Mayoral candidate Buchanan calls for Downtown Improvement Board to be abolished and for city to take over parking management
Pensacola mayoral candidate Drew Buchanan on Wednesday called for the abolition of the Downtown Improvement Board.
The DIB was established by the Florida Legislature nearly a half-century ago as downtown Pensacola fell into decline. The departure of major retailers left behind vacant storefronts and buildings in disrepair.
“Downtown Pensacola is a different place than it was in 1972,” Buchanan said. “The blight and deterioration cited in the DIB Act are long gone. Thanks to the hard work of many, downtown Pensacola is now thriving. The DIB’s mission has been completed, and it’s time to roll back this extra layer of government.”
While it previously managed events like the Pelican Drop New Year’s Eve Celebration and Gallery Night, the DIB ended its involvement with those events in 2016. Currently, the DIB’s largest responsibility is the management of downtown parking — a power given to it by the Pensacola City Council in 2007. The DIB has recently come under fire for its mismanagement of various parking issues, including changes to parking rates and enforcement times.
“As Mayor, I will ask the City Council to repeal the interlocal agreement with the DIB, allowing the city to take back control and management of downtown parking,” said Buchanan. “Many of the DIB’s other responsibilities can be carried out by the city’s Parks and Public Works departments.”
Buchanan noted that as a longtime DIB board member, his opponent Grover Robinson shares in the blame for the organization’s failures.
“Mr. Robinson has served on the DIB for many years,” Buchanan said. “He’s as much to blame for this parking blunder as anyone else. Frankly, it’s yet another example of his lack of leadership and vision.”
Buchanan said he would work with downtown business owners to establish an independent, non-profit downtown business alliance, a model that’s proven successful in cities across the country.
Because the DIB was established by a special act of the Florida Legislature, abolishing the agency would require the Legislature to repeal the act. Buchanan said he would work with members of Pensacola’s legislative delegation to get it done.
“I’m confident that our state legislators will work with me to eliminate this unnecessary layer of government,” said Buchanan.