|To the City Clerk:|
Pursuant to Agenda item "(a)" of the Key West City Commission~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From: David Lybrand, Key West, Florida
To: The members of the Key West City Commission
There is a major imbalance between affordable assisted care
facilities verses expensive NON-assisted care retirement
housing in the current FKACC plan. It is important that the
resolution assigning them as overseers of the assisted living
facility be amended before passage by the commission.
The current FKACC proposal provides free land subsidies to
the wealthy who wish to get into a nice NON-ASSISTED retirement
home at the waterfront. In contrast, the plan is very light on
providing actual affordable assisted care facilities.
It includes 87 expensive retirement homes -- some costing
over one million dollars -- for people who can still drive
and work and live without assistance. But it only provides 20
affordable rooms for those actually needing assisted care.
The other 20 assisted care rooms are planned to be MARKET RATE,
which few average Key Westers would be able to afford.
This imbalance must be corrected in the RFP process. I urge
the commission to amend the resolution to add language directing
the FKACC to correct their proposal to include MORE affordable
assisted living facilities, and LESS expensive NON-assisted
With over 5 free acres to work with, there's no excuse for
only providing our average citizenry with 20 more affordable
assisted rooms. Please make sure that the FKACC understands this.
Key West needs more and better care facilities for its senior citizens. This blog will discuss ways to do so. The grandiose give-away promoted by the "Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition" is not the best way. We can do much better.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
|Add affordable assisted units to senior facility proposal|
Last month the voters in Key West approved a referendum to allow a 99 year lease on property at the Truman Waterfront for a facility for seniors. The referendum was rigorously promoted by the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition (FKACC), who promoted a plan that was heavy on subsidizing (by providing free land to) the wealthy wishing to get into a nice retirement home but light on providing actual affordable assisted care.
It's not too late to guide this plan back on track toward providing more support for the average citizens of Key West. The development is about be put into the "request for proposal" (RFP) process to invite developers to submit plans for the development. The developers' proposals must met the RFP that the City will issue. How that RFP is written is the key.
Our job is to demand that the city, while writing the RFP, must fix the problems with the plan that the FKACC has been trying to slip by us. They want to include 87 expensive retirement homes (some worth over $1M) for people who can still drive and work, but only 20 affordable rooms for those actually needing assisted care. (They also include 20 more MARKET RATE assisted units that few average Key Westers would be able to afford). This imbalance must be corrected in the RFP process.
See http://www.keywestseniorcare.com/ for the full background on the problems with the current plan if you haven't kept up with the issues involved. And please attend next week's City Commission meeting and/or let your commissioners know that they must take off the blinders and look closer at what the FKACC is trying to pull off.
Take back the Truman Waterfront!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Thus it's very important that everyone who sees what's happening needs to find ways to do their part to make sure that the big give-away with little benefit that the FKACC is trying to foist onto the community doesn't go uncontested. The election was NOT the final word on this issue. The fight must now move to the City itself.
The next step toward providing more Assisted Living in Key West is the preparation of a "Request For Proposal" ("RFP") asking for outside groups to submit "proposals" for how they would build and run the facilities on the land at the waterfront that has been granted for this purpose. The RFP gives the parameters that the proposals will be designed around. Thus the proposals that are submitted by the outside groups will reflect what "we" ask for.
There are two problems:
- The "we" involved is not really US (the citizens of Key West), it's the small private group who make up the FKACC. Nobody elected these people, they selected themselves. They appointed themselves to decide what's best for all of us. And they never showed us any alternatives to select from, just their overblown plan to give away most of their allotted free land as expensive retirment homes that hardly any of us will ever be able to afford.
- Unless we do something about it, the RFP will reflect what the FKACC people want, not what's best for the community at large. They are only asking for a measly 20 affordable units for assisted care, barely more than what's already being offered at Bayshore Manor. On all that land. We can do much better than that!
We must give our input on the RFP, to make sure that any proposals that do come in will incorporate more affordable assisted living units. We must insist that the intention of the referendum that was approved by the voters was NOT to build a big expensive retirement community, but to provide average citizens a reasonable chance to get assisted care when their time comes.
