The Downtown Improvement Board this morning signed off on its Business and Development Committee’s revisions to the city’s proposed License to Use regulations. The new LTU rules will govern business’s use of the city’s right of way, such as for cafe seating on downtown sidewalks.
“The mayor’s office has requested that we be active and vocal,” DIB Executive Director Kim Kimbrough explained.
City staff has drafted proposed LTU regulations—pertaining to everything from ADA requirements to noise and hours of operation—over the past few months. The city planning board will take the DIB’s input into consideration when it takes up the issue next week.
During the DIB’s committee meeting last week, local bar owners showed up to voice their concerns with the proposed regulations. Nick Zangari, owner of New York Nick’s, returned this morning and told the DIB that he believed the LTU issue would lead to a crackdown on music being played at downtown establishments.
“We can get down to what it’s all about,” Zangari said.
The downtown business owner went on to say that “a certain woman who shall remain nameless” and another individual—both of whom had attended the DIB committee meeting—were pushing the noise agenda.
“It’s not double-D, is it?” asked DIB Chairman Burney Merrill.
“There’s two people that were here, present, that are having problems with the live music that they live above,” Zangari said.
Downtown property owner and resident Deborah Dunlap, who also sits on the DIB’s Business and Development Committee, and Pensacola City Councilman Brian Spencer, who lives downtown and also sits on the DIB, were both in attendance last week. Both stressed—as do the proposed regulations—that downtown needed to accommodate a mixed-use environment.
Also during this morning’s DIB meeting, Kimbrough was asked to relay his experience last night discussing the entity’s budget with the Pensacola City Council. He compared it to enduring a “costume contest dressed as a football.”
“It was political theater,” the director said.
During a budget hearing last week, both Spencer and Councilwoman Maren DeWeese questioned why Kimbrough was not in attendance to answer their budgetary questions. The city council is currently in the process of approving Mayor Ashton Hayward’s proposed budget, with the final public hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
“This was an attempt by certain members of council to embarrass the mayor,” Kimbrough said. “The media took the bait and ran with it and that is what’s going on.”
The executive director also announced this morning that he would be leaving the DIB within a month. After eight years, Kimbrough is leaving the area to head up the Independence Chamber of Commerce in Missouri.
The board decided to have former DIB board member and one-time interim director Sandra Ward lead the organization until it finds a permanent replacement. Merrill said that Ward was “probably somebody that would be palatable across the board” and that bringing her on immediately would “kind of head off the thousands of phone calls and applications we’d be getting from people who want that position.”