A Happy Sanibel November Friday


As I was composing this today and had written “it’s another beautiful Friday on sunny Sanibel”, my teammate son reminded me that this afternoon is forecast to be the worst weather of the week. He’s funny. We really don’t have much bad weather. Sure, clouds are expected to roll in and breezes to pick up, with possibly a few showers expected by sunset, but isn’t that what keeps Southwest Florida tropical and green? It looks to be just another mini-cool front with temperatures not expected to get out of the 70’s here tomorrow. That’s not going to be hard to take and it sure beats the freezing temperatures expected in the mid-west and northeast. Here’s hoping you have good weather too!

Below are some photos taken yesterday at Sanibel Arms West by Jim Anderson with JMA Photography. Our new listing, gulfside #E2, has the lanai view shown bottom right.

On Halloween, I had a surprise office visit from a client’s twins who also stopped in five years ago – in costumes then too. How much they have changed! Time flies as they are grown-up young ladies now – and beautiful in their costumes. A good reminder to always enjoy smelling the roses along life’s journey.

 

Speaking of that, I had a quick working lunch today at Normandie Seaside Café at West Wind Inn. Still a favorite spot discovered during my first visit to the island 30-some years ago. The beach there was beautiful with waves rolling in and plenty of shellers searching for treasurers. The gals working the café and the nearby Upper Deck pool bar are a hardworking bunch and the food and service terrific. If you are ever looking for an out-of-the-way spot favored by locals, try them out. You’ll see plenty of islanders there for not just breakfast and lunch, but dinner too. I have seen Willard Scott there more than once. Normandie has an outstanding $22 Sunset Menu from 5-6 p.m. (Be sure to save room for the crème brulee or key lime pie. It’s included.)

SanibelSusan Realty Associates

Sanibelsusan LogoThough business has improved a little, the real estate world here still hasn’t rebounded from the summer water woes. Snowbirds continue to arrive, but phones aren’t ringing much. I was out showing a couple of times and again met with owners thinking of selling. Teammate Dave has been out showing too and three of us will be out showing this weekend. Sure hope some of these lookers are real buyers.

The action posted since last Friday in the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® Multiple Listing Service follows a couple of news items below.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

bill kristie becky 10-31-18

Association CEO Bill Robinson & Director Realtor Becky Mulka with Kristie

Representing the islands’ Association of Realtors®, I was honored to speak at Wednesday’s Farewell Luncheon at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation for their retiring Education Director, Kristie Anders. When she saw it was me, Kristie jumped right in and mentioned that I donated the money for her to buy her first SCCF laptop for education. That was a very long time ago. Today with technology changes, she carries more than 40 huge presentations on a tiny flash drive that fits in her pocket.

If you have ever listened to Kristie, I am sure you also know what an amazing gal and teacher she is. If you are wondering how she has helped island Realtors®, below is what I said.

I am here to give a big thank you to Kristie for all she has done for the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors. We all know that Kristie is a terrific island steward & wonderful educator. What you may not know are the many times she has cooperated with our local Realtor organization, spreading her knowledge, & making us better stewards too.

For years, Kristie has taught a segment about SCCF at Sanibel & Captiva’s quarterly Orientation training for new Realtors.

Like most licensed professions, Continuing Education Classes are required of Realtors to keep their real estate licenses current. That curriculum & those approved to teach these classes must be approved by our state Realtor organization, Florida Realtors.

Back in the 90’s, Kristie worked with our Association in developing a 7-hour continuing class called Environmental Considerations of Coastal Living. The class was state-approved, as was Kristie, as a Florida Realtors instructor. Every summer since then, for 20-some years, she has updated the class & taught it. Her up-to-date info & passionate delivery so fire up attendees that many take her class every year, even if they don’t need educational credits.

With her help, the year after the class was developed, the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors won an annual state Education Award.

In 2006, our Association developed another educational program for Realtors wanting to specialize in Sanibel & Captiva real estate. Today, it’s a 12-part series that is offered every summer & takes several days to complete with those completing the program earning an island specialist designation. Kristie has been an integral part of that program too – again, each year updating & teaching a multi-hour module on conservation.

She also often has been a speaker at our Monthly Membership Meetings, offering introductory memberships to new island owners. She authored & currently is rewriting the “Story of the Islands” booklets that Realtors provide to prospective new islanders.

To say that Kristie has made us all smarter is an understatement. The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors will miss her but want to relay their heartfelt thanks & appreciation for all she has done & continues to do for us.