If you think the above is hyperbole, read the earlier posts to this blog to get the real story. Regardless of how the FKACC people have tried to disguise it, their plan is to provide a bunch of NON-assisted retirement homes to people of means looking to retire to a nice waterfront area of Key West. Yeah, their plan includes a few affordable assisted living units in the back of the property, but overall the RFP that they want to issue won't reflect what the rest of Key West really wants. Don't let them get away with it.
Follow-up posts here will describe how you can influence the RFP process.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
When the land was conveyed from the Navy to the City, the desire was that the citizens of Key West would profit, by filling the City's dire need for more and better affordable assisted living for our seniors. The Navy actually required that part of the land be set aside for that purpose, as part of the conveyance agreement.
The FKACC came up with a plan that, when you look solely at the Assisted Living component, sounds pretty reasonable. They offered up 40 assisted living units on about an acre of land (about the size of the adjacent parcel being "donated" by Keys Energy), of which half would be defined as "affordable", and the other half "market rate". The marke rate ones would presumably break even, cost-wise. The affordable ones would require some kind of subsidy.
The problem arises when the plan for that subsidy is examined.
The FKACC came up with a plan that calls for 4+ more acres (provided for free by the City) to be put aside for a large INDEPENDENT living facility. This facility would NOT be used by the seniors requiring assisted living (the ones called for in the conveyance agreement). It would be used by generally healthy older citizens who could still drive, even still have jobs. The people who could afford to pay to move into this facility would be asked to pay EXTRA -- beyond market rate -- to subsidize the much smaller assisted living facility.
The term "Independent Living" was carefully chosen to blur the distinction between the two connected facilities. It's easy to confuse those who don't examine the issue carefully, when "assisted living" and "independent living" are thrown into the discussion. It's even worse when discussion of the overall plan doesn't look at the two seperate components involved. Remember, the overall project dedicates less than 20% of the required land to the sorely needed ASSISTED living, and over 80% to the so-called, not-so-sorely needed "Independent Living".
Basically the Independent Living component of the project is just a bunch of nice condos for retired or semi-retired people, with concierge service available. They would not be sold outright -- complicated financial arrangements would be used to get into one. But the key is that it would take a lot of money. And it would NOT be used by people who require ASSISTED living.
To sweeten the pot, the FKACC proposes to make 8 of the 95 independent units "affordable". (That's less than 10% of them, even though City development standards call for all new developments to include 30% affordable units.) By doing this, the FKACC people were able to make the claim that it would be a "mixed income" development. Ummmmm, maybe. But the "mix" would be over 90% for UPPER income people, and less than 10% for people of less means. Not toooo mixed.....
Anyway, to get back to "who profits": This big non-assisted compoent of the development would also tend to "profit" a fair number of people of signifficant means who want to live at a nice new waterfront park, something that their money wouldn't be able to currently buy them elsewhere in Key West. That "profit" wouldn't be available to very many within our community.
It could be debated whether that's actually "profit", but it is a "value" that some people will get back if the City makes this investment. But let's move beyond this "profit" involved in being able to live in the (planned for) assisted living facilities or in the (added to the plan by the FKACC) independent living facility and examine where actual monetary profit is involved...
It's certain that the actual builder of the project won't work for "cost". The construction work is going to profit somebody. We do know that nobody on the FKACC board is going to be involved in THAT work, since the FKACC charter forbids it (and rightly so). Hopefully the builder who eventually chosen will be a local one, so that the profits involved in the construction will be more likely to be plowed back into our community. It'd be a shame if an outside builder does this work and brings in outside craftsmen and minimizes the economic benefit to our citizenry. Time will tell.
But once construction is completed, who will profit?
During their well-financed "vote for our plan" road show, the FKACC people made a big point how management by a non-profit organization (like a major church) is how this facility will keep costs down for those citizens who have to pay to get into it. And you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who voted in favor of the referendum who did NOT think that this would be a fully non-profit venture. The church and motherhood and apple pie. A nice facility for all our seniors, run by a church at minimal cost. No, those words weren't used -- but that's the message that came across. to so many.
