City Public Meetings: Four Items to Watch For This Week

by Amber Nolan

Affordable housing will be a hot topic at this week’s Key West commission meetings, and while some new ideas have been proposed to tackle the City’s housing crisis, there’s also a few things to keep an eye on. Here are four key topics to watch for during today’s City Commission meeting (at 6 p.m.) and Thursday’s Planning Board meeting. (You can also watch the meetings live on this link).

Items for Tonight’s City Commission Meeting at 6pm (June 19)

1. The New Development at Oceanwalk

After being postponed four times, the second hearing of the new development plan at Oceanwalk (3900 South Roosevelt) is set for today. The plan would add 80 new residential rental units – 24 of which would be affordable units and the remaining 56 would be market-rate. In this case, the code appears to be applied the way it was intended (30 percent of all new multi-family residential units must be at the low-income and median-income levels (8 low and 16 median) unlike the agreement approved for Sunset Marina – where some very unusual math was applied. See that story here.]

2.  Applerouth Land Text Amendment Update! This item was postponed at the beginning of the meeting.

The area of Whitehead Street and Appelrouth Lane is zoned HRO (low intensity commercial, residential, and only grandfathered-in transient rentals are allowed). A group of five property owners are asking to create a sub-area inside their zoning district that would allow higher intensity commercial development and new transient rentals. If passed during the second reading today, it could potentially displace workforce residents currently living in the “Applerouth Business Corridor” to make room for new transient renters. It could also set a precedent for other property owners who wish to create “sub-areas” of their own in zoning districts where new transient rentals are not allowed.

See this week’s featured story: “Transient Rental Cancer Still Spreading”

3. Redefining Affordable Housing Levels

Currently, workforce housing rental caps are set at 30% of the household’s income level category. This Land Development Regulation text amendment would reduce the rent cap to 25% of those income levels. Today, a one-bedroom at the affordable low-income level is $1,411/month. Under the new 25% formula, it would be reduced to $1,176/month. If the code change passes at today’s second reading, it would only apply to future deed-restricted affordable housing units.  See the current rental caps here and the proposed here.

Thursday’s Planning Board Meeting (6p.m. June 21)

 4. Liveaboard Vessels as Workforce Housing?

As we are all struggling to find solutions to the affordable housing crisis, a text amendment seeks to apply the workforce housing ordinance to liveaboard vessels. A land use consulting firm put forth the application on its own behalf as a possible option for new affordable housing (and paid the $2,650 fee). (A bit unusual, but we were told by the Planning Director that anyone can apply for a text amendment.)

Liveaboard vessels are already one of the most affordable living arrangements in Key West. The application is a bit vague. It lacks data, analysis, and clear definitions. It also creates more questions than answers. Here are just a few:

  1. Will this displace people living in marinas who already own their own vessels with developer owned vessels? Will they be forced to move offshore?
  2. Where will the ROGOs [BPAS] – that currently apply to liveaboard vessels – be coming from?
  3. What category of affordable housing or rental caps will be applied?
  4. What type of vessel equates to an apartment? Is a sailboat a studio? Is a houseboat a one bedroom? Is a berth a bedroom?
  5. What marinas will be considered as “duly permitted?”

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