Traffic Circulation Study and Parking Thoughts

No, or I should say few, other topics generate so many diverse opinions. ¬†We need parking, but the City of Fernandina’s parking requirements change from season to season. ¬†Beach accesses in July appear to be scarce. ¬†In January, they appear far too numerous. ¬†Regardless, downtown parking and beach parking are very separate issues, with different seasons.

Beach parking comes with the right to use recreational spaces.  We have some areas with less access points and a perception of nearly private beach space.  Other areas are squeezed by surrounding commercial development and more on the way.  Does it make sense to consider paid parking?  I read one variation with a certain logic and, in my opinion, those opposing any paid parking will agree when actual public access becomes an issue.  Sadler and Atlantic areas will be the first to see some form of paid parking, given the surrounding commercial uses requiring added parking to access.   FHUIEqOZS6uO8oI0gNVjnA.jpg

Downtown parking is an entirely different issue and other considerations, like the marina, waterfront, street openings and traffic, all make the issue far more complex. ¬†The season is becoming an “all year” season in the Historic District and a scarcity of parking for dining or shopping during peak times is becoming apparent to anyone with a business. ¬†I’m able to find a space before 11:30, but after lunch, I’m often searching or walking. ¬†This isn’t improved as I see some merchants located on Centre using space in front of side street storefronts for “All Day” parking. ¬†Yes, I think we’re spoiled and are going through a period of adjustment, but we also need to be proactive to preserve the high level of access to business and a tourist attraction. ¬†img_0575

If you doubt the attention given to the subject, see the link below.  The conversation comes up over and over, with repeated, but slightly different studies over the years.

City of Fernandina “Parking” Search Results

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We are currently awaiting response to a Request for Proposal fro a traffic consultant to reevaluate a prior study by Zev Cohen, with updates. ¬†The only suggestion I would have is to consider whether you want the same consultant to update or would prefer to make a point of using a second consultant to validate findings and recommendations. ¬† Hopefully, we will be able to move forward on recommendations after paying for advice. ¬† In an election year, note the timing. ¬†The response will be after November and may mean two new commission members. ¬†This election will, again, be about parking, the waterfront, street openings and I hope not about “kicking the can down the road”.

A portion of the CoFB request for bids to re-evaluate a previously completed study by Zev Cohen.  Source: www.fbfl.us 7/20/18

SCOPE OF WORK

The purpose of this project is to review, reconsider, and re-evaluate, a previously completed, but now dated, document: Waterfront CRA Master Plan Traffic Circulation and Parking Study (Zev Cohen & Associates; 2009).

The review effort should focus upon the same Primary and Secondary Study Areas, described on Page 6 of the original report. Within those areas, pedestrian and vehicular activity has markedly increased due to population trends and commercial activity.

The City has struggled for many years to achieve political consensus regarding waterfront redevelopment. The challenges have included railroad crossings, parking facilities and capacity, parks, and related infrastructure. The City’s Marina, severely damaged during Hurricane Matthew, is scheduled to be rebuilt within the next twelve months. The results of this Traffic Circulation and Parking Study will be utilized to determine key facets of future waterfront and downtown redevelopment.

Primary stakeholders of this project include officials and staff from the City of Fernandina Beach, the City of Fernandina Beach Main Street organization, the Ocean Highway and Port Authority, the State of Florida Department of Transportation, and the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad officials. Each of these agencies should be engaged as part of this project.

The goal is to complete this review by December, 2018, including a presentation to the City Commission of the study’s findings no later than December 18, 2018.

