Saturday, December 30, 2006

Condotels Becoming Condo-No-Sells?

It's old news that Key West's real estate market has a glut of properties available for sale. Maybe most notable is the huge number of condominiums that are available while even more are currently being developed. Many of these developments are hotels converting into million dollar "condotels".

The question everyone should be asking is: "Will they sell?"

If Miami is any indication, the Key West condo craze may be in serious trouble.
Miami is Key West's closest South Florida major city. There, the condo craze of the past few years is going from boom to bust.

As condo prices in Miami went through the roof over the past few year with wild speculation and flipping, developers responded by planning thousands of new condominiums. Much of that demand and speculation was driven by record low interest rates. Now, with rates higher, Miami is quickly realizing that many of those units don't have real buyers who actually want to occupy the pricey condos. As a result, many projects are unsold and quite a few are being scrapped.

According to Miami city officials, 15 condominium developments have been scrapped totalling nearly 2000 units. Still in construction is over 75,000 units among roughly 300 different condo projects.

This steep downturn in the condo market in Miami is showing up in their sales numbers. In October, sales of existing condos dropped 31% compared to the same month last year. Prices are also headed south, falling 2% that month.

Developers in Miami are likely to panic if things don't improve soon - which is unlikely. According to Lewis Goodkin, a Miami economist and real estate analyst, it may be 5-10 years before condo prices hit bottom and start to rise.

Should Key West be worried? Certainly if you bought a condo at the top of the market and were hoping to "flip it".

But there is probably a greater threat to Key West. Many of the condos being developed today are Key West hotels which have historically been a major part of our tourist economy. If these new condotels don't sell, will the Key West economy suffer? As a tourist based economy, it is hard enough on local businesses trying to survive with the current 700 rooms offline during their conversions/renovations.

Have the developers put us all at risk?
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Time For Tom Tukey To Go?

According to a letter published on the Bahama Village Blog and allegedly written by Tom Tukey, the President of the Truman Annex Master Owners Association (TAMPOA), the TAMPOA Board of Directors is not backing away from his desire to control Southard Street and the new waterfront property outside of it's gates. The letter is dated December 7, 2006 and is addressed to "Fellow TAMPOA Owners".

In that letter, Tukey lashes out at City Commissioners while imploring Truman Annex residents to continue funding his battle with the city (and the County, Navy, NOAA, and the general public).

The letter details upcoming special assessments that the residents of Truman Annex must pay: "The Board decided to adequately fund the association budget to allow for costs associated with litigation. This means that the quarterly assessment will increase to $1150.00 and the special assessments will be $400.00 each in January, April and July."

Tukey details the many problems that will befall upon the beloved Truman Annex motherland if they don't prevail. For some reason, Tukey thinks that his fellow residents won't be able to fully enjoy "extensive pedestrian, bicycle and roller blade activity" if TAMPOA can't control traffic. Makes one wonder how the rest of the world manages to do these things without gates and controlling traffic. Maybe he didn't learn the childhood "game off" and "game on" method of playing. Maybe he just does not play well with others.

But the most astounding thing in the letter is the admission that Tukey wants to control property outside of his development. I am not talking about putting in a factory, industrial facility, or airport next door. I'm talking about a working marina, waterfront restaurants, bars, shops, and whatever else belongs in Key West and makes this place so fun and special. In the letter, Tukey supposedly wrote: "Gates enhance nighttime security for our residents, prevent late night access from the waterfront and act as a suppressant to the development of restaurants, bars and other retail establishments."

And this Key West, is what TAMPOA may really be up to. TAMPOA wants to control property outside of its gates, the Truman waterfront given to the City of Key West from the Navy. Some residents of Truman Annex will lose the greenspace that exists between them and the water. But you know what, THEY DID NOT BUY THAT PROPERTY! It is the City's and the citizens, and that is who should be deciding what should be done with it.

I want to see the Truman Waterfront, which is a very large open space, have a mixture of green space/park (this must be part of the plan), working marina (the Florida Keys are losing their working marinas due to redevelopment into yacht clubs), and bars, shops, and restaurants (for the enjoyment of everyone).

Citizens of Key West and City Commissioners, make the Truman Waterfront a vibrant addition to Key West. Please don't let TAMPOA control the Truman waterfront. REJECT THE RISING TIDE OF CONFORMITY. Don't be afraid to use eminent domain...this is what it was made for. Let TAMPOA know that if they won't play nice, then they may lose all the gates.
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Local Humor: Captain Conch Battles Cat-Napper Tim Turkey

I came across a funny local cartoon strip called The Adventures of Captain Conch & Stock Island Boy, published in the free local bar guide Key West Bar Tab.
In this issue, Captain Conch and Stock Island Boy are battling the treacherous Tim Turkey in their effort to "get to the bottom of the cat-nappings taking place in Key West".
I'm guessing many will miss this, so I'm reprinting it here, thanks to Key West Bar Tab.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rumors of Fidel Castro's Death

The island rumor mill in Key West is buzzing with talk about Fidel Castro.

Some are saying that Fidel Castro may have died and that his death may be announced soon.

Local politicians, the Coast Guard, the Navy, and other departments of the US government have supposedly created complex plans to deal with the possibility of Fidel's death. Will there be a massive flood of Cubans landing on our shore? Or will hundreds of boats head for Cuba hoping to pick up relatives and friends like during the Mariel Boat Lift of 1980?

Either way, it is acknowledged that Key West is on the front line of any change and will likely see a big impact. Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba, directly across the Straits of Florida.

Personally, I can't wait for the day when the people of Cuba are free from oppression and can create whatever future they envision for themselves. They are a beautiful culture and deserve much more than Castro's rhetoric and dictatorship.

Viva Cuba Libre!
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Florida Keys Paying the Price for Selling Off Hotels

Its cold up north and the weather in Key West is balmy and perfect. So where are all the tourists?

Although tourism is normally a bit slow in Key West between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many local businesses are grumbling that things are slower than normal.

Alarming statistics show that bed tax revenues are at a ten year low! (the country charges a 4% "bed tax" for lodging). Why is this happening? Maybe because , as I have pointed out before, the City of Key West and Monroe County are allowing their economic engine to be sold off to the highest bidder.

During the insane go-go-go-go real estate market of the past 5 years in Key West & the Florida Keys, hotels, guesthouses, and RV parks have been bought up by developers and are in the process of converting them into million dollar condominiums. Currently, there are over 1200 "rooms" that are not available due to converting into condos/condotels. As a result, with fewer hotel rooms available to rent, the average price of a hotel room in Key West has risen. Yet that does not explain why occupancy rates have not been full.

