Key West – The Stupid Factory?

stupid factory
photo of T-shirt shop taken yesterday by Key West amigo Todd German in Waikiki, outside Honolulu
Todd FBTodd
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Found this in my inbox this morning from konknet.com, I added pic.

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Homeless shelter gets new push

BY PRU SOWERS

NEWS WRITER

With each proposed option continually getting shot down, Key West city officials are getting creative in their quest to build a new overnight homeless shelter.

Mayor Craig Cates is proposing to do a deal with the Land Authority, which collects a half-cent bed tax placed on Key West hotel, B&Bs and transient rental guests for every dollar they spend. The deal would involve selling property at 5224 College Road, currently jointly owned by the city and Monroe County, to the Land Authority. The Authority would then either offer the city a long-term lease or give the property back to the city outright, Cates said, and the city would use part of the money from the sale to build a new homeless shelter.

The parcel currently houses the former Easter Seals building which is occupied by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District offices. The county animal control offices and animal shelter are also located on the property.

“The chances are good. That money belongs to the city of Key West,” Cates said, adding that the deal would eliminate the need to issue a property tax levy to pay for a new shelter.

The property is currently assessed for less than $1 million. But the cost of a new shelter, which would be an open air concrete slab with roll-down plastic walls, would be about $700,000, Cates said. He didn’t elaborate on what the remaining money would be used for. Under current law, Land Authority funds can only be used to purchase land for affordable housing or land conservation purposes. Although the bed tax funds are used exclusively within Key West city limits, any spending of those monies must be approved by the Monroe County Commission.

 The city is under the gun to move the existing Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) out of the current facility on the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department property on College Road after losing a lawsuit filed by the neighboring Sunset Marina condominium owners. The lawsuit charged – and the courts agreed – that the city ignored its own building permit regulations when it turned an existing sheriff’s department building into an overnight shelter for homeless men and women.

Since the court decision, the city has been looking for a new location to house the approximately 150 people who turn up at the shelter each evening. And Rick Ramsey, Monroe County Sheriff, also compounded the problem by telling city and county commissioners last month that he no longer wanted to provide security and maintenance services for KOTS. The city pays approximately $440,000 a year to operate KOTS, which is managed by the nonprofit Southernmost Homeless Assistance League.

City commissioners explored moving the facility into the existing state Juvenile Detention Facility, also on College Road, but were rebuffed by state and federal authorities earlier this month.

Cates said this week that city and county attorneys are looking into the feasibility of using Land Authority funds to build a new KOTS that would include shower and toilet facilities in separate trailers on the property. The Key West Land Authority collects about $1.5 million each year and there is approximately $7 million currently in the fund.

“The sheriff wants us to move. That’s why this is coming up now,” Cates said, referring to his funding proposal. “We have to move.”

http://konknet.com/konk-life/contributors/pru-sowers

ONE THOUGHT ON “HOMELESS SHELTER GETS NEW PUSH

  1. I don’t see how bed tax money earmarked for affordable housing can be used to build a homeless shelter which is provided free to homeless people, who cannot be required to pay for staying and showering there, if the city wants to arrest and jail them for sleeping and bathing outside instead. Ref. The Pottinger Case, which the ACLU brought against the City of Miami, because it was using its police to try to drive homeless people out of the city for sleeping, cooking, camping and relieving themselves outside.

    I don’t see how bed tax money emarked for affordable housing can be spent on anything but affordable housing in any event.

    During a neighborhood meeting on Angela Street yesterday afternoon,re the new Peary Court Development, City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, the featured guest, said far better for that land to be turned into affordable housing. He said far better to put affordable housing on the Easter Seals property. So, I asked him how he felt about turning Truman Waterfront into affordable housing run by the Housing Authority? He said he didn’t know if that would be legal, he thought Truman Waterfront was supposed to be a public park. Maybe part of it could be afforddable housing. And there is the 6.6 acres which Bahama Village was supposed get. Which was stolen by the city, I said. Tony nodded yes.

    My understanding is, Truman waterfront was supposed to pay for itself and was supposed to benefit Bahama Village, first and foremost. Trying to help Bahama Village was why the Navy deeded Truman Waterfront to the city.

    Be that as it may, it was because the city was sued by the condo association across the canal from KOTS on the Sheriff’s land that the city agreed with the plaintiffs to relocate the city’s homeless shelter. It was only later that the Sheriff said he didn’t want the city’s homeless shelter on his land any longer.

    Tony Yaniz joked at the Angela Street meeting, that the Sheriff had said didn’t want his female deputies around homeless people, and the Department of Justice had said it didn’t want homeless underneath the DOJ building in the Sheriff’s Complex, with young females overhead. But the Sheriff and DOJ were okay with a homeless shelter being next door to a county senior assisted living facility, the city’s tropical forest and botanical garden, near an elementary school, near homes where families lived with young children.