Did you watch the election results coverage last Tuesday night? After the results were in and the referendum had passed, the FKACC reprentatives quickly changed their tune. A couple of times, while congratulating themselves on their victory over the "nay-sayers", they mentioned that the next step was to "look for a non-profit OR FOR-PROFIT group" to actually implement their plan. I'm talking MINUTES after the results were in, they were already starting to do a re-level-set of their expressed intentions, making it clear that this project will NOT necessarily be a non-profit venture.
How soon do you think that we'll be seeing an RFP from Atria?
Where else in America has a big for-profit senior care organization been given free land? Not to mention waterfront land -- in a major city park? Is that what our citizens were voting for?
Be prepared to let your Commissioners know that this is NOT what Key West needs. Those who use these facilities should not have to pay from their collective pockets for outsiders to profit. Even ahead of that, we should not turn over prime free land to a group that will profit from it. We need to make sure that the Commision insists that any RFPs presented to them don't burden our seniors -- and our taxpayers -- with sending profits outside our community.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Those of us who understand how little the average Key Wester will get back in exchange for all of this free waterfront land must now move onward to take whatever actions are possible to prevent the FKACC from turning this land over to big for-profit interests who will forever keep it out of reach of so many of us.
For those who only saw the slick, misleading FKACC dog and pony show but didn't get the full story, this blog provides the unmasked facts that the FKACC did not want you to know about their plan. These are not the ramblings of paranoid conspiracy theorists (as the FKACC tries so hard to have you believe). They are just the facts, mam, without the fuzzy "if you question our plan you don't care about seniors" cloud that the FKACC public relations blitz has used.
If you really DO care aboiut our seniors (including YOURSELF one day), you will take the time to understand all of the issues involved, as exposed here. And you will help to make sure that the City will compell those who implement the FKACC plan to do MORE for the seniors than their plan calls for. The FKACC members repeated several times last night that they plan to work hard to implement EXACTLY the plan that they've been pushing. It will take the rest of us to counter their push.
The plan must be changed to one that benefits more average Key Westers.
I have posted in this blog the past letters and other efforts that I have submitted to the local media in an attempt to cut through the haze. With the FKACC's deep-pocketed backers buying many newspaper and radio ads, it was extremely hard to get the real facts to the public. It was amazing how many people thought that the 4+ acres they were giving away were actually planned to hold assisted-living units! (If you thought so, read the older entries in this blog to get the real story.)
As we move forward, this blog will continue with a discussion of what we all must do to take back control of this facility that is so important to us. Before it is truly too late.
At this point, it's not too late, to Do The Right Thing.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
FKACC Board member Joan Higgs stated it best during her appearance with Board member Ed Block on the Channel 19 election results show hosted by Bill Becker. When asked by Bill why none of the candidates opposed the referendum, she stated something like "Would you want to vote against your grandmother?" The FKACC had done their job in convincing people that voting FOR this referendum represented a vote FOR seniors, despite the fact that the FKACC plan by design keeps almost all of the average Key West seniors out.
I know for a fact that at least two of the City Commisioners were against this referendum, however neither of them dared speak against it because the FKACC had done such a good job of equating a vote against it to abuse of our poor pitiful grandparents. And their constant repeating of their outright false statement about how this was the ONLY chance for assisted living in Key West obviously was heard by too many people who took it as fact.
And it sure didn't help that the Citizen, which has a member of the FKACC Board on their own Editorial Board, both endorsed it and took extra efforts to quickly publish hazy misleading rebuttals to those who questioned the FKACC plan.
And the fact that the Keynoter would not even publish letters questioning the plan.
And that the local radio news gave the FKACC people the last word, on the day before the election. Without any attempt to question their assertions.
It's actually suprising there were as many "no" votes as ended up being cast. At least one person out of three saw through the FKACC haze. I congratulate them for attempting to give the city a chance for a plan that will actually let more than a few average citizens into the facility.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Basically, I talked for about 5 minutes, covering several of the issues that are discussed in depth in my letters found earlier in this blog. Bill's questions were probing without being confrontational. I was very nervous, being my first radio interview, but I think that I articulated my points reasonably well.
