Blog

  PBA uses this blog to post individual articles from our monthly newsletters. Members can comment on these articles.
  • 05/29/2012 10:53 PM | Anonymous
    The SRIA has engaged an engineer to examine the feasibility and cost of putting in a crushed stone parking lot on the SRIA property between Avenida 13 and Avenida 14.  This would be the area south of Via De Luna where the gazebo is. Neighbors and others interested parties need to follow this issue and make sure their opinion is heard. The engineering report is scheduled to be discussed at the June 27th SRIA Committee meetings.
  • 05/16/2012 1:11 PM | Anonymous

    The SRIA Board is reviewing its organization chart and mission. Board member Vernon Prather made several recommendations at the SRIA meeting last week, and the SRIA is looking for more input from interested citizens on this subject. What does the SRIA do well? What can it do better? Where should our lease fees be best spent? The SRIA is just starting its budget process for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. If you have recommendations, please e-mail them to PBA at info@pbaadvocates.org.

  • 05/16/2012 1:10 PM | Anonymous

    In April, the Escambia County Board of Commissioners voted down the Core Area plan which included an elevated roadway. Where do we go from here? PBA is designing a survey to get input from the public to help set priorities for the many ideas that have been presented during the three years of the planning process. The survey will be web-based, and will allow you to rate the various ideas.

    Take the Survey

  • 05/16/2012 1:09 PM | Anonymous

    Attorney Danny Kepner has filed the plaintiffs brief for both the Pensacola Beach litigation (on taxation of improvements) and the Navarre Beach case (on taxation of land) with the FL Supreme Court, and now the taxing authorities in the two Counties will have time to respond. All filings should be completed with the court by July 5th. While the Court is under no time constraints, we are hopeful for rulings on both cases by year-end.

  • 05/16/2012 1:08 PM | Anonymous

    Recently the PBA Beachkeepers, along with representatives from the NPS-Gulf Islands National Seashore, the University of Florida Sea Grant Extension Program and the SRIA, did a night tour of our beaches. They identified buildings and parking lots that have bright lights that could distract turtles attempting to lay eggs or the newborn hatchlings. Those “turtle unfriendly” sites will be contacted and offered a 50% match of the cost to make their lights turtle friendly. There is $50,000 in grant money available for this project.

    Beachkeepers were also instrumental in working with the developers of the new 360 Observation Wheel on Pensacola Beach. The developers have agreed to turn off their bright stadium lights at 10:00 pm during the turtle nesting season, and will further limit their lighting if a nearby turtle nest is about to hatch.

  • 05/16/2012 1:08 PM | Anonymous

    There will be a public meeting to discuss the proposed BP Oil Spill Settlement and how it could benefit you. The meeting will be at 9:00 am Saturday, May 19th at Hemingway’s restaurant. Speakers will include Tim Day, Escambia County Environmental Programs Manager, and Mark Proctor and Brian Barr from the Levin Papantonio law firm, who have been deeply involved in the BP litigation

  • 04/09/2012 11:08 PM | Anonymous

    The Santa Rosa Island Authority recently approved one of two plans presented by Baskerville Donovan for a Master Plan for Pensacola Beach. The plan is now getting lots of attention from the community and the local media – both positive and negative. Here is a quick recap of how we got to our current situation. Please visit our Master Plan web page for past articles and relevant links.

    Over the past 15 years there have been numerous plans proposed to improve Pensacola Beach (especially the Core Area), but none of them gained widespread support. There was a sense that change was needed, but what to change?

