Cocoa Beach: Charter Review Meeting Tonight.

The Cocoa Beach Charter Review Committee will be meeting tonight at 6:30 PM.

This is a strange meeting in that the Committee canceled a “Townhall” meeting in January and combined it with this one.

Most people will be there to speak on building height restrictions. Interestingly enough, the agenda description for this item is:

Section 6.08 Building height limit accommodations

While everything else is always described as “limits” or “restrictions,” this item is being called “accommodations.” After all, who doesn’t want to be accommodating?

This is a difficult issue and seems to us to be one where there is little compromise with the “we want to build as high as we can” crowd.

We should also say that we find merit in making the measuring point for building heights to be consistent with surrounding communities to be a good thing. Right now Cocoa Beach is one of the few communities we know that measure a building height from the crown of the road rather than the road base itself. Even though Cocoa Beach has the right to set the standards, when it comes to builders and contractors, it makes sense to have the same standards as surrounding communities for the measuring point.

Cocoa Beach: Pass Tax, Then Run And Hide.

From Fox35 News.

Kind of interesting that elected officials will stand there and tell people how great things are on camera, but when the going gets tough and tough questions need to be addressed, the officials run away.

The spotlight shines on the just and the unjust.

Cocoa Beach: Oasis, Parking, And Height And Density.

Owner Vicki Joyce has announced the locally popular and tourist mecca Oasis Shaved Ice eatery in Cocoa Beach will be closing at the end of the month.

While the demise of the store is sad, the closing illustrates a real problem.

According to Joyce, lack of parking in front of her shop helped kill business because “customers couldn’t find a place to park.” No parking meant no business, “and people wouldn’t stop” for a shaved ice treat.


She’s looking at alternative — and smaller — locations, but so far the cost is prohibitive, and she’s hoping to still find some way to stay put. A hoped-for small business loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration didn’t come through.

Up until this week, the front two parking spots just outside Oasis were marked with yellow diagonal lines — which was confusing to customers, who thought the yellow lines meant “no parking.” Joyce said she reached out to the city of Cocoa Beach, but because State Road A1A is a state street, it was out of their hands.

First, “out of [the City’s] hands” is a cop out. As the parking lines have been removed, it is not that the City couldn’t get something done, but rather they chose not to. There were other issues and problems in their mind that were more pressing and urgent rather than to stay on the Florida DOT about the lines. Or maybe people were patting themselves on the back for other projects (like the Main Street project – more on that in a moment) than to take seriously the request of Joyce to have an issue that was slowly help kill her business. Unless someone in the City is willing to produce a call log that shows calls to FDOT, and local and state representatives, we have a hard time believing the City was that concerned. If they do produce the logs, then we are more than willing to talk about the people outside of the City that were not responsive to a simple request that was eventually granted.

Cocoa Beach: Charter Review Committee Meeting Tonight.

As we said yesterday, tonight at 6:30 PM, the Cocoa Beach Charter Review Committee meets.

The agenda for this meeting is the hotly debated height and density issue within the City. As it appears that the meeting will not be broadcast live either on the City’s website or on Spectrum cable, the only way to see and hear the discussion and add your input is to be at the meeting.

In other words, you have a choice. You can participate and let your feelings be known, or you can stay home and watch a rerun of “Welcome Back Kotter” or something. It’s all your call and your choice.

We recommend participation, but that is our choice.

Cocoa Beach: Heads Up On Charter Review Meeting.

We wanted to give people a heads up on the Cocoa Beach Charter Review Meeting scheduled for this Wednesday at 6:30 PM.

According to the agenda, this meeting will address the sections of the Charter that deal with height and density within the City.

As most people know, there is a divide among people in the City as to whether Cocoa Beach should allow higher condos / hotels or keep the height and density regulations as they are now. Some people feel that the issue to increase height and density is being driven by outside influences or those such as realtors who would directly benefit from higher buildings while destroying the family oriented, small town feel of Cocoa Beach.

There are also concerns that increasing heights would increase infrastructure on roads, sewage, etc, and those are systems that are already pressed to the limits now.