We have a little thank you for her including an association shirt. We hope with that she’ll agree to be an honorary member of our association & come back whenever she likes! Best wishes, Kristie!”

Florida Realtors® Signs Agreement with Panama RE Association

Florida Realtors logoToday in Boston at the National Association of Realtors® 2018 Conference and Trade Expo, “Florida Realtors® and the Panamanian Association of Real Estate Brokers and Promoters (ACOBIR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the cooperation of the two Realtor organizations in developing a mutually beneficial relationship for their respective association members. As posted on-line at FloridaRealtors®:

“”As professionals in the real estate industry, we take pride in providing our knowledge and expertise to clients in Florida, Panama and throughout the world,” says 2018 Florida Realtors® President Christine Hansen. “Florida Realtors and the Panamanian Association of Real Estate Brokers and Promoters share common goals. We look forward to continuing our partnership and building more connections that increase trans-national business opportunities for all of our members.”

Water Resources Development Act of 2018

EAA Project SCCF 2018From the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s (SCCF’s) email blast this week:

“With the President’s signature on the federal water bill – The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) – the EAA reservoir is one step closer to providing relief to the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie estuaries and supplying needed water to Everglades National Park.

The bill authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on the critical water infrastructure project south of Lake Okeechobee referred to as the EAA reservoir. The project will create a new outlet from Lake Okeechobee that will direct a significant amount of water south reducing the harmful, excess discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

In the days ahead we will begin our work to press for project funding in the federal budget to keep the project moving forward.

Congratulations to everyone who stood up and spoke out in support of this critical step forward. Stay tuned!

The 324 page bill for water projects all across the nation is available online here.”

New Beach Cam at Casa Ybel Resort

Thanks to Froilan Ramirez (aka JR), the General Manager of Casa Ybel Resort for posting the link to their new beach cam. Check out how great the water looks. www.casaybelresort.com/web-cam

CasaYbelSanibel.jpg

Casa Ybel Resort pool & beach

Island Events

Center 4 Life Annual Trash & Treasures Sale –tomorrow, Sat Nov 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Island Seniors, 2401 Library Way. 

Flip Flop Family Scavenger Hunt – tomorrow, Sat Nov 3 to benefit Sanibel Sea School scholarship program. Starts at 10:30 a.m. at Sanibel Congregational Church

Sanibel Blues & Jazz FestivalSun Nov 4 in Bailey’s Backyard from 12 to 7 p.m. Tickets at Bailey’s General Store & https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sanibel-blues-jazz-festival-tickets-50608163379

37th Annual Taste of The Islandsto benefit CROW, Sun Nov 11 at Sanibel Community Park from 12:30 to 5 p.m. www.crowclinic.org/articles/37th-taste-of-the-islands

The LaunchSat Nov 17 Coastal Keepers fundraiser at The Community House from 6 to 10 p.m. More info & tickets at www.sancapcoastalkeepers.org/the-launch

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Oct 26 – Nov 2, 2018

Sanibel

CONDOS

1 new listing: Pointe Santo #B3 2/2 $729K.

2 price changes: Signal Inn #3 2/1 now $759K, Gulfside Place #121 2/2 now $1.298M.

4 new sales: Blind Pass #G201 2/2 listed at $479K, Sand Pointe #117 2/2 listed at $799K, Sundial #T402 2/2 listed at $855K, Sunset South #5D 2/2 listed at $1.189M.

No closed sales.

HOMES

8 new listings: 9465 Coventry Ct 3/2 $649K, 922 Pepper Tree Pl 2/2 $695K, 1441 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 $729K, 9447 Coventry Ct 3/2.5 $749K, 6033 Dinkins Lake Rd 3/3.5 $875K, 742 Sand Dollar Dr 2/3 $1.189M, 734 Pyrula Ave 3/2.5 $1.295M, 6425 Pine Ave 3/3 $1.779M.

9 price changes: 1611 Sand Castle Rd 3/2.5 now $479K, 1325 Par View Dr 3/3 now $672.5K, 1807 Serenity Ln 3/2 now $739K, 5280 Ladyfinger Lake Rd 3/2 now $789K, 660 Oliva St 3/3 now $869K, 1740 Middle Gulf Dr 3/3 now $940K, 1244 Par View Dr 4/3 now $1.149M, 2251 Starfish Ln 4/3.5 now $1.499M, 6071 Sanibel-Captiva Rd 5/4.5 now $2.595M.

