Environment News Pensacola Politics

Sidewalk Rules

September 6, 2012

During a special meeting this morning, the Downtown Improvement Board’s Business and Development Committee met to discuss the city of Pensacola’s proposed regulations governing the usage of its sidewalks.

“You can’t have the wild, wild west out there and have everybody doing what they want to do,” said DIB Executive Director Franklin Kimbrough yesterday.

While only two members of the committee attended the meeting, several downtown business owners were there to voice their concerns.

“I found out about this in the middle of the night, twelve hours ago,” said Nick Zangari, owner of New York Nick’s. “I didn’t know about any of this. Did you know about any of this?”

Pensacola City Councilman Brian Spencer, who is also on the DIB, said that the issue of sidewalk regulations had been a topic of discussion for several months. He said that a recent Planning Board workshop’s attendance was encouraging.

Spencer said that the city hoped to ensure pedestrian access and compliance with American Disabilities Act standards. The proposed regulations also address noise, hours of operation and aesthetics.

City Administrator Bill Reynolds said later in the afternoon, that the city was focusing on the issue in light of recent growth. He said recent License to Use permit applications from Oriley’s, World of Beer and some of Quint Studer’s properties brought the issue to a head.

“Clearly, something has to be done,” he said.

Reynolds said that the city had been looking at the issue for about a year and a half, and that city council had been pushing for regulations as the city was experiencing growth.

“As we see more growth downtown, it’s become clear that we really need to have some guidelines,” he said. “If we spell it out, then everybody knows exactly what to expect.”

Reynolds said that the city was basing its regulations on similar guidelines in other cities. The business owners in the DIB meeting—hailing from Nick’s, World of Beer and Hopjack’s—expressed concern that they had not been consulted as the city drafted its proposed regulations.

“I don’t think anyone’s saying your doing anything wrong,” Kimbrough told them. “They’re just trying to get everything uniform.”

The committee members—Deborah Dunlap and Chairman Chip Otwell—went line by line of the proposed regulations with the business owners. They tweaked language, corrected typos and took issue with various provisions.

The city regulations, drafted in the planning department, mainly sought to regulate such things as outdoor furniture placement, noise from music and televisions and fees for cleaning sidewalks.

Kimbrough said that the regulations were needed because the downtown area had evolved into a mixed-use space. He said regulations should accommodate businesses— retail, restaurants and entertainment—as well as residents.

“All of these things make downtown alive and vibrant,” Kimbrough said. “That’s what we have strived for for decades, and we’re almost there now.”

Next week, the full DIB will take up the committee’s recommended changes to the proposed regulations. The board will then forward those recommendations to the city council.

“We’re looking to have this done relatively quickly,” said City Administrator Bill Reynolds, adding that he expected the council to take up the issue within the next couple of meetings.

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  • Jaz September 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Hopefully the city will piss them off, like normal, and they will move out of the city limits. That is the way it works in the city, isn’t it. Some good things start to come to down town and now you have the haters coming out of the wood work to shut it down. The city is full of clowns.

  • keg o brew September 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Who in the hell made New York Nick the mayor of Palafox? Funny how he chooses to show up and act like someone should have aent him an engraved invitation to the party. If World of Beer had their way the city would close Palafox in front of their bar every night for a WOB street party. The situation is out of control. The city needs to charge these freeloaders for the right to use permits instead of taxpayers subsidizing their bisineases

  • joe September 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Nicks and Hopjacks have a good deal using the sidewalk to serve patrons…I thought perhaps they were paying extra to have a place for their smoking customers and don’t begrudge them that right nor do i mind walking around the tables when I’m leaving client offices on Palafox. It even provides incentive to stop and have a cold one after working.
    Is the DIB replacing the hysterical society?

    I really don’t know, downtown pcola is a small fraction of my business contacts.

  • Moose September 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    It seems like some guidelines would have been prepared when the city issued the permits in the first place, but it’s good to see there will be something more specific that can be in place before a problem arises.