Derek Pivnick reports that last night the governing authority on Pensacola Beach agreed to new deadlines for reconstruction of hurricane-damaged beach homes. The Santa Rosa Island Authority --
originally put a deadline of 2008 to start construction to encourage rebuilding and to discourage land speculating on lots that had been cleared of demolished homes.

After Wednesday's action, leaseholders have until May 2010 to begin construction and until May 2012 to finish. It also gives leaseholders the option of paying a fee to obtain an extension, if they don't meet the deadline.
Pivnick also reports that the only popularly-elected board member, leaseholder representative Thomas Campanella, "said he had reservations" about the new deadline. Campanella voiced concern that even more time will be needed by some among the estimated 200 home owners whose property improvements have been totally destroyed.

"I think everybody's going to be as expeditious as they can, but sometimes things tie your hands," Campanella is quoted as saying.

The SRIA rejected another proposal by Pensacola Beach realtor Trey Manderson that the deadline be moved back to the year 2018.

On Pensacola Beach, all property is legally titled in the name of the county government. Using a land tenure system identical to that followed in the former Soviet Union and modern communist China, the government issues long-term lease contracts of individual building lots to individuals, businesses, and condo associations. Through lease clauses and, more recently, policy decrees the SRIA imposes use conditions such as what structure can be built -- and when.

The option to "buy" a further extension echoes the agency's former practice of leasing lots with a stated construction deadline, then handling "hardship" requests for more time on a case-by-case basis. By the late 1990's charges of SRIA favoritism in denying some hardship requests and waiving the fee for others brought the practice into popular disrepute.