MARATHON, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held a Special Meeting on Thursday, May 10, 2018, to discuss the Keys Workforce Housing Initiative proposed last week by Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).
The initiative allows up to 1,300 additional affordable housing Rate of Growth Ordinance Allocations (ROGO) for rental workforce housing throughout the Keys and with conditions. Those conditions include developments that receive these ROGO allocations have a rental management agreement in place that requires rental occupants to evacuate in the early phase of a hurricane evacuation – 48 hours in advance of tropical storm winds reaching the Florida Keys. It is the same time frame that current transient units (hotels, etc.) and mobile home occupants are required to evacuate in the early phase of a hurricane evacuation.
The initiative would allow for the County and each of the Keys’ five municipalities to receive up to 300 allocations, with the likelihood that the smaller municipalities of Layton and Key Colony Beach would ask for only a combined 100 allocations or so.
The initiative is an agenda item for the state Cabinet meeting, which was scheduled for May 15. That meeting was cancelled by the Governor in order for him to attend a funeral. Now, the agenda item will be heard at the June 13 Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee.
The Cabinet will decide whether to approve the housing initiative as a concept. If it is approved, then the County and municipalities each would decide whether to accept additional allocations. In order for the government entities to accept their allocations, they would need to make changes to their individual comprehensive plans.
The County Commission heard from several members of the public that were divided on the issue. Some said the additional workforce housing allocations are desperately needed. Others said the additional units go against the County’s decades-long growth management plan, don’t adhere to the hurricane evacuation rules for permanent residents, and are detrimental to the environment and the quality of life for residents.
“The devils are in the details and we hardly have any details,” Monroe County Mayor David Rice said. “I can see benefits to this, and I can see a huge liability to this. The details are what will define this.”
Monroe County staff will travel to Tallahassee for a Tuesday, May 15, meeting to discuss the initiative with DEO staff. County staff will ask questions based on comments from the Commissioners and public speakers about the initiative.
The Board of County Commissioners will discuss the issue again, with County staff input from that meeting with DEO staff, at its next Commission meeting on Wednesday, May 16, in Key West.
DEO also will submit its 2017 Florida Keys Area of Critical Concern Annual Report to the Cabinet at its June 13 meeting.