1 new sale: 1286 Par View Dr 3/3 listed at $969K.

1 closed sale: 6192 Henderson Rd 4/4 $1.8M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

Captiva

CONDOS

2 new listings: Bayside Villas #4204 1/2 $395K, Sunset Beach Villas #2216 1/1 $525K.

3 price changes: Beach Villas #2426 1/1 now $540K; Seabreeze #1253 3/3 now $1,899,999; Beach Homes 25 3/2 now $1.949M.

No new or closed sales.

HOMES

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: 15843 Captiva Dr 3/3 $4.2M.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

This representation is based in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® 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 the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.

Until next Friday, enjoy your week! Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Red Tide & Blue-Green Algae Fall-Out Is Not Pretty


Beach

It’s Susan with another Friday update from sunny Sanibel Island. It has been a warm week, with highs every day in the low 90’s and little rain. Unfortunately, that seems to be the weather that makes the algae grow, as it has been a week of a few steps ahead, followed by steps back.

After a reprieve of a several days, it has been discouraging to again see and hear about more dead sea-life washing up on Sanibel’s shores, both on the beach and bayside. The terrible smell even traveled as far as Sanibel Square both yesterday and this morning. (No smell where I live on the east end.)

Thankfully, scientists say that Sanibel’s red tide count is going down. Yesterday, news indicated that it is moving further north. According to some reports, Tropical Storm Gordon pushed the bloom offshore giving us the false hope that it was gone. Once that storm moved away, the red tide came back. Where it goes and how long it will last can be dependent on tides and weather.

The worst conditions yesterday were west of Tarpon Bay Road and out onto Captiva including the area of Sunset Bay and the canals off Dinkins Bayou. It’s so sad that the marine life that washed ashore included dolphins and sea turtles. We are so sad that this is having such devastating effects, we are “so ready” for it to be over. Sanibel and Captiva are not quite ghost-towns, but the beaches have looked that way.Captains for clean water logo

There is another event to benefit “Captains for Clean Water” today (4 to 7 p.m.) at The Dunes.

The weekly activity posted in the Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service follows a couple of news items below. Only one home and one lot sale on Sanibel this week. No sales on Captiva.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Sanibel realtors logoYesterday was the Association’s September Membership Meeting and Caravan. The speaker was Cecil Pendergrass who is Chairman of Lee County’s Board of Commissioners and Commissioner from District 2. He reported that the County budget has just been approved with no increase. At least there is good news on the tax front!

He also updated attendees on what the county is doing regarding water quality. With multiple solutions in the works and none immediate, it’s important that everyone pay special attention to what they can do in their area to help solve the problem. Though much of the cause of the blue/green algae in the Caloosahatchee is from releases from Lake Okeechobee, run-off from areas south of the lake, including Lee County and its cities are contributors too. Not every citizen heeds their local ordinances on fertilizing and watering. (Sanibellians do a good job.) Along the river, for example in some of the older areas of downtown Fort Myers, many homes still pipe their sewage directly into the river. (That’s right, no septic tanks at some homes along McGregor Blvd.)

It’s time for all of us to stay involved and make water quality a top priority.

Interestingly, Cecil also said that in August the airport reported an increase in traffic, while most of the hospitality businesses in Lee County reported losses of millions of dollars. He joked that he didn’t know where all these people went.

He also reminded attendees of government loans available to small businesses who have lost revenue because of the algae problems.

Is anything new being done to combat the problem? The simple answer is “no”, but local governments are working together to get Federal reimbursement for the ongoing clean-up efforts. The City of Sanibel is doing a great clean-up job. Call them to report any dead marine life and they respond quickly.

FREE Parking

Sanibelcityseal logoTo encourage more island visitor business, parking fees at all Sanibel beaches have been suspended until Sep 30. Additionally, the county posted yesterday, that motorists who cross the Sanibel Causeway between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. tomorrow Sep 22 and Sun Sep 23 will not have to pay a toll. A donation from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation will cover the costs during those hours as a way of encouraging locals to support Sanibel and Captiva businesses who are feeling economic impacts from the lingering red tide.

Scoop From My Favorite Economist

REALTOR-Magazine_Logo_As reported by NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in the Sep/Oct 2018 issue of Realtor® magazine:

Recession Talk Heats Up – Concerns about a housing slowdown not supported by the data

“Is a recession looming? It’s an important question because the U.S. economy has been experiencing one of its longest expansions ever. There were two recessions in the 1970’s, two in the 1980’s, one in the 1990’s, and two in the 2000’s. Since 2010, there have been none.