Supposedly many of these converted hotel/condos will be rented out once again. I think it is unlikely that they will. Let's look at the rational behind this arguement. For example, suppose someone buys the "condotel" room/unit for $1,000,000 (one million dollars). The mortgage on the property, with 20% down, would be over $6400 per month, plus taxes and insurance and condo fees (and electricity, water, sewer, garbage utilities etc). Let's call it $9000 per month. For the room to just recoup the expenses, it would have to be rented out every night of the year for $300 per night. And that would only get you to break even.

So the question is: Can Key West regularly get $300 per night from a huge number of tourists? Today's Tourist Development Council President, Harold Wheeler, said that he thought that our bed tax numbers are at 10-year lows because the price we are charging for hotel rooms it too high. So why should anyone think that our tourist market will be able to support even more expensive lodging?

But what about the reality that most people who buy a million dollar property are unlikely to rent it out to strangers. For them, it is a second home...maybe an "investment". Then again, I think it is nuts that anyone would buy a hotel room for a million dollars. At that price, it surely can't be a "flip", something that hyper-inflated housing prices recently and is now starting to unwind/deflate.

The City of Key West and Monroe County should be very concerned about what is happening to the main engine of our economy - tourism. The mayor of Key West said he wasn't worried and attributed the bad bed-tax numbers to Florida's ranking number one in the nation for foreclosures. I have a feeling that our Mayor has been too dependent on real estate and is missing the boat about tourism. As the real estate boom goes bust, the financial stability of the Florida Keys will be upended.

And yet, through it all, nearly nothing is being done for affordable housing. Workers are leaving in droves, and I suspect that this year will be make-or-break for many Key West businesses.
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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Praise for Conchette & Her Tampon Blog

I just wanted to post some praise about the great job Chonchette is doing at her blog Tampon Blogger (which stands for "Truman Annex Master Property Owners' News").

I don't know her personally, but I applaud her coverage of the Truman Annex versus the City of Key West battle over the control of Southard Street - a.k.a. the gate issue.

Conchette clearly has some deep connections within Truman Annex, and she has brought to light several documents, for example here and here, that show TAMPOA's position on the gate is not unanimous within the Truman Annex community.

Plus, Conchette has had to suffer the slings of anonymous comment posters who have tried their best to discredit and insult her. I praise her ability to remain level headed and keep the attention on the issues. Good work Conchette.
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is Florida's Housing Bubble Imploding?

Statistics recently published reveal that the Florida housing market is in serious trouble.

After years of wild speculation, enormous home sales and price gains, and record numbers of new homes and condos constructed, it now appears that Florida real estate market may be in serious trouble.

While the nation as a whole saw a year-over-year decline in October housing prices, some of Florida's communities were among the nations biggest decliners. Meanwhile, the foreclosure rate for Florida has significantly spiked upward, foreshadowing continued problems for the real estate market.

Here are some of the details of the statistics recently released:

Three Florida metro areas were hit hard by price drops. In Sarasota, the median home now sells for $320,700, off a whopping 9.4 percent from last year; Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville prices sank 9 percent to $193,600; and Cape Coral prices plunged 8 percent to $255,400.

RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, reports that 115,568 properties entered into some stage of foreclosure in October, a 42 percent increase over last year and an incidence of one for every 1,001 U.S. households. The comparison with October of 2005 was particularly dramatic because that month in 2005 recorded the highest foreclosure rate last year, according to James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

The newest data continued a strong trend from the past three months that shows foreclosures definitely moving upward, according to Saccacio. That puts more pressure on an already strained housing market.

In the month of October 2006, Florida had 11,413 foreclosure filings. That equates to 1 in 640 household - a fifty percent increase over the past 12 months.

Here in Key West, the housing picture looks bleak. The speculation of the past 5 years has driven many local residents off the island, as affordable housing vanished from the Keys. This is the county's number one problem, yet unfortunately they seem to have been unable to find a solution. With a record number of residential properties on the market in Key West (and more continue to be built), and nearly none of them selling, prices will have to fall much further before finding solid footing.

Maybe I was right: everyone in America cannot suddenly afford a second home. The aberration was caused by banks loosening their lending practices (remember interest-only payments?) - eventually building up a pyramid that required new buyers to pay every higher prices. Once prices had reached their peak, a cascade of sellers glutted the market. It was a bit of financial trickery led by aggressive lending practices, and it very well may shake the banks themselves. They have lent too much money for too little equity.

It will be a long time before this housing bubble collapse is over.

Now where are the realtors that were practically promising their customers huge gains? I believe more than one said "You can't lose".

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Reef Relief Holiday Auction

This year's Reef Relief Holiday Auction is underway! This year's auction has great items - plus, by bidding, you'll help out an important cause, saving our coral reefs. You might find that perfect holiday gift too.

Thanks to generous donations by over 100 business including many from Key West, you can bid on art from Key West artists, exciting boat trips, excursions, and other wonderful items. All proceeds will benefit Reef Relief's efforts to save the coral reefs and educating the public about our marine environment.

Check out the desirable items and get in on the bidding action at
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Friday, November 10, 2006

Key West: Highest Rent Does Not Equal Best Tenant

Whoever told the City of Key West Florida that the best tenant is the one who can pay the most has done the community a disservice.

The City should view it's tenants as partners - and should do what is in the best interest of both.

Just because someone else will pay more rent for a property does not mean they are the best tenant. They are unproven and don't necessarily have a good business plan. Plus, are they displacing a business that is loved by the community and that loves the community?

The City should look down the road to the possibility of a rent deficit when these highest-rent-paying businesses fail. Then who will take their place? How will the City deal with a shortfall then? Raise taxes of course.

Should the mom-and-pop businesses in this town have to pay a ridiculously high rent because a big box retailer is willing to pay more? I say no way. And who wants big box retailers in Old Town Key West? I do not.

One by one, the City of Key West is squeezing mom-and-pop businesses out, and I am worried that the City is sacrificing the community's character and amenities in the pursuit of maximum rents.

I mention this because the local beloved grocery store The Waterfront Market has been in a protracted lease negotiation (10 months and counting) with the City of Key West. The market is located at the Key West Bight, which has been raising rents through the roof on many businesses, forcing many to shut their doors. The Waterfront Market is a true community resource, supplying fresh fish to local restaurants and citizens, along with the island's most impressive grocery selection.

If the City stays on this course, they may one day lose their stable tenant base. This is a far greater cost than the benefit of temporarily higher paying tenants.

