February 22 2020                                                                                                                               
Historic sale on St. George Street The building housing Casa Rodriguez jewelry store at 52 St. George Street was sold Thursday for $2.1 million in an auction that took less than seven minutes. DLP Real Estate Capital purchased the historic building that will likely be developed into some kind of mixed-use project, says Rich Hogan, power-of-attorney proxy at the auction for DLP Real Estate Capital. The building which dates to at least 1762 is on the National Register of Historic Places. It had the jewelry store on the ground floor and a private residence on the top two floors. Ten bidders anteed up $100,000 in a refundable trust to participate in the “absolute” (no reserve) auction.
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History’s Highlight The Pirates Pirates today have a fun time, even benefiting charities through their gatherings. Not so centuries ago, when pirate fun was marauding ships and proceeds went to pirate treasure chests. They had different names - pirates, corsairs, buccaneers, freebooters, privateers. They date as far back as civilization itself - rogues intent on separating people from their valuables, ideally in isolated locations to avoid capture. They were there to harass desert caravans, travelers in the dense forests of medieval Europe, and now shipping in the vast oceans of the world.    The discovery of the Americas in 1492 brought new opportunities for wealth to the crowns of Europe, and to pirates - creating legends of the pirate's life romanticized today but terrorizing at the time.    The legendary pirates we know today sailed about the Caribbean and North American settlements from the mid-1500s to the early 1700s. It was here Spanish ships, laden with new world treasures, were carried northward by the currents of the Gulf Stream up along the Florida coast, then east across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain.    Pirates were born overnight in this new world. St. Augustine Historian Eugene Lyon, in his The Enterprise of Florida, describes trouble in the French Huguenot colony, Fort Caroline, a year before Pedro Menendez' voyage to drive out the French and found St. Augustine.    "An increasing shortage of supplies and a desire for adventure provoked some of the garrison to mutiny. Eleven mutineers fled the fort first, taking a small shallop and setting course for the Caribbean. Three weeks later, on December 18, 1564, seventy men from the garrison held (French Commander) Rene de Laudonnière prisoner long enough to extort from him a document authorizing their jour-ney. They then departed on a voyage of adventure among the Antil-les in two small sailing craft."    The French mutineers' antics in the Caribbean actually alerted the Spanish to the hitherto unknown French colony that threatened Spain's control of the Florida region.    Sir Francis Drake, an English admiral, was famous for being the first Englishman to sail around the world, and his fleet defeated the Spanish Armada. But before that victory, he sailed as a privateer, secretly commissioned by his queen to attack Spanish territories in the Caribbean. He was a privateer, not an English admiral, when he attacked St. Augustine in 1586, looting and burning the town.    Nearly 100 years later, in 1668, another Englishman, the pirate Robert Searle, sacked St. Augustine. The brutal assault finally convinced the Spanish crown to build the Castillo de San Marcos.    Excerpts from The Pirates in St. Augustine Bedtime Stories. Click for further information on this fascinating historic series.
Hotelier Patel continues development Even as his Renaissance Hotel on West Castillo Drive takes shape, hotelier Kanti Patel is preparing his former Bozard Ford site on North Ponce de Leon Boulevard for his Hilton Garden Inn and unveiling his design for the “Cigar Factory” boutique hotel in the Solla-Carcaba building on Riberia Street. Patel, whose Jalaram Hotels currently owns six properties here, dovetailed two projects - dirt excavated for underground parking at the West Castillo site was moved to the North Ponce site where it’s being graded to raise the site elevation. Patel’s Jalaram Hotels here include the Hilton Historic Bayfront, Holiday Inn St. Augustine, Hampton Inn Historic, Best Western Bayfront Inn - St. Augustine, Best Western Historical Inn, and Best Western St. Augustine Beach Inn.
Seven proposed ordinances in public hearings Monday Seven ordinances advanced previously by the City Commission go to public hearings and final action Monday. The seven include: A Planned Unit Development (PUD) amendment for larger lot coverage to allow installation of a cooler for the Columbia Restaurant. Revising outdated language on the powers and duties of the Chief of Police and providing compliance with Florida law concerning the disposition of property.  Providing the City Manager or designee the authority to take charge of the City Police Department when the City Commission determines an emergency exists.  Compliance with Florida law on the dedication of public streets.   Removing reference to the St. Augustine Restoration and Historical Commission as it no longer exists, providing for the purchase of buildings through appropriations and repealing redundant sections on budgetary appropriations.   Removing sections on slum clearance and urban renewal as they’re redundant to existing Florida Law.   Removing the ratification requirement for powers and authority on pensions. 