“Every recession has a trigger. In the 1970’s, it was energy price shocks. Could that happen today? Probably not, because the U.S. is now the world’s biggest oil producer. One potential trigger could be an unsustainable rise in borrowing. But the fact is consumer debt has risen only about 5% annually for the last five years. Although that’s fast, it’s not catastrophic. Past recessions were preceded by debt increases of 10% or more. More important, the largest part of household debt is home mortgages and those loan balances total about $10 trillion today, about the same as 10 years ago even though housing values in the aggregate have climbed from $18 trillion to $28 trillion.

“Another trigger could just be psychological. Pessimism leads consumers to spend less. That leads businesses to scale back, reduce investment, and not build that additional factory or office. But the consumer confidence this year is at an index level of 127, the highest reading in more than 20 years (with 100 considered neutral).

“Finally, it could be policy error. Turkey is an example of how a decision – lowering interest rates in the face of rampant inflation – can lead to a crisis.

“Although it’s not clear what could trigger the next recession, it’s a good bet it won’t have anything to do with our industry. The housing market still has room to grow. A total of 6.1 million existing homes plus newly constructed homes will be sold this year. That’s the same level as in 2000, when the market was considered well balanced. Homebuilders are at last responding to pent-up demand by increasing housing starts and creating jobs. For these reasons, the odds of a recession in 2019 are slight. And if we do see a drop in GDP, it will likely be mild – nowhere near the intensity of the recession a decade ago.”

Automated Valuation Models Are Tools, Not Solutions

BradfordZillowCartoonAnother article in this month’s Realtor® magazine caught my eye. Particularly, when it was announced at our Membership Meeting this morning that our Association is in the process of inking agreements with Zillow and other on-line real estate database companies, because most sellers want their listings syndicated. With the onset of the internet, I guess these companies were inevitable. Another way for entrepreneurs to make a buck.

Personally, I’ve never thought that these companies could replace knowledgeable Realtors® in unique areas, but their existence certainly has changed where and how we advertise. Here are some tidbits from the article by John S. Brenan who, since 2003, has been the director of appraisal issues for The Appraisal Foundation.

“When it comes to online home value estimates, the number one caveat for consumers is that these estimates are not a substitute for formal appraisals, comparative market analyses, and the in-depth expertise of real estate professionals.”

“AVM’s are not appraisals…today, in many cases, an automated valuation is suspect if there is a lack of available data or the property isn’t a “cookie cutter.” Many of us have checked our own properties against the finding of an AVM and thought, “Yeah, right.”

“So why aren’t automated models more reliable in more transactions? Because computers don’t buy houses, people do. An AVM does a great job of analyzing tangible features such as a property’s age, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, and lot size. However, a property’s overall appeal is something that has been, at least to date, extremely difficult to quantify. It’s a uniquely human phenomenon; a property’s overall appeal reflects a combination of characteristics. While not everyone has the same preferences, some unusual features will likely face significant market reluctance…. So, unless and until AVM’s can better emulate the human factor, an ethical and competent appraiser remains indispensable.”

As SanibelSusan’s 2-cents worth, The Sanibel & Captiva Association of Realtors® may be working toward syndicating their listings, but please know that it is not because Zillow and their like provide good property valuations. They will get our data, but it is because our sellers want their listings to get the additional advertising these on-line vendors provide. For years, many island Realtors® (included us) have joined a secondary Realtor organization so that we also could post our listings in their Multiple Listing Service to get this extra exposure.

dining clip artTemporary Closings & Reopenings

  • Bleu Rendezvous – closed for vacation, reopening Oct 5.
  • Blue Coyote Supper Club (Sanibel) – sold. A new restaurant “Malia” to reopen there Oct 1.
  • Bubble Room – closed for repairs beginning Sep 24, reopening Mon Oct 1.
  • CIP’s – closed for lunch until Oct, still open for dinner.
  • Gramma Dot’s – reopens Sep 27.
  • Island Cinema – closed for cleaning & maintenance until Oct 5.
  • Noah’s Ark Thrift Shop – accepting donations at their loading dock. Ark to reopen Oct 2 and will be open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Oct.
  • Sanibel Library – temporarily closed as part of its renovation project, from Fri to Tues, Sep 21 to 25.
  • Traders Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts & T2 (Traders 2) – to reopen Oct 2.
  • Traditions – reopens Sep 23.
  • The Sandbar Steak & Seafood – to reopen Oct 3.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity Sep 14-21, 2018sancap GO MLS logo

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Mariner Pointe #312 2/2 $599K (our listing), Gulfside Place #221 2/2 $1.295M, Sanibel Surfside #231 3/3.5 $1.495M.

