Eight and Out: Suzanne Jenkins

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by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

“I always felt my job was to get the best deals for our citizens. I’ve had fun and did the majority of the things I wanted to do but I’m through,” said Suzanne Jenkins of her eight years representing City Council District 4 and, as she pointed out, all the people in Duval County.

Some of her accomplishments are extremely visible, especially things that have changed Downtown. Jenkins said she takes particular pride in the urban core issues.

”The original Downtown Zoning Overlay ordinance was passed in 2003 and the rewrite should pass before I leave office. That’s something that will really have long-term benefits for Downtown’s signage and architecture. We were also able to change the ordinance concerning parking meters and time limits to allow up to three hours in a parking space. Those were laws that hadn’t been changed since the meters were installed 40 years ago.”

The ordinance authorizing the purchase of modern “smart meters” has been deferred until later this year due to the possibility of the City getting some matching funds for the project, Jenkins said, then added, “The parking meter issue was probably the most contentious one I handled while I was on the Council,” she said. “But we were able to change the perception of what it’s like to park Downtown.”

Jenkins also has a list of accomplishments that affect areas outside the Business Improvement District.

“When I came in office, there was no legal standing for neighborhoods in zoning matters and community associations didn’t have a strong voice when it came to contentious matters of land use and zoning. We were also able to control the number of cell phone towers in Jacksonville and make the ones we have look better than they might have.”

She also cited initiatives that have become policy including the control and elimination of gambling machines, criminal penalties and decontamination standards for illegal drug laboratories, safety standards for businesses and establishing building code compliance alternatives that encourage developers to revitalize historic structures.

“I always got the technical stuff no one else wanted to tackle because they knew I was tenacious,” said Jenkins.

Like other departing Council members, she also said developing more public open space was one of her priorities, including the first public skateboard facility at Cuba Hunter Park, upgrades at Fletcher Morgan Park and designating property for new City parks on Beach Boulevard and Touchton Road.

Jenkins said she’s more focused on completing her term than thinking about life after City Council.

“I’ve got some offers and I’m excited about the opportunities, but I’m not going to make my decision right now about what’s next for me,” she said.