It has been another quiet few days on Sanibel. Luckily Tropical Storm Colin passed to the north, though it brought some much needed rain which has continued off and on through much of the week. By today, most of us are over it, but the rain continues. Certainly not a good week to be here on vacation if you are a sun-worshipper, but the shelling is amazing!
A few turtle and snowy plover nests were damaged from high water, but many remain on Sanibel’s both east and west end and Captiva. Turtle patrols are out checking nests every day. Interestingly those sea turtles do not lay all of their eggs at one time, so Mother Nature planned for events like these.
Unfortunately, it was another slow week for real estate too. Attendance was down yesterday at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® meeting and the nine properties open for Caravan after the meeting had to deal with the buckets of rain that continued most of the day. No condos went under contract this week on either island, just two homes sold on Sanibel, none on Captiva. More details on the week’s action posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follow some news items below.
Most islanders do not like to think about hurricanes, but there was a nice article with some island history published in the “Santiva-Chronicle” on Monday, June 6.
With June the start of hurricane season, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club had SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Education Director Kristie Anders as their speaker at their meeting last week. This is the report that they provided to the paper.
“Well here it is the first week of June and we’re already talking about a tropical disturbance in the Caribbean. Watchful eyes are keeping a lookout on this storm and are tracking it’s movements in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. After all, we are now officially in Hurricane Season…June 1 through Nov. 30 and although early in hurricane season, these tropical disturbances can take unexpected twists and turns intensifying into full-blown hurricanes, at any time.
“Our Rotary speaker this week was Kristie Anders, SCCF education director, talking about hurricanes. She started out by giving us this statistic: 50% of our Island residents have never been through a hurricane season here on the Islands. This is important to note, since this year the predictions “The 2015 hurricane season was somewhat benign in the Atlantic, but if La Nina kicks in this coming summer (as predicted), it could be a troubling season,” according to NASA climatologist Bill Patzert. By the numbers: 14 named storms, 8 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 4 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher)
“Anders said, “Hurricane season is a roll of the dice.”
“Kristie gave us a look-back at previous storms that have hit our area:
- 1873 NO NAME a hurricane hit Punta Rassa wiping away all the buildings and demolishing the area with raging winds and a 14’ storm surge.
- 1910 “The BIG STORM” hit the Islands destroying all the crops.
- 1919 “Key West Hurricane” washed over the islands, salting the soil.
- 1921 “The Tampa Bay Hurricane” Category 3 Captiva was split at Red Fish Pass.
- 1926 “The Great Miami Hurricane” Category 4 This storm was very destructive to the Islands. Captiva was severed from Sanibel when a hurricane storm surge created a new channel – Blind Pass.
- 1960 “Hurricane Donna” Category 4 The dry hurricane. Damage to the roads was caused by the tides that “crested four to six feet above normal. Australian pines, insecurely anchored by wide-spreading but shallow roots, fell like tenpins across the main road that travels down the center of Sanibel and along the Captiva Gulf. Much of the Captiva road was impassable, parts of the Sanibel road were blocked under sand drifts, and tree falls. Upper Captiva washed away.”
- And Now to Hurricane Charley – 2004 Hurricane Charley Category 4… winds of 131 mph. Turns from simple tropical Storm to Hurricane…changes course from going to Tampa… hits dead on North Captiva, Captiva, and Sanibel. Mandatory evacuation of Islands…some stayed…Islands closed. Although 18-foot storm surge was predicted, luckily that wasn’t the case. Wind and tornadoes disseminated fauna, foliage, and homes on the islands. The Islands had no functioning sewer system, electricity, or water. Phone lines were downed. Electricity was knocked out and not restore for about five days. Roads were blocked with fallen trees and debris. North Captiva Island was split in two by the hurricane. Residents could not return to the Islands until roads were cleared. Kristie and her husband Red lived on North Captiva and were caught off guard by Hurricane Charlie, they did not evacuate in time. The National Weather Service and local meteorologists gave confusing information as to the direction of the storm and at some point, it was too late. The damage to North Captiva was incredible, roofs were destroyed, windows blew in, and walls collapsed. No electricity and no communication channels. Boats and planes were destroyed; there was no way off the Island. It wasn’t until the Monday after the storm that the National Guard arrived by boat to assess the damage to island property and secure property from vandalism. They realized Kristi and Red were not looters but residents of North Captiva. The soldiers helped in the cleanup of the Island.
“There were definite lessons learned by the residents that stayed on the Islands during the storms…don’t mess with Mother Nature. Most of them definitely will not do that again.
“Resident hurricane passes are now available at Sanibel City Hall…don’t wait. Hurricane forecasts give indications of the path of these storms…when it looks like the storm is coming this way, make hotel reservations…Kristie’s suggestion…somewhere near I-75. Take forecasts of storm surges seriously.