View No shadow.jpg

View from Mariner Pointe #312

1 price change: Sanctuary Golf Villages I #2-5 2/2.5 now $734.9K.

No new sales.

2 closed sales: Loggerhead Cay #184 2/2 $760K, Island Beach Club #220E 2/2 $832K.

HOMES

2 new listings: 543 Boulder Dr 3/2 $849K, 2640 Coconut Dr 2/2 $1.45M.

4 price changes: 998 Fish Crow Rd 3/2 now $550K, 1018 Demere Ln 4/2 now $ 699K, 3136 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 now $899K, 1433 Sanderling Cir 4/3 now $1.155M.

1 new sale: 9211 Dimmick Dr 3/2 listed at $599.9K.

2 closed sales: 5299 Umbrella Pool Rd 3/2.5 $470K, 1718 Jewel Box Dr 3/3 $840K.

LOTS

No new listings or price changes.

1 new sale: 1246 Sand Castle Rd listed at $299K.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

No new listings, price changes, or new sales.

1 closed sale: Tennis Villas #3236 1/1 $309.5K.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 1105 Tallow Tree Ct 3/3 half-duplex now $2.575M.

No new or closed sales.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

This representation is based in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® 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 the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.

Until next Friday,

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan

Island Life – Getting Back to Normal


It’s SanibelSusan, reporting that there has been good progress this week in getting the islands back in order post-Irma – with more owners returning, more summer projects wrapping up, and more tree debris removed from the sides of local roadways

Post Irma Recovery

Today is the 18th consecutive day of roadside debris collection with three huge trucks and one smaller one working systematically from one end of the island to the other. The latest report from the City said that sweeps will continue until every roadway (public and private) have been serviced twice. So far 40,000 cubic yards of what has been collected has been converted to mulch, with the City finalizing plans to offer it to the community free.

Yesterday bright-and-early, I was excited to have a claw truck removing the huge pile in front of my home. This is a long tedious process with piles growing and utility lines often hampering efforts, but the crew was careful and efficient.

FISH 2017 10 K raceBecause of the main debris collection site being on Island Inn Road, the City is working with F.I.S.H. to come up with an alternate route for the F.I.S.H. annual 10K fundraiser race which is scheduled for October 28. I got a call from Nicole McHale, 2017 F.I.S.H. Board of Directors Chair, asking if I could get Realtor® volunteers willing to work that morning, manning the route, particularly at driveways, to aide in runner and public safety. The call is out, with plenty of us already volunteering.

A little advice to those not back on-island yet, bring patience. Those looking for pressure/window washing contractors and screen repairmen will likely have a wait. I’ve heard that screening material now is in short supply, compounding the delay for some repairs. Last night, the local news reported that it may take months, if not years, for some cage work to be completed. Orange barricade fences are recommended where needed for safety.

I got a letter from my landscaper advising that they expect to have their customers’ properties back to normal by Christmas. So, we are thankful that island damage was minimal and look forward, with patience, to a warm and wonderful fall and winter season.

Sanibel Approves Budget; Irma Plays Big Role

santiva chronicleSanibel City Council met yesterday, below is the article posted this morning at “Santiva-Chronicle” on-line:

Sanibelcityseal logo“Sanibel will operate on a budget lower than last year in 2018 and it will include expenses from Hurricane Irma, higher beach parking rates and a 15% increase in the cost of a membership at the Recreation Center.

“The City Council gave final approval to the 2018 fiscal year budget at a special budget meeting at City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 5. Most of the budget details had been finalized in the council’s regular meeting and budget hearing on Oct. 3 and Thursday’s meeting was a formality.

“The city’s final approved budget total for fiscal 2018 is $60,033,596. It was prepared based on a millage rate of 1.9139, which is the same as last year.

“By everyone’s assessment, the City of Sanibel performed well before, during and after Hurricane Irma, which came through on Sept. 10. The massive post-Irma cleanup has been orderly, but it still goes on and it hasn’t come without a cost.

“Irma caused Sanibel to dip into its 2017 disaster relief money and that is reflected in the new budget’s beginning fund balance. The disaster reserves haven’t been restored to the 2017 level and the city anticipates that state and federal reimbursements might be a long process. The reserve for disasters is budgeted to be reduced from $4.5 million to $3.7 million due to Hurricane Irma recovery expenses.