The value of a tenant cannot simply be viewed as the rent he can pay. Instead it is a combination of the value to the community + the rent the business can afford. The Waterfront Market adds a lot of value that isn't reflected in the rent numbers, and the City should recognize this and work with Buco (the owner of the Waterfront Market), view him as a partner, and charge a rent that does not force him out of business.
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Navy to TAMPOA - Gates Are Not Acceptable

The local press today reports that the Navy opposes any plan to place gates on Southard Street in Truman Annex. On the morning radio show, the second in command for the Navy in Key West said that they will not show identification to TAMPOA nor will they allow gates that restrict access. This is good news for those in the general public that are concerned about restricted access.

The Truman Annex Master Property Association (TAMPOA) has been battling the City of Key West over control and ownership of the portion of Southard Street that runs though their Truman Annex neighborhood. That street is used by the Navy for access to its property. The public also uses the street to acces Fort Zachary State Park and the Truman waterfront property. TAMPOA has stated that if they don't gate off that street then their wealthy-yet-conformist neighborhood will no longer be considered a "gated community" and therefore lose value. Looks to me like TAMPOA is in a lose lose situation.

It is time for TAMPOA to recognize the importance of the street to the Navy, the citizens of Key West, and the general public. TAMPOA, please stop planning to restrict access. Either that, or face the wrath of the public, the will of the City of Key West Commission, and the bottomless pockets of the US Government.
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Saturday, November 04, 2006

NO DEAL: Key West vs. Truman Annex

Recent reports in the local press stated that Commissioner Verge had presented a compromise agreement to TAMPOA (Truman Annex Master Property Assn) over the use of the portion of Southard Street that runs through Truman Annex. Those reports said that the proposal would allow unfettered access for the public during the day, but at night gates would be locked and the public would not be able to use Southard Street. Frankly, I couldn't believe that the City of Key West was willing to give up so much on this important issue.

But according to the Bahama Village blog, no such agreement was ever offered. Let's hope so.

Most Key Westers don't want to see Southard Street gated and closed to the public.

It is time for the City Commission to show its political will and do whatever it can to have control of this important street.

To me, this is all a head fake by TAMPOA, who it seems is really interested in controlling what is outside of its gate at the adjoining Truman Waterfront property the City received from the Navy.

Again, I implore City Commissioners to not lose will on this battle. The citizens are behind you. If you must use emininent domain to take the street (and according to TAMPOA effectively removing them from being a gated community) then get your money's worth and open up all the streets in Truman Annex.

And don't listen to the huffing and puffing of the "Manics in the Annex" about the cost of eminent domain. Remember, these streets are still going to be streets. But now, the public will be allowed to use them. It won't be cheap, but control of a major road is well worth it.

By the way, the developer of Truman Annex seems as disgusted as most Key Westers are over TAMPOA's behavior. Pritham Singh has publicly warned TAMPOA to back down and come to their senses. So far, TAMPOA still has it's head stuck in the gate.
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Key West Real Estate Bubble At Risk of Bursting

If the laws of supply and demand are to be believed, then Key West's real estate market may be in trouble. Economic law says that too much supply in the market leads to falling prices.

Statistics recently released show that the number of properties listed for sale in Key West has hit a 5 year high - now over 1400 properties. This number is roughly three times the number of houses normally on the market, and 40% above a year earlier.

The rapid increase in the number of properties is astounding, but may be understating the weakness in the market. Many properties have been removed from the mls listings waiting for better prices. The wait for better prices may be significant, especially when the large number of developments underway begin to hit the market.

After the jaw-dropping rise in home prices over the past 5 years, there is plenty of room on the downside.

Currently, I've noticed Key West home prices have already been reduced by at least 20%, and the few that are selling are seeing increased selling times and further sales price discounts.

Next week is a well advertised auction for 22 Key West properties signaling the abundance of sellers.
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Key West Fantasy Fest Photos - Body Paint

Fantasy Fest, Key West's biggest party, is underway on the island. Last night Duval Street was packed with tens of thousands of people - many dressed in little more than body paint.
The cameras were crowding around every "pair" visible, and some of those unofficial pictures are now posted (thanks to the good folks at at Fantasy Fest Body Paint Photos
These may not be appropriate for work. Then again, maybe it is a good time to get a new job.
Enjoy - and don't miss it next year!
(Tonight is the big street parade with an expected crowd of 70,000. See you at the parade.)
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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Funny! Key West Pets in Costume

Pets in costume were on display last night during the Key West Pet Masquerade. This is part of the weeklong mega-party named Fantasy Fest...Key West's biggest tourist draw, and it was a great time. This years new location was a little small for the normally huge-size event, but everyone had a great time and laugh nonetheless. Beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery, and a lively party make Key West no wonder as one of the world's great places to hang out. And it never snows - so come visit when you catch a chill!

Cats, dogs, geese, and even snakes were present - along with other animals - dressed with their owners in hysterical costumes.

Here is a collection of my favorite pet costumes that I was able to capture.

A family of pirates, along with dogs and tiny puppies, prepare for the stage.

Spectators craning for a view.

A beautiful sunset, as a tall ship makes its way into the Key West harbor.

It's true - eventually you'll look like your dog.

Thanks to Dracula's tender touch, the cat had gave up on fighting, and enjoyed the show with her winged handler.

Here is a close-up of that cat - still trying to figure out how to fly out of here.

That's one happy dog. Now that's Fantasy Fest for ya.

Royalty was well represented by this regal pooch.

Someone even had a cow dressed as a dog! Very believable.

Dressed in Congressional Report newspaper. Maybe he's not paper trained yet?

Someone feels pretty.

Argggh. I want a treat says the dogs.

Again proving that owners eventually look like their dogs.

Not sure who is the owner and who is the dog, but these two looked adorable.

Imagine trying to paint your cats face? That is one cool cat.

One happy heifer.
More Fantasy Fest madness will continue this week. Check back for more postings and pictures.
And if you dug these photos, please DIGG it by clicking the link below. Thanks!
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Monday, October 16, 2006

Breaking News: Is CNN Broken?

Yesterday's reporting of the earthquake in Hawaii was the perfect example of how bad of a job CNN and the other major news networks are doing of keeping the American public informed. Of course the earthquake was newsworthy - but why did all the news channels turn into 24hour Earthquake Headquarters? Why is the news bent on scaring us? Why can't the news inform us? The major news networks are scared of the Internet taking away their viewers. I'd say they are doing more damage to themselves. The news today is broken.

