I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Return of Fee Simple??

Some folks want us to start the fee simple battle all over again........

The PNJ has a story out on the electronic edition today about the return of the fee simple bill that would allow for private ownership of leased properties at Pensacola Beach.

The Escambia Board of County Commissioners has taken a 5-0 vote to adopt a position on this topic of "no position."

We also passed a preservation ordinance that was the result of a lot of discussions, compromises, and gnashing of teeth.

We then put a non-binding referendum on the ballot-- just a few weeks back--- that passed by an overwhelming majority of Escambia Citizens.

So no, I do not think the fee simple bill is coming back.  That's my guess, that's my observation.

I'm told that Santa Rosa County is pushing hard for a return to the fee simple bill so that property owners in Navarre Beach can get fee simple title to their properties out there.

I don't know how that happens if step one is getting Escambia County to agree.  This will be an interesting conversation going forward.

For my part, I just want to see us get to a point where the lease structure is more equitable for current leaseholders out on the beach,  I want to make sure no more condo complexes get the sweetheart renewal deal the Beach Club recently negotiated (to the detriment of Escambia County as the owner

 of that property) and I want to insure that there is equity between and among the various current lease holders (e.g. some properties are paying tax on land and improvements--and lease fees, some properties are not...some condo's have negotiated bargain-basement lease fees on the property, and others pay much more).

To put it succinctly:  The various leases currently in place  are a hodge-podge mess.  We need a standard renewal process and template that respects the property owners (the taxpayers of Escambia County) and lease fees for new renewals need to be at the market rate.

I've discussed this and have brought forward a plan, and now that the previous D4 commissioner has moved out of the seat, I would expect we will again tackle this issue. 

It's not that hard, it's not that tough to fix--we just have to muster the will to fix it.

I believe it will happen within the next couple of years and it will be fair.


Anonymous said...

What do you think of these public comments Commissioner Bergosh?

" My take on it is that Escambia's vote on this issue was heavily influenced by a virtual "brow-beating" of the county commission by a highly vocal and passionate group that spread fear and misinformation. "Save Our Beaches" was an emotionally charged term, and the premise upon which they based their efforts was disingenuous at best. There is so much emotion caught up in this, the facts are extremely clouded. It's sad, really.

'Look at what happened with the PK issue. The commissioner there listened to the people who elected him, but the same group of emotional mis-information mongers, most of whom were not from his district nor from Perdido Key, hi-jacked a trumped-up campaign attack with the help of the commissioner who just happens to be on their bandwagon for these two beach communities, neither of which is in his district. It's sad, infuriating, and tiring all at the same time. These "squeaky wheels" are the same type of people you would find at an "Occupy (fill in the blank)" rally. Hate and fear mongers who spread mis-information to gain support for their false narrative."

Same person also called supporters, half brains. BTW.

The last sane person on Earth said...

I have followed this issue for a very long time, and I believe I understand it from several points of view. I certainly understand how some mainlanders are wary of the prospect of fee simple title. I, however, strongly believe that fee simple title is ultimately the best course of action.

It’s clear to anyone who understands this issue that the status quo is untenable. As Commissioner Bergosh has correctly pointed out, the correct lease arrangement is an inequitable mess. Moreover, surely there will come a day when prospective buyers will be denied a thirty year mortgage because the lease they intend to enter has less than thirty years remaining in the term. Surely, property values would plummet in that scenario leading to multiple undesirable outcomes including a loss of County tax revenues.

The current system is clearly already adversely affecting tax revenue. The courts have ruled that those leaseholds which are not perpetuating (roughly fifty percent of those on Pensacola Beach) cannot be compelled to pay property tax on their land. Clearly, the current environment of uncertainty and inequity is deflating property values and will continue to reduce County tax revenues until fee simple is granted.

Anonymous said...

So netting millions and millions of taxes from Pensacola Beach just isn't enough? You need to dip in and get some more lease fees too? And in return, you offer leaseholders NOTHING...Nothing at all. We still don't own our land or the structures that we are REQUIRED to build on it, yet we contribute net income in the MILLIONS to the County and get virtually no county services in return. Thanks, Can't WAIT to discuss your plan!

Anonymous said...

Hello I heard you are an early riser.

The comments above are Underhill's wife, i saw it on ECW facebook. She speaks and demeans people regularly on that escambia hate group. Escambia Citizens Watch a facebook page that defends her husband. Will you speak? Please rise early and speak against this. I hear Andrew Mckay radio will cover this. We need you and your leadership. Thanks.

Jeff Bergosh said...


I am an early riser, I read those comments, and I disagree with her assessment. In 2018 beach access in Florida is under attack--so this is a sensitive topic for folks that are not blessed by living on the beach. People that think this was nothing but some "Campaign attack" are sadly mistaken. I will keep moving beach access issues as long as I serve on this board. And no matter who says we won't--we WILL open access #4 at the beach in Perdido Key. And we will have a huge party that day, which I believe will happen this summer--despite the fact that some residents out there do not want this. It is happening :)