February 2018 Mini Update

For many years, the ABC has worked in collaboration with Eckerd College to improve the condition of landscaping along the Pinellas Bayway. Initial discussions with FDOT and their contractor, and with our state and city representatives resulted in some improvement to conditions on the Bayway, but not to the level expected by ABC and Eckerd College. We are very pleased that, as of December 1, the City has prime responsibility for landscape maintenance on the Bayway. This should result in much more attention to our area and noticeable improvement in the landscaping along the Bayway, our front yard.

Negotiations with Spectrum have resulted in a bulk digital video and internet offer for ABC associations to consider. Association leaders learned of the offer at January 16 and 23 Town Hall sessions at Isla Del Sol Y&CC. In summary, the offer provides Spectrum’s platinum video service, two HD set top boxes, internet with 100MB download/10MB upload speed, and a modem/router for $42 per month per unit. The alternative is to remain under the video-only agreement (negotiated in 2014) which currently costs $27 per month per unit, with residents continuing to individually purchase internet service. The net additional cost for including internet as a bulk service is $15 per unit per month. As is currently the case, all other services/equipment (phone, DVR, higher internet speed, etc.) are available to residents at Spectrum’s normal retail prices.

In past updates, concern was raised that the Florida Legislature might pass legislation favorable to short-term rental services like AirBnB. As this year’s session started, we were very concerned that Senate Bill 1400 addressing this matter might allow short-term rentals even when they violate condominium governing documents. ABC discussions with Senator Brandes and others have helped deflect such legislation. Senate Bill 1400 now includes the clarification statement that “application of vacation rental provisions created by the bill do not supersede any current or future declaration or declaration of condominium, cooperative documents, or declaration of covenants or declaration in a homeowners’ association.”

While there is less current public debate about St. Petersburg’s sewer/wastewater situation, substantial efforts continue. As you know, a Town Hall has been scheduled for 2:30PM on Thursday, March 8, at Eckerd College to discuss Saint Petersburg’s plans to fix the system. Claude Tankersley (Public Works Administrator) and Leisha Pica (Jacobs Engineering project leader) will present an update on the status of the sewer/wastewater system and on the long-term master plan under development. Walter Donnelly, the ABC Principal closely associated with this work, will introduce the topic and provide the ABC’s position on the plan and process.

The City has selected the ABC area for one of their future “Living Local” shows where neighborhood residents highlight why they love their neighborhood. The five-minute video will be an excellent opportunity to explain the benefits of living in our area (water views, beach access, Isla Del Sol, Eckerd College and ASPEC, proximity to the city, etc.). The resulting five-minute video will be created during the month of March and should become a valuable component as a promotional website open to non-residents. A recent Living Local show can be seen at: https://youtu.be/r1-s7ZJuiqA?list=PLcJIVjR7DacjTCwmNCc_8v7_Go1pxBFW9.

Bill Blazowski

ABC Principal

 

November 2017, Pinellas Bayway Landscaping Update

For a number of years, the ABC has worked in collaboration with Eckerd College to improve the condition of landscaping along the Pinellas Bayway. Initial discussions with FDOT and their contractor (Broadspectrum), and with our state and city representatives resulted in some improvement to conditions on the Bayway, but not to the level expected by ABC and Eckerd College. Over the past few months, detailed discussions on achieving the needed improvements have been underway with and between the City and Broadspectrum.

We are very pleased to let all ABC associations know that as of December 1, the City will have responsibility for landscape maintenance on the Bayway. A transition meeting was held on November 27, 2017, for the City, Isla Del Sol Y&CC, Eckerd College, and the ABC to coordinate plans and expectations.

Key points are:

·       The City will mow all grass once per week during the rainy season and once every two weeks during dry season. They will monitor the area at least weekly for any trash pickup needs or other problems.
·       Shrubs and trees will be maintained by the City. Trimming and edging along the bike path will receive additional attention. This “catch-up work” will be done over the next few months.
·       The City will also be generally responsible for the area under the bridge to St. Pete Beach. They are working to resolve any remaining duties of a different FDOT contractor currently having some responsibility in that area. And they will coordinate with the associations adjacent to that area to clarify where City responsibility ends.
·       The City is aware of the condition of the royal palms planted on the Bayway and has taken action to extend the warranty period for these trees. Some of these trees are being replaced now and those that are not healthy at the end of the extended warranty will be replaced.