Sanibel-Captiva Rotary will not be meeting at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club for the next two months. On Friday, June 10, our meeting will take place at the Sanibel Shell museum starting with breakfast at 7 a.m. Further meeting information, can be found at http://www.sanibelrotary.org or check our Facebook page Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club. Guests are always welcomed at all of our San-Cap Rotary meetings.”
America’s Favorite Towns
Though it’s undoubtedly good for business, sometimes the locals cringe when Sanibel makes another “list”. Here’s one recently posted by “Travel + Leisure” magazine. According to the article:
“Travel + Leisure’s America’s Favorite Places survey opened on 10/8/2015 and closed on 04/15/2016. It was open to everyone, and ran alongside a sweepstakes. The open-response survey asked respondents to submit their favorite place and rate it in over 65 categories, including affordability, notable restaurants, and public parks. Towns were defined as governed bodies with a population less than 100,000. After discarding incomplete ballots and cities that received less than 8 votes, each entry was ranked according to an average score.”
Here are the top 30 favorite towns:
30. Sedonz, AZ
29. Hilton Head, SC
28. Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
27. Naples, FL
26. Key West, FL
25. Duluth, MN
24. Laguna Beach, CA
23. Charlottesville, VA
22. Santa Barbara, CA
21. Newport, RI
20. Williamsburg, VA
19. Aspen, CO
18. Red River, NM
17. Sanibel Island, FL
16. Durango, CO
15. Cape May, NJ
14. Pigeon Forge, TN
13. La Jolla, CA
12. Sarasota, FL
11. Sonoma, CA
10. Asheville, NC
9. Traverse City, MI
8. Staunton, VA
7. Portland, ME
6. Harrisonburg, VA
5. Atlantic City, NJ
4. St. Augustine, FL
3. Sante Fe, NM
2. Provincetown, MA
1. Park City, UT
Nice to see that five of the top 30 are in Florida. The write-up about Sanibel Island says, it “scored highly as a beach vacation and vacation getaway, but it enhanced both of these standings by getting a perfect score for free things to do.
“Indeed, the most popular thing to do here costs nothing: browsing the multitudes of seashells (there are reportedly 200 different kinds) on the beaches, an action known as the Sanibel Stoop…The island also ranked well for affordable cuisine….”
What is Your Opinion of Sanibel’s Civic Core Project?
As posted this week in several local publications, the Sanibel Civic Core group wants to know your opinion of the project and has created a website (sanibelccp.org) where citizens may see details and comment.
The Civic Core project would rebuild BIG ARTS and move the Center-4-Life to the Civic Core campus near BIG ARTS, City Hall, and the Library. It would be a multi-purpose facility designed to host a variety of different events. It would add about 400 parking spaces and have the benefit of relieving some of the traffic congestion on Periwinkle Way during events.
The Civic Core project weighs in with a hefty $42 million price tag with the money coming from – grants totaling $22 million, $12 million from BIG ARTS, and $8 million from Sanibel taxpayers which would have to be approved in a ballot referendum.
The community’s ultimate opinion on the Civic Core project will be decided in the voting booth, but before that happens the Civic and Cultural Core Working Group has posted the website to ensure that voters are informed. Check it out at www.sanibelccp.org.
Property Values Up Throughout Lee County
Good news posted on-line at CaptivaSanibel.com on Wednesday. It says:
“For the fourth year in a row, property values in Lee County continue to increase according to the preliminary estimated Taxable Values for 2016 released late last month and that increase is 6.62% countywide.
“We have 91 taxing authorities in Lee County and there are no negative percentages anywhere in the county,” said Lee Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson. “I think they will all be pleased. Of course, we have another month to work on the figures so the value could still go up some as we check for errors.”
“The total taxable value on new construction countywide rose from $972.5 million in 2015 to over $1.3 billion for 2016. New construction figures in Sanibel rose from more than $13 million last year to more than $18 million this year.
“We had a surge in new construction from 2015 to 2016,” Mayor Kevin Ruane said. “I think when the economy improves more people take advantage of that.” He said there are around 170 lots on Sanibel that are still buildable.
“Wilkinson’s office faces a July 1 deadline to notify the taxing authorities of their final estimate value figures, which will then be used by government agencies to set the millage rate through two required public hearings.
Those figures also will be sent to Tallahassee for approval, but, Wilkinson said, the state has never not approved the figures. The final estimate figures will be mailed to every property owner in the form of TRIM notices in mid-August.
“After the TRIM notices arrive, property owners then have 25 days to contact the appraiser’s office to appeal their taxable value if they think it is too high.
“Cape Coral’s total taxable property values are up 6.64% over 2015. Fort Myers Beach values rose by 6.72%, Sanibel by 3.98% and Fort Myers increased by 8.44%.
“Ruane said Sanibel did not go down 45 to 50% like other places did in 2007 and when considering an increase in percentage it is hard to go up as much when the decrease is not as large. “We historically have a better percentage between June and July,” he said, adding that he believes they will be closer to 5% once July comes.
“Ruane said the difference between Sanibel’s increase and Cape Coral and Fort Myers is those cities are still down 25%.
“We are in single digits. They have to make up more than 20% than I do,” he said. Ruane said the percentage is kind of exactly where he thought they were going to be. “Would I like property values to go up more, yes, (but) Sanibel values continue to rise,” he said. “We continue to be noted as a great place to come.”
“The City Council will discuss a preliminary budget at its Tuesday, June 7 meeting, which Ruane said includes a budget planned around 3 and 4% for property values.
“Among the local fire districts, Upper Captiva increased the least, just 0.25%, and Fort Myers Beach rose the most at 6.06%. Captiva Fire District increased just 0.44%, Matlacha-Pine Island by 5.06, North Fort Myers by 5.47 and Sanibel by 3.84%. Lehigh fire district opted out of the county tax roll for 2016 by passing a Fire Service Assessment tax instead.
“Property values started to rise in Lee County overall three years ago while some communities still saw decreases. Most property in the county increased for 2013 with few exceptions. These last two years every city, town and taxing district in the county is seeing higher values. The Lee County market lost half of its total value between 2007 and 2013 when the market started to turn around.
“The annual process is complete when tax bills start arriving in property owners’ mailboxes in November.”
4th of July on Sanibel
In less than a month, the islands again will be celebrating another holiday. Wondering what’s in store for July 4th here this year? Morning, noon, and night, the line-up is below:
26th Annual Independence Day Parade – Beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of Tarpon Bay Road and Periwinkle Way, the parade travels down Periwinkle Way to Casa Ybel Road. It is small town fun at its finest with many local businesses, organizations, community members and families participating in decorated vehicles and tossing goodies and holiday mementos to parade watchers. A good vantage point is the lawn in front of SanibelSusan Realty or just across the street under the shade trees bordering Community Park. Wear your red, white, and blue, and bring your lawn chair or blanket to join in the festivities!
- 37th Optimists Club July 4th Road Rally – Register your team to rally against others as you follow a predetermined course around both islands while solving puzzles and guessing clues. A team includes a vehicle, driver, navigator, and spotter(s). The event begins at noon in The Timbers/Sanibel Grill parking lot with staggered start times (a vehicle begins every 2 minutes). It also ends there with an afterglow party where prizes are awarded for time, mileage, the most correct answers to the quiz, best decorated vehicle, and the team that traveled the farthest to get there. More info and entry forms on the club’s website and on their Facebook page at Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club, or at Bailey’s General Store, Sanibel Café, Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank, in the local papers, or at the starting line just before the event. Don’t think you have to know the island to win, following the directions and being observant are key!
- Fireworks – At dusk, the causeway islands are where many residents and visitors gather to watch the fireworks which are launched right at dark from the bayside end of Bailey Road. Better get there early to get a spot. Or, see them from the water. Adventures in Paradise has a Sanibel Fireworks Cruise. You can book on-line at www.AdventuresinParadiseInc.com.
Sanibel Historical Museum Free Admission Day
For the 3rd year, The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is offering free admission for all visitors on Saturday, June 18. This time of the year, the Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a full guided tour at 10:30 a.m.
The museum closes for the summer on August 1, reopening October 18. More info at http://www.sanibelmuseum.org.
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity June 3-10, 2016
1 new listing: Tarpon Beach #110 2/2 $799K.
2 price changes: Sanibel Inn #3512 2/2 now $689K, Sundial East #M301 2/2 now $749K.
No new sales.
1 closed sale: Clam Shell #E 3/2.5 $995K.
1 new listing: 1114 Captains Walk St 3/3 $1.095M.
7 price changes: 1746 Windward Way 3/2 now $569K, 3118 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $599.9K, 5749 Pine Tree Dr 3/3 now $675K, 726 Cardium St 3/3 now $775K, 1501 Sand Castle Rd 5/3.5 now $999K, 792 Birdie View Pt 3/3.5 now $999K, 1238 Isabel Dr 5/3/2 now $3.499M.
2 new sales: 2115 Sunset Cir 3/2 listed at $459K, 1487 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 listed at $799K.
6 closed sales: 441 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $550K, 938 Strangler Fig Ln 2/2 $571.5K, 1858 Farm Trail 3/2 $610K, 1130 Junonia St 3/2 $669K, 9027 Mockingbird Dr 4/3 $755K, 882 Beach Rd 4/3 $1.3M.
No new listings.
1 price change: 5121 SanibelCaptiva Rd now $215,555.
1 new sale: 1837 Buckthorn Ln listed at $439.9K.
No closed sales.
Nothing to report.
1 new listing: 31 Urchin Ct 3/3 $975K.
2 price changes: 35 Sea Hibiscus Ct 3/2 now $350K, 11500 Chapin Ln 4/4.5 now $1.795M.
No new or closed sales.
Nothing to report.
(This representation is based, in whole, or in part, on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® or its Multiple Listing Service. Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. The information provided represents general real3 estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.)
Until next Friday, bring on the sun!
(Oops, it’s 3:10 p.m. & the sun just peeked out, let’s hope it stays!)
Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan