Letters to the editor with pictures since 2002. Published on Big Pine Key’s garbage days, Tuesdays and Fridays.
|[Affordable Housing] by Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers
I strongly believe the BOCC’s 3-2 vote to begin the process to accept 300 ROGOs for affordable housing is wrong-headed and short-sighted. We have just spent the past few weeks working to convince legislative leaders that the 24-hour evacuation constraint is essential to preserving the Keys. By accepting the 300, we send a contradictory message to Tallahassee: “just kidding about those 24 hours.” There goes our credibility. And I’m puzzled that some of the very people who voted against streamlining the bureaucratic process to build workforce housing (Goal 109) within our existing capacity jumped at the chance to overdevelop our Keys.
For 28 years, the number of humans our island chain can support has been based on our ability to evacuate residents within 24 hours of landfall of a hurricane. That number has been managed through the distribution of building permits in our ROGO system. This metric has determined our carrying capacity and protected both life and the environment. Our infrastructure (sewers, electricity, freshwater supply, medical facilities, roadways, schools) has been balanced to accommodate it. (Notably, the evacuation model currently assumes a 62% residential occupancy rate during hurricane season.)
Accepting the additional ROGOs above that capacity threatens this balance, and potentially well beyond the 1,300 units that have been offered by the State. Here’s why. If someone can agree to evacuate 48 hours pre-landfall just because they live in a designated workforce housing unit, why can’t someone else sign an affidavit agreeing to evacuate in 48 hours or to spend hurricane season outside of the Keys, and thus receive a building permit?
We are not talking, then, about 1,300 units, but about 8,860 more dwelling units, because 7,560 undeveloped parcels will remain at the end of ROGO. 8,860 units means over 20,000 more residents. It means millions if not billions of dollars to scale up infrastructure. It means more traffic, more impact to nearshore waters, more environmental stress, all while we face expensive mitigation and adaptation projects to address sea level rise. Thanks to supply and demand, it means a loss in value of existing developed properties. And what about US1? Is it even feasible to widen the road and 42 bridges to move more traffic? I doubt it.
Further, the 48-hour constraint for the workforce is impractical. Our workforce – utility workers, deputies, public works employees – are the last to evacuate when a storm threatens. They button-up the Keys as residents leave, and some are required to stay during a storm. Tourists must get out of town 48 hours before landfall, and hotel staff must check them out and secure hotel property – not to mention their own homes – before a storm hits. These are the people who inhabit affordable developments. What do we do if they can’t or won’t leave? Evict them?
Mother Nature is the greatest complication. The weather service will admit that while their predictive capabilities of a storm’s track have improved, their ability to forecast strength is not perfect. A storm that appears benign and doesn’t trigger an early evacuation makes a sudden turn, increases speed or intensifies significantly, and we are left with no time to get off the rock. The Labor Day storm of 1935 and more recently, Hurricane Michael, are prime examples.
Anyone who has been here for any length of time also knows that storms don’t always end up being as damaging as predicted. As a former hotelier, I closed my doors and sent my guests home 8 times in 14 months during the ’04-’05 seasons, when just one of those storms actually caused serious damage to Key West. Evacuations 48 hours in advance sometimes prove unnecessary – and expensive for both businesses and employees.
Finally, the entire proposal has been challenged in court, with no judicial decision expected until May. There was no reason to take any action until that legal battle is settled, no reason to have staff spend time and tax dollars on an issue that may, in the end, be moot. The BOCC voted a year ago to hold off on any decision until that case was settled. What changed? This was a hasty decision and bad public policy. It threatens our people’s safety, our environment and our quality of life. Link
|[Crooks] I wonder how much cash the girls at the Big Pine Salvation Army get to keep. I paid cash and the girl neither rung it up nor wrote it down nor offered a receipt.
[Unkempt] Doesn’t the look nice with the jungle taking over. Apparently the County has plenty of cash for their pet projects but not enough to keep the property in decent shape and doesn’t mind creating another neighborhood eyesore.
|[“Capital Bank on Big Pine Key”] “They wouldn’t give change because the person didn’t have an account.” How can they not realize the bad reputation they are getting in the Keys? They charged me a $50 service fee for one month’s use of my money. All of a sudden, no warning, no notice. I closed my accounts then and there and went across the street to the locally owned First State bank where there’s never a service charge and they even gave me a crockpot! Look at the few cars in Capital Bank’s parking lot. There used to be a lot more.
Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer browsers soon and make you use their Edge browser or a third party browser. Edge is geared for Windows and is a bit faster than Internet Explorer, but it is a SOB to set up and get used to. As always MS screws things up making us buy new toys and programs releasing them before the bugs are fixed. Link
[“Blood thermos”] Who in their right mind would want a thermos for blood? A vampire maybe? They should fire their advertising agency for such a bad name.
|[“Built it and they will come”] Speaking of tiny houses, if you think those affordable houses are ridiculous, look at the tiny houses at Ocean Breezes at 11th Street Ocean in Marathon. They are $299,000-ish and $1200 for ‘lot rent’ hoa. By the end of the year, they ought to all be plopped onto their pilings. What’s hysterical is that I bet you dollars to donuts (funny saying, huh?) that they’ll all sell out.
|[“Affordable housing scam”] What really bothers me is how these developers can keep fooling so many people as long as they use the right trigger words. And surprisingly, a lot of these people they fool are academics.
|[“Jersey girl changes oil”] No way a Jersey girl would do that and dirty her nails. More likely it’s one from California.
