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Old 11-28-2005
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Who is Killing Our Water Access

Who is Killing Our Water Access?
By Jim Lowry (lowryjim@hotmail.com)

According to The Osgood File, “Over the past few decades, the Florida Keys have experienced a development explosion. Once home to approximately 10,000 people who largely resided in sleepy fishing villages, the Keys are now home to some 85,000 year-round residents, with an additional 2.5 million people visiting every year. “
The Florida Keys Keynoter states, “Boot Key Harbor is one of Marathon''s last bastions of truly affordable housing and home to a large portion of the city''s workforce.” Past city leaders tried to limit access within Boot Key Harbor. The boaters fought back, and the liveaboards remain—but for how long?
But this isn’t just about Marathon, the Keys, or the state of Florida. It is about losing our access to the water around the country. It’s about decreasing the availability of waterfront property necessary to sustain commercial-fishing and recreational boating activities.
It’s about losing millions of dollars generated in state and local tax revenue. It’s about people losing their livelihood on the water and the use of the water as affordable housing.
It has been stated, “Cay Clubs, owned by former Mariner''s Club and Earthmark CEO Dave Clark, opened for business just last summer. But already it has made its mark throughout the Keys and other parts of Florida … “
Frank Rego, Cay Clubs Vice President of Operations, recently stated in Keys Sunday, “The laid-back atmosphere of the Keys needs to stay, because that’s the big draw for tourists” Rego rejects the idea that the company will hurt working people.
But the Cay Clubs are not helping the working people either.
The Web site for their property, Lighthouse Cay Club, claims the property is a “full-service marina,” yet they have not opened any dinghy docks or facilities for the working class living on the water. Nor do their properties allow for maintenance and repairs or public boat launching.
According to the study, “Working Waterfronts” (Report Number 2005-122. Prepared for the Florida Senate By the Committee on Community Affairs), “Changes in Florida’s economy and land use may be affecting the economic viability of commercial-fishing and recreational working waterfronts. It is reported that, increasingly, development interests are buying traditional working waterfronts and converting them to private and residential use. “Water-enhanced” and “water-related” activities are replacing traditional or “water-dependent” activities. This has the effect of both decreasing the availability of waterfront property necessary to sustain commercial-fishing and recreational boating activities…”
And according to a recent article in the University of Florida News (08/18/2005), “Access to marine waters is a finite resource, because there’s only so much coastline,” said Robert Swett, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “In Florida, the number of registered boats has increased at a faster rate than the number of people, so it’s in everybody’s interest that we maximize the use of our public boating facilities. .. From the standpoint of the local economy, the best option often is to have boaters keep coming back to the same area,” Swett said. “Low-cost public ramps and docks are great incentives,…”
But it is not just the Cay Clubs, the Singh Co. or the Spottswood Co. driving out those who earn their livelihood on the water, or use the water as affordable housing, or need access to the water. No, the developers just take what they are given.

And who is giving these companies our waterways, our water access? I can first tell you, who it is not.
It is not the courts. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments may force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public, Even if the property is not blighted and the new project''s success is not guaranteed. The key here is “when officials decide it would benefit the public”
Also in the “Working Waterfront” study, it is stated that, “a recent study commissioned by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found that: “Statewide, the total economic impact of public boat ramps is approximately $1.3 billion per year….In addition to the economic impact, over 25,000 jobs are created statewide and approximately $128 million generated in state and local tax revenue”
As you can see, over a weekly, monthly or yearly period, water access provides far more state and local tax revenue than dockominiums, or luxury condominiums with private docking facilities.
So who is giving away our water access? Your city, county, and state government and YOU.
Yes, that’s right, you. You have to stand up for your rights, now given to you by the Supreme Court of the United States. Your city and county must stand up and demand public water access from new developments—to benefit the public.
You often hear people talking about a problem, yet seldom do you hear them offer a solution. Now you will hear a solution.
First you need to stop talking and start taking action as an individual. Write to your city, county and state leaders. Stand before your city and county meetings. But don’t just talk:
Support your view with legitimate facts. Have handouts for each member as well as the press.
Second, all of the “boating interests” need to pull their lobbies under one umbrella, pulling together the voting blocks.
And third: Start using the Supreme Court’s ruling to your benefit. In this regard, I personally am willing to work with any attorney, who is willing to fight for water access that benefits the public, be it in Marathon, Monroe County, the state of Florida or anywhere in the United States of America.
Surely there must lawyers who want to protect ours and their rights to water access.
The court has given you the power to file suit against both local governments and developers, if the development does not benefit the public. Be it in Marathon, Key West, Ft. Myers, Virginia, Maine, or anywhere in the country, you can stand up and win.
But you must stand up. Just thinking about it won’t work. You, yourself must step up and take a stand.
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Old 11-29-2005
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Who is Killing Our Water Access

Agree with your idea that waterfront overdevelopment is not a good thing. However, there seem to be some holes in some of the above arguments. Are elected government officials likely to support (and be supported by) hundreds of new condo owners, or by five or six longline or net fishermen? If fishermen were taxed at the same rate as, say a $500,000 condo, a good many of them would be out of business pretty quickly. Which generates more tax revenue and more local business, a boat ramp that supports fuel, bait, and restaurant sales, or a condo development that supports all of the first items plus retail clothing stores, hardware stores, garden shops, antiques dealers, grocery stores, newsstands, bookstores, real estate agencies, car dealers, and boat dealers? How can you prove that such a development doesn''t benefit the pubic, when THEY are the public? It may not be as nice, but they have their rights too.