Colored Soldiers monument approval delayed for details A monument to U.S. Colored Troops near the Confederate General William Loring monument in the west garden of the Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum will wait two months for approval by the Historic Architectural Review Board. Board members Thursday said they need more context for the setting of the monument proposed by The University of Florida Historic St. Augustine board, support arm for the university’s management of 34 state-owned historic properties here. The application for a Certificate of Appropriateness will be reheard April 16.
Commentary   The Grinches who would steal home rule Meet Senator Manny Diaz Jr., a Miami Dade Republican elected in 2018 after six years in the House, and Representative Jason Fischer, a Jacksonville Republican in his second term in the House. Diaz, a college administrator, and Fischer, an engineer/small business owner, have introduced legislation striking at the heart of Florida’s cities, the right to govern their communities in the best interest of their communities - home rule. With slight variations this is the bill working its way through committees in both state legislative chambers. Vacation Rentals; Preempting the regulation of vacation rentals to the state; prohibiting a local law,  ordinance, or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of public lodging  establishments, including vacation rentals, or public food service establishments; requiring licenses  issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional  Regulation to be displayed conspicuously to the public inside the licensed establishment, etc. So far the Senate bill has been voted favorable by Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee on 1/13, 8-2 vote, and by Commerce and Tourism Committee on 2/11, 3-2 vote and the House bill favorable by Workforce Development and Tourism Committee on 1/21, 10-5 vote, and by Government Operations and  Technology Appropriations Committee on 2/4, 8-5  vote. “As vacation rental platforms have increased in popularity, vacation rental owners and tourists have been in a state of flux due to rules and regulations that differ from one city or county to the other,” the sponsors say. “That is why we have filed (the legislation) in an effort to create predictable and uniform regulations related to vacation rentals in Florida.” St. Augustine with over-the-top visitation and online platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO invading historic neighborhood character, is fighting back. City Manager John Regan and Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline have led the effort with visits to Tallahassee committees to speak against the legislation. Says Regan, “We are opposed to the legislation because every municipality is different, and no one size fits all. What we might need or might be desired by our population in terms of regulation might not be the same as Miami, Orlando or Tampa. "Short term rentals are best regulated at the local level," Regan says. "This is another example of the erosion of home rule." The City Commission has enacted short-term rental regulations and now awaits state legislation which could take away those regulations.
Organic waste pilot program proposed to City Commission A six-month pilot organic waste collection program was proposed to city commissioners Wednesday during a sustainability workshop. Residents and businesses would sign up for the free program while the city determines actual program costs. Other cities with organic waste programs charge $8 to $28 says Recycling Coordinator Olivia Smith, who presented the plan with city Solid Waste Supervisor Rick Stevens. Smith noted food waste is heavier than any other debris going to the landfill, so diverting it can save money. No official actions are taken at workshop meetings. A community survey with 287 responses found that 83 percent would participate in an organic waste collection program.
$4,615,305 wish list in Tallahassee Rep. Cyndi Stevenson has $4,615,305‬ in St. Augustine resiliency bills working their way through House committees. St. Augustine Wastewater Treatment Plant Resiliency Armoring $1,825,000 St. Augustine Flood Resiliency Master Plan Implementation $2,340,305 St. Augustine West Augustine Septic to Sewer 2020 $450,000
New ordinances on Monday agenda Commissioners Monday will consider a Charter update ordinance clarifying the chain of command during a state of emergency is City Manager to Police Chief and an ordinance modifying the number of members and qualification criteria for members of the Entry Corridor Review Committee. “The review committee modification responds to difficulty getting applicants to fill five positions,” says City Attorney Isabelle Lopez, “so we are considering reducing the number to 3 - two architects/landscape architects and one owner or tenant on an entry corridor.” Grant for outfall valves to be presented the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will make a presentation to the city of a grant of up to $155,641 to retrofit 10 more outfalls with valves, Chief Resilience Officer Mike Cullum says. The award is through the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program.