An Open Letter to Commissioner Sam Kaufman and other City of Key West Elected Officials:
by Christine Russel:
The City of Key West has had what seems a lifetime to manage the cruise ship industry and create/implement a plan to manage tourism in general. With the channel widening issue we suggested that sustainable tourism be promoted. What has the TDC, Chamber, or City done?! NOTHING!
And now IT IS TOO LATE for you to enter this discussion. We citizens/voters are about to democratically vote on the referendums we felt we needed to put on the ballot. WE ARE YOUR PRIMARY STAKEHOLDERS. This is our community and cruise ships slowly over the years have ruined the character & ambiance of KW. Our quality of life has changed so dramatically with the increase of these ships and the resulting conch trains/trolleys clogging our streets and adding unwanted additional noise (noise leads to stress).
But this is about so much more than just our quality of life and the environment – it is about our safety. Our lives. Health, safety and welfare – those are your primary obligations to the citizens you represent and time has proven these ships are not only dangerous but deadly.
Business has the Chamber and TDC to promote their interests. You had your chance over many years to manage the cruise ship industry in KW – you did not.
Commissioner Sam, we have been friends for many years. I have always had a great deal of respect for you as a voice of reason, an alternative legal opinion and a representative of the people. And for those reasons, I and others were shocked to learn you sponsored this Item #11 on Tuesday’s upcoming Commission meeting:
*Directing the City Manager to obtain input from community stakeholders to develop policies regarding cruise ships in the City of Key West; Directing the City Manager to report findings at the Commission meeting scheduled for September 1, 2020. Sponsors: Vice Mayor Kaufman
The actual Resolution [is below]. Personally, I find it totally unacceptable at this very late date before OUR CITIZENS VOTE.
I agree with you that there should have been (past tense) a dialog. Tony Yaniz called for this many times. He was ignored for too long. With the citizens having talked about the cruise ship problem for YEARS and the city ignoring us and doing nothing – UNTIL NOW!, frankly it is just too late.
With our citizens Referendum items pending WE EXPECT TO VOTE. You, the other commissioners and the Mayor should be REPRESENTING THE CITIZENS, NOT THE CRUISE SHIP INDUSTRY.
I ask for 3 actions:
- KEY WEST CITIZENS/VOTERS: It is very important that you comment at keywestcity.granicusideas.com Right under “Meetings” click on City Commission 2020-7-21 then scroll down to item #11 and click on ‘comment’. [Here is one comment that has already been made]: “If this resolution passes, the Bar Pilots will be given an official city platform to lobby against the referendum, even as they are suing to block people from voting on it,” [Arlo Haskell of the Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships.]
- MAYOR AND COMMISSIONERS: We expect you to again take no action and make no stand on this cruise ship resolution at this meeting. Sadly we could not depend on our Commission (including many before you) to represent our best interests. We have now taken matters into our own hands.
- COMMISSIONER SAM KAUFMAN: Allow the democratic process to proceed. WITHDRAW YOUR RESOLUTION.
Watch this very carefully Key West!
RESOLUTION NO. ____________
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF KEY WEST, FLORIDA, DIRECTING THE CITY MANAGER TO OBTAIN INPUT FROM COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS TO DEVELOP POLICIES REGARDING CRUISE SHIPS IN THE CITY OF KEY WEST; DIRECTING THE CITY MANAGER TO REPORT FINDINGS AT THE COMMISSION MEETING SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 1, 2020; PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE
WHEREAS, the City Commission finds that cruise ships have significant impacts on the quality of life, environment and the economy of the City of Key West; and
WHEREAS, the City Commission finds it would be useful to develop policies, taking into consideration the concerns of all relevant stakeholders including but not limited to old town residents, merchants from the Duval Street commercial corridor, charter boat fishing associations, Chamber of Commerce, environmental groups, Harbor Pilots Association, tour operators and more; and
WHEREAS, coherent local policies embraced by the cruise ship industry would enhance the health, welfare and safety of residents of the City of Key West; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF KEY WEST, FLORIDA, AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1: That the City Manager is hereby directed to solicit and accept input from community stakeholders including but not limited to old town residents, merchants from the Duval Street commercial corridor, charter boat fishing association, Chamber of Commerce, environmental groups, Harbor Pilots Association, tour operators and more with regard to policies to govern cruise ships calling on the City of Key West.
Section 2: That the City Manager and other concerned parties should consider proposed policies that may include, but are not limited to:
(1) The City will develop a plan to reduce congestion caused by cruise ship disembarkations in the Old Town area by limiting the number of passengers (inclusive of the potential limitation of number of ships that can be docked at any one time). This can be accomplished by directly negotiating with individual cruise lines that are willing and able to accomplish this goal. The number of passenger disembarkations should be reasonable for the Old Town area concerned and the cruise ships that are in the Caribbean market and available to dock in Key West.
(2) The City will develop a plan by negotiating directly with cruise lines to extend the length of stay in port. This will allow for greater opportunity for passengers to enjoy other areas of the City outside of Old Town such as the beaches, fishing charters and more.
(3) The City shall develop a plan to expand the docking opportunities for cruise ship lines with the best environmental and health records. The City should look at other ports within and outside the U.S. for examples to potentially follow.
Section 3: That the City Manager is directed to report his cruise ship findings and recommendations to the City Commission at its regular meeting of September 1, 2020.
Section 4: That this Resolution shall go into effect immediately upon its passage and adoption and authentication by the signature of the Presiding Officer and the Clerk of the Commission.