Land Scarcity Chessboard – Part 4


The United Way’s new ALICE report is out.  Here’s an item from the Reporter/Keynoter.  Here’s an item from the Citizen.  And here’s a link to the report itself.  Monroe County families are struggling.  ALICE, of course, means…

  • Asset Limited
  • Income Constrained
  • Employed

Low-income working households.  The people who staff the Keys tourism industry.  Isn’t this what the affordable housing CRISIS! is all about?  Local Keys officials love to talk about the CRISIS!, but for all that talk, they’ve done little to actually address it.  In fact, many of their actions actually serve to worsen it.  A few examples…

  • Key West threw $12.5 million at the purchasers of Peary Court to “preserve” some unspecified number of affordable housing units.  (According to Property Appraiser notes, it appears to be 48 units.)  Was this a wise use of taxpayer money?  Keep in mind, that $12.5 million could have been used to build 125 units based on construction costs of other affordable housing projects in the Keys.
  • The Ocean’s Edge development somehow morphed into a 175-unit resort.  According to the original development agreement, there were supposed to be 46 affordable housing units (50% moderate, 50% median, 50% low-income); 78 residential units that could also serve as vacation rentals; and five hotel rooms.  How did we wind up with 175 hotel rooms?
  • Closely related is the Emergency Services Surtax (ESS), which would have increased taxes on locals (especially renters) and would have substantially lowered them for large (mostly out-of-county) property owners.  How does this help ALICE households?

There’s no question that Keys officials have been completely ineffective at addressing the affordable housing issue – an issue they describe as a CRISIS!  If anything, their “efforts” have only made the problem worse.  It’s striking, isn’t it?  The manufactured panic.  The huge sums of taxpayer money.  The complete lack of progress.

They look like Patrick the starfish from SpongeBob SquarePants when attempting to tackle the problem (well, any problem)…


You can paste David Rice’s picture on there, or George Neugent’s, or Carruthers’s, or Kolhage’s, or the Odious Sylvia Murphy’s, or the iPhone Bandit’s.  There’s not one who inspires confidence.  There’s not one who says what they mean, and means what they say.  It’s all carefully worded gobbledygook, divide-and-conquer, bait-and-switch; designed to confuse, distract and divide, never to inform.  And nearly always attempting to rationalize some state of affairs that can’t possibly be justified with straightforward language that lines up with straightforward action.  It certainly makes them seem stupid and incompetent.  But the county’s own actions (especially the lying) give the impression that malfeasance is part of the mix, too.

I think the new ALICE report really makes clear what’s at stake.  It’s even more alarming when you contrast the documented need with the county’s ongoing (potentially criminal) mishandling of planning and development.

I started writing this series, thinking it was going to be really difficult to figure all these land development issues out.  And, sure, getting my head around the details is tough.  But the overall picture is coming together very quickly.  Basically, there’s a lot the county (and municipal governments) could do by simply enforcing the rules and agreements they already have.  Making up a another moratorium to ignore is silly and pointless.  It’s a meaningless gesture meant to create the illusion of productive action.


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