    And also adjacent to the city’s championship golf course, I thought.

    In fact, this ex-Key West street person says some homeless people are truly dangerous; most of them are addicts; many of them are mentally ill; and many of them have seirous communical diseases, MRSA tops the horribles list. I say it is madness to put a new homeless shelter at the Easter Seals property. The only sane, and the only safe place in Key West to put a new homeless shelter is somewhere on the Sheriff’s land.

    Furthermore, the golf course community association is represented by the same lawyer, Bart Smith, who sued the city over KOTS being built without permits on the Sheriff’s land. The golf course community association has told the City Commission, I was at that commission meeting and heard it, that they will sue the city if it tries to put the new homeless shelter in the Easter Seals building, adjacent to the golf course, which is operated, I think, by Bart Smith’s parents, who, I also think, developed the golf course condos, or some of them.

    Tony Yaniz said at the Angela neighborhood meeting that he wants the new homeless shelter put on Big Coppit Key. He doesn’t care if homeless people don’t want to travel that distance to use it. Problem with that is the Potinger case. Homeless people cannot be arrested and jailed for living outside,unless there is a homeless shelter available to them and they refuse to use it. And, if they cannot get to the shelter on their own, they have to be taken there by the police, or by someone, and only if they refuse transportation to the shelter can they then be arrested and jailed.

    Another problem, simply practical, is homeless people will not, in the main, travel from Key West to a homeless shelter on Big Coppit. A shelter built there will be a white elephant.

    At the county-city homeless summit, and before that, many times, this ex-practicing lawyer suggested the Sheriff needs to be given incentive to have the new homeless shelter on his land. So far, the city has not offered the Sheriff incentive.

    Instead, the city arrests and takes homeless people to the Sheriff’s jail, over homeless crimes which are not enforced against anyone else – drinking in public, loitering just off public sidewealks on private property, sleeping outside.

    Homeless people cost more, usually, for the Sheriff to look after, because most of them are addicts and need to be detoxed; many of them have diseases the Sheriff has to treat; many of them are mentally deranged, which the Sheriff has to manage.

    Some homeless inmates the Sheriff sends to the hospitial, which has to treat them for free. Some of them the city police take, or send them in ambulances, straight to the hospital on the ambulance company and the hospital’s dime. 

    Key West’s homeless policy is causing the Sheriff a lot of trouble in his jail, and is costing him a lot of money, which the taxpayers are funding. The hospital suffers similarly, for it costs far more to house and treat a homeless person in the hospital, than in the jail.

    I suggested that the city build its on drunk tank for homeless addicts, and take them there and hold them there until the next morning, and then release them and put them to finding their way back to where they were arrested and left their bicycles locked up, or not locked up. Make getting arrested for drinking outside a bad experience for them, but not for the Sheriff and the hospital.

    At the homeless summit, County Commissioner David Rice, a psychologist,who ran the Guidance Clinics of the Keys for many years, who knows plenty about addicts therefore, said he liked my idea and would look into seeing how the Marchman Act would be used to do just what I had suggested.

    If the Sheriff is not providing Key West housing for the city’s homeless drunks, perhaps the Sheriff will be more inclined to put up with the city’s new homeless shelter being located somewhere else on his land. 

    As for affordable housing, Tony Yaniz said at yesterday’s Angela Street meeting that a studio in Key West is $1,400 a month. How is that affordable housing? How can the people who take care of the needs of what people more financially well-off can afford, how can gardeners, waitresses, bar cooks, fishing boat mates, etc. afford $1,400 a month for a studio?

    Tony’s right, you know. My definition of affordable housing is, if a waitress can afford it on her salary, then it’s affordable. Otherwise, calling it affordable is a joke, a lie.

Tony YanizYaniz
 
Tony Yaniz made other comments at the Angela Street meeting yesterday, which I liked; as did members of that neighborhood. 
 
When a woman who said she had practiced real estate law for 25 years and was very familiar with developments like the new proposed Peary Court said she was especially concerned about the developer’s plan to take 10 years to complete the development, and why was that? And where was the developer getting the money to do the development? And was the developer going to put in some infrastructure and build a few models and sell units based on the models? And was the developer going to get its development fee up front and then bail and leave for someone else to clean up a bulldozed bare piece of land? Tony said he had the same questions and concerns. As did I. As did everyone there.
 
When several neighborhood members said they are appalled that City Planner Don Craig has his own agenda about how Peary Court should be developed, in disregard of the city’s Historical Architectural guidelines and the city’s comprehensive plan, Tony said he likes Don Craig, he’s really smart, but he loves the power he has, and he seems to be getting given even more power by City Manager Bob Vitas, and that is bothering him, Tony.
 