Responsibility for maintaining lighting is defined. The City will follow up on problems with landscape up-lighting along the Bayway. There are issues with some of this equipment which will need to be replaced with new LED lighting. Street lighting is maintained by Duke Energy and we can work with the City to notify them of future problems when they occur.
 

November 2017, Mini-Update

Our first seminar of the 2017-2018 season was held at Point Brittany on November 7. We thank Point Brittany for their hospitality. During the session, we took the opportunity to introduce everyone to Point Britany’s new General Manager, Lorraine Thomas.

The November 7 topic provided an opportunity for association leaders to hear about developments in our area during the summer and to learn what’s planned for the coming fall and winter. Slides used in the presentation by the ABC Principals are attached and a brief summary of the discussion follows.

As can be seen driving down the Bayway, there’s major work underway at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility (SWWRF) just east of Eckerd College. Walter Donnelly reported that these short-term measures prevented spills on land or into our waterways from the rainfall that occurred during Hurricane Irma. He commented that, while the sewer overflow crisis has been a media and political football for months, we believe the City has done a good job of implementing short-range measures that make us less vulnerable. Longer-term changes to address the sewer overflow problem have not been fully defined, and the total bill may well be far over the $326M associated with Florida DEP’s Consent Order. The City needs to complete its wastewater and stormwater master plan to fully understand total costs and the ABC will be closely supporting and monitoring that effort. A major challenge will be responsibility and funding to repair the leaky “private laterals” which connect buildings to City-owned sewer mains.

In August, the ABC held a workshop at the Isla Del Sol Y&CC to discuss being more effective in presenting Bayway area interests to local officials and state legislators. Lobbyists that represent the Community Association Institute (CAI) and property management companies active in the Bayway area presented what they expect the key issues to be at the coming Tallahassee legislative session. That identified two key advocacy issues for the coming year.

·         There is substantial concern that state legislation will be proposed that would make it possible for owners to use short-term rental services like Airbnb, even when such use would result in violation of an association’s documents and rules. Nancy LaBare indicated that this issue can have a major impact on associations and is important for the ABC to resist this initiative. The ABC raised this matter at a November 1 meeting of all legislators from Pinellas County and was assured by our Sen. Jeff Brandes that he would oppose any attempt to circumvent community governing document restrictions on short-term rentals.

·         The second advocacy issue is a campaign to have all utilities on the Pinellas Bayway moved underground. This year’s hurricanes have heightened concerns that overhead lines make the area vulnerable (including operations at SWWRF). ABC representatives have communicated strong support for undergrounding to City Council members, all of our county’s state legislators, and County Commissioners.

The ABC’s size (48 associations and more than 10,000 residents represented) also provides opportunity to negotiate improved rates for common association services. In 2014, discussions with BrightHouse (now Spectrum) resulted in substantial association savings for video services. Currently, the ABC is exploring ways to provide lower cost internet to ABC associations. Our objective is to find a way to provide internet service to all residents in an association at lower cost than when residents purchase internet service individually.

ABC Principals, Ken Wolfe, Harold Butler, and Del Ulreich discussed other current efforts. These include improved landscaping maintenance along the Bayway, traffic safety and security, and more promptly removing derelict boats.

Other seminars in the 2017-2018 season are listed below. Thanks to all of the host associations for their support of the ABC!

     Date                                               Topic                                                           Location

January 9, 2018    Rules & Regulations Issues and City Services         Bahia Del Mar II, Building L

February 13, 2018  Association Mechanical Issues&Managing Major Projects      Palma V

March 13, 2018       Insurance Developments & Financial Best Practices              Casa IV

April 10, 2018         Environmental Issues                                                             Dolphin Cay

We also plan to have an update by City representatives on the program to modernize the St. Petersburg sewer system. That will be in January or February, in addition to the seminars mentioned above.