Somehow the CNN, MSNBC, FOX are all hooked on the same monkey: don't tell the viewer in intelligent, distilled, salient, and verified report of the world's events. Instead, show them the most alarming event that they themselves don't understand (burning anything seems to work), then show a confusing and useless bunch of clips and guests who speculate on what is going on. No longer does it seem important to CNN to cover the days events. If anyone is dumbing down America, it must be the news.

It is such a fear driven news reporting style, that one wonders who is screwing this up this badly. Don't the reporters of America want more stories told? (by the way, why do these reporters speak like everything is a panic! somebody get Wolf Blitzer out of the situation room! His bullshit style seems to have infected all the networks. And please, end the Situation Room. Seventeen televisions playing at once is a moronic idea). The last thing I want to see is a reporter who knows nothing about a situation, spending too much time playing the same clip and guessing like a fool. If I wanted to see the live feed I would do so! I don't want the news to become the live feed.

Imagine if your favorite newspaper printed pictures and stories about things they just found out about, 5 seconds ago, without being able to confirm or figure out the story. How useful of a newspaper would that be?

Isn't there enough other things occurring in the world that we should hear about? Shouldn't the networks cover more? All the while, there are a zillion other things that are happening in the world and remain unreported.

What does this serve? Certainly not my hunger to know what is going on in the world. Certainly not the general American intellect.

And all the while, CNN has a flashing "Breaking News".
It should say "Broken News".
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Hotel Map for Key West Visitors

"Season", as the locals call it, is just around the corner. And that means visitors will be looking for hotel rooms.

Even though Key West is a small island, roughly 2 miles x 4 miles, there are lots of hotels to choose from, and if location is important to you - like being in the Historic District or by a beach, then it can be hard to decide which hotel is in the right place for you.

The folks at Key West Travel Guide have created an excellent solution - a Key West hotel map that shows you where each of the hotels, guesthouses, b & b's, motels, and other lodging choices are located. The map is a very cool view of the island - combining a satellite image of Key West with a map overlay. If you click on any of the map markers or hotel names, a "info window" pops up on the map showing you a picture and description of the accomodation. Plus, in the "info window" are links for more information about the property and discounted reservations.

This is a great tool for people planning a Key West visit. Stay where you want to stay and get substantial savings on your room reservation.
Check out the map at .
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Friday, October 06, 2006

TAMPOA Double-speak

I was checking out the TAMPOA website and was amazed at their ability to speak out of both sides of their mouths.

On their newsletter page, under the heading "Security and our Community", TAMPOA says:
"Please be advised that, although the Truman Annex and Shipyard communities are
gated, the general public is allowed to enter the property freely and to access
places such as the Little White House. Please note that the Association does not
monitor who enters or exits the communities."

But on that same page, Tom Tukey, president of TAMPOA, wrote in his "President's Message" that they were hoping to achieve just the opposite.
Here is what TAMPOA thinks the City of Key West should agree to:

"During the day, the traffic on Southard Street would be controlled and slowed
by “arms.” "


"...for the first time we would be allowed to install gates at both ends of
Southard Street and close them totally during the night. That meant that our
security would be significantly enhanced."

Doesn't sound very free and accessible to me. No wonder the citizens of Key West are so upset (me included).

To contact TAMPOA & let them know how you feel, here are the e-mail addresses of their Board of Directors, as published on the TAMPOA website:

2006 Board of Directors
Tom TukeyE-mail:
Jim HallE-mail:
Paula RyalsE-mail:
Harold BerryE-mail:

Frank SerioE-mail:

Phil WilsonE-mail:

Rebecca BaumannE-mail:
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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Closed Door Session for City Leaders

The Key West City Commission will be meeting today in a closed door session to discuss the Southard Street/TAMPOA/Truman Annex situation.
It seems to me that TAMPOA is trying to control much more than Southard Street. Sounds like this is really about the Truman Waterfront. Does TAMPOA really think they are entitled to control what happens next door at the new Truman waterfront? Does Truman Annex not realize that the rest of the island has a say in what happens to the Truman waterfront. Personally, I would like to see a vibrant waterfront - with a marina, shops, a restaurant, some affordable housing, a new senior center, and a small park (I don't think we need a big park, especially since next door is the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.) Most of all, I don't want to see a big empty park that would further insulate Truman Annex.
I hope our commissioners see this whole power struggle for what it really is.
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Friday, September 29, 2006

Manics in the Annex

The battle between Truman Annex and the City of Key West is reaching the boiling point.
Last week Truman Annex, a "gated" community in a dispute with the City of Key West over control of the lower part of Southard Street, put up a limited access sign and started checking the drivers heading through their "Truman Show"-ish neighborhood.

According to published reports, last week three Key West City Commissioners (Lopez, Verge, and Rossi) along with the City Manager of Key West, confronted a Truman Annex security guard who was reportedly demanding identification from people driving into the Truman Annex neighborhood. (Truman Annex now denies that the guard was demanding identification) It was reported that a shouting match occurred between Commissioner Lopez and the security guard. A shoved clipboard? The security guard called the police, according to the report, and the Chief of Police showed up. The Chief reportedly told the security guard to remove the restricted access sign and to cease stopping traffic and checking ids. Traffic was backing up due to the checkpoint.

The next day, the local press reported that a civil complaint against Commissioner Lopez was in the works - reportedly to be filed by the Truman Annex Master Property Association lawyer Bill Anderson. Also, it was reported, Anderson threatened to file a civil complaint in federal court against the Police Chief if he shuts down the checkpoint again. In the same story from the Key West Citizen, a local newspaper, Truman Annex plans to "defy a police order prohibiting it from stopping cars at the Southard Street guardhouse, with plans to resume the checkpoint..."

I went the next day, and although a guard was in the guardhouse, he did not seem to be stopping traffic or demanding identification. People were once again heading to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and the Truman waterfront and the new Eco Center without being interfered with. And the military personel who regularly use that road to get to their facilities were able to go without interference from a private security guard. And I thought to myself, "well, self - maybe TAMPOA is coming to their senses. Doubtful, but maybe."

I'm amazed at TAMPOA's hubris - setting up control over lower Southard Street before the courts have yet to decide the matter. TAMPOA has adamently said that their title searches have shown they own the street, but so far they have not revealed the proof to the rest of the island.

If it is proven that Truman Annex owns and has control of lower Southard Street, then the City of Key West must take the street back through eminent domain. Why? Because it is the best route to the State Park and the Eco-center and the military base and the new Truman waterfront property. The street is wide enough to handle the traffic, and it has traditionally and historically been the route to that area.

