Letter to the Editor / Affordable Second Homes


Over the last 15 years extreme development has taken place in Key West and Marathon via hotels, resorts, restaurants and tourist service businesses. Add to that the elimination of downstairs enclosures and housing for employees has become a significant issue. Affordable housing projects have been continually promoted as the solution. If correct, why is the issue now worse than ever?

It is time for Monroe County, Key West and Marathon to do some serious investigation before approving any more affordable housing projects. I suggest the following:

1. Compile a list of all implemented developments (hotels, resorts, tourist businesses) in the last 15 years in Monroe County, Key West and Marathon. The planning departments should be able to do this within a few days.
2. Add to #1 how many developers actually put employee housing on their own site while they already had the land and proper zoning.
3. Compile a list of all implemented affordable housing projects in the same time period.
4. Carefully study what % of affordable housing actually houses Monroe County, Key West and Marathon employees.

Reliable information indicates that current affordable housing projects, really “affordable second homes”, contain less than 15% Monroe County employees. If so, that means the so called solution is actually making the issue worse. It means that 85% of the residents are actually an additional demand on employees. In the meantime, the developers reap large financial gain, perpetuate the issue by misrepresenting “affordable housing”, continue to use taxpayer money and solve nothing. In fact, it is probably making the issue worse.

I hope I am wrong but the results appear to speak for themselves. If we cannot reliably answer these questions, we have no business doing a single additional project until the system is fixed.

There is more than sufficient land already zoned appropriately, especially after Irma, to do this right. Require deed restricted “employee housing”, not the “affordable second home ruse”. Taking lowest density land like the proposed Shrimp Farm Project, rezoning and modifying the LCP to the highest density and allowing unrestricted “affordable second homes”, is a prime example of perpetuating the problem. Require developers to go back and add “employee housing” on their own sites where zoning is already correct, where the housing is needed and where it does not use taxpayer money to subsidize developer created, employee housing shortages.

Joe Messer

Summerland Key