As promised (or threatened), this is to further illustrate why the results of the ill-conceived November “beach referendum” should never be relied upon as the basis for governance regarding fee simple title for Pensacola Beach leaseholders (nor even, really, as the basis for deciding what Escambia County citizens truly want, much less what they actually know, as to fee simple).
Those of you active on local social media may already be familiar with this example; I’m an inveterate social media holdout but was recently informed about it by a friend, and I find it very telling:
Seems one of the more virulent anti-fee-simple members of a local Facebook group, in an effort to prove that certain county officials favoring fee simple would themselves benefit from it financially – thereby boldly implying corruption – zeroed in on County Attorney Alison Rogers who, as you know, lives on Pensacola Beach. This man recently asserted that Rogers only paid $1 for her lease. (!!) When asked for evidence, he posted a document showing a transaction in “...the sum of $1.00 (One Dollar) and other good and valuable considerations...,” obviously believing that the SRIA’s required ASSIGNMENT OF LEASEHOLD INTEREST document constituted the entire leasehold purchase transaction.
Do these people ever read the real estate listings, or peruse Chris Jones’ online assessment pages?? One has to wonder.
Look, this would be laughable if it weren’t so utterly pitiful and dangerous. And personally, based on other conversations with mainlanders over the years, I doubt it’s anywhere near an isolated example of the prevailing rather cavernous ignorance about how the leasing system works here. (Again, per my prior email, I’m NOT calling this stupidity, just an understandable lack of accurate public knowledge on a complex and unusual issue, made far, far worse by the yellow shirts, the Pensacola News Journal, and others).
I’ll share with you that, way back when Dianne Krumel began her personal crusade to prevent us leaseholders from ever holding title to our already private land (and buildings, though I doubt she knew that), and having noted that some of her and/or her cohorts’ web page info indicated that Pensacola Beach leaseholders were “only renters,” and/or that under fee simple we’d be getting our leasehold property “for free,” I decided to ask Dianne for a meet-up. I emailed her, expressed my uncertainty as to just how much she understood about island real estate, and also as to why the leasing system was not the factor protecting against over-development. I courteously asked if we could get together by phone, email, or in person, to talk things over.
Believe it or not, this was her exact emailed reply, in its entirety:
“ You are simply a pawn in a greater scheme” quoted and sent to you on behalf of Bob Kerrigan, Attorney
To repeat a phrase from my prior email: pure paranoid poppycock.
Has anyone, just for instance, ever asked any of these people to name ONE developer they can prove to be part of this “greater scheme” to steal our beaches and turn us into a condo canyon???
And has anyone ever asked them just how idiotic they think us leaseholders must be to want something that will ruin the very island we cherish and wall off our own beach access??
So I ask once more: Please don’t allow a referendum vote – no matter how large! - to control the Escambia BOCC’s decision-making process going forward, when that vote resulted not only from very possible misunderstanding of the referendum’s two-part wording, but almost certainly -- at least in substantial part – from unfounded fear and misinformation promulgated through a long and relentless campaign by the yellow shirts, the PNJ, and others. Don’t let it happen!
We count on you to make wise and far-thinking decisions, even when (especially when) they seem politically difficult. For the sake of the county’s future fiscal health and unity, please do the right thing and scrap plans for any ordinance that would seek to block fee simple title for Pensacola Beach leaseholders. We are not the enemy here! We’re simply Escambia County taxpayers who want the same legitimacy of fee simple title enjoyed by our fellow taxpaying property owners on the mainland. Period.
Commissioners, there is, in reality and truth, no valid reason we shouldn’t all be on equal footing in this county as property-owning taxpayers. This is not 1947; it’s 2019. Please act accordingly.
- Linda Leithner