In short, the concerns are whether Cocoa Beach will maintain its current identity of a family oriented, recreational and tourist destination, or will it start to lean toward the “concrete canyons” towns of South Florida.

Cocoa Beach Commission Meeting Tonight.

The City of Cocoa Beach will hold a regular Commission meeting tonight starting at 7:00 PM.

We can’t say whether the meeting will be broadcast or available on the City’s website as the City has had issues with video and sound equipment since hurricane Irma.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here and interestingly to us, there is nothing new or anything to discuss. There is a proclamation and a presentation by the odious Space Coast League of Cities, and then everything else it done under a consent agenda which means “one vote for all.”

However, in the consent agenda there is an item that we think needs to be examined.

Item 2 is:

Approve the purchase of a 2009 Caterpillar Model ZQ2000 packaged diesel generator, set for the Public Works/Water Reclamation Department complex, in the amount of $407,700, from Ringer Power Corporation as part of their rental Purchase Option Program. This item was budgeted item in FY 18 at $371,000; $36,700 will be transferred from the equipment/rental/lease account to cover the balance of the purchase. This purchase would be for a back-up generator.
Staff Representative: Scott Barber, Director of Water Reclamation Department

You can read more about why the City claims the generator is needed here in the “Generator Proposal Memo.”

We have a few questions that we feel are important before the City decides to spend over $400K on this generator.

Cocoa Beach: Raise Taxes, Spend More.

The City of Cocoa Beach Commission will hold a regular meeting tonight at 7:00 PM. You can see the agenda here.

There are items of interest on the agenda such as negotiating with the United States Tennis Association to run the tennis facilities.

What truly caught our eye was this:

Request to ratify a one-year contract between Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), Public Employee’s Local 6781, and the City of Cocoa Beach from the period of October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018. Article 19 (Wages) is changed as follows: Effective October 1, 2017, bargaining unit employees shall receive an increase of 2% to their base wages, up to the maximum of their wage ranges. Any portion of the 2% increase above the maximum of their wage ranges will be paid as a lump sum not added to the base wages. Wage minimums and maximums shall be 1% above those reflected in Exhibit A of the wage article. The City reserves the right to set the initial wage for new hires above the minimums established in Exhibit A. This is a budgeted item.

This item is on the consent agenda, which means it won’t even be discussed as a separate item.

The problem, as we see it, is two fold:

Cocoa Beach: Planting The Flag.

Way back on May 17, 2017, the Cocoa Beach Board of Adjustment met to discuss a special exemption for the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company to open a tattoo parlor / retail operation in Cocoa Beach.

After some horrific advice from the then City Attorney Marsha Segal George as well as faulty reasoning from some Board members, the Board voted to deny the special exemption. We wrote about the denial and what we expected to happen here. We noted at the time that this was a case ripe for an appeal as the City had no legal leg to stand upon and sure enough, the case was appealed.

Unfortunately for the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company, the appeals and trying to address the issue was caught in the middle of the City trying to find new legal counsel or retain the old counsel. Eventually, the matter was scheduled to be heard by a magistrate but the new City attorney’s looked at the issue and said the legal equivalent of “whoops!” and agreed that the Board of Adjustment never should have denied the special exemption.

Thus, the lawyers agreed to revisit the issue to the Board of Adjustment again where the Board will have to vote to pass the exemption.

That “revisiting” happens tonight at 5:15 PM when the Board of Adjustment meets. You can see the agenda for the meeting here, and the item packet here (as well as an addendum found here.)

This is a win for those of us who value both freedom of expression and economic freedoms. Sadly, it took far too long to get to this point, but we can’t go back in time to change that.

We do want to make sure that people understand that one thing this case does highlight is the need for good legal representation. In 2009 the Cocoa Beach City Commission passed what they felt was a legal ordinance on tattoo parlors within the City. At they time, one of the reasons given was that they City was against the “proliferation” of tattoo parlors opening up. Many of those shops have closed which goes to show that the market is a better decider of what type of shops may survive in a city rather than people on a City Commission. The rule at the time was unnecessary but the Commission did nothing wrong in passing the ordinance.

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