The upcoming seminars offer an opportunity to be sure your specific issues and concerns are included in the seminar discussion. Here’s how:

·         Dot Thomas of Resource Property Management will addressing rules and regulations at the January 9 seminar. Please send in any issues that you would like to see discussed at that time to Harold Butler, hcb5261@gmail.com.

·         A representative of Delta Engineering will discuss common association mechanical issues and management of major association projects. Please send in any issues that you would like to see discussed at that time to Del Ulreich, dufferdel@gmail.com.

·         On March 13, a speaker from First Service Residential will discuss changes and concerns regarding insurance coverage. In preparation for that seminar, we will distribute a survey to collect information on current ABC association insurance practices (premium costs, deductible limits, flood coverage, etc.). In addition, this seminar will include discussion of the revised version of the association financial assessment tool which was reviewed and improved at the February 2017 ABC seminar. Having your association Treasurer at this session would be highly desirable.

·         The April 10 seminar will focus on environmental issues of importance to associations. This will include information on recycling, accommodating electric vehicles, and the health of Boca Ciega Bay. Please send any additional items you would like to have discussed to Ken Wolfe, wolfefk@eckerd.edu.

Thanks for your participation and we look forward to seeing you on January 9.

Bill Blazowski

ABC Principal 

August-October 2017 Mini-Update

 

 Below is a summary of ABC activities during the past three months. Our intent going forward is to issue a periodic update when there are ABC items of interest to report.

As evidenced by the construction equipment seen as we drive by, there’s major work underway at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility (SWWRF) just east of Eckerd College. Short-term measures, including an injection well to discard higher flows during severe rain events, are now in place. Another major project has begun that will convert substantial portions of plant solid waste into methane, resulting in a less harmful solid product and energy to be used at the plant and in city garbage trucks. This project has a late 2018 completion date. 

Longer-term changes to address the sewer overflow problem have not been fully defined, but we know the total bill will be well over $350M. The City forecasts that this will eventually result in water and sewer rates increasing more than 50%. The ABC has expressed general agreement with overall plans defined to date and will continue to participate in City efforts to finalize plans.

On August 16, the ABC held an Advocacy Workshop at the Isla Del Sol Y&CC to discuss how the ABC and individual associations can be more effective in presenting our interests to local officials and state legislators. Lobbyists that represent the Community Association Institute (Travis Moore) and our property management companies (Mark Anderson) presented their insight on how to be more effective and what they expect the key issues to be at the coming legislative session. The Workshop was attended by all four of the property management associations in the area covered by the ABC, by a number of St. Petersburg City personnel, and by representatives of some large associations in the Clearwater area.

One action item from the workshop was to seek assurance that Senator Brandes and Representative Peters would oppose any proposed state legislative action that would make it possible for owners to use services like Airbnb when such use would result in violation of restrictions in an association’s documents and rules. Both were in strong support of our position.

Another workshop item was to advance our desire to have all utilities on the Pinellas Bayway moved underground. We started this process before the September hurricanes, but concerns raised by the storms have substantially increased interest at all levels of government. Key to progress in this area will be discussions with County Commissioners who control “Penny for Pinellas” funds. The ABC will give priority to this matter in the next few months.  

On October 12, ABC representatives met with Senator Latvala to discuss and gain his support for our stance on Airbnb, underground utilities and waste water treatment. He was receptive to these matters and suggested that we meet with Representative Peters to discuss these further.  Representative Peters was supportive and made some suggestions for the ABC’s presentation at the upcoming Legislation Delegation on November 1.

A substantial number of derelict boats were removed from Boca Ciega Bay and the surrounding area in early October. Past ABC work with Council Member Kornell and others has resulted in appropriation of City funds for boat removal. However, emergency federal funds for boat removal were made available after Hurricane Irma and normal procedures for condemning abandoned boats before they can be removed were temporarily relaxed. The City immediately accessed this program, which was implemented by Florida Fish and Wildlife. As a result, about ten boats sunken or washed up on beaches adjacent to our associations were removed. The process for removing derelict boats during normal circumstances still needs resolution and the ABC is working with Council Member Kornell, the City’s legal department, and SPPD’s marine division to get that done.