    The current Master Plan project was initiated over two years ago by the SRIA, and was initially spearheaded by a Steering Committee of 13 citizens representing a cross section of Pensacola Beach stakeholders – residents, business owners, and mainland citizens. The goals were:

    1. Address the parking issue on the island – on certain days of the year the available parking is overwhelmed. Upon further study, it was determined that although there are about 15 days a year where parking is inadequate, no amount of additional parking or parking garages could fill the needs on those days. On many other days the issue is more one of a misallocation of parking – more parking is needed near the Quietwater beaches and facilities and less by the Casino Beach beaches and facilities.
    2. Improve the flow of traffic on the island – both vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic. Improve the flow of traffic into the Casino parking lot. Improve public safety. Improve the signalized intersection, which currently is rated “D” by the FL Department of Transportation.
    3. Create a new and improved overall image of Pensacola Beach to help it fulfill its role as “Escambia County’s Playground” and a tourist destination that differentiates itself from competing Gulf Coast tourist destinations.

    The EDSA Master Plan

    In the spring of 2010, the Steering Committee and the SRIA approved a conceptual plan presented by EDSA, a community planning organization, that envisioned a number of improvements to the Beach, including a redesign of the Core Area to include two elevated roadways to separate vehicle traffic from pedestrian traffic, three traffic circles, and a pedestrian walkway connecting the Quietwater and Gulf sides of the Core Area. The cost of the Core Area improvements was estimated to be $25 million, which made up a significant portion of the overall EDSA Master Plan cost of $47 million.

    Escambia County Engineering Review

    In the Spring of 2011, Escambia County engaged Baskerville Donovan (BDI) to review the engineering feasibility of the EDSA Master Plan. BDI concluded that the elements of the EDSA Master Plan outside of the Core Area were buildable, but that several problems existed with the Core Area recommendations:

    • The traffic circles were determined to be unworkable. It requires a lot of space to have a two lane traffic circle, and the angle of entry for the roads on Pensacola Beach would not permit safe entry and exit from the circles. Additionally, many drivers are unfamiliar with traffic circles, and they could prove confusing for locals as well as tourists.
    • The EDSA plan provided good pedestrian access from the Gulf side to the Quietwater side of the Core Area, but provided poorer access between those two sides and the Little Sabine (west) side of the Core Area.
    • There was simply too little space in the Core Area to accommodate three traffic circles and two elevated roadways – the project was “unbuildable”.

    Combined BDI/EDSA concepts for the Core Area

    In January 2012 BDI and EDSA combined efforts to resolve these issues and come up with two new concepts for the Core Area – one with a pedestrian overpass, and one with an elevated road and a pedestrian underpass. These were presented to the SRIA on January 14th, and on February 8th, the SRIA approved “Plan B” with elevated roadways and
    a pedestrian underpass as well as significant other improvements to the core Area in terms of enhanced parking, a new park/event area and more landscaping. The total estimated cost of these improvements is $25 million, or the same as the original 2010 estimate.

    Plan B accomplishes the original goals of the planning process, and addresses all the problems with the original EDSA plan.

    • Plan B effectively separates vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and creates a much safer Core Area.
    • Plan B provides greatly enhanced pedestrian access to all three sides of the Core Area – it truly makes Pensacola
      Beach the only resort community with a true “Beach to Bay” experience.
    • Plan B provides a roadway leading directly into the main Casino parking lot.
    • Plan B connects the Quietwater and Casino parking lots – providing vehicular access between the lots without going onto the roads.
    • Plan B eliminates the traffic circles.
    • Plan B is “Buildable”.
    • Plan B creates a new and defining image for Pensacola Beach – distinguishing it from all the competing resort communities on the Gulf Coast.

    The one thing that Plan B does not do is increase the amount of parking in the Core Area – in fact it is projected to lose about 300 – or 15% – of the current spaces. BDI said all along that it would be impossible to accomplish the other goals without losing some parking. We can only hope that as we go through the design process that some of those spaces can be saved.

    Lastly, there is concerned expressed about the cost of the project – $25 million. That is a lot of money. But it is consistent with the cost of the original plan approved 2 years ago. And only $17 million of it is for the roadways – the other $8 million is for landscaping, hardscaping and contingencies. Again, through the design process, we hope to find savings.

    Next Steps and Opportunity for Input

    What’s next? The leaseholders and stakeholders on Pensacola Beach will have two opportunities for input on the Plan.