Here is the main point as I see it: the City of Key West will probably have to use eminent domain one way or another, no matter the traffic route. The Bahama village streets that are being suggested (mostly by TAMPOA) are too narrow, especially as you near the park. To make those streets ADA approved, the buildings that are too close to the street will probably need to be removed to allow sidewalks. If the city is unable to purchase the buildings from the current owners, then they will likely have to use eminent domain.

I understand that TAMPOA feels it has a legitimate contract with the City of Key West (that the previous commission worked on). But there is one thing that the Manics in the Annex don't get: the citizens of Key West don't want to lose Southard Street, much less any street. If the previous City Commission made an agreement with Truman Annex, it made a mistake. And to prove my point, this should go on the ballot. Let the people of Key West decide what should happen - especially since the citizens will be footing the bill for eminent domain. I guess that TAMPOA will finally get to see where the majority of opinion actually is. I, for one, certainly don't want to see the Truman Annex neighborhood decide the character of our island. And that is apparantly what TAMPOA wants to do.

Today the local paper Key West The News published "A Message from TAMPOA". It is a long, two page letter detailing the TAMPOA case against the City.

In that letter, the TAMPOA board of directors revealed that much of this dispute is about controlling the new Truman Waterfront, given to the City of Key West from the Navy. Somehow, Truman Annex believes that they should have control of what happens at the park! Let me quote from the article:
"And most importantly, tell them you want a PARK, NOT AMORE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND TRAFFIC..."
Well let me respond: I actually do want commercial development in that huge waterfront area. Yes, there should be a park, but there also should be places to eat, drink, rent a boat, dockage, a marine store, and whatever else will make it a vibrant new part of the island. So the control of Southard Street issue may not really be so much about the street but rather the property outside of their gated world, the Truman Waterfront.
Of course, if the City does not bow down to the Manics in the Annex, TAMPOA has threatened the city with huge lawsuits. In that same "Letter from TAMPOA", the issue of damages to Truman Annex is mentioned and I quote:
"Legal costs and appraisal fees will easily exceed a million dollars and TAMPOA already has expert research that pegs damages for the loss of access control at numbers that are three to five times the amount of the Duck Tours decree."

If I were on the city commission, I would be looking for a legal team that has the teeth and skills to fight this battle. TAMPOA, and it's president Tom "it's not your cat" Tukey, has shown that they have an arsenal of attorneys all to willing to bill hours for his causes. The city needs to get itself a savy lawyer(s) and get ready for battle. This will certainly get uglier.

One thing I don't doubt: the "Manics in the Annex" seem insecure without gates.
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Truman Annex Battle With City Of Key West Continues

For those wondering, looks like the dispute between TAMPOA (the Truman Annex Master Property Owners Association) and the City of Key West is still not resolved.
Even though TAMPOA claims to have ownership of the portion of Southard Street that runs through Truman Annex, I have yet to see their evidence.

I commend the Key West city officials and representatives who have continued to fight TAMPOA. TAMPOA has shown themselves to be a tenacious adversary. I wonder if their attitude has been driven by their president Tom Tukey. (If you weren't aware, Tom Tukey was the guy (along with his wife) who was ordered by a judge to return a neighbor's cat - a, er, "cat" fight that put the cat's owner through her own little hell, with expensive lawyers and legal maneuvering pointed at her. Fortunately the rightful owner of the cat won.)

To me, Tom Tukey is doing the residents of Truman Annex a disservice and should be removed from his leadership position. Truman Annex residents: Send a clear message to the rest of the island that you care about the whole island of Key West (which I am sure many of you do).

TAMPOA claims that if you allow full public access to the streets in that neighborhood than theirs' would not be a gated community and they would lose property value. Is that what you came here for?

I should point out a recent comment added to this blog by a visitor, posted under the name "Southernmost Commish":

Thank you Cayo Dave for your support. There is much happening lately,
including selectively preventing individuals from entering Truman Annex. Also,
we are awaiting the judge's decision on the TAMPOA motion to exclude the Bahama
Village Consortium legal team from these proceedings. The problem for them, as I
see it, is that this sharp team of legal professionals are now part of the
city's legal advisors. So... the issues that remain, in fact are: the city's
motion to dismiss TAMPOA's lawsuit and the BVC's motion to disclose the
information they claim to have proving ownership. On several occasions, TAMPOA
has SAID they own the street... There's an old saying that I subscribe to that
says "Saying it's so, doesn't make it so." If they had this proof and are truly
over this issue as they claim, it would have been produced long before now, and
eminent domain would have begun.

I implore our City representatives to not give in to TAMPOA. If you need to, use eminent domain!! This is exactly what eminent domain should be used for. And while they are at it, rip out the rest of the gates. If the city of Key West is going to have to pay any damages (because TAMPOA says they'll no longer have the added value of being a gated community), than I say "Get you money's worth" and rip out all the Truman Annex up all the Truman Annex streets, and allow people, to come and go as they please.

Float a bond if you have to! But you may find that damages are not what TAMPOA is claiming.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

WOW! Key West Commissioner Isn't Backing Down To Truman Annex Leadership

This is a must read for those interested in the dispute between Truman Annex and the City of Key West over access to Southard Street, you should read what was published in a local free press - Key West The Newspaper. Here is the link:
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Key West Chronicle Blog Threatened With Libel Lawsuit

Comments have been posted on two posts of mine threatening a libel lawsuit. Here and here.
The posts were in reference to Tom Tukey the president of TAMPOA, and the Truman Annex dispute with the City of Key West.
Seems someone is quite offended by my opinions, and has threatened to sue this blog. Incorrectly, they have published the name of someone with his telephone number in a comment, and threatened to sue. In the words of the anonymous comment poster, " You shall regret what you have done." I am going to immediately remove the comment that contains the phone numbers and name of the person the commenter believes owns the blog.
Let me say, that this blog is my opinion of events that transpire in Key West. Anyone with opinions as to what I should do? Is calling someone a dickhead grounds for libel? What about calling someone an overprivilidged a-hole?
You opinions are appreciated.
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Truman Annex Residents Alienating Themselves from Key West