The ABC Telecommunications Team has been meeting with internet providers (Spectrum, Frontier, WOW, and potentially two others) to develop a bulk internet offer that might be attractive to associations. The intent is to provide internet service to all residents in an association at a lower cost than when residents purchase internet service individually. Our target is to have the best bulk internet offers presented for association consideration early in 2018. In the meanwhile, we will work with Spectrum to communicate on the cost for services that residents individually purchase. Many residents will find reduced cost for their individual services under “Spectrum pricing” instead of “legacy Bright House pricing”.

The Tierra Verde Bridge is on schedule and construction should start in February 2018 and be complete in 2021.  The contractor for the project has yet to be selected, but five contractors remain in the running.

Finally, the 2017-2018 ABC seminar season kicks off at 1:00PM on Tuesday, November 7, at Point Brittany. This first seminar is an ABC status report on summer developments in our community and on the issues that our advocacy efforts will pursue this year. Please attend to hear further information on all the topics covered in this ABC update.

July 28, 2017 Mini-Update

The ABC Principals Group continues to be active while many Bayway residents are away, escaping the oppressive July heat. Here's some recent news:

 

  • The June issue of The Island Reporter included a first-page article on the ABC. Emphasis was on our recent involvement in the City’s program to prevent sewer overflow incidents, efforts to develop more cost effective telecommunication options, and plans to become more active in advocating for association interests.
  • ABC representatives had a 90-minute meeting with mayoral candidate Rick Baker on July 7 to provide background on the ABC and its current priorities. Discussion included an extensive review of our involvement in the work addressing sewer overflows and Rick Baker’s position on these matters.  We are encouraged that if Mr. Baker is elected, work currently underway to fix the sewer plant overflow threat to the Bayway will not falter. Finally, we described our plans to improve the effectiveness of our advocacy activity and the City’s role in these efforts.
  • The ABC has established a website, www.baywayalliance.org. We hope that it will keep residents of all ABC associations informed of important developments in our area. The site includes the most recent updates, our semi-annual newsletters, the schedule for our November-April seminars, and notes from our seminars dating back to 2012.

July 8, 2017 Mini-Update

Greetings Bayway Neighbors!

Attached is an update providing information on recent developments in our area. We will send these updates when there are items of importance to report.

  • Council Member Steve Kornell was successful in getting St. Petersburg to set aside $25k/year to pay for removing derelict boats which pose navigational and environment problems when they run aground or sink. Officer Michael Robertson, of the SPPD Marine Unit, is the contact for these matters at 893-4897 and michael.robertson@stpete.org. The ABC strongly supported this action which responds to a significant problem in a number of St. Petersburg locations, including our Boca Ciega Bay.
  • The City has not provided an additional recycling facility following the May 1 closure of the facility just east of Eckerd College. This is not a problem for those associations that have a contractor picking up recyclables at their location. Other ABC associations might want to communicate to their residents that the closest remaining facilities are in Midtown and at Fort Desoto Park. We will provide information on contract recycling services that associations can consider when ABC seminars resume in the fall.
  • An acceptable compromise was reached in the state legislature debate over estoppel fees. Lobbyists for property management companies and for the Community Association Institute were successful in negotiating reasonable limitations on what can be charged for real estate transaction documents. The ABC participated by contacting legislators and by requesting a St. Petersburg City Resolution that was sent to our state representatives opposing the initial version of this bill. The original language would have resulted in significant costs for property management companies that would have been passed on to associations. Thanks to all the ABC associations that provided email comments to legislators encouraging their opposition to language in the original bill.
  • Our Telecommunications Team has been working with the consultant (Converged Services Inc.) that participated in our June 2014 negotiation of the current agreement with Bright House. Our emphasis is determining whether a bulk internet agreement can be negotiated with Spectrum (Charter Communications) or another provider that would meet the needs of ABC associations. Recent activity has focused on developing an inventory of the buildings that belong to ABC associations (their size, number of units, type of cable wiring, etc.) that will be used by the providers in developing their offers. Our property management companies assisted in this effort.


As always, let us know if you have any comments or questions. Our email address is allianceforbaywaycommunities@gmail.com.