The Pensacola Beach Advocates have been attempting to ensure that the SRIA Board and the Board of County Commissioners have a complete understanding of the nearly $9,000,000 net benefit that the taxpaying leaseholders on Pensacola Beach provide to Escambia County annually.
However, we are stunned by the actions of the County Commission, with the apparent endorsement and assistance of our new District 4 commissioner. Some County Commissioners continue to insist that Pensacola Beach leaseholders are not paying enough in lease fees, and they intend to pressure the SRIA to impose a moratorium on lease renewals.
What does this mean for those of us who have leases? Future real estate transactions could be impacted if the buyer is unsure as to whether reasonably priced financing can be obtained. At least one lending institution requires the full 99 years remaining on a leasehold to provide loans. Others have more than thirty year requirements. A moratorium will very likely stall all real estate transactions. We oppose this effort to squeeze more money out of the beach by holding our leases hostage.
The final blow to our efforts came from Save Pensacola Beach. As we've stated many times before, this group is not really focused on preventing development or loss of public access. It appears that their only goal is to ensure that there is no possibility of leaseholders gaining title to the properties for which they pay taxes.
They insist that the County Commission enact an ordinance based on the non-binding referendum. They provided a draft ordinance attempting to bind current and future County Commission boards from ever allowing title. Commissioner Bender is working with them to draft an ordinance that will prevent the Commission from endorsing fee simple ownership. This comes as a surprise since Commissioner Bender stated that he supported fee simple for those who wanted it during his campaign.
Pensacola Beach Advocates will not support this ordinance. Anyone who wants to have the opportunity to own their homes should show up at the SRIA and County Commission meetings and be heard!
The real solution to preventing development and loss of public access is to lock the building cap at current levels. We had hoped to be working with our new commissioner to draft such a resolution. This cap would truly save our beach, but apparently preventing title is more important right now.