On the other hand, our town has been able to fight some development by determining that for every house that gets built, there''s a net cost to the town for services (schools, fire protection, police, etc.) of $500 a year. This means that it is cheaper for town residents in the long run to have the town buy undeveloped land in order to keep it undeveloped. When land IS developed, a percetage of its value is taxed and goes to a Land Acquisition Fund. Land trusts on Nantucket and Martha''s Vineyard operate on a similar basis. That''s one way to stand up for your rights without spitting into the wind. If the people (as in The Government) owns the land, it won''t turn into something The People don''t want.
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Old 12-14-2005
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Who is Killing Our Water Access

Sometimes it really is all about the money.
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Old 01-02-2006
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Who is Killing Our Water Access

I am really amazed at the boat mfg.''s, Boat US, West Marine and all the rest of the companies and people making their living off boaters.
Don''t they think they should join in the fight to keep the waters open?
I have tried getting Boats US to get on board with the banning of crusers from all area''s. No luck.
In a few more years and a few more hurricane blow outs and they will not have any customers left.
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Old 03-03-2006
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I find that people do not want to upset the balance of what they see as a life style they dreamed about for years. The liveaboard boater is who I am talking about. Try and get them to come on board with a strong voice and they cower like sheep "YA SHEEP". They don't want to fight the political or the corperate machine to keep what they will of the waterfront. It seems they would rather listen to Eric Stone and play pumbah with the people who are taking away our rights to a free ocean. Blinders on they forge ahead hands over thier ears they are deaf hands over thier mouth they say nothing. Geez someone might tell the dock master they said that and they could get a dirty look from him. I have never cared if some one who stepped on peoples rights liked me or not.I got in that persons face and told them I DON"T LIKE YOU AND WHAT YOUR DOING.People need to speek up about this stuff now. I tried to form the NBRF (National Boaters Rights Federation). I have so far not formed the organization as a non profit to keep the tax dogs off our backe but if you are interested send your name to libertywhispers@yahoo.com I need people who care. If everyone comes togather we will have a strong voice in Washington. If every one acts alone they will never get a word in. I hope to have the chapters starting by years end. Please make your subject line on any email.
"I WANT A VOICE"
Please send your name and address (phone number optional)which will be kept in NBRF files only.We may request that it may be used to contact representives of a state or Federal Government as in a petition. Your name will never be sold as a mail list By NBRF or any of its staff.
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Old 03-04-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulBl
Sometimes it really is all about the money.

Sometimes??????
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Old 07-18-2007
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At the end of the day. After everything else has been argued. It's all about money!
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Old 07-18-2007
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Quote:
They paved paradise and put up a parkin' lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swingin' hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

They took all the trees, and put em in a tree museum
And they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot

-Joni Mitchell
I don't know what can really be done about it. For most of history "they" considered the waterfront to be a bad place and stayed away from it. The waterfront was stinky, cold, wet, and full of undesirables, and only people who had to live there lived there. But as soon as "they" started seeing the waterfront as a good place to live it was all over.
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Old 07-18-2007
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Lets imagine you own an old marina. It's hard work keeping up. Good help is hard to find and environmental rules continue to make life harder for you. Then along comes a developer who offers to buy you out for millions. What would you do?
And lets say you are on the city council and this comes in front of you. You can choose to support a worn down old marina that brings in limited tax dollars or support a new development that will bring in lots of new tax dollars and well-off people to populate your district.

Maybe you would support the old marina but 90% of Americans would choose the new development. That's a big majority and we still have a majority rules concept here.
If you want more marinas then get the state or local gov't. to buy out the facility and keep it as a marina. Some cities have done just that but it costs lots of money & effort. Most cities can't or won't put that much effort & risk into that sort of project.

As for livaboard cruisers, that has to be one of the smallest subsegments of the population by far. We are a representative republic and you don't have any meaningful voting power. Get used to it.
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Old 07-18-2007
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Between what I hear on the grapevine, what I read in the news, and the novels of Carl Hiassen, I can't see a reason to ever visit Florida by sailboat. They don't apparently want my kind, and it's full of vicious old bastards in gated communities (or gated wannabees), so I'll spend my money elsewhere.
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