If you're a glutton for punishment, you can listen to the entire one hour show here. There are a few teasers in the first 5 minutes or so, and the actual interview starts about the 10 minute point.
It did appear to me that Bill was trying to get me to point fingers and/or espouse "conspiracy theories" with some of his questions. I guess it would have been more interesting to some people if I started making insulting accusations against members of the FKACC, or if I theorized about whether some developer or corporation was trying to influence the direction they've taken.
But the fact is: I do not know anything about that aspect of the project, and I won't speculate in that direction.
Anyone who has read my letters knows that I am solely concerned with how poor the FKACC plan is. About how little affordable assisted living it provides. I have not accused the FKACC people of any dastardly deeds -- only with locking in on a poor plan and sticking with it without regard for the actual NEEDS of Key West. I have stated more than once that they are good people with a good cause -- but that they blew it. That may be taken as an insult, but only to those who insist that they know what's best for us all without asking us. Those who DO take the time and effort to find out what the community really needs would not be insulted.
One statement I made drew a significant response. Bill asked me about how much nursing care would be available in the INDEPENDENT living component of the project. I correctly stated that there would be none. I also stated that there wouldn't be "nursing" in the Assisted Living component either. Unfortunately in my nervousness I left out the word "care" (ie, "nursing care"). This left the FKACC people an opening to challenge my statement.
I did correctly state that when a resident of the facility reaches a point where nursing care is required, they would have to MOVE OUT and seek a nursing home or convalescent center elswere. That statement was valid and correct.
But the very next day (Saturday morning) the Citizen newspaper rushed to print TWO letters from the FKACC board refuting my statements on the radio. (I can't remember the last time I saw them print letters that quickly -- usually it takes several days before a response letter makes it into the paper.) Of course the Citizen has a member of the FKACC Board on their own Editorial Board which tends to get things expedited. Nothing like "fair and balanced" journalism....
Both of the letters generally just rehashed their standard talking points about how this was the ONLY chance to get an assisted living facility (totally false), etc. But they did make an effort to refute my statement about nursing at the facility. They described how a nurse would be "on staff" at the facility. But of course there's a big difference between "nurse on staff" and "nursing care". One involves just monitoring the situation, the other involves actual medical care. Again the FKACC clouded the issue, and right before the election.
But that wasn't the end of it. The following Monday, Bill Becker brought back the FKACC people to do "damage control". I had struck too close to home and so the big guns came out on the DAY BEFORE THE REFERENDUM and once again got their opportunity to repeat their same old story, with the same inaccuracies and fuzziness. All this while Bill Becker made such a point about how much he respected their opinions, and without any challenging questions.
I felt compelled to send Bill the following email:
|Date: 10/1/2007 8:47 AM|
To: Bill Becker - US1 Radio News Network
Subject: One last comment
It's a shame that the FKACC people get TWO oppotunities to give
their side, while those who dispute them only get one. She
continued the same old "poor poor pitiful elderly" that they've
been doing for the last 3 years. I (and others like me, who
are far more than "a few" as she claims) want to do MORE for
those people. THEIR plan doesn't do enough.
She ignored the gist of my complaint -- that MOST of the land
will be used for people who are NOT "poor pitiful seniors".
I wanted MORE of the project to focus on them. Of course they
know that if they don't cloud the issues their plan would
never be accepted.
I realize that your show isn't a "debate" show, but it would
have been nice if her assertions were challenged as much as
you challenged mine.
But regardless, thank you for letting me at least try to
counter their attempts to push the "poor pitiful seniors"
into the back of the property by the dumpsters while setting
up a bunch of nice retirement homes for the wealthy. (They
may have had better intentions than that, but that IS what
their project has become.) Most likely too little, too late,
but at least I tried.