Just tell me the bulb failed! Island Lifestyle and Time

After seeing an engine light earlier, noting my daytime running light sensor was having a problem, I just assumed the worst. ¬†Cars seem to have sensors for things I never considered, like telling me if the sun is shining. ¬†I don’t use reading glasses, so the difference between day and night is something I can manage without a special feature. ¬†Anyway, the owner’s manual shows warnings to keep the surface of the sensor clean and avoid paper over the sensor….avoid spraying excessive chemicals on the sensor…and warnings all leading me to believe the special light on my dash meant an expensive part of my vehicle might requiring replacement by the dealer. ¬† One Google search later, I realized one bulb was failing and I needed directions to reach the area behind the front bumper. ¬† Youtube has videos for everything, including replacement of a DRL,and another 30 seconds later, my learning curve improved a little more. ¬† Advance Auto Parts on 8th Street was truly helpful, including a tip not to buy the more expensive “best” quality replacement, unless I planned to replace both bulbs. ¬†Lights shown as replacements aren’t all the same brightness or color…good to know!

My point is taking a little longer to make than intended, but staying on the island saved gas, a trip to the dealer with a little internet effort and the time to replace a second bulb or mismatch the color and intensity of the light. ¬†A shop owner took the time to help, the trip to buy a part took 10 minutes and it made my day to avoid having the DRL sensor checked or replaced. ¬† It sure would be nice if the manufacturer just changed the message to read….”Your right front light burned out! ¬†Please replace.“, directions and perhaps a replacement part # suggested. Considering the time, money and effort I nearly wasted by trusting the dash display…. #SMH


Earlier today, my youngest son and I were talking about local delivery services like Uber Eats. Small places like the island offer some unusual possibilities for work, like delivery, ride sharing and odd jobs you wouldn’t ordinarily consider. ¬†Things have changed, but using technology to put people together is making the island a much more convenient place to live. ¬†Buying local can mean you don’t even need to leave the house.

Thinking of technology, our second and longer conversation was about the change to using Apple devices. ¬†My youngest son doesn’t always see the reason to save time and effort, but I made a change to almost all Apple or iOS devices last year. ¬† The time savings is at least 30 minutes each day and everything “ALWAYS” works. ¬†I’m typing now on a MacBook, considering the time I saved by switching. ¬†Using windows systems or pre-windows systems, I was loyal from the late 80’s until last year, but the complexity of updating or forcing compatibility went a little too far in 2017. ¬†Making the change, I paid much more for the system, but the dollars in time savings is covering my cost every 60 days. ¬†IMG_0808.jpg

The end of both conversations moved back to efficient use of time. ¬†The cost of the tool or cost to live somewhere means much less than the time you save or efficiency. ¬†We can’t replace time. ¬†Living here on the island, I spend more for housing or, nothing to do with the island, a computer system I choose to use, but the time has value. ¬†Think about it another way. ¬†My time in my 50’s is worth much more to me than time in my 70’s, I might never see. ¬† That came across as a little depressing, but time today is always worth more than an uncertain time tomorrow. ¬†Spending money to live in a premium location or buy better tools usually makes sense. ¬†That was the lesson I wanted my son to learn. ¬† #AmeliaIslnd #IslandLiving #Smalltownwisdom

We all think about seizing the day or living well.  Just think about the place you live and saving time, not money.  Sure, we all need enough to live, but the things you begin to see here all mean you have more time and living, assuming you live, work and play on the island.  Even if a commute is part of your life, checking the live and play boxes makes a big difference.

Happy 4th of July

….Well, for most of us. ¬†Before I explain, I want to wish everyone a happy 4th of July. ¬†We live in the best country in the world and I feel honored to live here, enjoying freedom, standard of living and privileges much of the world cannot imagine.

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Earlier today, I had a conversation, I think, ¬†with a friend in a local coffee shop. ¬†While civil on my side, they made every effort to insult each and every person in local government, state government, the POTUS and everyone in between. ¬†I didn’t agree, so the hostility neared “saliva spitting” levels, vocal enough to make the next table leave the shop. ¬†Voters don’t have it right, those elected to represent us don’t have it right and everyone not agreeing with this person (coffee shop acquaintance) must be criminal…or patently stupid. ¬†Those were his words or the equivalent, not mine.

