October 23, 2020
Dear Planning Commissioners:
Last Stand represents hundreds of residents concerned about environmental and quality of life issues in the Florida Keys. Last Stand has opposed the additional ROGOs offered by Governor Scott’s 2018 Keys Workforce Housing Initiative since first mention. We remain opposed and ask that the allocations be rejected.
Attached is a letter dated July 7th signed by 12 Keys civic and environmental organizations asking the BOCC to reject these building allocations. As stated in that letter,
- The 300 ROGOs are for permanent residents, yet require these particular residents to evacuate early at 48 hours, rather than the 24 hours mandated for other residents.
- The ROGO allocations authorized in 2012 have already exceeded the 24-hour safe evacuation time by 2-1/2 hours due to since-acknowledged errors in the 2012
- Rapid Intensification of hurricanes has become commonplace terminology throughout the current 2020 hurricane season in weather reporting – no longer an occasional occurrence or warning by the NOAA Hurricane Center.
Therefore, whether these ROGO building allocations are named “early evacuation” allocations or not, this entire concept has become a misnomer. Weather experts repeatedly state, one cannot expect 24-hours’ notice to evacuate, much less 48 hours. And, more development is still more development – no matter what these ROGOs are called, they still exceed the growth management system implemented decades ago.
In the face of scientific evidence and expert testimony about rapid intensification hurricanes, in opposition to so many residents’ concerns about overdevelopment and in conflict with the state statute to limit growth, the BOCC voted to accept these ROGOs, but only for the purpose of exchanging them with existing Affordable Housing allocations and that any such exchanged Affordable Housing allocations would be used to settle takings claims.
If the Planning Commission moves forward with the BOCC instructions, then clear guidance and language must be applied:
- Geographic restriction – as workforce housing, any use of the ROGOs should be limited to within 5 miles of the major employment centers of Key West, Stock Island or Marathon – otherwise it is simply adding to the overall traffic congestion on U.S. 1.
- If the County transfers any of the 48-hour Early Evacuation Allocations to a municipality for an equivalent number of Affordable Housing Allocations, they may be used only to settle takings claims.
- The County should not accept any Early Evacuation Allocations from municipalities – because that would defeat the purpose of holding them for takings claims – as these EE Allocations are meant to be restricted to multi-family workforce housing with on-site management. It is extremely unlikely that allocations with these restrictions can be used for takings claims.
- Finally, do not allow these allocations to be so buried within multiple levels of exchanges, that no oversight can be applied to justify how and where said allocations are used in the future.
Please support residents and stop the overdevelopment of this unique and precious resource – the Florida Keys.
Last Stand Board
– ATTACHMENT –
July 7, 2020
Dear Mayor Carruthers and County Commissioners:
The environmental and civic organizations listed below represent thousands of Florida Keys residents. We write you to provide comments in connection with item 1-5 on the agenda for the BOCC’s July 15 meeting. Specifically, we urge you to vote to rescind your previous decision to direct County staff to begin processing amendments to the Comp Plan and the Land Development Code to reflect the acceptance by the County of 300 additional building allocations pursuant to Governor Scott’s 2018 Keys Workforce Housing Initiative.
The 300 additional ROGOs would be for housing of permanent residents who agree to evacuate beginning 48 hours before the expected landfall of a major storm. As such, the issuance or use of these ROGOs would violate state statute, which requires maintenance of a 24 hour – not 48 hour — evacuation clearance time for all permanent residents of the Keys, as a growth management tool to avoid overdevelopment.
More importantly, these additional ROGOs would endanger the residents of the Keys in the event of a hurricane evacuation. Experts are telling us that the rapid intensification of recent storms (such as Michael in 2018 and Harvey in 2017) makes clear that it cannot be assumed that the Keys could be fully evacuated through a 48 hour process. The biggest danger in a hurricane is being caught on the road during a rising water event. Additional cars on the road are a danger to us all. Moreover, the allocations authorized in 2012 have already exceeded the 24 hour safe evacuation time by 2-1/2 hours due to since-acknowledged errors in the 2012 calculations. More ROGOs make that danger even worse.
The additional ROGOs would lead to further overdevelopment of the Keys. The extra housing units would add more traffic to an already clogged US 1 as well as increasing stress on our infrastructure and fragile environment.
These additional ROGOs were offered without any new studies being performed or data being analyzed. The County Commissioners cited this lack of new studies or data in opposing the recent legislative proposal to increase the Keys evacuation clearance time from 24 to 30 hours.
Accepting more ROGOs now, without any supporting studies or data, would fly in the face of the purposes of the growth management system of the Keys, and would potentially open the door to the issuance of many thousands more ROGOs as well as undermine the County’s defenses to future takings cases.
There are many other actions that the County can take to support the creation of affordable workforce housing without incurring the adverse consequences of creating more ROGOs. These include the conversion of market rate ROGOs into affordable workforce housing ROGOs, stricter enforcement of vacation rental laws, enacting a minimum property value requirement for vacation rentals (as permitted by statute without loss of the County’s grandfathered status), incentivizing rentals to the workforce, and adopting nonresidential inclusionary housing requirements.
It has been argued that if the County does not accept its 300 additional ROGOs, then the Keys municipalities would take them instead and the additional housing would still be built. But this simply is untrue. The Keys Workforce Housing Initiative clearly states that each local government cannot receive more than 300 allocations. While the City of Key West’s amendments state that the city wants to take any allocations that are rejected by the other local governments, it is clear that the city could not receive more than 300 allocations without specific authorization from the Administration Commission .
For the reasons discussed above, the undersigned organizations ask that you protect the Keys residents from danger in a hurricane evacuation and oppose the overdevelopment of the Keys and the undermining of the ROGO system by voting next week to rescind your previous decision and to instead reject the 300 additional ROGOs.
FLORIDA KEYS CHAPTER OF THE IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE OF AMERICA
FLORIDA KEYS CITIZENS COALITION
FRIENDS OF THE LOWER KEYS (FOLKs)
KEY DEER PROTECTION ALLIANCE
LOWER DENSITY FOR LOWER SUGARLOAF, LLC (LD4LS)
SAVE SUMMERLAND NATIVE AREAS
SOUTH POINT HOMEOWNERS, LLC
ISLAND OF KEY LARGO FEDERATION OF HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS
CUDJOE GARDENS PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION
SUGARLOAF SHORES PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION (SSPOA)
UPPER SUGARLOAF RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION (USRA)