Monday, September 24, 2007
|Subject: The FKACC plan discussed on today's show|
Today you provided a "candidate forum' for the promoters of the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition (FKACC) plan for the Truman Waterfront. With your other ballot-issue forums you provide for each candidate to state their views over the air. I'm asking that, in concern for fairness, you provide the same consideration for those who have a problem with the FKACC's plan. Someone should be allowed to refute the misleading and downright erroneous statements being made by the FKACC's representatives.
For example, in today's interview the FKACC representative lumped anyone who opposes their plan in with unreasonable people who would, when given a free $100, complain that it wasn't $200. That's ridiculous. The opponents of their plan are against the bloated nature of the project in relation to the amount of affordable assisted care it would provide.
We're not a bunch of unreasonable lunatics, we're concerned that the average citizens will see too little benefit from the plan the FKACC is hyping. We'd be happy to have an assisted living facility on the Truman Waterfron -- just not THAT plan.
Even more erroneous, close to being a LIE, is the statement made several times today that "if this is voted down it's all over". That's hogwash. The FKACC people would be free to clean up their plan and resubmit it in the next election (which will be in January). If they choose to ignore the concerns of the citizens and "take their ball and go home", they wouldn't be showing very good faith.
But even if they do that, the city can, and SHOULD, still provide an assisted living facility there. Just one that actually meets our needs! Not a big give-away of free land for a bunch of good-sized homes that are NOT FOR ASSISTED LIVING (as the FKACC's plan insists is required for this project).
NOT ONCE today did they mention that 80% of the land they want would NOT be used for assisted living! It'll be used for "independent living" -- a glorified retirement community with concierge service. Look it up on their site! 95 large units, consuming all but two smaller buildings "in the back", will be for nice retirement homes. NOT for assisted living. THAT is the issue!
And they continue to IMPLY that any unit in there would be available for "all incomes". BULL. Their specific plan (see their site) says that only half of the assisted units will be affordable, and only 8 out of the 95 "independent living" units (retirement homes) would be affordable. This is far below City standards for the "affordable" component of any development. Can you imagine the waiting list for those, while the wealthy can buy into the others? Is that what we want our land to be used for?
We can provide MORE affordable assisted care there than the FKACC people plan to, despite their claims of doom and gloom if we don't accept their well-financed pitch and build the waterfront retirement homes for the rich. This is NOT a crazy idea -- it's one that is being obfuscated by the smoke and mirrors of the FKACC plan. Let's do better!
This is NOT an "anti-Assisted Living" issue, it's a "don't waste our valuable resources on a facility that's not good enough" issue. We can do better, and we SHOULD.
I hope you give someone a chance to provide the other side of the issue before the election. I'd be willing to speak on that behalf if no one else does.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
|Assisted living plan is not good enough|
The Citizen has endorsed the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition plan using the same faulty logic that the FKACC has spent a lot of money promoting all over town. The flaws in their assertions must be considered before one votes in favor of this proposal.
You and the FKACC continue to make the false claim that voting against this kills any chance for an assisted living facility. That's hogwash.
The property will remain available and can be used for a more appropriate facility. Killing this plan will merely prevent the giveaway of much of that land that was explicitly planned for assisted living to people who don't need assisted care. A better plan that focuses on affordable assisted care would be welcome there, and can still happen without this vote.
You and the FKACC continue to make the misleading claim that the facility will be available to "all income levels." Actually only eight out of the 95 "independent living" units would be affordable. That's less than 10 percent, whereas the city's standard for new development is supposed to be 30 percent. Even if you add the independent living facility's 95 units to the assisted living facility's 40 units (20 of which are affordable) the total is still only 21 percent affordable. Despite the free land, they don't plan to even be close to city standards.
You and the FKACC continue to downplay how much of this land will not be used for assisted care.
There will not be 60 assisted care units, there will be only 40. (There is room for a second bed in these units, but how many people will share their room) And only half will be affordable.
Most of the free land will be covered by the large, expensive independent units (many of which are 1,200 square feet). The assisted living units are in a small parcel well away from the water.
You even made the claim that the facility is not on the waterfront, despite there being no buildings (only a street and some open space) between the facility and the water.
