January 13, 2018
The solution to the affordable housing crisis begins with city of Key West funds on city-owned property.
That was the consensus reached by the City Commission on Thursday at the affordable housing workshop, although other options will continue to be explored.
During the nearly three-hour workshop at City Hall, the board heard from government agencies, private developers and concerned citizens about the lack of affordable housing and tossed around many possible solutions to the multifaceted problem.
The meeting started with presentations from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Director of Community Development Julie Dennis, Federal Emergency Management Agency representative Tanya Pence, Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s Director of Policy and Special Programs Nancy Muller, Key West Housing Authority Executive Director Manny Castillo, Monroe County Land Authority Executive Director Charles Pattison, Monroe County School Board Executive Director of Operations Pat Lefere and developer John Padget about his plans for a 480-unit complex on Trumbo Road.
Muller described FHFC as a “public bank for affordable housing” that annually provides financing for projects in exchange for restricting incomes and rental rates on units for up to 50 years. The agency is expecting a large sum resulting from Hurricane Irma to be used in the Keys, Muller said.
The MCLA has $2.1 million in funds reserved for construction, redevelopment, rehabilitation or the purchase of new property, with another $2 million expected to be accrued this year, Pattison said.
Commissioner Margaret Romero also outlined her Save Our Affordable Rentals plan, which would provide tax breaks to landlords that rent affordably.
The board held no official vote, but generally agreed to pursue projects that could be started immediately and don’t rely on private developers.
The Planning Department outlined 52 parcels owned by the city, MCSB or KWHA and the board specifically discussed city funded projects on College Road, Poinciana Plaza and in Bahama Village near Truman Waterfront Park.
Castillo urged the commission to work with KWHA to begin projects now. With a commitment from the MCLA or a guarantee of future monies from the city, projects can get underway quickly, Castillo said.
“It can be as simple as the old three-legged stool. You need land, you need money and you have (Rate of Growth Ordinance units),” Castillo said. “We certainly can go start building 200 units here, 150 units there, on land that’s already vacant and we already know.”
Castillo also recommended using all of the remaining approximately 700 ROGO units and then worry about obtaining more from the DEO, rather than stall developments because there are a limited number on ROGO’s.
Commissioner Jimmy Weekley suggested pursuing a bond, similar to the situation that funded the redevelopment of Key West Bight and Bahama Village. The citizens would approve a referendum and the influx of cash would allow the city to begin building immediately, Weekley said.
Board member Richard Payne said all local government agencies need to step up and address the affordable housing problem through any means.
All government agencies in the keys are going to have to step up and start developing the property that they own,” Payne said. “I just think it behooves all government entities down here to find housing for their employees.”
While Commissioner Clayton Lopez supported Romero and Padget’s plans, he stressed that residents displaced should not be forgotten and immediate fixes are needed for those families.
“As we think outside the box, I don’t want us to lose sight of that particular segment of our community,” Lopez said.
Padget’s “Porches” complex on Trumbo Road was praised by several board members, but will require a litany of waivers, government approvals and the cooperation of the MCSB.
The proposed project would construct 480 “living shelter” units on 8 acres able to withstand 200 mile per hour winds while providing all necessary supplies to ride out a hurricane, Padget said.
The project would need height, density and parking waivers, a public referendum and a ROGO waiver.
“The Porches is a visionary project not allowed under current regulations,” Padget said.
Although the DEO controls ROGO allocation, the decision to waive the ROGO requirement for The Porches would need to be decided at a higher government level because it is a question of public safety and emergency management, according to Dennis.
Another roadblock for the project is the MCSB, which owns a portion of the property and is in the process of moving a transit facility and warehouse and will still need to find a new home for the headquarters before construction can begin. The transit facility move should be completed in two to three years, according to Lefere.
The city needs to make a commitment to current projects it controls, starting with College Road, instead of waiting on private developers to take action, Mayor Craig Cates said.
The conversation with Castillo towards the end of the meeting led to Cates’ closing comments, which expressed to the citizens that there will be no more kicking the can down the road.
“I think everybody sees the commitment of this commission to move forward and with the commitment of the Housing Authority I think we can get some stuff done here shortly,” Cates said.
Back when I ran for mayor in 2014 using a campaign slogan come up with a drunk local poet, "He confounds the Empire," I promoted the city putting as much Housing Authority-managed rental housing on Trump Waterfront as could be squeezed in there, maybe 1,000 units, instead of turning that free Navy land into a city park the city did not have the money to build right next door to beautiful Fort Zachary State Park, which wasn't costing the city government anything.
Ft. Zach, foreground, 
bare land in background is Truman Waterfront

