Jacksonville Beach, District 2
Community Newsletter
April 2021
A vibrant coastal
community that embraces
'the beach life'
Please share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors!
Spring has Sprung!

A quick note...
March was filled with some memorable accomplishments, whose excitement was stunted by the news that our City Attorney had been arrested. Council is working on this situation and is striving to ensure that this event will have a minimum impact on the City's momentum. More information on this, including the video of the Special Meeting, is below.

The exciting part of March came earlier in the month when Council voted on officially approving the City's new vision and mission statements, two tools that will help us make decisions and guide us into the future.

A vibrant coastal community that embraces 'the beach life'

Responsive government focused on safety, service, and sustainability

I am looking forward to using these guides when making decisions for the City. It is a very exciting time to live, work, and play in Jax Beach! #TheBeachLife

- Georgette

If you are fortunate enough, like I am, please consider contributing to BEAM. While I have not been financially impacted by the pandemic like others, I understand that many of our neighbors have been. BEAM is a community-based organization serving low-income residents in Jacksonville’s beach communities, and relies heavily on community support to assist our neighbors in time of need.

Remember to appreciate all the individuals who have had the opportunity to impact your life. Time is something we all take for granted too often.
Photo Credit: John Tesh
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.
Government Updates
City Attorney

On March 24, 2021, the City Manager informed the Mayor and Council that the City Attorney had been arrested by the Atlantic Beach Police Department, and was in jail awaiting his first appearance in court.

On March 25, 2021, the Jacksonville Beach City Council held a special meeting to discuss the City Attorney Employment Agreement, Engagement of Special Legal Counsel, and Continuity of Legal Services for the City.

All topics were discussed at length by the City Council, whose members understand the gravity of the situation and have the best intentions for Jacksonville Beach and all City Staff.

The City Attorney (Mr. Ambrosio) has been placed on Administrative Leave and City Staff were instructed to prepare a resolution for termination of the employment agreement. The process is governed by the City’s Charter (Chapter VI, Section 34) to ensure a proper due process that protects the City.

Council will meet on March 31 at 5 pm in Council Chambers to vote on the drafted resolution to terminate the City Attorney's employment agreement.

During this difficult and complicated time City Council, Administration, and Staff have worked diligently to ensure that the organization remains dedicated to our mission of being a “responsive government focused on safety, service, and sustainability.”

The City will communicate necessary updates to the public as the situation changes and evolves.
Special Council Meeting on City Attorney's Employment
March's Decisions

In March, Council approved the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) for the previous fiscal year. The auditors noted that the City is in a healthy fiscal position and that we practice sound accounting principles. Council Member Dan Janson was appointed to serve on the General Employee's Pension Board, and Council unanimously approved the City's vision and mission.

After over six months of work and debate, Council also approved, on the first reading, a rewrite of the City's Animal Code. A lot of work and debate went into its development, and we feel confident that our police department and Animal Control Officers have the tools they need to promote public safety and animal welfare. It will be brought back to Council on April 5 for the second reading for enactment.

As for recreational services, Council approved the purchase of new driving range panels for our golf course. Council also approved the funding needed for the CRA (our Community Redevelopment Agency) to provide a final authorization on the design and location of bike racks and public seating in the downtown area.

In addition, Council asked the CRA to develop a long-range plan for what it would like to see happen in the Southend redevelopment area. It has come a long way since the CRA was initially formed, and we are at the point where we need to determine what additional changes we want to see in that area, and how much it will cost. That figure will then let Council make a sound financial decision on if, and by how much, we should start reducing the percentage of property taxes that go into the Southend CRA account versus the City's (and the County's) general fund. The City's general fund pays for City-wide services such as our police department, parks and recreation, and public works.

Council is also staying abreast of what is happening in Tallahassee regarding the City's legislative priorities (the Florida Legislature is in session until April 30). We passed a resolution noting our opposition to a move by the state to preempt our ability to regulate Short-Term Rentals, among other topics. It has become a perennial move the Florida Legislature to limit our Home Rule. More information on Home Rule and how you can get involved is below.
Council also agreed to expand the contract with the Cliff Sheppard Group to work with the Council on phase two of the Charter Review. In March, Mr. Sheppard and associates worked on the process, timeline, and meetings for public input. The Charter dictates many things we take for granted. Some of the big topics to be discussed will be:

  • The structure of the City Council
  • Definition of an emergency (Executive control of government)
  • The number of liquor licenses available in the City (bars, not restaurants)
  • The current city-wide 35' height limit
April Meetings

In April and May, in addition to routine issues, Council will begin discussions to identify what goals the City should focus its energy on in order to provide direction to staff. This will result in the City's Strategic Plan, which will be used to align City functions and use of resources with the City's mission and vision. These will be overarching goals and once identified, staff leaders will develop an operational plan on what each department will need to do to accomplish those goals. Their work will be brought back to Council for approval.

There will also be two Council briefings in April, the 12th and the 26th, both starting at 5:30. These meetings are currently taking place on Zoom, and can be watched live on the City's YouTube Channel. The purpose of the briefings is to allow Council members to discuss issues coming before them on future meeting agendas. On the 12th, we will be discussing future topics Council feels need to be addressed. We will also be looking at the current process that is used when appointing residents to serve on City boards. The agenda for the 26th has yet to be finalized.

Be Heard

There have been many changes in the operation and leadership of the City over the last two years. If you have an issue you think Council should discuss, please contact us, and not just your District Councilperson. The Mayor and the At-Large Council members were voted into office to represent you, too!

After you make contact with your Council members, each one will decide if he or she wants to discuss it with 1) the City Manager (many issues are handled this way. For example, a missed trash pick up); or 2) have it placed on the agenda for a Council Briefing to get feedback from other Council members.

At the Council Briefing, after a topic is discussed, Council provides direction to City staff on how to proceed. If a majority of Council Members do not agree that the topic should move forward, it does not move forward.

Due to Florida's strict Sunshine Laws, Council members cannot discuss any items that may come before us to vote on, or that are currently in front of us for a vote outside a publicly posted meeting, and this includes any item that you want Council to address that requires a vote. We cannot meet individually, email, make phone calls, or even text each other on topics that are or may come before us to vote on. This is why it is important for you to contact more than just your District Representative.

Below is our contact information:
Mayor, Chris Hoffman: choffman@jaxbchfl.net; 904-877-1058
Fernando Meza, At-Large Seat 1: fmeza@jaxbchfl.net; 904-247-6102
Dan Janson, At-Large Seat 2: djanson@jaxbchfl.net904-247-6103
Chet Stokes, At-Large Seat 3: cstokes@jaxbchfl.net; 904-247-6217
Cory Nichols, District 1, Seat 4: cnichols@jaxbchfl.net; 904-877-0304
Georgette Dumont, District 2, Seat 5: gdumont@jaxbchfl.net; 904-877-1233
Sandy Golding, District 3, Seat 6: sgolding@jaxbchfl.net; 904-877-0675

Please note you can call or text the Council members
at their city phone number.

Meetings are live-streamed and saved for future viewing.

City Council Meetings: 1st and 3rd Monday at 6 pm
City Council Briefings: 2nd and 4th Mondays at 5:30 pm
Planning Commission: 2nd and 4th Mondays at 7:00 pm
Board of Adjustments: 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 7:00 pm
Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA): 4th Monday at 5:00 pm

Community Updates
Trash Services
'Orange Crush' Festival

The City of Jacksonville Beach has received multiple inquiries regarding the existence of a festival, advertised to take place June 18 – 20. The City has not received any applications, nor has it issued any festival permits for those dates. The only special event currently scheduled to take place on City property during those dates is the Summer Arts Market, downtown on Latham Plaza, on June 19.

The City is happy and willing to work with any and all individuals and/or groups to schedule events as long as they adhere to local laws and ordinances. Special Event & Festival FAQs are available here.
Sandra Drive
A resident who lives in the neighborhood spoke to Council to note concern about the increase in traffic going through the neighborhood in order to get into and out of Pablo Plaza (where Whole Foods is located). One afternoon I stood with her while she held a sign reminding drivers that they are going through a neighborhood and to please slow down.

While there is little that can be done to stop people from using that route, please be considerate to those who live in that neighborhood and slow down.

Moreover, don't just slow down on Sandra, slow all your driving down in the City. Take an extra second or two to look out for people in crosswalks. Look both ways before stepping on the gas. The weather is warming up, so there will be an increase of people riding bikes, walking, running, and enjoying our community. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the beach life! We are lucky to live it.
Huguenot Park
The residents who live in the neighborhood around Huguenot Park were very gracious to invite me to attend and listen to their concerns about the City adding an 8th tennis court and a proposal to possibly move the basketball court. The Parks Department was also heavily involved in these meetings, and it was agreed that having a plan for how the residents want the park to be utilized and enhanced needs to be put forward prior to a large project.

This group of residents will be asking their neighbors and other stakeholders for input into a long-term plan, so please be on the lookout and participate in the planning process for your park.

In the meantime, a change in the courts' hours of use for the tennis leagues has resulted in not needing an 8th tennis court. The City is still planning on improving and beautifying the park. I need to thank Ken Marsh for taking the lead on coordinating the neighborhood to provide feedback to the City on what they would like to see in the park. It will not happen overnight, but we are on our way!

If you would like to be involved with Huguenot Park's future, please reach out to Ken Marsh. He would love to hear from you.
Sunshine Park
You were heard! Because of community feedback stating the playground equipment was getting very worn (the playground is heavily used), the City will move the rebuilding of the play area up into the 2022 budget.

The City is in the early phases of the budget process. This park is in a Community Redevelopment Area, and it is our Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) that is charged with making decisions about the projects in that area. The playground is one of those projects.