That's really a stretch.
We can and must do better for our seniors. We can provide MORE assisted care there without giving away land for large homes for people who can still get around.
We CAN provide more affordable assisted care there. Don't let this faulty plan be rammed down our throats. Demand a better plan by voting against this one.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
|Once again at the recent public forum the FKACC continues their quest for free land for a big expensive condo community on our precious waterfront. They again obscure the fact that their huge project only provides a very limited amount of affordable assisted care (only 20 units).|
They blur the fact that the NON-assisted component of their project is similar to the infamous Watermark project that horrified the community around the Key West Bight. That's right, most of their facility will be big 3-story buildings, holding 95 NON-assisted-living condos, where the residents can be healthy enough to still be employed.
They claim that the project, on the prime location that would be granted to them for free, will be beneficial to all. Excuse me? With only 20 affordable assisted units in a project of 135 units? And 95 of which aren't even assisted living? How many average islanders will that benefit?
Please don't think that the complaint about the expensive retirement homes means that the assisted living facility itself is not welcome at the waterfront. Indeed just the opposite: there should be MORE affordable assisted living units there!
Why not toss out all the expensive non-assisted retirement homes and bump up the number of assisted units to ONE HUNDRED. And qualify ALL of them for subsidies (just like Bayshore Manor)? That would give 100 locals a shot at affordable assisted care, rather than just 20. But how would this be handled without the subsidy money from all those rich folks moving into the planned nice condo community?
Without that Watermark-sized condo project taking up most of the allocated land, there would be enough space to build a nice restaurant alongside the assisted living buildings. It could provide reasonable cost food, with ALL profits fed into a subsidy fund/foundation. It could use "interns" from the culinary program being proposed elsewhere at the waterfront by the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust.
Instead of reserving all that land for rich retirees who aren't even ready for assisted care, we could ALL enjoy the restaurant, and it would subsidize a REAL assisted care facility at a much greater scale than is currently planned.
I'm sure flaws will be pointed out in this alternative plan, but the point is: there ARE alternatives that can be considered. We don't have to lock out the average citizen from so much of the Truman Waterfront, and we can provide MORE affordable assisted care to the community.
Let's look beyond the FKACC's claims that there's "no other way", and come up with a plan that better meets the needs of the average citizens of our community.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
|Public should decide on assisted living plans |
Recently Joan Higgs of the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition (FKACC) responded to my concerns about the retirement community they propose for the Truman Waterfront.
Her response continues to distort the issues involved. She stated that there will be 40 assisted units, however she left out the fact that only 20 of those will be affordable. All of the units at Bayshore Manor are affordable (any bed can be subsidized if a need is shown), but only 20 of the 40 units in the proposed waterfront facility would be affordable. The rest would be so expensive that the average Conch would be left out.
She stated that it's convenient to have the assisted units close to the expensive retirement homes because couples might need to split up with one in each facility. But think about it: With the limited number of assisted units available, and the waiting lists that would be involved, what are the odds that two members of a single family will "make the cut" to get into two separate units simultaneously?
Only people with the resources to live in the full-price (non-affordable) units may be able to buy their way into that kind of arrangement. Certainly not the average Conch. Does this justify giving away free use of all of this land for those few cases?
Joan "takes exception" to my claim that FKACC preys on emotions in their attempt to get this free land for their retirement community, but her letter spends several paragraphs talking about "seeing the pain" and "frail couples" being "tucked in."
She accuses those who aren't touched as being outside our "One Human Family" and not being a "compassionate human."
I believe this is exactly the point I was trying to make.
She asks that we trust the FKACC when they say there is no better option.
I'm sorry, there must be other options. People are ready to have assisted living on the waterfront, but they want more than 20 affordable units. They certainly don't want a big set of expensive retirement condos as imposing as the original plan for the Watermark development crowding the park.
Let "us" be the ones to decide which plan is best. Don't try to force a single plan onto us. Give us some options.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The big guns at the FKACC have seen fit to accuse me of a case of NIMBY in my contesting of their project for the Truman Waterfront. Once again they're using smoke and mirrors to try to confuse the citizenry of our fair city.