The rents from the new Truman Waterfront rental housing would pay for the project, and then fund later similar projects. 

I promoted building affordable city-owned rental housing to help the less financially-blessed locals live inside instead of becoming homeless and/or moving away. 

The people who kicked that can down the road back then were Mayor Craig Cates and city commissioners Clayton Lopez, Jimmy Weekley and Billy Wardlow. 

The only commissioner on today's city commission who actually has tried to get something done about building actually affordable housig pronto is Sam Kaufman. He was the first elected official to argue the city's rogos only be used for building low-income affordable rental housing, which local developers have repeatedly told the mayor and commissioners and the county commission they cannot build without government subsidies.
Up in the national cuckoo's nest:

Sloan Bashinsky

Yesterday, my bowel mostly froze. I wondered what awful crap was headed my way? A lifelong Republican living in Key West then forwarded...

Sloan Bashinsky CYA? I just watched [at Key West's Tropic Cinema] Stephen Spielberg's "The Post", about a STRING of US presidents, starting with President Truman and running through Richard Nixon, and Sec. of War Robert McNamara, lying to the American public about Vietnam. In the movie, the Nixon regime tried to shut up the NY Times, which was fed top secret report commissioned by McNamara, which laid it all bare. A US District Court entered an injunction. National security at risk. The same source fed the evidence to the Washington Post. Which decided to risk contempt of court and a felony prosecution of its owner and editor, to keep publishing the evidence. The Post got a different ruling in court. The Supreme Court heard it fast. Ruled 6-3, the free press was meant to serve the governed, not the government. Nixon banned the Washington Post from the White House forever. The movie ends with a security guard discovering a break in at Watergate.
Sloan Bashinsky The lead into that article:

The Washington Post reporter who broke the story Thursday that President Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations as "shithole countries" during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers says he stands b
y his reporting following Trump's denials.

Josh Dawsey told CNN the fact that the White House did not deny the story until Trump's tweet this morning was proof enough the quote was real.

"In the course of our reporting yesterday we took the comments we were going to report directly to the White House, told them exactly what we were going to say. We did not get a denial," Dawsey told CNN.

"Obviously, [White House spokesman Raj Shah's] statement did not deny. We got it confirmed from multiple places, The New York Times, The Associated Press, CNN have confirmed it as well," he added. "This comes 15 hours later. So the president obviously has the right to express his opinion on the story, as he has on Twitter, but we stand by our reporting 100 percent."

Trump on Friday denied the reports in a pair of tweets, saying that while he used tough language in his meetings, reports about his specific language were wrong. The Washington Post first reported that Trump called the nations "shithole countries" on Thursday.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked, according to multiple people briefed on the meeting.
Sloan Bashinsky When it became clear in the Spielberg film what it was about, i said out, that's when fake news began - Vietnam. Fake news spewed by the US government, I did not say during the movie. In that theater in Key West, which runs off beat movies, Cannes Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and mainstream films, anyone old enough to remember the Vietnam war knew what I meant when I said that. Lies on top of lies, and when finally McNamara had his apology published by a NY publishing house, IN HINDSIGHT, I think the book was titled, I wanted to throw up and skin him alive, because he made a lot of money off that book, and off speaker appearances it generated. He should have donated every penny of it to Vietnam combat vets and their families.
Sloan Bashinsky I wondered to myself during the Spielberg film if Trump learned to lie from those US presidents and McNamara?
Sloan Bashinsky Reuters report is hilarious in places:

One of the sources who was briefed on the conversation quoted him as saying: "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're shithole countries ... We should have more people from Norway."