    Escambia County will host two public information meetings in early March for the Pensacola Beach Master Plan alternatives. The meetings will begin with a presentation by County staff and the consultant, followed by an open format to allow individuals to ask staff questions on a one-on-one basis. The meeting dates and times are:

    • Wednesday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place, Pensacola
    • Thursday, March 8, at 5:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption-Hunt Hall, 920 Via de Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach

    The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners will consider action on the Pensacola Beach Master Plan at its regular meeting on Thursday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers, 221 Palafox Place. For more information, contact Matt Mooneyham, Project Coordinator, at 595-3418, or mrmooneyham@co.escambia.fl.us

    Additionally, if the Escambia County BOCC approves Plan B, the next step would be to do the engineering design. Such a process provides for public input meetings at several stages, where stakeholders can continue to voice their concerns about things like the loss of parking, the aesthetics of the pedestrian underpass, linkage to other transportation forms like the Beach trolleys or ferries, and, of course, the cost.

    Additional Information and Comments

    The list of links below are various opinions and news articles printed about the plan. If you care what happens to Pensacola beach, take the time to do your homework and read the plan. Then let the County Commissioners know what you think. If you don’t get involved in the process, then don’t complain about the results!

    View prior articles on our website.

    Gulf Breeze News – SRIA Okays $25 Million Roadway Plan (02/16/2012)

    View PB Master Plan on SRIA Website (Jan 24, 2012)

    Gulf Breeze News – Proposed beach road upgrades stir controvery (2/9/2012)

    Gulf Breeze News – Letter to the Editor: Stop Improving Pensacola Beach (2/2/2012)

    Island Times – SRIA Board Votes for Overpass at Marathon Meeting (2/16/2012)

    PNJ – Pensacola Beach Plans Unveiled – 1/25/2012

    PNJ – Is an Elevated Roadway Worth $25M? 2/8/2012

  • 04/09/2012 8:59 PM | Anonymous

    In late February, the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction on the case involving taxation of improvements on Pensacola Beach (Case #11-2231) and taxation of land on Navarre Beach (Case #11-1445).  This means our tax suits are going to the next level.

    The order reads in both cases as follows:

    “The Court accepts jurisdiction and dispenses with oral arguments pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.320.  Petitioner’s brief on the merits shall be served on or before March 26, 2011; respondent’s brief on the merits shall be served twenty days after service of petitioner’s brief on the merits; and petitioner’s reply brief on the merits shall be served twenty days after service of respondent’s brief on the merits. …

    The Clerk of the First District Court of Appeal shall file the original record which shall be properly indexed and paginated on or before April 30, 2012.  The record shall include the briefs filed in the district court separately indexed.”

    This means the case against taxation of improvements on a large number of homes, condos and townhouses on Pensacola Beach should be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.  It also means that the same Court will be looking at the legality of taxing land on Navarre Beach.  Given the dates for submittal of documents to the Supreme Court, our wait continues.  Our argument lives on and will be considered by the highest court in the State!

    Submitted by Lila Cox

    More Information

    From Pensacola News Journal Article on March 8, 2012
    Santa Rosa Island tax cases head to court
    By Kimberly Blair

    The Florida Supreme Court will decide whether residential leaseholders’ homes, condominiums and townhomes and county-owned land on Santa Rosa Island can be taxed.

    The state’s highest court will hear two cases: One is against Escambia County Property Appraiser’s Office for taxing improvements on 2,400 properties on Pensacola Beach. The other is against the Santa Rosa Property Appraiser’s Office for taxing land and improvements on roughly 850 pieces of property on Navarre Beach.

    Attorney Danny Kepner with Shell, Fleming, Davis & Menge law firm in Pensacola is representing the property owners in the cases.

    “It means, finally, the high court in our state will make a decision as to whether these properties can be taxed on both improvements and land,” Kepner said. “It’s an exciting thing to have happen.”

