Let’s hear from Mayor Teri Johnston of the city of Key West

September 12 — It’s been a busy time in the city of Key West recently and Mayor Teri Johnston joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about what’s happening in the city. 

A memorial service to remember September 11th 2001 was held yesterday at the firefighter’s museum and the mayor was in attendance.

Johnston said, “It’s hard to believe that it’s been 21 years now. We talked a little bit about the number of Americans, I have four granddaughters and none of them had been born at the time of 9/11. So it’s interesting and it’s so important that we educate, particularly our children and our young people about 9/11 and how it happened and why it happened and how we work as a democracy to make sure that it never happens again. It was a very somber ceremony and I would just like to thank Richard and Alex who organized a wonderful honoring memorial of those 3,000 lives we lost that day. It was something that we need to do every year. We need to keep it fresh in our minds to make sure that we’re all being the best Americans that we can.” 

In terms of city business, the short term rental ordinance had a workshop last week. 

Basically, the group talked. 

Johnston said, “We talked about what’s positive about the ordinance, what could be modified about the ordinance. How do we reach our goal of creating more workforce housing to maintain our labor force in the city of Key West. I’ve been involved in politics now in the city of Key West since 2007 and I have never seen more proposed solutions come out of a workshop than I did last week. I’m very proud of our community. There’s not one of us in the community that doesn’t realize that we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to retain our labor force. We’ve got to make sure that we maintain a strong economy.” 

The vacation rental company suggested tacking on a fee to every vacation rental that would go to the city either to first time homebuyer programs or subsidies in order to lower rents or subsidies for landlords who are renting below market value and are providing housing for the labor force. 

Johnston said, “We’re going to take a look at all that information. Push it back out and continue the conversation with the community because it was a very, very good community-based conversation, which we need to have frequently.” 

The ordinance will be discussed at the September 20 City Council meeting.

Johnston said, “We were asked by a number of the participants if we could please postpone that in order to continue our conversations to come up with an ordinance that people can live with. That is going to come to a vote. It has to come in front of the City Commission because it is still on the agenda. We can put it on the agenda as proposed to be postponed. That will need to be voted on by the seven people on the commission in order to postpone that again.” 

The issue of space for the Black Educators Museum was also discussed recently. 

Johnston said, “We did bring forth a resolution that directed the city manager to find space and she has done that. As you know we’ve got a beautiful Douglas Gym extension in the final stages of being approved. So our city manger has designated space in that building which is right in the heart of Bahama Village. We did have a long discussion. One of the challenges that we have had over the years is that we haven’t identified exactly what we’re dealing with. How much space we need. How many of the artifacts and materials and memorabilia that the black educators group has in order to create a museum. So that’s our first step is to find out exactly what we’ve got. We should be able to do that quite easily because the black educators are working with the art and historical society to have an exhibit at the Custom’s House and that exhibit should identify the materials that we’ve got and how much space we need.”

Remember it is active hurricane season right now. 

Johnston said, “Please pay attention and if you are asked to evacuate, we do it with great thought and understanding of the types of hardships that creates, but our number one goal is to keep everybody safe in the city of Key West and if we need to evacuate, we truly need to evacuate.”