Thursday, October 8, 2009

It Could Be a Busy 4th Quarter

After three weeks away from the pressure of brief-writing -- not to mention the stress of moving our pending regulatory taking and due process lawsuits -- it is a bit easier to cope. I did spend some of that downtime (at least an hour) thinking about what can be done to bring the Keys' land use regulations in line with those of a civilized society. Like the South of France. Not likely, that.

That raises a question: what civilized society would we like to emulate? California? There's a basket case, where affordable housing exactions are killing potential housing projects, and the state budget is a joke. How about Miami, Naples, or Fort Lauderdale? They have too much of everything, and the high vacancy rates to go with it.

Has anyone else noticed that Florida local governments (including the Keys) spent taxpayers' money like drunken sailors in the 2001-06 run-up? And now they're stuck with overpaid administrators and pension obligations that they will never be able to meet. OK, there's a goal.

First, fire half the County staff, starting with those who draw the largest paychecks. I challenge anyone to explain why we need a County Administrator when we have a County Commission that consists of five geniuses, all of whom are former (or future, because they are so smart) Nobel Prize winners. We could also do away with the County Attorney position, as all five Commissioners are more versed in the law than any attorney could possibly be. And the entire planning department could be let go, as there is nothing left to plan.

In the Keys, the City of Marathon cannot give away its building permits. The "village" of Islamorada was (correctly, I might add) deemed "charm-less" by United States District Judge James Lawrence King, and it is being sued by its former mayor, and a bunch of other people, over its sewer impact fees. Key West is, well, Key West. Monroe County may well be the only county in Florida where the population decreased over the 2000-2010 decade. Trust me, we will not get a merit badge for that statistic.

So ... are things good in the Keys? No. We have had several years of over-building, in large part because the State and County superseded the market, so every person who could, built a house. We now have a queue as long as my arm, of people who definitely do NOT want to build here. (The reason people wanted to build here was that "it was difficult.") We have had an artificial market here for 17 years, and it finally folded. Do we have a problem? Yes.

Do we need to change the regulatory climate in the Keys? Yes.

No comments: