Dinner with Alan Wittenauer and Karen Homiak is always interesting, especially when we talk about county issues (and enjoy wonderful food served in places like Eurasia, Little Italy, Alice Sweetwaters, Rib City, Cracklin’ Jack’s, and so many more East Naples fun establishments. I just can’t name them all) that concern us all.
The other evening I gave them a little quiz.
I’ll ask you some of the same questions and see if you can answer them correctly.
* How many affordable housing units does the county’s affordable housing department say we have in East Naples?
Give a guess ... if you said 232 units you are correct. Yes, that is how many THEY say we have in East Naples.
* How many units in Naples Manor?
Sorry, the 1351 units located in Naples Manor are not in the count.
* What about Whistler’s Cove?
Nope – not in the count.
Let me try some simpler questions.
* What part of town is Bayshore located in, according to the “Planning Community” calculation?
It’s not part of East Naples ... nope – it’s considered South Naples, so those units are not in the count for East Naples.
* How about Radio Road? What area is that located in?
Yes, we all thought East Naples, but according to the Planning Community calculation, it’s located in central Naples.
* How about Verona Walk?
Of course you would say East Naples. Have you ever heard of Royal Fakapalm? That’s what they call it down there in the Affordable Housing Department. How about Manatee Road (over by Erin’s Isle on County Road 951)? Certainly THAT has to be East Naples! Nope again. It’s called the Marco Planning Community.
Let’s make this quiz a little simpler.
Let’s try by County Commission Districts.
* Who’s district is Bayshore Drive and Estey Avenue?
Would you think an East Naples commissioner? Nope, they are in Commissioner Fred Coyle’s district.
* How about Osprey Landing on Davis Boulevard or the mobile home parks along Radio Road?
Surely they are in an East Naples commission district! Nope – they are in Commissioner Tom Henning’s district.
Let’s try one more time.
* How about the three Habitat villages along U.S. 41 East past C.R. 951?
It even says Tamiami Trail East – certainly they would be in an East Naples commission district. Wrong again. They are in Commissioner Jim Coletta’s district.
I could keep on going, but by way of explanation, let me tell you this chopping of East Naples into little pieces happened back in the 1980s as they were building the new communities around the county, but wanted to located the low income housing away from those new areas.
The only way to do it without looking like they were concentrating them into one area was to break the area into different Planning Communities. I’m not sure when they broke it up into little commission districts.
Is any other area in Collier County chopped into little pieces like this?
The answer is no.
The problem is the area is beginning to look like a slum along U.S. 41 East, yet the “figures” the State requires do not even BEGIN to give an accurate picture of the damage and destruction this concentration of affordable housing is doing. And right now, it seems I am the only one who seems to want to turn this situation around and rescue the community from total failure.
I get no help from the other commissioners. Just maybe that is because the figures they have received (and probably believe) are so extremely distorted that they don’t even realize what a mess is being created. At least I hope that is the reason, and not because they don’t want any built in their area.
I am working very hard with some wonderful staff members to try to get the accurate count of existing affordable housing units around the entire county. It’s a big job with many obstacles and oppositions, but I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that they will come through with the figures that show exactly what really exists. When that happens, Folks, you will be truly amazed! ! ! Remember a few years back when everyone was saying we were 30,000 affordable housing units short? Remember we read “CRISIS” in the newspaper? When these figures come in with the actual, TRUE count, you will FIND those 30,000 units and then some.
Just wait and see, unless someone comes in from behind the scenes and ... well, I won’t go there now.