The Alliance for Bayway Communities (ABC) held their initial seminar for the 2017-2018 season in early November. The seminar, attended by area condominium and home owner association (HOA) leaders, included a report on summer developments in the Pinellas Bayway area and an outlook on planned advocacy efforts for the next year.
In August, the ABC held a workshop at the Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club (IDSY&CC) to discuss being more effective in presenting Bayway area interests to local officials and state legislators. Lobbyists that represent the Community Association Institute and ABC property management companies presented what they expect the key issues to be at the coming Tallahassee legislative session.
First, there is substantial concern that state legislation will be proposed to make it possible for properties to be used for short-term rental services, even when such is in violation of an association’s documents and rules.
“This is an issue that can have a major impact on associations and is important for the ABC to address,” said Nancy LaBare, an ABC principal and resident of Casa IV. The ABC raised this matter at a Nov. 1 meeting of all Pinellas legislators and was assured by 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 Pinellas Bayway moved underground. This year’s hurricanes have heightened concerns that overhead lines make the area vulnerable, including operations at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility (SWWRF). ABC representatives have communicated strong support for under-grounding to city council members, county commissioners and area state legislators.
Walter Donnelly, an ABC principal and resident of Marina Bay, addressed the major work underway at SWWRF, just east of Eckerd College, noting the short-term measures prevented spills on land and in waterways during Hurricane Irma.
“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,” he said. “Longer-term changes to address the sewer overflow problem have not been fully defined, and the total bill may well be far over the $326 million associated with Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Consent Order. The city needs to complete its wastewater and storm-water master plan to fully understand total costs and the ABC will be closely supporting and monitoring that effort.”
ABC principals Ken Wolfe of Dolphin Cay (also representing Eckerd College), Harold Butler of Bahia Del Mar, and Del Ulreich of Playa Escondida (also representing IDSY&CC) discussed other current efforts. These include improved landscaping maintenance along the Bayway, traffic safety and security, and more prompt removal of derelict boats.
With 48 associations representing more than 10,000 residents, ABC’s size 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 member associations. The goal 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.
Other seminars in the 2017-2018 season will address rules and regulations issues, city services, association mechanical issues and project management, insurance and financial matters, and environmental issues. Go to www.baywayalliance.org for information on the seminars and more detail.