September 23 2017
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
Flood Warning System possible St. Augustine is among six flood-prone regional areas under consideration for flood warning system projects. “During extreme high tides and other weather events, streets in low lying areas in the region are prone to flooding, presenting significant safety hazards for travelers and emergency vehicles,” the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) says. “Sensors in outfall pipes or key drainage structures can provide incident managers with information regarding high water that can be relayed to drivers and fleet operators to divert their trips or stop before they enter dangerous conditions.” Public Works Director Martha Graham says there are no current plans or funding for the system, described by TPO in its regional mobility study. Other at risk areas include Black Creek in Clay County, McCoys Creek, Jacksonville Beaches and San Marco in Duval County, and Fernandina Beach in Nassau County.
History’s highlight Recovery- Hurricane of 1811   From The St. Augustine Hurricane of 1811: Disaster and the Question of Political Unrest on the Florida Frontier, by Sherry Johnson, associate professor of history at Florida International University. On the 5th of October a violent hurricane hit this city, It caused terrible damage to the houses in town . . . . The destruction is so great that these poor people are entirely ruined. So wrote Spanish East Florida's interim governor Juan José de Estrada on December 5, 1811. In better times, damage reports would be sent to Havana and then on to Madrid where they would be examined by the king’s ministers in order to recommend fair and adequate assistance. But times were not good anywhere in the Spanish empire in 1811. Estrada devised a solution: he requested that the merchants of Fernandina donate to the recovery. In times of emergency, royal officials routinely asked wealthy people and those who escaped harm to help out and alleviate the misfortune of the fellow citizens. Implicit in the request was that those who stepped forward to help could expect some reward in the near future. Estrada requested immediate help from the surrounding areas, and simple humanitarianism, family ties, and friendship between the residents of Fernandina and St. Augustine encouraged the northern townspeople to help their fellow Floridians. To no one's surprise, barely three weeks after emergency supplies arrived in St. Augustine, twenty-three merchants from Fernandina petitioned Estrada about how business had suffered because of high taxes. "To avoid the ruin of the commerce of the port," they suggested a reduction in the amount paid to conduct business. Still, original relief efforts were not enough, and a month later, residents of St. Augustine remained in dire need. In November, Fernandina commandant Justo Lopez wrote the governor relating that, on their own initiative, he and Fernando de la Masa Arredondo had solicited donations to continue helping hurricane’s victims. Estrada's words brimmed with gratitude as he sent his most sincere thanks and closed his letter " that he would do everything" to support the donors in Fernandina, and that they would "always be worthy of my greatest esteem." In December, Estrada put together a package of letters bound for Cuba that would be forwarded on to Spain. At the top after his report about the hurricane was the petition from Fernandina’s merchants along with Estrada's personal expression of gratitude and his recommendation that their request be granted. He justified his decision to accept relief from the merchants, writing that, "I have done everything possible to get what is necessary to console these poor people. [They] are entirely ruined but [they] have managed to survive with a great deal of patience."
Cleaning up Irma’s mess City Manager John Regan will update city commissioners Monday with the initial Hurricane Irma damage assessment. The regular commission meeting begins at 5 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall and is live streamed on CoSA.TV. The city’s first debris cycle, collecting yard waste, began Saturday, September 16 as cleanup got underway in Hurricane Irma’s wake. A second cycle will include construction & demolition debris, appliances & white goods, electronics, and household hazardous waste.  There will two passes for these types of debris. The City's Public Works Department estimates four weeks to complete all storm debris pickup, with a target completion Friday, October 13. In special meeting Wednesday the City Commission approved a resolution for emergency debris removal from private streets with $50,000 from the Solid Waste Reserve Fund. The resolution notes, “hurricane related debris, especially vegetative debris, has accumulated on these private streets, increasing the risk of mosquito borne illnesses and rodent infestation, which could affect the health and welfare of the residents of the affected areas and spread to other areas of the City of St. Augustine.” City officials note, “All of the debris is to be placed curbside, but not in the street or obscuring infrastructure such as storm water inlets, water meters, cable boxes and fire hydrants. “No debris is to be placed in bags, even small vegetative debris. It is important for those collecting to know what material is being picked-up, and bags make that difficult. Additionally, plastic bags cannot be recycled. View the Debris Separation Flyer here. Fees waived in wake of Irma City Manager John Regan has directed fee waivers for building or tree removal permits for damage related to Hurricane Irma, as well as expedited dock permits and waiver of filing fees for Certificates of Demolition. Utility late fees and disconnects have been temporarily suspended.
Special meeting restarts government operations The City Commission met in special session Wednesday, September 20, at 5:05 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall to take up the hurricane-cancelled public hearings for the city’s 2017-2018 millage rate and budget. Wednesday, September 27 at 5:05 pm under state statute the commission will adopt the final millage rate and hold the final public hearing on the budget prior to its adoption. Find documents on the 2017-2018 budget here. Also on the agenda: Consideration of approval of the 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan. A resolution setting the Fire Assessment Fee with a residential increase from 4.1 to 4.932 cents per square foot and non-residential from 7.47 to 9 cents. First Reading of an ordinance to move solid waste fee adjustments from ordinance to resolution approval. A resolution creating a fee schedule for Planning and Zoning Board Applications, Historic Architectural Review Board Applications, Sign Permits, Zoning Letters and Building Permits. A resolution for debt financing of up to $3.5 million to go toward an estimated $15,726,960 in capital improvement projects for 2017-18. Earlier Wednesday the commission, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, approved resolutions for budgets of its two Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA) - the Historic Area CRA and the Lincolnville CRA. Also approved, the Lincolnville CRA's Fix It Up and Rehabilitation programs.
Anastasia standards update on agenda Updated design standards for entry corridors for Anastasia Boulevard, first visited by commissioners June 26, go before the commission Monday for adoption by resolution. Planning and Building Director David Birchim says the city’s other two entry corridors, King Street and San Marco Avenue, will also go through an extensive review and update process before adoption by resolution, which is less cumbersome than the ordinance process.
Ordinances to finalize artist lawsuit with city Six ordinances will mark the end of a two year legal battle between the city and artists over restrictive rules in which creating art is considered a performance under city code, and selling art is considered vending. City commissioners Monday are expected to advance the ordinances, developed after mediation, to a public hearing and final action in October. Bans on and around St. George Street remain in effect. The ordinances:  Ordinance 2017-24 - Repeals the pre-1964 ordinance regulating peddlers (mobile vendors) - rules that weren’t being enforced anyway.  Ordinance 2017-25 - Repeals regulation of the West Plaza grounds along Cordova Street which are owned and controlled by the State of Florida.  Ordinance 2017-26 - Space fee for performing at the Market in the Plaza via the lottery will cost $25 instead of $75.  Ordinance 2017-27 - Street performers become Street Artists in the code, with definition for Express Speech.  Ordinance 2017-28 -Exempts Street Artists from Mobile Vendor regulations.  Ordinance 2017-29 - Provides 12 First Amendment Expressive Activity spaces in the parking facility loggia facing the visitor center.