Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 19th 2018

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The Buzz 12/28/17

Best Wildlife Destination The Luxury Travel Guide recognized Perdido Key as the Wildlife Destination of the Year for 2017.

The Luxury Travel Guide Awards represent the pinnacle of travel and tourism achievement, championing the best in their respective field. All winners of the Luxury Travel Guide Awards are subject to the same rigorous assessment criteria, carried out by in-house professionals. This ensures only the most deserving hotels, destinations, companies and individuals walk away with one of these prestigious accolades and gain a place in the awards winners’ guide which will be distributed to over half a million readers around the world.

The Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce wrote in its press release, “The locals, visitors and people who admire the Perdido Area are to be thanked for this extraordinary award. Due to the extravagant online presence of beautiful shared photos and stories, Perdido Key has grown within the past year to become one of the most desirable wildlife destinations in the world.”

Hayward Touts Airbnb Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward defended his TV commercial touting Airbnb in a viewpoint given to FloridaPolitics.com. The opinion piece came after he refused last week to answer questions from Florida Politics reporter Scott Powers and PNJ reporter Jim Little.

“For both our community, and our state, a major priority is to not only maintain the current levels of tourism we enjoy, but to attract even more visitors,” he wrote. “One key step we can take is to embrace the sharing economy: empowering middle-class residents in Pensacola and elsewhere to provide transportation options through Uber or Lyft or alternative lodging through Airbnb, HomeAway or Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO).”

He said that over 300 people in Pensacola have used Airbnb to share their homes with 25,000 travelers and earned $3 million.  He urged other mayors across the state to consider looking for ways to work with the short-term rental industry.

“There are a handful of Florida cities that have chosen to crack down on short-term rentals and penalize taxpaying homeowners,” wrote Hayward. “I fear this will have a chilling effect on tourism, and I know it has already alarmed many residents in my community. I am committed to working with all of Pensacola’s residents — those who choose to share their homes and those who don’t — to spur innovation and grow our local economy while avoiding overregulation.”

One Florida Politics reader questioned Mayor Hayward’s knowledge of Airbnb. She pointed out a Chicago Tribune article that reported 81 percent of Airbnb’s profits are from rental properties, owned by investors without any stake in Florida.

“Legislators should be listening to their constituents who live in communities that are zoned single-family,” she wrote. “They thought they were moving into a community, not a rotating group of dozens of strangers on a weekly basis. No one is opposed to the sharing economy, but communities zoned single-family should be just that.”

She said the short-term renters have led to 20 percent of the full-time residents leaving Anna Maria Island in Manatee County

“See what happens to the hospitals, schools, hairdressers, dentists, small shops and restaurants that rely on fulltime residents,” wrote the reader identified as Paula. “Volunteers are residents, not short-term renters. Transients come in, spend a little money, and leave. They are not invested in the community in the ways that matter.”

She challenged Mayor Hayward, “Don’t believe Airbnb’s Mom and Pop stories – that is the only story told – and told by you as well, mayor. Where have you addressed the investor-built mini-hotels that have destroyed communities? You haven’t. Shame on you with your one-sided approach.”

Pirolli Praised The National Academy of Inventors named Peter Pirolli of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and 154 other inventors from around the world to its class of 2017 NAI Fellows. Election as an NAI fellow is among the highest professional accolade bestowed to academic inventors at universities and research institutions worldwide.

Before joining IHMC earlier this year, Pirolli was a research fellow in the Interactive Intelligence Area at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he studied human information interaction.

“This is a wonderful recognition for Peter,” said IHMC founder and CEO Ken Ford. “Peter is a leader in the field of complex human-information interaction systems. It doesn’t surprise me that NAI would name Peter a fellow. Peter holds 74 patents and is among the most talented and versatile researchers that I know.”

With the election of the 2017 class, there are now 912 NAI Fellows worldwide who collectively hold more than 32,000 patents. NAI fellows have helped create more than 9,400 technologies and companies which have generated 1.3 million jobs and more than $137 billion in revenue.

“To say I’m humbled by being named an NAI Fellow is an understatement,” said Pirolli. “I have worked with so many great people over the years and this recognition would have never happened without their friendship and support.”

Pirolli joins Ford and five previously elected NAI Fellows affiliated with IHMC, including researchers William J. Clancey and David P. Fries, and board members William S. Dalton, Alain T. Rappaport and T. Dwayne McKay.”

City Residents Pleased According to the latest UWF Haas Center poll conducted for Mayor Ashton Hayward, Pensacola residents are generally pleased with city services.

Based on the grading system created by the Haas Center, the increases in satisfied and very satisfied residents when compared to the 2016 study were in City Streets (3.29-3.42), Stormwater Infrastructure (3.07-3.16), Cleanliness (3.67-3.76) and Athletic Facilities (3.67-3.68).

The satisfaction grades dropped on all the other city services, except for Community Centers (3.69) and Value for Taxes Paid (3.62) which remained the same as 2016. The biggest drops were in Communications (3.69-3.55), Sanitation Services (4.04-3.92) and City Lighting (3.60-3.48), which the Haas Center considered significant declines.

The Haas Center used the available phone numbers from census tracts inside the city limits. In total, 532 people completed the entire questionnaire. To supplement phone calls, Haas Center staff directly approached people at the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival, Barktoberfest and Veterans Day Parade.

The survey also found 76.7 percent believe the city is headed in the right direction—a 7.4-point increase over 2016. Mayor Hayward interpreted that statistic as his job performance evaluation.

He said in a press release, “The fact that three out of four residents say that we are on the right track is strong confirmation that the energy and resources that are being invested in Pensacola are in line with the direction that our community wants to go.”

Meeting Schedule The University of West Florida Military & Veterans Resource Center is holding a Marketing & Branding Veterans Workshop on Jan. 6. The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program offers you tuition-free, online and on-campus instruction. To learn more and register, visit veteransflorida.org/veterans/veterans-florida-entrepreneurship-program.

The League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area will host a Constitution Revision Commission presentation by Dr. Carol Weissert, Director of the Leroy Collins Institute and Professor of Political Science at Florida State University, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at the Main Library, 239 N. Spring St. The meeting is open to the public.