I want to give a huge thank you to our retiring Beautification Committee Chairman, Janie Byland.  She has provided outstanding leadership for over 10 years on her Committee and in the process, has transformed all of our City parks and Christmas decorations.  Her legacy is still growing with the new City entrance way gardens being installed soon.  Her other major accomplishments are the Waterfront Park and tiki hut, and refurbishing the entire city landscaping following Hurricane Irma.  There is not one landscaped area in the City that Janie has not significantly improved.  Please join us for hot dogs and entertainment at the tiki hut by the Post Office on February 22nd and thank Janie for her many volunteer years making our city the best place to live in the Keys.

Over the next months, your City Staff, Planning and Zoning Committee, and Commission will be working on several key issues that will shape our future:

First, the  Planning and Zoning Committee is holding workshops and formal meetings to assist the Commission in updating our Land Development Regulations (LDRs) to deal with the new Flood Zone Maps being issued by FEMA and general sea level rise issues.  They are first tackling building height regulations as we build higher to adhere to higher Flood Plain elevations.  Next, they will look at seawall and storm water regulations.

Second, me, the Vice Mayor and City Administrator are traveling to Tallahassee to lobby our delegation for funding for City Hall and combat bills that will restrict our Home Rule authority like vacation rental ordinance preemption.   I am very afraid of losing our ability to regulate vacation rentals to the State.   With 34% of our homes being vacation rentals, we need to keep a firm hand on local regulation.  We will also be talking to key administration officials to release  our final Hurricane Irma relief funds and look for funding ideas for workforce housing, combating sea level rise and other needed projects for the City.

Lastly,  please introduce yourselves to our new office staff and public works supervisor.  They are:  Saara Staten, Executive Assistant; Michelle Farr, Assistant City Clerk and Mike Guarino, Public Works Supervisor.  They are a welcome addition and are already making a big positive impact.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

John