Well, maybe we have hit a new low. Why? I'm not sure.
Wasn't life good enough in Key West, Florida a decade ago? Things seemed more laid back. I remember all of my friends rented or owned houses with pools. Today, you are lucky if they have a yard. And we all had the time, especially in the summer, to relax even more. There were plenty of boats to go around amongst us, and nearly every day there would be someone who said "Jump onboard, let's go to Marvin Key!". Today, it is a rare opportunity when you get to go out on the water for fun.
But suffice it to say, when you invite a bunch of sharks to a party, don't be surprised when they eat everything...Including you.
In my opinion, Truman Annex's leadership have brought island politics to a new low (not an easy thing to do on our quacky island), and in doing so alienated themselves from the rest of the island of Key West.
For reasons that make no sense to me, the leaders of Truman Annex are going to hit the city of Key West into what promises to be a very expensive lawsuit. All of it, over a road that runs from Old Town, through Truman Annex, to the new waterfront property give to the City of Key West from the Navy, right through the Truman Annex development. It depresses me that Key West has such a community. Are they unable to live on the island with a communal spirit? It is no surprise that most Truman Annex residents live in a strange duality (embracing our island with a bear hug...crushing it to death)....most of them don't live here for most of the year.
Key West City Commissioner Lopez is right: every time that the city of Key West has attempted to negotiate with the Navy for the land, the residents of Truman Annex have threatened lawsuits.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Key West Must Get Serious About Affordable Housing

This week, the Key West City Commission will debate permitting dormitory-style housing for workers. This is a lame attempt at making a dent in the affordable housing problem on the island. It seems that the city has little interest in making its workforce a permanent part of the community. In the past, Key West was made up of its workers - making it a vibrant community.

Basically, the city of Key West needs to look at other communities that face a similar situation. The best example may be Aspen Colorado.

Dormitories may be useful for service industries and seasonal workers. But if you want professionals (including nurses, teachers, administrators, captains, and other middle income workers) you will need to do much more.
The city continues to do little to solve this problem. Most notably, Key West commissioners have largely ignored the recommendations of experts and committees who have studied the problem.
With a growing worker shortage, Key West businesses (and the city itself) are on a disaster course. The city seems incapable of solving their serious dilemma. There is an exodus of employees in the Keys, and if this continues, employers will find it more and more difficult to operate and prosper.

What should be done?
  • The city and county need to purchase and build housing for the working class. This is going to be very expensive. However, doing nothing will end up costing far more - namely the Key West economy.
  • This property should remain designated for affordable housing - in perpetuity. Stop screwing around with deed restrictions that expire! (We have already seen too many past efforts at affordable housing end up on the open market prices that only speculators and the rich can then afford.)
  • Workers can purchase the property from the city, and in the future may only sell the property back to the city.

Dormitories sound like a sad excuse for an affordable housing solution. It sends a message that Key West doesn't care very much about making skilled workers a real part of the community. Sticking them in what sounds to me like a worker prison is not going to keep them in town.

Today, most of the island has been bought up by the rich and those with enormous credit, squeezing out anyone with less. Funny, only the rich seem to think the place has improved, as social cliques start to look more and more like those found in places like Greenwich, Connecticut.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Key West Chickens to be Removed from Streets

The city of Key West Florida has passed a resolution to round up the free roaming chickens that wander the island.

For years the community has hotly debated the merits of the birds. Tourists love them and are led to believe that Key West has always had chickens wandering the streets. Locals form into two camps: one is also happy with the chickens and find them to be a quaint part of island life. The other group of locals wants them gone, and the current fears of bird flu are being used to further their eradication desires.

In reality, although chickens have historically been raised in Key West, they were usually kept in cages (how else do you collect eggs and the occasional chicken?). Just about nobody keeps a caged chicken anymore.

By commissioners estimates today, there are approximately 3000 chickens on Key West streets and neighborhoods, a number that is too high for almost any resident. That figure is probably overstated, but the numbers of poulty have definitely been on the rise. One reason may be that residents who might normally have kept the chicken population in control (by eating them) have been displaced. Also, supermarkets sell chicken for $0.99 per pound, making it a more desirable chicken since it's already been cleaned and feathered. The funny thing is that the city of Key West was in love with chickens just 5 years ago, when they passed a resolution declaring the bird as the official bird of Key West and protecting the fowl from any harm. It became illegal for residents to take care of a problem chicken, and so the population mushroomed.

So popular and common did the chickens become, a local resident Kathy Sheehan opened the Chicken Store, and has spent much of her time championing and protecting the birds.

Commissioner Verge was at the spearhead of the resolution to eliminate the chickens. His rational was that the coming bird flu is a threat and that the city of Key West must do something to protect itself. But will eliminating chickens make us safer. Using his logic, what about the other birds? Key West is a major migratory route for hundreds of species of birds. Plus, there are plenty of resident populations: pelicans, ibis, doves, hawks, vultures, heron, egrets, and countless others.

Have the chickens become the scape-goat for bird flu? Isn't the real danger that a human will bring the bird flu to us? What about the one million cruise ship passengers that reportedly come to Key West each year? And all the other tourists too? Seems to me that eliminating Key West chickens will do little to stop the bird flu, since there are so many other vectors out there.

And what about the bird flu? Is it really coming? Or is it the panic of the year that the news is chomping on like a dog on a bone? Remember SARS? Or how about Lyme Disease? And West Nile?

Sounds to me that the chicken foes have finally found the rational to eliminate the birds: they will kill you. Maybe they are right, but I suspect that Key West is no safer with or without the chickens. One thing is for sure: people will sleep better at night - some because they feel more protected from bird flu, but most because there won't be a crowing chicken nearby.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Trouble in Paradise? Florida Keys Real Estate Stats Point to a Falling Market

According to statistics recently compiled by a big local realtor, Curtis Skomp, Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys' real estate market appears to be headed for serious trouble. And it may be just the thing the islands needs to stay viable. Nearly a decade of insane price appreciation and speculation in the Florida Keys housing market has caused many in the working class to move away. As a result, the islands are running out of employees and places for them.

The statistics show three trends sure to cause prices to fall further:
  1. a sharp decrease in the number of properties sold in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2005,
  2. a sharp increase in the number of properties available for sale,
  3. a sharp increase in the number of days on the market it took to sell property

In all of these cases, the problems worsened from the 3rd to the 4th quarter. Certainly the hurricanes and the massive windstorm insurance bills have something to do with it. Then again, increasing interest rates and local taxes may have had just as much impact. Who knows?

What is important is that the housing shortage may soon become a housing surplus, as a ton of overpriced condos, McMansions, and other difficult sales overshadow the market of fewer and fewer buyers.

Here is a screenshot of the statistics from Skomp:

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Friday, March 31, 2006

The Real World - Key Haven?

Is it me, or is the MTV Key West Real World show seem a tad boring? Actually, the cast members themselves appear mostly bored. Why? Maybe it's because they are not living on the island of Key West (a tremendously fun, interesting, inspiring, and creative place - more about Key West at ), but instead on an island miles away. Then again, if they named it "Real World Key Haven" maybe no one would have cared.
Or maybe that the whole show is so very orchestrated that it's lost most of the spontanaity. What do I mean by orchestrated? For example, why are the restaurants they are dining at empty except for the cast members? One of the first episodes of this season's show had the cast eating at Blue Heaven - one of Key West's most popular restaurants. I can honestly say I have never seen the place empty, except for the morning that the Real World cast ate there. And then it happened again during another episode at another restaurant, completely empty except for the cast. MTV likes to say that this is a reality program, but maybe they've tinkered with the formula too much and now it's more of a scripted show. To further back up this thinking, it seems strange that they would film the show smack in the middle of hurricane season - virtually guaranteeing that storms would make up for plot. Let's see if it worked for them as I can't imagine the current plot lines keeping many viewers tuned in.
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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Eating Disorders and MTV

MTV's Key West Real World aired its second episode of the season last night with much of the focus on Paula, an anxiety-ridden 24 year old girl. Fueled by low self-esteem and diet pills, her depression and eating disorder took center stage as cast members tried to understand her emotional imbalance.

One can't help but wonder why Paula feels she is on a road to obesity - especially since she weighs only 94 pounds and appears malnourished. In Paula's mind, she admits she "feels doomed".

The answer to Paula's disorder lies in our culture's worshiping of a super-skinny woman, constantly bombarding adolescents with images of beautiful models too thin to do anything more exerting than standing for a camera.

And MTV has been at the forefront of perpetuating this sad ideal. Astonishingly, following the episode was another MTV reality show named "8th & Ocean" about young models each appearing just as malnourished as Paula. One by one, the models were asked to pose in their bikinis allowing the camera to slowly roam their tiny frames.

Makes me wonder how many future Paulas were watching, thinking that they needed to be emaciated to look attractive and have self-esteem.
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Key West Real World Show Debuts

MTV premiered it's Real World reality TV show this week with Key West Florida as the location.

Once again, seven strangers are picked to live in a house, and stop being polite, and start being real, blah blah blah as the gospel goes.

This season's cast is: Svetlana, Janelle, Paula, Jose, Tyler, Zach, and John. Each cast member seems to be hyper-driven to make an impression, but so far as the first show went, they mostly looked like they were boring even to each other. Yes, they flirted, taunted, and quized each other. But it seemed to me that these people were going to get bored quickly. This isn't the Las Vegas Real World, where castmembers seemed to immediately start boozing and humping.

No, so far the Key West Real world has an awkward feel. And that's not even mentioning the enourmously sad situation with Paula, who's eating disorders and emotional problems make one wonder if MTV is exploiting the girl for a story. Maybe, within a few seasons more, MTV will just fill a house with 7 certified maniacs & alcohol, and film the carnage.

Maybe malaise of the show's premier is due to the location being a drive from Key West. The house chosen for Key West Real World is actually on another island 6 miles from Key West - called Key Haven, a small Florida Keys neighborhood of increasingly upscale homes. The house is grand, and frankly a little over the top compared to the rest of the neighborhood. Think LOUD colors. Something like a furniture store in Boca Raton. And was is me, or has MTB/Bunim-Murray cranked up the color saturation levels so much that it looks like Technicolor? Seriously, the overhead/airplane shots of the island and the house were not what I see in real life...the green mangroves are much darker green in person, and the house looked like a giant Easter bunny might be nesting there. Key West Real World photos - pre-production pictures of the house. Also, here is a copy of the MTV Real World Key West house lease.

Either way, the Florida Keys and Key West came off looking great...a tropical island eden. One recurring reminder in the current story line: hurricanes. The housemates went through an ordeal, no doubt. All of Key West's residents (that actually live there) won't forget Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and (especially) Wilma (more Real World Key West house damage). But MTV already made some blunders ( I know, this really isn't the "real world"). Previews of the season claim that a category 5 hurricane slammed into Key West. That is not true. The storm they are referring to, Hurricane Rita, didn't give Key West more than category 2 winds. Why does this matter? Because a direct hit of a category 5 storm, meaning the eyewall goes over Key West, would most likely destroy most of the island. And this certainly didn't happen. As a matter of fact, life is back to (ab)normal in Key West, and visitors would see little evidence of a storm.

Key West residents are staying tuned to the show: entertained that the island we call home is being given such a big stage. It will be interesting to see what type of activities they participate in. Will they visit the Dry Tortugas, take a Key West fishing charter, or just party party party on Duval Street? Let's hope they enjoy all of the island, and not just stayed holed up on Key Haven.

Check back for more updates here at and feel free to comment/discuss the show and Key West.
Here is a photo from a photo shoot that MTV/Bunim-Murray did on Smather's Beach towards the end of filming. Not sure if this is Svetlana or not, but she is topless except for the masking tape over the boobs. The photo from the shoot is used in the show: it's the one of the girl's shoulder with the words Real World Key West tanned on. I'll post a close-up in the next few days:

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Key West Realtors Getting Desperate

How do you tell if you are in a real estate bull market or a real estate bear market? Sometimes the sales numbers are obvious enough to tell. By this measure, the Key West real estate market of homes for sale seems to have turned from bull market to bear market.
The Key West MLS has reported that the number of homes sold in the first week of the year has dropped from 54 sales to 16 sales.
But maybe more telling is the tone of voice of local realtors. Most notably is Regina E. Corcoran, a Key West realtor with a column in Key West's biggest newspaper.
In this past week's column, Corcoran urges buyers to come out of the woodwork and buy, buy, buy. Her reasoning? In her view, the downturn in the real estate market is temporary and caused entirely by post-Hurricane Wilma anxiety. She goes on to argue that Hurricane Georges, in 1998, caused a short-term disruption to the real estate market, and that Hurricane Wilma will soon fade into memory.
Corcoran has completely ignored the major reason for the bull market in Key West: interest rates. After Georges, the Prime Rate dropped from 8.5% to 4% (a period of 6 years). This has led to easy financing and a speculative environment. Now, however, interest rates are heading in the opposite direction. Since bottoming in 2004 at 4%, the Prime Rate has risen to 7.5%, a huge increase. This is precisely what is deflating the housing bubble - not just in Key West, but in many overheated markets throughout the United States.
But Regina Corcoran continues to give horrible advice in her column, encouraging people to buy any way possible. Most astounding, in her column she wrote:
True "no doc" money exists. That means if you have a pulse, good credit and a 5 percent down payment you can own a home.
Think about it, Einstein. You need 5 percent down, but nobody asks where you got the money. You could even put it on your credit card.

I don't think I need to elaborate on why buying an overpriced house using a credit card is a moronic idea.
What a shame, that realtors aren't bound by the same rules as fiduciaries.
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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Key West Real Estate Market Cooling

The Key West real estate market is dramatically cooling.
If the trend worsens, many over-extended buyers/borrowers/speculators are in for a painful time.
Was it the hurricanes? Is it tied into the national trend? Maybe it's both. Certainly the meteroic rise in Key West house prices couldn't continue indefinitely (despite the fervent real estate broker's sales pitches).
Statistics released by a Coldwell Banker Schmitt recently show that the Key West housing market has peaked for now. Dramatic increases in numbers of properties for sale and the longer time they on the market show the market is cooling, dare I say, dramatically.

Here is a snapshot of the Key West residential real estate market (2005 versus 2004):
  • Total Sales: 88 (-53%)
  • $ Volume of Sales: $78 million (-38%)
  • Avg. Sales Price: $890,000 (+32%)
  • Avg. Days on the Market: 215 (+58%)
  • Sale Price: 93 (+2%)
  • New Listings: 568 (+10%)
  • Avg. List Price: $1.126 million (-7%)
All I can say is, "Watch out below!"
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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tom Tukey & Truman Annex Continue to Anger Key West Residents

Well, no surprise here. Tom Tukey, the president of TAMPOA (Truman Annex Master Property Owners Assn.), and his wife Joan Tukey, shocked and disgusted me last year when it was reported that they had a neighbors cat and wouldn't return it. It became a battle of wealthy vs. not-wealthy as the Tukey's aimed expensive lawyers at the less fortunate cat owner. A judge finally stepped in and ruled that the Tukeys had to return the cat to it's owner.
I'm amazed that the Tukeys had the balls to continue to show their faces on the island (they are part time residents). I couldn't be less happy with this type of new resident: who moves here and then seems to act as if their wallet gives them the right to whatever they desire. Frankly, money doesn't impress anyone in Key West with real character.
Now their desire has turned to one of Key West's streets. As head of TAMPOA, Tom Tukey has done what he had made veiled threats about at the City Commission meeting: that if he and the rest of his wealthy gated community didn't get their way with Southard Street, they would drag the city into an expensive lawsuit.
Yesterday's local press reported that he did just that and now the city of Key West will have to once again defend itself against the Truman Annex residents.
It seems now the criteria for being a resident of Key West is no longer whether the community made sense to you and if you fit in with island life. It is now simply a case of money: if you've got enough of it, you're in.
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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Spec-flation & Brewing Class War Boils Over at Key West City Commision Meeting

It's a shame what is happening to Key West. Apparently, the island isn't alone. Steep real-estate price increases, as a result of highly-leveraged investment buying, let's call it "spec-flation" (short for speculative-inflation) has many communities across the country pricing out the residents who called those places home.
Maybe no neighborhood is more greatly affected than Key West. The town is unique, mainly because it lays 90 miles offshore of mainland Florida. As a result, Key West's resources are limited to whatever can be kept on the island. And this makes for a serious problem: all real estate in Key West is unaffordable to the working class on the island, and as a result, workers are leaving in droves.
The local classified ads reveal how deep the problem has become. Alongside ads for houses for sale of at least $500,000, are columns and columns of ads from employers and businesses looking for workers. Many of the businesses have multiple openings Some seem to be advertising for nearly every position at the business.
Well, finally this has affected me. The house we live in, leased from a friend for a reasonable rent, has sold to yet another out-of-town real estate speculator who seems little interested in the community and more interested in the killing she hopes to make in the "investment". As a matter of fact, she has offered us a lease at twice our previous rent. There is no rent control. There are no safeguards. The city is utterly at a loss about what to do. Most of the houses in Old Town Key West sit empty for most of the year: trophies for someone to brag about.
Maybe the most dramatic thing is that the speculators seems to have little inkling that the market can work against them...and it will. Markets are still markets, and inevitably, regress towards the mean. But Florida being Florida, home to land swindles, time share shenanigans, and shady politics, few seem offended or mind the lessons of history.
As a community, Key West will have difficulty functioning without workers. Real estate price inflation isn't all good news for property owners in the Keys. It is also guaranteeing that costs will soar for Key West and Monroe County, and that will be passed along to property owners in the form of much higher taxes. Also, every good and service on the island will become more expensive as businesses are forced to pay much much more per employee...that is, if they can find one.
There is one community on the island that is trying to keep their neighborhood from being destroyed by spec-flation. Bahama village, home to Key West's Bahamain community, is fighting to defend it's low-income neighborhoods from their very rich neighbors in Truman Annex (a property that was once a part of Bahama Village and, to many residents, was unjustly taken from them).
Somehow the residents of Truman Annex feel it is their right to barricade themselves in, closing off the streets to the ultra-rich gated community. Problem is that there is a state park, Fort Zachary Taylor, that is accessed via Truman Annex. The Truman Annex Master Property Owners Association (TAMPOA), want the traffic to be diverted into Bahama Village, and have callously threatened the city with lawsuits should officials not cower to their demands.
Bahama village resident showed up in force at Tuesday's City Commission meeting, which began with TAMPOA attorneys threatening the Commissioners with huge lawsuits should they not go along with their demands. Fortunately, Bahama Village residents showed up in big numbers and each gave an impassioned speech about why the "Masters" should rethink things...let alone the offensiveness of including the word "Master" in their name.
When it was finally handed over to the City Commissioners, one by one, and to their credit, they lashed out at the Truman Annex leaders and lawyers. Commissioners roasted the idea that Truman Annex should be allowed to islolate itself and a part of Key West from the rest of the community. "Open the gates and let the light shine in", "It's time for Truman Annex to be a part of this community", and my favorite, was Commissioner Rossi explaining that whatever Truman Annex residents thought was paradise (a gated version of Key West), they are dead wrong and need to rethink things.
Key West is supposed to be an open community. Unfortunately, more and more, it has turned into something exclusionary.
The problems are only beginning for the City of Key West with Truman Annex. The president of TAMPOA is Tom Tukey, a newer, super-rich resident that became famous on the island last year when he and his wife were ordered by a judge to return a cat they took from Key West and brought to Maine. The Tukeys turned most Key West resident's stomachs when they wouldn't return a cat that clearly had an owner. The Tukeys hired lawyers and put the rightful owner through an awful ordeal. I'm sure the City of Key West will now see that nasty Tukey spirit pointed at them. Here come the lawyers.
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