Tony also mentioned that Dong Craig likes to throw rocks at passing cars.
Don CraigCraig 
 
As I understand that incident, after Don Craig became frustrated with his efforts to get speeding and loud cars and trucks stopped in his Meadows neighborhood, same neighborhood Angela Street provides a boundary for, he got drunk and stood in his front yard and threw rocks at passing cars until he hit a police cruiser and was arrested and taken to jail. Made a big splash in the local media.
 
 
 Don Craig, who was upset about speeding and loud cars on his Meadows street, is determined to open the streets in the Meadows, which now dead end on Angela Street, so they will run into the new Peary Court development, which will create a huge amount of additional traffic on Angela Street, which for decades has been a narrow, quiet, out of the way lane almost. Don Craig is determined to end that for the Angela Street homeowners.
 
I learned early in life that drunk people show parts of themselves they do not show when they are sober. If a high-ranking city employee gets drunk and throws rocks at passing cars, that tells me he should be kept on a very short leash by the City Manager and by the City Commission (mayor and six city commissioners), for whom the City Manager works.
 
During the Angela Street meeting, Tony Yaniz lamented, because of the Florida Sunshine Law, the only time city commissioners and the mayor can discuss city matters among themselves, and even argue about city matters, is during city commission meetings. That is true. 

After the Angela Street meeting ended, I asked Tony Yaniz privately if he, or another city commissioner, or the mayor, could put Peary Court on a city commission agenda for discussion? I said the new Peary Court development is really important for the city, there are lots of problems brewing down below the city commission, which will make the final call. The commissioners and mayor could talk about their perspectives and concerns at such a city commission meeting, without violating the Sunshine Law. That would be heard by Don Craig and the Historical Architectural Review Committee. It could head off at the pass what might otherwise not be headed off and arrive brand new and a big surprise to the commissioners and mayor to approve, modify or reject.

 
Tony said that was a good idea; the next city commission meeting agenda is full, but remind him of it after that commission meeting; or better, take it to City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, for him to put it on the following city commission agenda, as Angela Street is in his city voting district.
Jimmy Weekley 2Weekley
Jimmy met with the Angela Street folks about three weeks ago. He had much the same views and concerns as Tony and City Commissioner Billy Wardlow,
Billy WardlowWardlow
who met with the Angela Street neighbors earlier yesterday. Mayor Cates met with the Angela Street neighbors first, and he has much the same inclinations and concerns.
Mayor CatesCates
 
Bottom line, none of them liked the idea of running Meadows streets through Angela Street into the new Peary Court. They all liked keeping the old iron fence between Angela Street and the existing Peary Court in place. They all liked a street in the new Peary Court running from the existing Palm Avenue entrance to the Southard Street entrance. They all were concerned about the developer, and about the “mother-in-law” units ending up being market rate transient rental units.
 
Two of the developers live in Brazil. One of the Angela Street neighbors said yesterday that the new Peary Court will be funded by drug money, like most developments in Key West are, or were, funded.
 
City Commissioner Teri Johnston meets with the Angela Street neighborhood this afternoon.
Teri JohnstonJohnston
So far, City Commissioners Mark Rossi and Clayton Lopez
Mark Rossiclayton-lopez.jpg
Rossi, left, Lopez, right
have not responded to requests that they meet with the Angela Street neighbors, who, by standing their ground, asking simply to be left alone, to not be trampled by a developer who does not have to pay land taxes, and by city staff ignoring historical guidelines and the city’s comprehensive plan, are defending the city and its residents from yet another foreign invasion fueled by greed, and they are defending the city from itself.
 
I keep wondering how much money (staff time) dealing with the Peary Court developer will end up costing the city, thus the city taxpayers? I keep wondering how much money could be saved, if the City Commission takes the bull by the horns and tells the City Manager to tell Don Craig, and if the City City Commissioner tells the Historical Architectural Review Commission, to shape up, or be shipped out? 
 
At the the first Angela Street meeting yesterday, City Commissioner Billy Wardlow said he thinks there are far too many city committees. I said, committees let the City Commission pass the buck. Laughter. However, the buck stops at the City Commission. It will decide what the new Perry Court looks like, and its impact on Angela Street and the Meadows and the rest of the city and its residents. 
 
Sloan Bashinsky
keysmyhome@hotmail.com
 
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West
Sloan at Carol
Carol Wightman, left, at Hometown! PAC’s Call to Candidates, just before I, right, went inside Salute Ristorante and told the packed house that anyone who wants to be mayor of Key West is insane; stupid would have worked just as well …

About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; single; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days on this website, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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