Jacksonville Beach, District 2
Community Newsletter
January 2021
Please share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors!
Happy New Year!

A quick note...
Well, in a couple days we can all say that we made it through 2020. It has been quite the year, with many unexpected surprises, challenges, and thankfully some triumphs. It is my nature to be positive, so let's look at what some of us learned in 2020:

  • Zoom
  • How to mute (and unmute) yourself on Zoom
  • Working from home wasn't necessarily as good as it sounded
  • The strength of your wifi connection
  • We eat out... a lot!
  • New recipes
  • How to make bread
  • A lot of patience
  • How to do your own mani/pedi
  • A home 'gym' really is handy
  • How to binge-watch Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/etc.
  • That when we were young, we were much better at amusing ourselves for long periods of time, even though we had far fewer toys/gadgets
  • How many home improvement projects you have been putting off
  • How precious time is with family and friends.

There are many others. I am fortunate to have a job where I am able to work from home. Too many others were not. Please think of that when you go grocery shopping, see the mail or delivery person, City employees, medical personnel, fire and police officers, and the list goes on. While I had to adjust to commuting from my bedroom to my computer, they had to learn new processes and protocol, all while putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus. Let's continue to remember this when the pandemic is done.

And it still is not done. Medical experts note that this winter will be the darkest of the pandemic. While the vast majority of those who contract the virus do not die from it, for those who do, it is devastating for their family and friends: our friends and neighbors who would give anything to have another moment with the individual, or to be able to hold their hand and tell them how much they loved them as they passed.

Let's look out for each other and be safe, be well.

- Georgette

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

Items of Note
St. Johns River Ferry

The St. Johns River Ferry will be out of service for approximately the next 8 weeks for improvements and upgrades. Click here for more information.
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 donate, click on the picture above.
Jamie, JBPD's Station Pup
The University of North Florida (UNF) has been working with the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, Atlantic Beach Police Department, and Neptune Beach Police Department to measure and quantify officer stress, identify causes of officer stress, and find ways to mitigate such stress. UNF completed an in-depth survey several months ago, and the survey results were presented to the three departments. The survey was quite extensive, and there was a high rate of participation. 

Now UNF has partnered with K-9s for Warriors who has offered a facility dog, fully trained, at no cost. Both organizations presented research about facility dogs, and found those programs to be very effective in mitigating officer stress. As a result, this facility dog will be assigned to the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, and will reside there. The dog will have access to all areas of the building, and the police department will have guidelines in place on feeding, bathroom breaks, and caring for the dog. 

UNF will conduct a follow-up survey after six months and measure the results. Although this type of program exists in other departments around the US, the implementation in the three area police departments, in conjunction with a scientific study to measure the program’s effectiveness, is truly unprecedented. Chief Smith is very focused on officer wellness and is very enthusiastic about this program.

The fine looking canine above is Jamie, JBPD’s new facility dog.
Jacksonville Beach
Deck The Chairs
Deck The Chairs will close its holiday exhibit January 1, 2021. This year has presented great challenges to so many — a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty and political/social unrest. With so much angst, DTC did not want to be deterred from its basic mission which is to lift community through the arts and creativity by sharing public/private stories using decorated chairs.

This year, they saw so much love and energy poured into the exhibit, and the volunteers went above and beyond anything we could have ever imagined. If you have experienced JBDTC and believe it is worthy of support, please consider a donation.
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.
Photo Credit: John Tesh
It's Time to Get to Work
The start of a new year and a new Council brings with them renewed energy! The new Council will be diving right in to moving the City forward. If you want to have your voice heard on the topics, you can contact the Council, or you can speak at Council meetings.

The Council meets to vote on agenda items twice each month (only once in January and July due to holidays). We also have Council Briefings to discuss items that will be coming before us for a vote, receive updates from City staff, and to discuss items we would like to see on future agendas.

In December, Council met to approve the JBPD's contact for the next two years. Also discussed was Council members' priorities, which will remain the same for the next year, with a focus on a community vision, then a strategic plan to achieve the vision, and finally the operational plan to meet the goals of the strategic plan (a staff function). Once the visioning process is complete, the City can move forward on changes to the Comprehensive Plan (how the City wants to develop in the future) and the Land Development Code (LDC) (the framework for what can be built, within what parameters, and where).

Also discussed was the need to put processes in place for approving Board members and any Council initiated changes to the LDC. The lack of a process was brought to the fore when Mr. Sleiman, who owns multiple plazas in Jax Beach, contacted Mayor Hoffman to inquire about a change to the LDC to allow for the operation of liquor stores in a C1 (Commercial 1) Zoning District. C1 Districts are those commercial areas that are within close proximity to residential areas and currently only allow the operation of businesses that do not create a adverse effect on the development and character of residential areas (Sec. 34-342(a)).

Since the Planning Department did not support this change, the only other option is through a Council-initiated application, which there is currently no process for because the LDC was amended last year to no longer allow for citizen-initiated changes. Over the coming months, Council will be working on a process for any LDC change initiated through Council. I will provide you information on the new process once it is developed.

Upcoming Meetings

In January, the Council will have one meeting on the 19th (note that is a Tuesday, since Monday is MLK Jr. Day). The meeting will start at 6:00 pm, and you can watch it live on the City's YouTube Channel or attend in person. Face masks are mandated and temperatures are taken at the door. The public is welcome to speak at these meetings either on an agenda item (posted here the Thursday before the meeting) or on any ideas, issues, comments, or concerns you have for a maximum of 3 minutes.

There will also be two Council briefings in January, the 11th and the 25th, 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.

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 FL'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. 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.net; 904-247-6103
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.
Jacksonville Beach's YouTube Channel
Meetings are live streamed and saved for future viewing.
Jax Beach Online
In 2020, Jax Beach hired our first communications manager, which has had a positive impact on the City's online presence. While there is still much more to do, below are the City's current official social media accounts:
Jax Beach now has its own newsletter! It's easy to sign up.
The State of Florida has entered Phase 3 in its Covid-19 response. Stay up to date on the impact of Covid-19 in Florida at the
The Jax Beach Pier
Construction on the Pier has started again! The Florida Times-Union has written some interesting stories about the work:

Sea Turtles

Jacksonville Beach is a proud partner in the "Clean. Dark. Flat." campaign to raise awareness of how we can help ensure the safety of the sea turtles.

Thank you to everyone who changed/updated your lighting so that the sea turtles do not crawl in the wrong direction. It is greatly appreciated!
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