After 15 minutes of trying to exert civility, I finally left, but the holiday seemed such an odd day for this conversation! ¬†I hope we all remember “WE” live in the same country and “WE” have a government elected to represent all of us. ¬†Whether or not we agree politically, recognizing our system and respecting the country is something I feel should be universally accepted/expected. ¬†Yes, the media is becoming polarized and, depending on your political view, I could probably tell you which major station you choose to hear. ¬†I say “HEAR” because I’m as guilty as the next person and simply turn off the things I begin to see as biased. ¬†The key is in recognizing both sides of biased reporting. ¬†We should all make a conscious effort to just be “Americans”. ¬†I hope we all begin to recognize the importance of seeing our country as “OUR” country with an inclusive “OUR”.

Happy 4th of July, 2018. ¬†May you all enjoy today and celebrate the freedoms we have in the greatest country in the world. ¬†I’m thinking about The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and it’s wording….”I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” ¬†We all, I think, still live in the same country and a quiet talk over coffee shouldn’t turn into something impossible for people with different political views.

 

A Few Favorite Pictures and History

The Honey Badgers are playing for Sounds on Center this week and I thought about some of the concerts we’ve enjoyed over past years. ¬†The picture below is from 7 years ago and pretty common for our street concert series. ¬†These are family-friendly events and a lot of fun for everyone before an evening out or after a day spent downtown.

No, the Palace Saloon Coca Cola does not represent the current sign code or size, but it is historic.

I took this shot on the way to the car one night.  Palm trees and skies s clear, full moon illumination at night can be as bright as a streetlight. 

Deer and coyote are on the island. ¬†I’ve noticed far more in the last few years, but, for some reason, not so many rabbits. ¬†¬†

Shrimping is still around, but the dock space is shrinking.  The newest change to the island is a shift toward becoming a dining, shopping and recreation destination and away from what you might traditionally think of as a working waterfront.  The island is the home of the shrimping industry, but finding a way to preserve history and embrace change is an ongoing challenge.

PJD’s is something local and unique. ¬†If you’re downtown, this is a wonderful stop for an amazing selection of craft beer. ¬†Hours are short and they do close for weather.

The development downtown is always a mix of the old and new. ¬†I enjoy the coffee at Hola Cafe on North 2nd….attached to the rear of the Palace Saloon building. ¬†The best businesses bring something truly unique to Fernandina. ¬†Pi for Pizza, Hola Cuban Cafe for Coffee, PJD’s for Craft Beer….Hand Crafted Chocolate at Fantastic Fudge and Timiti’s for a Poke Bowl. ¬†¬†

Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet) Reminder

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I’m just pointing out the blooming brugmansia plants, common in the area, ¬†and potential for unwanted exposure. ¬†While I don’t think ingestion is likely, assuming most people don’t eat random shrubbery, would someone with high blood pressure or a damaged heart be at risk if pruning or cutting flowers?

All parts of Brugmansia are potentially poisonous, with the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous. Effects of ingestion can include paralysis of smooth muscles, confusion, tachycardia, dry mouth, diarrhea, migraine headaches, visual and auditory hallucinations, mydriasis, rapid onset cycloplegia, and death. Source: www.wikipedia.org 6/19/18

 

Coyotes Becoming Common on Amelia Island

I hope you’ll excuse the very poor quality of the image, but last week a fairly large coyote ran through ¬†our back yard. ¬†Talking with a neighbor, this coyote or another one spent some time attempting to encourage their new puppy to leave the yard, until the owner noticed. ¬†Given the reputation coyotes have for eating pets or small animals, I’ve started keeping our dog on a leash when we take her outside after dark.

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At the size of a small German Shepard, this was more than enough to be a threat to our dog, so I began looking for information on just how dangerous these might be to pets.  It turns out they do have a reputation for eating cats and small dogs.  Even larger dogs are sometimes taunted into following the much faster and more agile coyotes.

