The Key West Chamber of Commerce wants to hear from businesses 

August 25 — When it comes to helping businesses maintain their customers and livelihood, the Key West Chamber of Commerce works hard for their members. 

Suzanne Moore, president of the Key West Chamber of Commerce, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about current projects for the Chamber. 

There is a new Business and Economic Development committee that has surveys out at the moment with more than 200 responses, but the group would like to see 300 responses. 

Moore said, “Just trying to see from the members what kind of businesses that they want and what are the issues that we’re facing.” 

Major issues at the moment include housing and employees, so the Chamber will try to address those. 

The city of Key West also has a new ordinance to help alleviate some of the workforce housing challenges. The ordinance would change the current vacation rental rules and have a minimum of six months instead of thirty days. 

Moore said, “That obviously if it goes through would have a huge impact. Some people seem to think that it will have a drastic impact on the value of real estate while some businesses feel like hey, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to make things a little more affordable for our workers.” 

The Chamber wants to look at the data to have decisions based on factual information. The group is looking at how many sales are happening per year? How many sales would this ordinance impact? How long would it take for that to have an impact? Would it have an impact? 

Moore said, “Would the sales of some of the houses right now, do we think that these houses instead of going into vacation rentals would actually go into workforce housing? We want to see what data the city has because they’re the ones proposing this ordinance and we want to see based on what information and listen to what they have to say. As we know, it’s a two-way street and we’re always trying to help any proposal that is brought forward to help alleviate our workforce housing issues.” 

A workshop meeting will be held on September 8 to hear from the various parties involved in this and discuss options. 

Moore said, “They’ve also asked us to bring any proposals that we have that we feel could be a better option than just doing sweeping changes to vacation rentals.”

The 30-day minimum for vacation rentals was brought in years ago to prevent transient rentals from happening al over the Keys. 

Moore said, “The state laws say that people have property rights and laws like this infringe on people’s property rights. We have been grandfathered in, thankfully, so transient rentals are limited to certain areas of town. Is this going to affect these new rules? Is it going to affect what we’ve already been grandfathered in? These are all discussions that are going to be happening on September 8, so I encourage people to reach out to us as the Chamber to represent the businesses or if they want to go themselves, it’s open to the public as far as I know. That’s going to be something we are looking at very closely at the Chamber.” 

The ultimate goal is to work together to find common ground to move forward. 

Moore said, “The real estate market, prices and numbers have flattened out as we’ve gone into the summer and into the fall and we see a lot more houses sitting on the market longer than they’ve done in the last 18 months. We do believe we’re in a natural market correction right now and a lot of vacation rental houses that were in vacation rentals last year may be going back to full time rentals. We’ll see what happens. Until we get through to the end of the year and into the season, it’s hard to really see what’s going to happen.” 

Another big event for the Chamber is the September 12 Showcase at the Beach Side Marriott. It’s sold out and open to the public from 3 to 5 and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

It’s a great time to meet business owners and see the people you may only have spoken to on the telephone before.

Moore said, “We know that people are really short staffed, so a lot of times people can’t get to our events and that’s one of the biggest complaints. We have it open from 3 to 5 and then 5:30 to 7:30.” 

For more information on the Chamber of Commerce or to become a member, click here: