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During a nap yesterday, I dreamt of receiving an email from Todd German, Chairman of Hometown! PAC, and in the subject heading was “I was mistaken.” I figured on waking that I should call Todd.
When I caught up with him and told him the dream, and that I felt it might be about the Key West mayor race this year, he said contrary to what he had told me before, Hometown! PAC had decided not to hold its usual April call for candidates at Salute Ristorante on Higgs Beach this year, because none of the incumbent city commissions, whose terms are up, nor Mayor Cates, whose term is up, had drawn any opposition.
Todd said as far as he knew I was the only person who had said anything about running for mayor this year, and that was through a lot of grumbling and not knowing what was going to happen. I said that’s how it goes with me, lots of grumbling and not going what is going to happen, perhaps not until the filing deadline day.
Todd said he felt Hometown! PAC would hold some kind of public forum on the channel widening issue, and proponents for and against and the mayor and city commissioners would get to speak. And any other mayor candidate, too?, I asked. Of course, Todd said. I said that was the best way to do it, given how hot channel widening is in the city. No point in Hometown! PAC wasting money on a call for candidates or candidate forums, when no incumbent had opposition.
I said I would be the only candidate who would make the mayor’s race interesting. Todd said I tended to make races interesting. I said I would know when I knew, if I was going to run for mayor again.
It would mean my moving back into Key West, which I did in 2007 to run for mayor that year, and I stayed living there and ran again in 2009, and in both races I didn’t cause any sweat to break out in the other mayor candidates.
In 2005, political novice Morgan McPherson moved from Rockland Key to Key West and caused plenty of sweat to break out in the incumbent, who was Jimmy Weekley; enough sweat to oust him.
As I mulled all of that yesterday, I found myself wondering what a campaign platform might look like, and how I might advertise it? I thought I might run an ad in rejuvenated Key West the Newspaper, published weekly online – www.thebluepaper.com. And on Facebook. The ad might look something like:
SLOAN for Mayor
Ban cruise ships from Key West
Ban conch trains and trolleys from city streets
Let city residents park their boats in their yards
Turn Truman Waterfront into community garden irrigated by recycled city wastewater
Turn lower Duval Street into mid-afternoon through nighttime pedestrian and artisan mall
Rein in Tree Commission
Mandatory recycling with teeth
Allow white roofs to reflect sunlight
Require maximum roof solar panel coverage on all development and redevelopment
Turn upper half of Smathers Beach into clothing optional beach and attract year round mucho new tourists bearing mucho money, who do not trash beaches
Have two city homeless shelters, one for drunks and other addicts, one for homeless trying to turn their lives around
Read all about it daily at www.goodmorningkeywest.com, where folks accused of being weirdos some place else can come mingle with real weirdos
Political announcement, paid for by Sloan Bashinsky, the mayor candidate who does not take campaign contributions and does not owe anyone favors and does what he thinks is best regardless of what anyone else thinks and never littered the city with campaign signs
Two other serious issues are raised in an article and a letter to the editor in The Key West Citizen today.
Get the ball rolling on assisted living center
Can we please have a status report on the assisted living project? Us seniors aren’t getting any younger.
It would be nice to get out from under the worries that come with owning a house and paying taxes, replacing the roof, calling the plumber, replacing old appliances.
Come on, City Commission, how long must we wait?
The status report is the “assisted living” project is dead in the water because the city cannot afford to build and operate it, nor will any developer agree to build and operate it without the city providing the land for free for 99-years at the city taxpayers’ expense. An assisted living facility is where residents need assistance to live. What was on the drawing board was mostly retirement community for seniors who needed no assistance, and some of it was for seniors who did need assistance. Most of it was for seniors who wanted to sell their homes and have a smaller, cheaper place to live. The assistance they wanted was financial, not nursing care. And, they wanted it on the waterfront.
All along it was known there was not enough demand from Key West seniors to fill such a facility, and units would be offered to seniors living up the Keys and on the mainland and even beyond US borders to make it work, all the while on free city land. That troubling part of the Truman Waterfront so-called assisted living facility never got reported in The Citizen or discussed at city commission meetings leading up to it being put out to a non-binding voter referendum in 2007, but I reported it many times at goodmorningkeywest.com and I debated it at public meetings hosted by the people whose idea it was. I said the city should not subsidize a waterfront retirement community build by a developer for seniors who did not live in Key West. I said such a facility only should be built for seniors living in Key West, if the city was going to subsidize it.