[Crab Shell Spiders] These little spiders are everywhere down here- have you ever looked closely at one? This is the topside of a spiny orb weaver. And yes, this is an actual picture. Check them out. They build a new web every day.
|[Not Ready For ‘Season’] I’ve been shopping at the BPK Winn Dixie for many, many years. I’ve always been a supporter attributing their quirkiness as part of being in a small town, being kind of “Keysie” if you will, although I was somewhat hopeful the recent remodel would result in more numerous and creative selections. But no more, enough is enough! What used to be a reasonably enjoyable experience has turned into a nightmare every time. I feel like I’m in a third world country when I’m there. Poorly stocked shelves, miserable selections, produce that you have to pick through to find something edible. Today there was no 2% milk, 3 spaghetti squash to choose from, the ice cream was so covered with ice so thick that if it was in my freezer at home, I would have thrown it out without even checking to see if it had freezer burn. 3 lanes open with at least 5 people lined up in each. From now on, it’s Murray’s for pickups and the long drive to KW to a proper grocery store. Maybe I’ll bring a cooler and stop at the Green Parrot while I’m down there.
I just need one more dive certification …
|[Wasted Energy] Why can’t we build houses like thermos insulated mugs.
|[Alternate News Source] I am not a communist but have just been introduced to the RT (TV network), formerly Russia Today. After decades of watching US news broadcasts, it is really refreshing to see world news from a much less biased perspective. Trump has always been right about US media reporting fake news and if it has not been obvious before, watching RT should make it clearly so. Many of their reports originate in a New York studio. Your next best bet is BBC.
When fishing, always bring along an action figure.
|[Counterfeit Merchandise] Testing Walmart, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and Wish. Video
|[Rich Asshole Captain] Just more proof that the mindless rich have taken over the Florida Keys. A couple of old guys like me were fishing off Little Palm Island the other day when some New Yorker’s 60’ Sea Ray plowed over them killing one of the fishermen. The Sea Ray was on auto-pilot. Who in the world runs on auto-pilot in nearshore shallows off the Florida Keys? Duds from up north. From the newspaper article, “The Sea Ray is owned by Mark Dominic Passero, 51, of Webster, New York, according to the FWC report. Neither he, nor his passenger, Michael Anthony Zicari, 32, from Rochester, New York, were injured, the report states.” Link
Mister Passero, I hope they sue you! Owning a 60’ Sea Ray, I’m sure you got a good attorney. That doesn’t make up for being a crappy boat Captain. You weren’t drinking were you. Get out of the Keys. Go back to Long Island or where you idiots come here from. Yeah, I’m pissed.
[“Whitey Bulger LSD”] A juror claims the notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger was innocent because he took LSD 50 times. I’ve also taken LSD 50 times, but I never murdered, robbed, or tortured anyone. All I did was laugh.
|Empires are not brought down by outside forces – they are destroyed by weaknesses from within.
[The dangers of Marijuana] Gateway drug to obesity.
|[Affordable Housing] Anyone worried that their real estate values will crash if developers (or better known as ‘hood hackers) build this trash next to your $500,000 to $4,000,000 Key’s mansion? I am. And I will fight anyone trying to stick that low rent garbage anywhere near me. The real name for affordable housing in the Keys is affordable kingling.
|[Too Many People] I am still of the belief that all Earth’s problems are happening because there are too many people. Of these over bread mutants, education has made thinkers out of ditch diggers who would have never had the intelligence to speak up about anything important. Give an idiot the ability to bitch and moan and they will entice someone to their side to protest or make waves. When humanity had to work for their living/food/lives they did not have the time to think. What might cleanse this rock before it explodes it a solar storm that nulls all electricity and makes humanity survive the hard way. That will cull the useless eaters, village elders, bums and crooks, and leave the worker to tend his or her garden. Maybe that is what is happening now with the flu.
[Power Adapter] Someone was looking for device to adapt a trailer hitch to a 12v “lighter” outlet. Here it is. Link
|A comprehensive cyberbullying guide for parents. Link
|[Snowbirds] I like many of them individually but hate them as a group. But I love it when they all migrate back to their northern palatial estates.
[Kidney Disease] I just found out that there are no dialysis centers in the Keys, except Key West. We were planning to stay at Fiesta Key in August, the nearest dialysis center is in Homestead. The two hospitals, Fisherman and Mariners, do not have dialysis machines, they send you to Miami. The people in the middle keys travel to Key West or to Homestead 3 times a week for their treatments.
|[Marathon Politics] Can I mention that I heard the Coldirons are divorcing? Perhaps the Marathon City Council is the place to join if you want to divorce your spouse? It’ll give you nerve.