If you want to have a voice in the park redesign/update, please take a couple of minutes to complete this survey. We want to hear from you!
Business Updates
The Bearded Pig

The Bearded Pig will be opening soon, and is now hiring for all positions! It is a local BBQ and Beer Garden, with its original location on Kings Street in Jacksonville. It gets rave reviews with ratings of 4.5 and higher on different restaurant review sites, and will be a welcome addition to our local restaurants. It is located at 1700 3rd Street South. When it's open, I hope to see you there! (click on the image to see their menu at the Kings St. location)
Beach Bowl

Beach Bowl is coming back! The $7.5 million renovation plan was approved by the Board of Adjustments. While this will still be THE place to bowl, there are also plans for additional entertainment options, a restaurant, and roof-top alfresco dining.


As you may have heard, Margaritaville is now open! There is a restaurant in the hotel, the LandShark Bar and Grill, which features classic American beach food with a fresh coastal twist. There is also the LandShark Lookout where you and some friends can gather to enjoy drinks ocean-side while taking in the salty air.

Margaritaville also has 1,725 square feet of meeting space, with a maximum capacity of 118 people. Do you have any meetings that would benefit from a relaxing environment? Then click here for more information!

Jax Beach Town Center
(used to be Ruby Beach & Campeche Bay)
In 2019, Jax Beach Town Center, LLC purchased the Ruby Beach building, and then purchased the building that housed Campeche Bay in 2020. In late January 2021, demolition of the buildings started and is expected to be completed in approximately two weeks.

The project will be a mixed-use property with a restaurant with roof-top dining, offices, and retail. It is expected to be completed in mid-2022.

Element Hotel

The Element Hotel, on the Southeast corner of Beach Blvd. and 3rd Street, is nearing completion, with an expected opening within 30-60 days.
Other Construction Projects

The City is awaiting the submission of new building plans for both the Springhill Suites site (located where the Pier Cantina was) and what has been termed The Dolphin Depot Project site (across the street from Margaritaville). Both locations have been cleared. The same is true for the property behind the Pavilion.
Governing decisions are best made at the level closest to the voter whenever possible. However, there is a continued move every year by those who represent us in Tallahassee to take away our ability to say what should and shouldn't be allowed in our own community.
What is Home Rule and Why is it Important?

If you want to learn more about the specific topics facing the legislature this year, last month Scott Dudley, Director of Field Advocacy for the Florida League of Cities, spoke about the 2021 Legislative priorities Protecting Home Rule (our ability to make our own decisions regarding topics like short term rentals) at Beaches Watch's February meeting.

If you want to let our representatives in Tallahassee know your position on any of these issues, then contact:

Representative Cord Byrd
(904) 242-3495

Senator Aaron Bean
(904) 757-5039
Jax Beach Online
The City continually strives to improve its online presence and find effective ways to communicate with its residents, businesses, and citizens. While there is still much more to do, below are the City's current official social media accounts:
Jax Beach also has its own newsletter! It's easy to sign up.
Other Items of Note
Covid-19 Vaccination

Vaccination eligibility continues to expand.
  • Starting Monday, March 29, individuals 40 and older are able to get vaccinated.
  • Starting April 5, all individuals age 18 and older can get vaccinated.

You can obtain your vaccination at the federally-supported site in Duval, one of the state-supported sites, or at a local pharmacy. For a list of all locations and their hours, click here.

If you need transportation to a vaccination site, JTA is offering free rides to several vaccination sites.
Small Islands

You may have heard recently about a series of islands that were being marketed for development in the Intracoastal Waterway. The Small Islands, as they were called, are located in the viewshed of Jacksonville Beach’s Cradle Creek Preserve, and can be seen from the Butler Boulevard Bridge. The Islands gained a lot of attention on social media, and the story was even picked up by Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, who promoted the sale of the islands in a video that went viral. In response, over 3,000 people signed a petition to save the Small Islands.

As a result of the public outcry, North Florida Land Trust got in touch with the owner, who recognized the conservation value of the property and agreed to enter a contract to sell the Islands to NFLT.

Now, North Florida Land Trust must raise $350,000 to purchase and preserve these islands to ensure they are never developed.

If you want to be part of saving these islands, please consider donating. Any size investment that you are able to contribute to this effort will help to maintain our community-feel on the ditch side of the island.
St. Johns River Ferry

The St. Johns River Ferry is still out of service for improvements but is getting closer to being in full operation again. Click here for more information.
Blue Zone
The Elected officials and community leaders joined a Webinar about how BlueZones can enhance communities and the health of those who live in them. This project is being spearheaded by Baptist Health and is in the assessment stage in NEFL. Learn more about BlueZones Jacksonville and/or watch the Activate Jacksonville Webinar!

The Jax Beach Pier
Construction on the Pier has been underway! The Florida Times-Union has written some interesting stories about the work:

The expected completion is in Spring 2022.
Together, we will make a difference.
Let's continue to work together to ensure that Jacksonville Beach remains one of the greatest places to call home! Reach out if you have any questions or concerns about what is happening in your neighborhood or City.
Cell phone: 904.486.6865