The fact is, I did NOT call for the affordable assisted living facility be located elsewhere. Indeed, that's exactly what the original vision for the Truman Waterfront called for, and I have no problem with it. I welcome it. What I do not welcome there is a large expensive retirement complex like the FKACC is proposing.
Did ANYBODY, other than the FKACC folks, ever call for a big retirement community there? Why is this the ONLY plan that they have presented to us? The facility was supposed to be ASSISTED LIVING. And people wanted it to be affordable. That is what the original vision for the waterfront called for. The FKACC project is a subversion of that vision, despite their denials.
They state that there are no alternative sites available for their project, but that assumes their project is the ONLY WAY to provide assisted living. As I mentioned, they have locked themselves into a single plan and are not willing to look into other WAYS (not sites) to accomplish the goal. Do it at the Truman Waterfront, but do it differently.
I was accused of making "invented assertions" -- but their responses try to make the claim that the facility will not be on prime waterfront land! The only thing between the FKACC retirement homes and the water will be park space and the marina. That's about as prime of a waterfront location as I could ever hope for. Who's inventing what here?
No matter how you want to shuffle the numbers, the facts are these:
FKACC can obfuscate things by claiming that people can share rooms at their facility. That's great, but 20 units are 20 units. In all that nice space, ONLY 20 affordable assisted units!
The other 20 assisted units would be at full market cost, which would rule out most all of us. We could never afford those. Why not work to find a way to make all 40 of them affordable?
FKACC may be very proud of their 95 "independent living" units (only 8 of which are affordable) that will consume most of the space allotted, but come on: who proposed putting such a "retirement homes" development on the Truman Waterfront? Those units will be out of reach for most of us, so why should WE subsidize them with free land? The FKACC seems to have lost touch with the average member of our community. They're setting most of their focus on the ones with access to larger capital assets.
Let's get our focus back on ASSISTED living. AFFORDABLE assisted living. And leave the expensive retirement homes for the developers to make their money on elsewhere. We owe that to our community.David Lybrand
Friday, June 29, 2007
|Proposal Is For Upscale Complex, Not Assisted Care|
by David Lybrand
We need an assisted living facility in Key West. The Bayshore Manor facility is very limited at 16 units. Consequently, many of our elderly must look elsewhere (e.g., to the mainland) if no one locally is able to assist them through their twilight years. Virtually nobody in Key West would disagree with this need. It's a given.
What's not a given is that the so-called "assisted living" facility being planned for the Truman Waterfront is the best way to meet this need. Yes, it'll provide more assisted units, but at what cost?
Is it really the only way to accomplish this?
The biggest problem with the plans being pushed so stridently by the "Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition" (FKACC) is that most of their project is not for assisted care! More than 70 percent of the units they propose are for "independent living" -- people who can live just fine almost anywhere with some extra help from time to time. Only 15 percent of all the units in this project will be affordable assisted living units.
The FKACC has subverted the assisted living facility vision of the original Truman Waterfront plan into one that's mostly a glorified retirement community.
The project is usually referred to as an "Assisted and Independent Living facility." That oversimplifies and clouds the issue. A more apt description would be: "expensive retirement community with a small set of affordable assisted living units."
The assisted living component of the project is basically two small buildings sitting on less than an acre of the property the FKACC insists that they require. The other approximately five acres is a community of almost 100 very nice and very expensive units that are not really much different (other than their most excellent waterfront location) than other nice condo complexes on the island. "Independent Living" could be accomplished almost anywhere -- why does it have to be on prime free land given away by the city?
Such retirement communities exist all over our state, but you'd be very hard pressed to find one where the city granted free land to built it on. Much less prime waterfront land like the Truman Waterfront. Land that was meant to be enjoyed by all of our residents, not just the ones who can afford to buy one of these expensive units.
The FKACC team continues to couch their sales pitch in terms like "we must care for our elderly" and "people are forced to move away from the island we love." They imply that questioning their plan is akin to senior abuse. They insist that we can't afford the assisted living units if we don't subsidize them with the expensive retirement housing. I'm not convinced, and I think that those who take the time to bypass the hype and look at the actual plan will see this, too.
