Jacksonville Beach, District 2
Community Newsletter
March 2021
Please share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors!
March.. the month luck

A quick note...
February was quite a month! The Council packed a lot into the shortest month of the year, and we managed to get a lot of it done (see below for specifics). We ended the month with a City Visioning Retreat to review the feedback from the Community Vision Sessions and use it to develop a draft Vision for the City, as well as a draft Mission Statement that will guide future decisions. Council will be discussing and refining both the Vision and Mission at our Council Briefing on March 8th at 5:30 pm.

All I will say for now is that 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 beaches communities and relies heavily on community support to assist our neighbors in time of need.

Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.
Photo Credit: John Tesh
Community Updates
Paid Parking

The City is also conducting a pilot program for those who live in Jax Beach but drive a company vehicle, to register that vehicle to park free of charge. We will have the results of the pilot in the Fall when the paid parking program concludes for the year. If you have not registered your car and would like to, you can do so online.
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!

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.

The CRA was recently charged with a timeline of 12 months to develop a plan on what they would like to see in the Southend CRA. This will provide Council with the information that is needed to make strategic decisions on that CRA's finances.
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.

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

Government Updates
February's Decisions

In February Council met to discuss the Parks Assessment and how we would like to improve our parks. There was a focus on the current condition of Gonzales Park and the timeline were would like to see in developing a holistic-citywide comprehensive parks plan, and how they can be connected via a mode of transportation other than a car.

Council discussed the City's legislative priorities at the state level (the Florida Legislature is in session from March 2 - April 30). We agreed to pass a resolution in our opposition to a move by the state to preempt our ability to regulate Short-Term Rentals. This is another move by Tallahassee to limit our Home Rule. Other bills that the City is in opposition to including preempting our ability to regulate home-based businesses. Governing decisions are best made at the level closest to the voter whenever possible. These are local issues, and we need to make sure we decide what we want Jax Beach to be, not Tallahassee.

Here is a link to the Florida League of Cities Legislative Bill Summaries.

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
Council also approved a contract with the Cliff Sheppard Group to work with the Council and the City Attorney on phase two of the Charter Review. In March, our City attorney will be working closely with Mr. Sheppard and assoc. on the process, timeline, and meetings for public input. April/May will be the timeline for community 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

Next month's newsletter will include information on how you can be involved in this review process to determine if we want to change anything in our current Charter. FYI - any changes approved by Council will have to go to the voters for approval on the 2022 ballot).

March Meetings

In March, in addition to routine issues, Council will discuss a reduction in the percentage of TIF funding the City of Jacksonville Beach keeps to invest in projects in the Southend CRA. Also, City Council approved the funding for the CRA to finalize bike rack and seating plans in the Downtown CRA. Currently, we have 'placeholders' with regard to specifics. At the next CRA meeting, its members will work through finalizing the design.

There will also be two Council briefings in March, the 8th and the 22nd, 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 8th, we will be discussing the re-write of the City's animal code and refining its language. We will also be reviewing the City's CARF (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) for FY2020. The agenda for the 22nd has yet to be determined.

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.
Jax Beach Online
Last year, 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.
Other Items of Note
Covid-19 Vaccination

Vaccinations are increasing in availability, but there are still eligibility requirements. If you are eligible, 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 will be out of service until approximately March 15, 2021, for improvements and upgrades. 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 early 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