    The court accepted both cases on Feb. 29 after 1st District Court of Appeal rulings that the properties could be taxed. The Navarre ruling was in April, and the Pensacola Beach ruling was in July.

    Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones said it could take three months to a year before the Supreme Court rules on the Pensacola Beach case.

    Jones placed Pensacola Beach structures on the tax rolls in 2004 after an appellate court ruled that Santa Rosa County could tax its beach structures. He added land to the tax rolls in 2011, and the legality of that has not been settled.

    Leaseholders believe their land and dwelling should not be subject to taxation because they are not owners.

    Escambia County owns the land on Pensacola Beach. Residents with homes and commercial buildings on Pensacola Beach have 99-year leases, with various options for renewing, on the land. They pay lease fees.

    It’s a similar situation on Navarre Beach, except all leases have a continuous 99-year renewable lease.

  • 04/09/2012 8:10 PM | Anonymous

    COMMUNITY YARD SALE & GOODWILL EASTER SEAL DONATION SITE

    PBA’s Beachkeepers  has rescheduled Pensacola Beach RECYCLEMANIA DAY for Saturday, April 21st 8am-12noon at the Visitors Center Parking Lot. Our original date in March was rained out.

    PBA Recyclemania Redeux Registration Form, April 21, 2012

    Do some spring cleaning and make a little cash or donate your stuff.

    The day includes:

    • Flea Market/Island-style Yard Sale where individuals may bring household items to sell from 8-12noon. Yard sale “space” is FREE to PBA members, and only $20 for non members. To reserve your space and register, go to www.pbadvocates.org, stop by the Pensacola Beach Visitors Information Center, or pick up an Island Times for a registration form.
    • Goodwill will have a truck to accept your donated items. You can donate what you don’t
      sell at the end of the sale, or if you don’t want to participate in the  yard sale, just bring your items to donate!  They will take household items including small appliances (irons, toaster ovens, microwaves, TVs, etc.), clothing, toys, and also computers and related electronicsundefined working or not.
    • We were not able to reschedule onsite shredding for this event – but watch press for other dropoff points in the area.

    Beachkeepers is still accepting sponsors ($100) and volunteers for  this event. Thank you to Pensacola Beach Women’s Club, Holiday Inn Express at Pensacola Beach, Pensacola  Beach Chamber of Commerce and Pensacola Beach Advocates for sponsoring!  Get involved and get your company noticed!  The future plan is to have a Spring Recyclemania Day and a Fall Recyclemania Day every year!

    For additional info and to volunteer for RECYCLEMANIA Day contact Lois Hausman at loishausman@mchsi.com

    Follow us on Facebook for last minute updates. www.facebook.com/PensacolaBeachAdvocates

  • 02/22/2012 9:11 PM | Anonymous

    Beach leaseholders are still waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to decide if it will accept jurisdiction for two tax cases – one involving the taxation of leased improvements for 2,500 Pensacola Beach residents, and one involving the taxation of leased land for Navarre Beach residents.  Unfortunately, at this time all we can do is wait.

    Danny Kepner, attorney with Shell Fleming Davis & Menge, has filed cases against the County tax authorities to contest the taxation of both the land and the improvements for 2011. Until these cases are finally decided, each leaseholder should make his or her own decision whether to pay the 2011 taxes.

    The Escambia County Board of Commissioners stated in October, 2011 that it believed that the taxation of land on Pensacola Beach represents “double taxation”, which is unjust.  They have agreed to escrow 2011 taxes related to the taxation of Pensacola Beach land so funds will be available to either (A) refund the taxes if the courts rule in the leaseholders’ favor, or (B) refund lease fees if the taxation of land is upheld by the courts. Your PBA is working with the County to assure that the correct amount of taxes is escrowed (originally the County was not going to escrow any taxes relating to condominium land), and with the SRIA to determine how a refund of lease fees should be accomplished if the courts rule in our favor.

    For more information visit the Tax Suit webpage at http://www.pbeachtaxsuit.com/.

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