On April 20th, MDPL hosted a webinar where community leaders statewide connected to discuss how to best advocate for the properties at risk of being labeled as nonconforming per bills SB1346 and HB1317, which are currently being proposed at the Florida State Legislature. A petition on Change.org is raising awareness about the bills and their potential impacts on Florida’s historic coastal communities.
Community members discussed the bills and their potential impact on Florida’s coastal and historic communities.
“We’ve been opposed to it since it was filed,” said Haley Busch from 1000 Friends of Florida, a non-profit smart-growth advocacy group in Tallahassee. “We’re concerned with this for a variety of reasons.”
The bills in question are on local regulation of nonconforming structures in flood-prone areas.
Busch says the next step for these bills is heading to the House and Senate floors for two more hearings. Because this could happen on short notice, Busch encourages contacting legislators as soon as possible to voice your concerns.
Nancy Sikes-Kline, Mayor of St. Augustine, is also opposed to the bill, saying, “we are not comfortable with the language.”
St. Augustine is a coastal community best known for its rich history as the oldest city in the nation.
“We have done a lot of research on these bills,” said the Mayor. “We have very alarming concerns.”
MDPL executive director Daniel Ciraldo noted that all historic coastal communities are at risk due to these bills, not just the Art Deco Historic District.
“Under these bills, these historic buildings would be considered as nonconforming,” says Ciraldo, who also noted the historic district as a main economic driver for the city in resort taxes.
Miami Beach City Commissioner Alex Fernandez says now is a “make or break” time and urges citizens to take action against the proposed legislation.
“This isn’t just about coastal communities, this is about all communities,” said Fernandez. “Any property that is designated by a local authority as unsafe is at risk here.”
Fernandez notes his worry that some properties will be left abandoned or neglected and then be labeled unsafe due to these bills, similar to the Deauville Hotel.
“All of this would benefit one or two property owners and harm the rest,” says land use attorney Kent Harrison Robbins. “This would actually hurt business, hurt property owners, and hurt the value of the properties.”