacola Area with the millions of dollars each year from the Bed Tax.
    • Collaborated with Pensacola Beach Chamber to propose beach projects to Escambia County RESTORE Committee for spending BP Oil Spill dollars coming to Escambia County. 
    • Worked with the SRIA to get a special $500,000 BP grant to buy the Eco-Tourism Trail signage throughout the Beach and fund advertising to promote the Beach in the shoulder seasons.
    • Notified members about potential BP claims available to some homes.
    • Worked with the local community to stop a trashy reality show from filming on Pensacola Beach this Spring.

    Please consider joining if you are not a member. Visit  

  • 04/01/2014 7:58 PM | Anonymous

    In a pair of unanimous opinions issued on March 20, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court approved of the county’s assessment and collection of ad valorem real property taxes for certain leaseholds on Santa Rosa Island.  The Court found that Pensacola Beach leaseholders have “virtually all the benefits and burdens of ownership.” This effectively makes them the private owners subject to property taxation.  The cases largely put to rest the decades long debate over beach leasehold taxes. Visit our website for more information and links to the two recent court opinions.

    With these rulings, the tax collector will soon begin efforts to collect any outstanding property taxes.  The beach leaseholders’ lawyers will seek a reasonable grace period before enforcement efforts begin and try to negotiate the assessed interest payments.  The lawyers will also consider and advise us whether they will seek a rehearing by the Florida Supreme Court or whether they will continue to challenge the assessment of taxes on the land (the Court’s decision specifically address Pensacola Beach improvements and not land taxes).  However, to avoid additional interest accruing or the sale of tax deeds, Pensacola Beach leaseholders should consult with tax professionals and prepare to pay any outstanding real property taxes due.  And as the lawsuit challenging the 2013 taxes was late and likely will be dismissed, everyone should pay their 2013 property taxes by the March 31, deadline.

    With these rulings, Pensacola Beach Advocates will invigorate its efforts to ensure Pensacola Beach leaseholders are not subject to a de facto double taxundefined from real property taxes and lease fees.  We will work to eliminate the lease fees and obtain refunds of past double payments.  We will talk to local leaders and continue to push the U.S. Senate to pass legislation like the Public Access and Lands Improvement Act (H.R. 2954) that would allow leaseholders to purchase their land fee simple, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 6, 2014. 

    Attend the PBA Town Hall meeting on April 14th to learn more.

    The two opinions may be found here:

    1108 Ariola v. Jones (Pensacola Beach improvements):

    Accardo v. Brown (Navarre Beach land and improvements):


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