Mike Graves I hear so many story’s about Trump and many are obviously fabricated. It’s at the point anytime I hear a nasty story about Trump my first question, Is it a real person or another anonymous source. It seems more people come out to dispute the claim verses namable sources that verify it, The geni is out of the bottle, story goes viral and the haters run with it true or not. 

There’s only one reason Trump was elected and that’s America’s fed up with the way Washington’s running the country. Seriously the Obama administration tried to blame Benghazi on a Video! They tried to push that lie so far they even arrested the man that produced the stupid video. One thing is certain our government is out of control. It has no accountability to it citizens.

Kenneth Klauss But now we have every racist bigot in this country coming "out of the closet" because they feel emboldened by the Douchebag.
Mike Graves Kenneth Klauss they where always racist bigots. Least now you know who they are. Seriously how about we worry about policy that will benefit our country rather then argue about language in an attempt to divide it?
Sloan Bashinsky My impression of Trump is he is capable of just about any dispicable behavior, so when people come forth and say this and that about him, it ain't easy to say, well, it has to be fabricated. https://amp.businessinsider.com/bannon-trump-lawyer-took...Manage

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Mike Graves As we discussed earlier wolf and his tabloid book have been proven to not be based on fact. The link below discredits this the lie. 

Sloan Bashinsky Unfortunately, there are so many lies from Trump that, for me, it's as likely Cohen and Daniels lied in this article, as they told the truth; and as likely that Daniels was paid to lie. Perhaps Daniels and Cohen will sue the New York times for libel. If they don't ... In Daniels' photo, she raised her left hand, as if swearing to tell the truth. That's the hand people put on a Bible, when they raise their right hand to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but, so help them God. I live in the home of two journalists, who have put their lives at risk several times by reporting very hot Key West dramas. They get tips ongoing. They do not run with tips. They dig and dig and dig, until they get to the bottom of it. Or they don't publish it. If they do publish it, they have the proof. I sometimes refer to them as our local Al Jazeera. And as our Pulitzer journalists. When Trump did not furnish his tax returns in 2016, that was the bull horn that he would lie about anything. I used to be a tax lawyer.
Mike Graves Daniels photo I’m sure was already on file from something else. She was not under oath to write the letter. 

As far as reporters yes I believe there are still a few independents still keeping with tradition. Unfortunately over 80% of our news media is
 run by four different company’s. All the national news comes off a few computers based on the east coast. Control the media and you control the people. 

As for Trumps strong language I don’t doubt he said shithole. I do doubt he said it in a disrespectfully towards a race of people. You have to have your head in the sand not to realize the corruption in the third world countries. Immigration is something Trump ran on. I don’t doubt when dealing with DACA the room became emotional. 

I don’t see any reason for a senator to have grandstanded on Trumps comment other then he’s not getting his way and is acting like a spoiled brat. Like a little kid that rats out his sibling to his mother when he gets mad. In this case moms not there so he whimpers to his voters. They wanted the position we pay them well. We should expect them to work together like adults and stop the political grandstanding.
Sloan Bashinsky I pretty much agree. Alas, what Trump could have done instead is man up and admit he said those countries were shitholes, and that he did not do that, well, speaks volumes about his truth telling. Me, I think Trump is a shithole. And Hillary, too.
Mike Graves Yes he could have, his response was carefully worded. “Maybe the self righteous individuals that have never ever heard or thought of that term (sarcasm) would have been happy. But I doubt it.
Sloan Bashinsky However it is rehashed, Trump lied when he said he did not say it. I bet his loyal supporters believe he said it, and they loved it.