Whether you’re looking for tips on avoiding a problem with feral cat feedings or some of the links below have very different thoughts on how to deal with coyotes. ¬†Are they actually a problem? ¬†While I’m not pleased by the need to take more care with my¬†IMG_0919.jpg“Thanksgiving Turkey”-sized golden-doodle, one study shows coyotes actually protect wildlife by changing where feral cats live. ¬†If true, the change should push feral cats away from areas with wild birds and eliminate some of the issues with disease, since the study also shows the location change appears to naturally reduce health issues in feral animals.

Now a study at Ohio State University shows that coyotes keep down the cat population in the more natural urban/suburban areas in two ways ‚ÄĒ meals of cat and cat education. The latter is the most significant. The cats learn that life closer to houses is safer. Cats migrate out of the parks and live in areas where the researchers found the cats to be both fatter and less diseased. In effect, the urban area becomes divided into coyote zones and cat zones. ¬† The Wildlife News¬†6/15/18

 

Preserving Fernandina’s Historic Buildings

One helpful conversation later, I understand the possibilities for preservation a little more. ¬†Areas along Fernandina’s waterfront are filled with historic buildings pre-dating FEMA elevation requirements or built when the flood zones required less. ¬†A prime example of a building “potentially” preserved by “dry proofing” techniques, is the Standard Marine property. ¬†Instead of an extremely difficult change to finished floor elevation, this may offer a solution.

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Ideal Candidate?

Retrofit floodproofing measures for historic buildings need not be comprehensive to provide at least some degree of protection. The techniques listed below may have minimal impact on the historically significant features of the structure (FEMA 2008b):

  • Elevating electrical and mechanical systems and utilities
  • Relocating contents
  • Creating positive drainage, where the grade allows water to drain away from the building
  • Using flood damage-resistant materials
  • Filling in basements or wet floodproofing basements
  • Installing small floodwalls to protect openings such as window wells

Source: FEMA Floodproofing Non-Residential Buildings FEMA P-936 / July 2013 

I’m pleased to see possibilities for both preservation and, I would hope, reduction of insurance rates. ¬†My next call is to my insurance agent to discuss potential benefits for historic non-residential property retrofitted with any of these FEMA flood proofing. Consider the picture below and how many older properties might potentially benefit.

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Source: Nassau County Property Appraiser GIS

Amazing Oceanfront Views….Some Costs to Consider and Importance of Public Access

Are you considering buying or building a home on the ocean and have you considered, beyond the view and restrictions on construction, the importance of locating theScreen Shot 2018 04 30 at 10 09 32 AM‚ÄúCoastal Construction Control Line‚ÄĚ before moving forward. ¬†A
number of areas with frontage are relatively high, while some areas might be located entirely seaward of the CCCL.   Knowing flood zones, including recent changes to these, is important, but the graph below, taken from Fema’s Coastal Construction Manual, is enlightening.  I was aware of the increased risk, but moving seaward from this line adds insurance, maintenance and, well to put it simply, a cost.

If you are willing to pay the cost to build, the views can be amazing, but locating the lines and considering the cost comes first.


Other costs might be the maintenance of a home near salt water, damage from occasional winds or sustained rain in a “Northeaster” or tropical event. and the privacy sacrificed when you live, essentially, on an area open to the public.

All considered, oceanfront living is amazing.  Watching the changes in weather, people and being able to swim, surf, fish or enjoy a beach steps from your back door is a great experience.   My family owned property on North Fletcher and in the 2400 block of South Fletcher for most of my childhood.  The experience of living on the ocean is worth every penny.

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In the last few months, we’ve all been watching a change to law, potentially having an impact on public beach access. ¬†While we have been assured by our representatives, the potential for unintended consequences is driving a grass-roots effort to preserve any endangered beach access. ¬†You can read more or become involved to protect any potential loss of access. ¬†Senator Aaron Bean had the following thoughts and the concerns obviously have his attention.

Regarding HB631:

“The claim that this new law will turn public beaches into private beaches and therefore restricting the public‚Äôs access to beaches is simply not true.

The Tampa Bay Times, in evaluating this same claim, rated the claim that this new law would make all beaches private and restrict access as MOSTLY FALSE, stating “The law Scot

t signed would not result in turning more public beaches into private ones.‚ÄĚ Read more here: http://www.politifact.com/‚Ķ/did-gov-rick-scott-sign-bill-c‚Ķ/

Further, FloridaPolitics.com also looked into this claim, citing a legal expert saying it is not as dire as some are stating. Read more here: http://floridapolitics.com/…/260737-controversial-beach-acc…

To explain, access to the beach is a constitutionally protected right that all Floridians enjoy and not a grain of sand will be treated differently.

This law is meant to stop government from being able to take someone’s beach front property without following due process.

I am a beach boy. I grew up on the beach and was a proud local lifeguard growing up. I would never support any legislation that prohibits our access to our white sandy beaches. And again, I don’t believe that this new law does that.

I will promise you this – if there are any unintended consequences to this bill, that I will personally lead the charge to fix them in the coming session. But I would encourage my fellow beach lovers to read up on the law, what it does and does not do – as I would never support a bill that limits access to our wonderful beaches.” ¬† Sen. Aaron Bean

So where does this leave us? When growing up on the island, my memories of the beach were driving from one end of the island to the other. ¬†Surfing or fishing on the island meant we had over 13 miles of beach to find privacy or a group of friends… ¬†The grass roots efforts lead to an increased awareness, with groups like Citizens for the Preservation of Public Beaches signing petitions.

 

I started with considerations when buying or living on the ocean, but it is logical to understand the history of beach use here and understand the kinds of uses.  Beach driving ended on the majority of the island years ago.  A few areas are protected, as they should be, and all beaches are public, limited by the restrictions in place to protect native vegetation, wildlife and natural dunes.

Under Contract and Dramatic Transformation Coming

Change is coming, if you haven’t noticed. ¬†The downtown area is becoming the hottest place to live, work and play, while properties are redeveloped to make more sense in the changed local economy. ¬†Prime locations are everywhere, if you only take the time to look. ¬† The Boat House is “under contract”, the old Pecan Roll closed recently and the old Picker’s Market will change in a very interesting way, I’m told. ¬†We’re on the verge of seeing a very useful CRA and some needed redevelopment or repurposing of property in Fernandina. ¬†The renovation underway at the Old School House is another example. ¬†I can name a number of positive changes coming.

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With limited views and unique locations, we all drive by older buildings without considering the potential benefits.  Change in use means added vitality for downtown, tax revenue and a side benefit from the complimentary effect of nearby diverse, thriving businesses.

If you think about the potential changes and ways the downtown area evolved over the last century, you’ll understand Fernandina a little more. ¬†Last month, the old First Baptist Church Sunday School building went under contract and is slated for redevelopment into high end loft space. ¬†The demand is high for living space near commercial uses, so repurposing older buildings, a trend in most waterfront commercial districts, is becoming the biggest trend here. ¬†The old Fernandina Lumber site is moving forward with foundations poured for townhomes. ¬†Considering the website, the price per foot ranges are hitting new highs for an area approaching oceanfront demand. ¬† An improved library, eclectic food and shopping and remaining available sites, just waiting for the right investor/developer, means Historic Fernandina is seeing a rebirth, with high interest in preservation and seeking a new logic for every area.

As a local, I still feel the nostalgia.  Shrimp Festival began in the same year I was born, so I grew up watching boats race and the town change from a kind of Mayberry, to something far more sophisticated.  fullsizeoutput_76aThink about value and what we see as desirable in a location.  We all think about proximity to work and play, but what about dining, shopping, history, libraries, a post office and interesting people?  What about views or the ambiance of a location?

I work in the historic district and generally walk to buy a coffee each day, walk a few blocks to the water and take the time to check new projects like the newest Artisan Homes project, Harbor View. ¬†Pricing for a completed Harbor View home and the obvious interest tells me the demand was complete misunderstood by most. ¬†I’m a broker and I didn’t anticipate quite so many sales this soon or the demand!