Chris Moss Online

That Other Jimmy in Key West

weekley-web.jpgIt may be hard to believe, but there is another guy named Jimmy associated with Key West that I like. He’s former mayor Jimmy Weekley.

Jimmy Weekley was mayor of Key West about the time James and I started going there regularly. We both have a strong interest in local government, and we would read the local news when we were there, and sometimes at home after we fell in love with Key West. I always liked Mayor Weekley and from what I could tell, was doing a very good job.

At the last mayoral election in Key West, a young guy named Morgan McPherson challenged Mayor Weekley, and unexpectedly won.

In the last few years, real estate has become vastly more expensive. I know this because my dream is to one day live in Key West, be it at retirement or by owning a second home that is rented out most of the time, or some other way. There are some days I think that James and I both would rather live in a shack in the Keys and wait tables, but don’t we all. Anyway, James and I pay close attention to the real estate market there. We even developed a business plan to acquire a bed & breakfast there about 4 years ago, but it didn’t work out and that’s another story.

Anyway, one of the major problems facing Key West is a severe shortage of affordable housing. Development has focused on super high-end resorts, condos and even the re-development (read: tear-down) of single family homes to push almost any home above $750k in value. Rents are out of control and the cheapest places to live run about $1,500 and up, and that is generally for a room in a house or an efficiency apartment. That means things are tough for people in the service sector – your waiters, bussers, landscapers, maintenance people, etc. There are a lot of pools to clean in Key West, and a lot of palm trees that need the coconuts cut down periodically to keep them from falling on people’s heads. There are also a lot of older homes that need a lot of maintenance. In other words, there is a good market for these sorts of services, which has so far been able to keep enough people around. But it is pushing the limits; really it is at the limit.

Redevelopment continues, and affordable housing of any sort is in jeopardy. Jimmy Weekley is the voice of restraint and the current mayor is in favor of letting the developers do whatever they want. This is a similar problem we once faced here in Frisco, so we can relate. Mayor McPherson has deep pockets for his re-election campaign as he is well-funded by developers. Jimmy Weekley is powered by the people.

Election Day was October 4, and there were some other candidates and no one achieved 50% +1 of the vote, so there will be a run-off between Jimmy Weekley and Mayor McPherson on Nov 6th. I hope Jimmy Weekley wins and will be watching this race.

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