Jacksonville Resiliency Committee Chair Proposes 3 Subcommittees To Engage Public

May 19, 2020

The Chair of Jacksonville’s Special Committee on Resiliency, tasked with helping the city prepare for the impacts of sea level rise, is proposing three new subcommittees to better engage the public ahead of the committee’s first meeting since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Florida.

When the coronavirus started spreading locally, the Jacksonville City Council’s special committees stopped meeting, although, regular standing committees did continue to meet virtually via the Zoom teleconferencing app. 

As special committees started to reconvene virtually, Resiliency Committee Chair and At-Large Group 4 Councilman Matt Carlucci decided he wanted to find a better way to engage the people who were attending meetings, many of whom he said “have much more expertise than the council members.”

Related: New Jacksonville City Council Resilience Committee To Address Flooding, Sea Level Rise

“I don't think them coming to the meetings and just watching is leveraging the talent that we have sitting out in the audience,” he said. 

In a “one way communication” designated letter sent to fellow committee members this week, Carlucci proposed three subcommittees:

  • Environmental Planning, which would focus on environmental shocks (hurricanes and storm events) and stresses (sea level rise) and how the city can better protect local communities from those threats.
  • Infrastructure and Continuity of Operations for Essential Services, which would focus on maintaining the operation of critical infrastructure (things like bridges, hospitals, grocery stores, roadways, and drainage systems) before, during, and after a disaster.
  • Education, Protection of Local Neighborhoods, and Community Outreach, which would focus on how to better engage and inform Jacksonville residents.

Carlucci said he would want a committee member to chair each of those subcommittees.

“One of the biggest reasons is because the council chair understands the Sunshine Law, can better call on staff for support of that subcommittee, and understands who to call if they have to do Zoom meetings,” he explained.

But, he hopes the public will join these subcommittees and contribute to their work.

Related: Coalition Aims To Support Jacksonville’s Efforts To Address Flooding, Sea Level Rise

“I think this is a good way to harness a lot of the talent and the knowledge that sits out there and has only up to now been able to speak for five minutes before our committee,” Carlucci said.

He plans to have each of those subcommittees meet regularly for two to three months, put together a document on their findings, submit ideas and policy recommendations, and then report back to the full committee.

“While they're doing that, we [the Resiliency Committee] will still be trying to have one meeting a month with a guest speaker, also hearing more about what Bill Killingsworth and John Pappas have come up with in planning and public works. And then, ultimately, we want to try to hire a CRO [Chief Resilience Officer],” Carlucci explained.

Related: Jacksonville City Councilman Looks To Hire Chief Resilience Officer

To that end, he hopes to have Jim Murley, Miami Dade County’s Chief Resilience Officer, come speak to the committee sometime soon.

Carlucci wants to stick to these three proposed subcommittees for now, but he’s open to more in the future.

The proposed subcommittees would have to be approved by the special committee.

The Special Committee on Resiliency is expected to take up the proposal during its next meeting, which is scheduled to be held via Zoom from 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 28. For more information and details on how to join the Zoom meeting, click here.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.