Key West Voices Weekly News Wrap-up

Last Stand says Enough! – Weekly briefing – 26 June 2023

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Hurricane evacuation modeling remained on the minds of locals and organizations. 

Two named storms. The first two named storms of the tropical storm seasonwere tracked by the National Hurricane Center. Bret has already dissipated, and so has Cindy. (National Hurricane Center)

Bed tax for affordable housing? Maybe, probably not. Although the Monroe Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a plan to divert $25 million in collected bed taxes, state law does not allow the funds to be used for affordable housing projects. The BOCC also postponed a controversial decision on abandoning a county road in favor of a homeowners association. (Citizen, $)

Charter County? In its 21 June meeting, the BOCC began consideration of becoming a charter county, a move that would require voter approval. Charter counties have more power to levy taxes, and prospectively more autonomy from Tallahassee. (Keys Weekly)

  • Different. Charter counties are different than non-charter counties. (Florida Association of Counties)
  • Only 20. There are currently 20 charter counties in Florida. (Florida Association of Counties)
  • Dense language. A 2007 write-up delved into the differences. (Florida Bar Association).

Health code violations. Two local restaurants tied with 22 violations each, according to the Citizen.  (Citizen, $)

Native flamingos. Mark Hedden wrote about flamingos spotted in the Keys in the 19th century. (Keys Weekly)

Got mango? Linda Cunningham has had enough. (Key West Island News)

Staples bridge. Christopher Hamilton anticipated a new and better bridge for the Crosstown Greenway. (Friends of Car Free Cities)

Swamp Story. Nancy Klingener recommended a Dave Barry audiobook for road trips in Florida. (

19 June 2023

Flawed, preposterous, and dangerous – Weekly Wrap-Up – 19 June 2023

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Hurricane evacuation modeling. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) held three workshops ahead of revising its hurricane evacuation model for the Florida Keys. When the model was last revised in 2012, additional residential building permits (called ROGOs) were authorized for the Keys. 

  • Flawed model, flawed process. Last Stand of the Florida Keys’ Dottie Moses offered a comprehensive and full-throated critique of flaws in the model itself and the larger process of determining the carrying capacity of the Keys. This six minute video is a must-see. (Last Stand)
  • Preposterous and dangerous. That’s how former Monroe School Board member Ed Davidson described the model used in 2012. He explains in this twenty minute video of his public statement. (Last Stand)
  • But more ROGO allocations are envisioned. So said Brian Schmitt of Coldwell Banker in one session. The Citizen offered a detailed account of the meetings. (Citizen, $)
  • Full-length videos of the meetings were posted by Monroe County

Budget signed. The Governor signed the state’s 2023 budget, which included:

  • $20 million for the Florida Keys Stewardship Act
  • $5 million for land acquisition appropriation
  • $6.25 million for the Monroe County Emergency Operations Center being built at Marathon airport
  • $650,000 for the mobile vessel pump-out program
  • $1.6 million for mooring field development
  • $10 million for a new Florida Keys artificial reef program. (Konk Life, $)

Take the bus; ride a bike. Chris Hamilton celebrated the opening of the new Garden View Apartments on Stock Island and envisions incentives to ride the bus. (Friends of Car Free Cities)  

Hurricane prep: go analog. Linda Cunningham reminded us to prepare as though a Cat 5 is coming. (Key West Island News)  

A good place to start. Mark Hedden offered a round-up of herons and egrets as a good place for novice Keys birders to start watching. (Keys Weekly)

“…because boys have sex and girls have babies.” Mandy Miles shared quotes from her father for Father’s Day. (Keys Weekly)

Happy 100th birthday. Frank Toppino, whose family name is everywhere there’s construction in the Keys, hit the century mark just in time for Father’s Day. (Keys Weekly)

11 June 2023

It’s all about capacity – Weekly Wrap-Up – 11 June 2023

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Hurricane Evacuation Model. Very quietly, without much notice, without Zoom links for those of us away from the Keys next week, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is holding public meetings to “provide information regarding hurricane evacuation modeling in the Florida Keys and to seek public input.” The evacuation model is used to determine whether new residential building permits (ROGOs) can be issued.

Ousted. The City Commission voted 6-1 to oust its Planning Board appointee Gregory Lloyd as a result of his letter to the editor calling out FKAAs infrastructure failings and critical of FKAA’s leadership. Mayor Teri Johnston was the lone vote in support of Lloyd. (Keys Weekly)

Pride. Four local drag performers encouraged the City Commission to approve a resolution affirming Key West as a “welcoming city” for all. The resolution passed unanimously. (Keys Weekly)

Creative people. Leslie Linsley wrote that creativity is Key West’s greatest asset. (Citizen, $)

Tips. Mandy Miles wanted servers to be honest when a tip is added to a restaurant check. (Keys Weekly)

Extraordinary birder. Mark Hedden lauded Christian Cooper, who was famous in the birding world before he became famous nationwide for being the subject of an entirely false and racist police report.

04 June 2023

Yes, development can be limited – Weekly Wrap-Up – 4 June 2023

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National news, local relevance. Tension between development and community need appeared in national headlines this week. 

Debt crisis averted.Biden signed the debt limit bill, avoiding U.S. default. (Reuters)

Lower power bills. Keys Energy Services’ (KEYS) said that customers will see a decrease in their June energy bills, as a result of reductions in natural gas costs. (Citizen, $)

New format. The first City Commission meeting format begins on Thursday 8 June. Proclamations, presentations, and consent agenda in the morning, with discussion items and other public hearing items in the afternoon.  

Arelene. Hurricane season beganThursday with the first named storm. (USA Today)

Pride month.

Our voices.

28 May 2023

Bed tax for infrastructure? – Weekly Wrap-Up – 28 May 2023

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Bed tax for infrastructure? County Mayor Craig Cates said he wants to use $25 million surplus bed tax receipts on “public facilities projects” — and eventually, on affordable housing. (Keys Weekly)

Warning letter to FKAA. The Florida Keys Aqueduct authority was warned by the Florida Department of Environment Protection of possible violations for its maintenance failures, some of which became evident in several water main breaks in March. (Keys News)

Oldest living Conch, perhaps. Gwen Filosa posted her interview with 104 year old Onelio Gonzalez who shared life memories and his secrets to longevity. (WLRN) 

Casa Marina closed. The 100 year old resort was closed to undergo six months of major renovations, and is slated to reopen in phases until work is completed in November. (Keys Weekly)

103 new apartments. The Key West Housing Authority officially opened its new Garden View complex on College Road on Stock Island. The apartments are restricted to workforce members with low and very low incomes. The 650 applications received for the apartments says that there’s still demand for workforce housing. (Keys Weekly)

Kite flying in the Everglades. Mark Hedden wrote about his search for the Florida Snail Kite in the national park and surrounding areas.   

Manuscript surfaced. A WWII era manuscript by the late Key West journalist Walter Logan was found and purchased for $1 at an estate sale. (Citizen, $)

21 May, 2023

Wait, what? Safer Cleaner Ships and Pier B agree (to disagree) – Weekly Wrap-up – 21 May 2023

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Big win for Pier B. 
It appeared likely that the owners of Pier B will be granted a permanent expansion of the area of the bay-bottom lease, as well as an unprecedented 25 year lease renewal. 

$1,000 per month. Chris Hamilton considered the cost of owning a car in the context of Key West’s unique transportation and affordable housing challenges and opportunities. (Friends of Car-Free Key West)

Destroyer Higbee. The U.S. Navy commissioned a new guided-missile destroyer in a ceremony on 13 May. (Keys Weekly) 

Thanks for nothing. Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 1417 that supersedes any local government regulation of landlord-tenant relationships. The net effect is that landlords can end month-to-month leases on shorter notice. (Citizen, $)

New apartments ready on Stock Island. The Key West Housing Authority announced that the grand opening ceremony for its long-awaited Garden View apartments is on 23 May, with new tenants moving in as early as the next day. (Keys Weekly)

FKAA warned. The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority a “warning letter” alerting the agency that is it is under “investigation” for not maintaining its main waterline pipe and could face “civil penalties.”

Raise taxes? Linda Cunningham went back to 2020 to remind the City to raise taxes. (Key West Island News)

Camera with a long lens. Mark Hedden tried to focus on the right things.  

A smooth-billed ani seen recently at Indigenous Park in Key West. MARK HEDDEN/Keys Weekly
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