Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Seahorse Trailer Park

I find it rather sad to see a telephone number promoting inquiries about the availability of lot spaces at Seahorse Trailer Park in Big Pine Key.
On the first day of this year the Key West Citizen reported  that last Christmas the residents of this park were given two month eviction notices.
And here it is, more affordable housing, as cruddy as it is, cleared out to make way for more costly developments. The estimated  50 people who used to live here were made homeless so the living units could be used to build hotel units on Stock Island at the harbor yacht club. 
Under the Rate of Growth ordinance, enacted to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Florida Keys development is supposed to be kept in check by a system of permits, which system ends up being used to maneuver end runs that replace living space with vacation space. 
So one family trailer here equals in the developers' minds one hotel room elsewhere in the county, in a place that will be more lucrative, close to the water or close to attractions. Out here working people lived and retired and spent their money, enjoying the same weather the rest of us enjoy..
And now it's done. Ironically county officials sanctimoniously told the newspaper these were lots zoned for recreational vehicle use, not as permanent residences. The reality in a county this expensive is that people live where they can, in boats, RVs, sheds, lofts and sometimes the mangroves.
Families lived here, Spanish speaking ones too and they never bothered me or my dog. We walked through, said hello, and they left me and Cheyenne and my pink Crocs alone.  When we lived on Ramrod Key, closer than Cudjoe Key where we live now, I used to come here quite often and walk the early hours. 
Cheyenne liked it because there were lots of smells here, food particles, trash, outdoor living, quiet streets that suited her gentle pace.
I don't suppose there was anything anyone could do, it's a trend in the Keys where outsiders will pay huge sums to buy houses they rarely even occupy. Trailer parks are getting torn up everywhere. The Spottswoods evicted 85  families a few years ago from  a  Key Largo trailer park. The Catholic diocese shut  down the Simonton Court Trailer Park in Key West last year.
Some people wonder who will do the carrying and lifting and cleaning for the idle classes in Key West and I suppose dormitory housing and imported labor will meet requirements. As it is the Middle and Upper Keys (all the islands north of the Seven Mile Bridge) get some of their labor from Homestead and Florida City where the laborers board buses at ungodly hours of the morning and ride hours to work. 
 You can see it in Key West too, the outflow of workers, when at eight o'clock in the morning Stock Island gets crammed with lines of cars struggling to get to work in Key West.  These days its a privilege to live in the city if you earn your living there.
Affordable housing has been on everyone's verbal agenda for years, decades perhaps, but in a world where government intervention is abhorred there's not much you can do when the one percent evince no interest in the topic at all.
Modular homes on stilts are going up across the street, nice clean and sterile, heavy white gravel killing any chance at individuality. You'd be lucky to buy 1200 square feet on stilts for $350,000 even this far from the water. Affordable housing in Key West for qualified workers starts at $250,000 in an effort to offer housing hope to public workers.
 Meanwhile across the street the mailboxes are emptying out and the residents are going elsewhere.
Up North is the retreat of last resort.


Cody Goldman said...

This is sad, probably even worse than the trailer park on Simonton in the sense that in that case valuable land was used for valuable housing and here displacing common working folks for ROGO units for a hotel, same result but it seems more egregious to me.

gina in alabama said...

Not liking what EYW is becoming, we sold one of our Hyatt time shares and the other is on the market. If i wanted Nantucket, i would go there. Key West had something and now its going and gone, and so have I. Alas, it was good in the day.

Conchscooter said...

The newspaper today has more on the Walmart coming to Rockland Key. There isn't the political will here to stop the transformation.

Were it to become Nantucket that would be one thing. Key west is on a path to becoming an over priced third rate resort, the worst of all default choices. Not exclusive even.

Trobairitz said...

That just all seems to sad. Colorful, but so sad.

Mandy S said...

it's interesting you mentioned people living in the mangroves- i used to live on a houseboat for free, which was past the mangroves, and sitting idly amongst many no-longer working but- still floating houseboats- it was really cool- a hidden world. i would use my headlite and wade thru the tide at end of the day, and take a little row boat out there; the popel who lived in the mangroves where separate from the other groups of homeless people; i was fascinated by atleast a half dozen distict kinds of homeless person in key west! i did get to know the mangrove bums well, and i admired them sitting up i the trees, perched like colorful birds above the tides;
Once again, it's capitalism which "sterilizes" or shall we say--kills all living culture. As you said with the resisdents in the mobile homes, the homeless people never othered me; they gave life and character to the surroundings, for people willing to see it-

John Guerra said...

I love your writing great stories. I like the piece on the trailer park on your way and the couple talking over the fence. keep it up great stuff

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