It looks to me that the best place for a project for seniors, unassisted and assisted, is the nursing home on the city’s side of Stock Island. The nursing home goes in and out of business. It is near the hospital. It has good bus services to the North Roosevelt Blvd. shopping centers and into Old Town. That location makes far more sense than Truman Waterfront on the far side of traffic-congested Old Town from the shopping centers and the hospital. Perhaps a developer somehow can be lured to put a seniors facility in the nursing home. Perhaps a local developer with a vested interest in Key West. Perhaps the Spottswood family, Ed Swift, Pritam Singh, the Walsh family. Or a consortium of all of them. And, perhaps the facility will be limited to Key West seniors.
In this article about the city’s parking problem, which will never go away, I highlighted the truth which swam among and devoured the sharks.
Ideas include spots for only Old Towners
BY TERRY SCHMIDA Citizen Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
The city of Key West appears inclined to move forward on a proposal backed by Mayor Craig Cates to encourage workers who drive downtown to their jobs to park in city-managed lots, such as the Park-n-Ride garage and Angela Street parking lot.
Other parking proposals, outlined at a Wednesday evening workshop at Old City Hall, were met with slightly less enthusiasm from city commissioners, including one that would restrict parking in the 1,008 spots marked “Residential Parking” to Old Town residents, who would have to buy a $50 window decal for the privilege.
The problem, according city Parking Manager John Wilkins, is fairly simple: There is more demand than supply for parking in Old Town.
“We’re really at capacity during season,” Wilkins said during the meeting, attended by dozens of residents.
As part of a solution, Wilkins suggested, in an executive summary, that the city kill off its Residential Metered Parking Permits, which allow 48 residents who live in walk-ups, or on streets where metered parking is predominant, to park at those meters for $106 per year.
Bemoaning the loss of $275,000 per year to the city the permits represent, Wilkins said: “I would suggest doing away with it … or at least raise the rates to $100 per month.”
Noting that there are a number of privately-owned parking lots in Old Town offering long-term parking, Wilkins stressed that the city sponsored option wasn’t fair to these business owners.
Another target of Wilkins’ proposal were the 163 Employee Assistance Parking Permits, which allows employees who work downtown to park in metered spots at a cost of $400 for four months.
“I would eliminate these also,” Wilkins said.
It is this latter item that Cates and Commissioner Tony Yaniz supported changing, so that downtown workers would be able to park at the two large city facilities for a cheaper rate.
Commissioner Terri Johnston noted that both programs, as well as the entire Parking Waiver Zone around Duval Street, date back to a time when growing the economy of the area was a priority.
“We’re light years away from that now,” she said.
Yaniz, whose District 4 seat encompasses part of New Town, was adamant that residential parking in Old Town be available for use by all Key Westers, saying he’d “be damned” if he’d vote for any such proposal to restrict the spots to Old Towners, as long as his constituents were being restricted from parking their boats in front of their homes, an issue that appeared settled last year when the commission voted to eliminate the practice islandwide.
But District 1 Commissioner Jimmy Weekley was equally insistent that residential spaces be reserved for the residents of the streets they’re marked on.
“Why should people who live in the historic district have to compete for parking with people coming downtown to party when they come home from work?” he asked.
Parking in most cities is at a premium, he noted, suggesting that non-Old Town residents had been “spoiled” in the past by the availability of cheap parking.
“We have to wean them off of that,” Weekley said. He suggested a pilot program in parts of Old Town.
Parking is big business in Key West.
Last year, the city brought in over $4.5 million in revenues from selling the service, and Wilkins clearly believes the city could be earning even more. Cates noted that this gusher of meter cash has helped keep Key West property taxes lower than the county at large, while providing a correspondingly higher level of services.
Johnston called the parking issue a “very, very serious problem,” and suggested it was part of the larger issue of allowing the expansion of guesthouses, the building of hotels and other businesses without a corresponding increase in the number of spaces allotted to their customers, as well as the carving up of single-family homes into multiple unit dwellings.
Commissioner Clayton Lopez of District 6 agreed.
“It’s an old problem and it’s getting worse,” he said. “We need to look at the whole pie, and not just the piece that affects us the most.”
Yaniz suggested the city enter into talks with guesthouse owners to encourage them to strike deals with local parking lots as a partial solution to the ongoing parking issue.
“That would solve a big part of the pie,” he said.
Yaniz and others present, including two members of the public who spoke, suggested a “jitney”-type shuttle to take people on a loop through Old Town as well as to their cars in city facilities, such as the Park-n-Ride.
Others suggested that any suggestion of restricting Old Town parking to its residents only was doomed to fail.
No action was taken at Wednesday’s workshop.
Wilkins was instructed to do a “significant amount of homework” by Lopez, and report back to the commissioners both individually and as a body at a later date.
Key West should not permit any new lodging places which do not provide on site off street parking for all of their employees and residents.
There is an adult ed classes – Florida Keys and beyond post today at goodmorningfloridakeys.com.