Escambia County

Gaetz, Robinson: Fee simple is simple

September 20, 2017

The fee simple title on Pensacola Beach isn’t as diabolical and evil as some want the public and Sen. Bill Nelson to believe, according to Congressman Matt Gaetz and County Commissioner Grover Robinson.

“There continues to be misinformation, largely amplified by the Pensacola News Journal, indicating that this is somehow a private takeover of the beach,” Gaetz told Inweekly. “That is not true. There’s not a single speck of sand on Pensacola Beach or Navarre Beach that the public is currently able to use that they would not be able to use after we pass this bill.”

Commissioner Robinson said argument that claims the public would lose access if the fee simple bill is passed just isn’t factual.

“Let me ask you–how public it is if you just want to walk into somebody’s house on the beach,” he said. “They’ll call the sheriff, they’ll come pick me up, and they’ll take you in. It’s not public because the beach house is privately leased to the homeowner.”

He continued, “Going to fee simple is not changing anything on that. The stuff that is public—the sidewalks, access roads, parking lots,conservation areas, areas between the dunes and the Gulf, and the all the different parts around it that are really truly public—I’ve made sure in the bill’s language that it is kept that way in Escambia County and it is that way into perpetuity.”

He pointed out that currently the Board of County Commissioners could lease those public areas by 3-2 vote. The fee simple law prevents that from ever happening.

“The things that are in preservation and conservation would be that way into perpetuity.”

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  • Bill September 20, 2017 at 3:50 pm


    I think the leaseholders are considered to have “purchased” their land when they purchased the leasehold. They’ve been paying lease fees to SRIA , MSBUs to Escambia County for police, fire, and mosquito protection, and ad valorem taxes on land and improvements for many years.

  • Ames September 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    How much will the homeowners be paying for the land they are wanting to own?

  • Christian Wagley September 20, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Commissioner Robinson is absolutely correct that the bill states that existing areas in Escambia County in conservation and public access must remain as such. And I know that the citizens appreciate his work to ensure that this was in the bill. However, the bill specifically leaves out those same protections in Santa Rosa County. That is why many folks are concerned about the possibility of a loss of public access at Navarre Beach, and how the bill leaves open the possibility of the Navarre Pass. At Pensacola Beach a loss of access or dredging of a pass would not be allowed under the legislation. The bill treats the two counties very differently–ensuring conservation and public access in Escambia County while not doing the same for the people of Santa Rosa County.