Our mayor claims to have looked at the plan up and down and is convinced that it's "fair." However he had also recently been convinced that we need to grant more transient licenses in Old Town, despite it violating city planning agreements. (Thankfully a judge has overruled this.) I'm reluctant to take his word on this matter.
Commissioner Menendez has visions of how seniors of all means will be able to "gaze out at the ocean" as they draw their dying breaths. The facility being planned is far from that vision. With all the free acreage (close to 20 percent of the entire Truman Waterfront) being thrown at it, they can only find room for four more units than Bayshore Manor provides for seniors of "lesser means" who need assisted living? And of course if they get sick enough to need continuous medical care, they'll be kicked out anyway. (Is this what you're looking for, Jose?)
I believe the FKACC to be good people attempting to do good work for a good cause. But I also feel that they have locked themselves into a single plan without looking at enough alternatives. We need to discuss more proposals than this one. The original LRA resolution called for a request for proposal ("RFP") process to be used. Where are the other proposals? Why are we being forced to vote on one proposal without ever seeing other possibilities?
I believe that we can do much better than this. We should be able to provide a lot more than 20 reasonable cost assisted units without such a massive giveaway of our scarce waterfront land. We should not be voting on this until we see some alternatives. If the commission doesn't want the whole project shot down by the voters this fall, they should come up with something that really is as fair as the mayor claims. Something with more reasonable priced assisted living units, and with less of our valuable land given away for expensive retirement homes.
|City can do better than assisted living proposal |
We need more assisted living in Key West. Bayshore Manor is limited to 16 units. Many of our elderly must leave because they have no one to assist them through their twilight years. The so-called "assisted living" facility pitched for the Truman Waterfront is not the best way to meet this need. Yes, it'll provide more assisted units, but at what cost Is it really the best way?
Most of the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition project is not for assisted care. Over 70 percent of the units are for independent living -- people who can thrive almost anywhere with occasional extra help. Only 15 percent of the units in this project allow affordable assisted living. FKACC has subverted the Truman Waterfront vision into mostly a glorified retirement community.
Since "independent living" is possible almost anywhere, should the city give away prime waterfront land for such a development? Land meant to be enjoyed by us all?
Clouding the issue, FKACC calls it an "assisted and independent living facility." A more apt description is: "expensive retirement community with a few affordable assisted living units." The assisted-living component of the project amounts to two smaller buildings on less than an acre. The other approximately five acres FKACC wants will hold almost 100 nice (expensive) units not really much different (other than the beautiful waterfront location) than other nice condos on the island.
FKACC preys on emotions with a sales pitch about "care for our elderly" and "don't force them off this island we love." They imply that questioning their plan is akin to senior abuse, to distract from its troublesome details.
They insist we can't afford assisted living without subsidy from expensive retirement housing. Really? Our mayor claims to have looked the plan "up and down" and [he] thinks it's fair. However, recently he was convinced we need more transient rentals in Old Town. (Thankfully a judge overruled this.) I'm reluctant to trust his take on this.
Commissioner [Jose] Menendez envisions seniors of all means "gazing out at the ocean" as they draw their dying breaths. The FKACC plan is far from that vision. Despite all the free acreage (close to 20 percent of the entire Truman Waterfront), they only find room for four more affordable assisted units than Bayshore Manor provides. If the seniors end up needing substantial medical care, they'll be kicked out, anyway. Is this what you wanted, Jose?
Though the FKACC are good people attempting good work for a good cause, they've locked into one plan with no alternatives. The original LRA resolution called for the "request for proposals" process. Where are the others? Why must we vote on one proposal without seeing alternatives?
We can do much better. We can provide more than 20 affordable assisted units within this massive scarce waterfront land give-away. Why vote on this without seeing alternatives? If the commission doesn't want this shot down, come up with something as fair as the mayor claims, with more affordable assisted living units. With less waterfront given away for expensive retirement homes.