“The budget hit from Irma is a one-time occurrence, but the city’s budget woes involving beach parking and the Recreation Center are lingering problems. The council addressed both in the meetings leading up to the final budget approval session.

“The deficit in the beach parking fund now sits at $1.8 million. At its regular meeting on Oct. 3, the council on a 4-1 vote raised the hourly beach parking fee from $4 to $5, raised the B decal for non-resident parking from $99 to $124 and the BC decal for non-resident parking with a boat from $198 to $248. The increase goes into effect Nov. 15.

“The gap to make ends meet for the Recreation Center in the tentative 2018 budget was $384,000. The cost of classes at the Recreation Center will not increase, but much is coming under the knife and membership fees are going up 15% following action by the council at the Tuesday budget meeting an in an emergency meeting Thursday just prior to the final budget hearing.

“Several citizens appeared at the Tuesday budget hearing and they were relieved when Mayor Kevin Ruane said at the top of the meeting that class prices at the Rec Center will not go up. None of them complained at the 15% increase the council arrived at after discussion.

“Ruane presented figures showing that the 15% increase will offset $105,000. He also gave figures for 5% ($35,000), 10% ($70,000), 20% ($140,000) and 25% ($175,000). Several times over the past few years Ruane has said that he believes the cost of a membership is a value not offered in other communities. Councilman Jason Maughan picked up on that theme at the Tuesday budget meeting. “We are below one-half where everyone else is,” Maughan said. “I say we raise it 25% and call it a day.” “Is there a sweet spot?” Councilman Chauncey Goss asked. Recreation Department Director Andrea Miller suggested that 10 to 15% would be a good compromise. The council decided on 15% by unanimous vote.

“The second reading and public hearing would have occurred at the Nov. 7 council meeting, but that was moved up to the emergency meeting Thursday, where it passed on a unanimous vote. Since it was an emergency action, the council is required to approve the increase through the normal process in the coming months. The effort to bring the Recreation Center back to financial fitness will also include cuts totaling $76,000 in operating expenses and $156,000 in staff reductions.

“The 2018 final budget adopted Thursday is 3.9% lower than the 2017 adopted budget of $62,468,100 and 8.43% lower than the 2017 amended budget of $65,302,567.

“While the millage rate remains the same as 2017, it will raise more tax dollars. Sanibel’s taxable property value for fiscal 2018 was assessed by the Lee County Property Appraiser at $5.05 billion, which is 6.17% higher than the final posted value in 2017.

“Ruane said Thursday that had it not been for Irma, the city could have gone to the rolled-back millage rate of 1.8132. All of the budget proceedings were to have taken place in September, but were pushed back to October by the passage of Hurricane Irma.”

Water Quality

West wind 2017-10-06.jpgPhoto above taken this afternoon at the beach in front of West Wind Inn. The beach is narrow and the water still churned up from recent rain and wind, but the water looks pretty typical for post-storm.

I had lunch yesterday with a Realtor® pal often involved in continued efforts locally to improve water quality. Many of you have seen the aerial photos showing the discolored water in the bay now. That really does happen whenever there is a big rainfall and dead vegetation is churned up, particularly in mangrove area. Now, exacerbated with Lake Okeechobee releases. According to this week’s report on www.MySanibel.com:

“As of October 2, 2017, the elevation of Lake Okeechobee was 16.47 feet. Click here to see the Current Level of Lake Okeechobee .  The Lake is currently within the Top of the High Sub-band of the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS2008). The Lake level is currently 0.71 feet HIGHER than it was at this time last year and approximately 1.71 feet HIGHER than it was in 2015.

“Heavy rainfall associated with Hurricane Irma resulted in Lake Okeechobee levels rising dramatically during the past three weeks. This prompted the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin regulatory releases to the estuaries. Click here for links to weekly Caloosahatchee Conditions Reports.

“During this past week, flows at the Franklin Lock averaged 10,497 cfs, with approximately 57% of the flow coming from Lake Okeechobee. Average flows are currently more than three and half times the high-flow ecological harm threshold of 2,800 cfs establish for the estuary, resulting in very poor salinity levels throughout the estuary.

“Water clarity in San Carlos Bay and along Sanibel’s beaches are being impacted by runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed and discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Click here to see an aerial of the current water conditions at Lighthouse Beach Park.

As my lunch friend said, it is probably inevitable that there will be a bloom of red tide this winter, if not sooner. Please stay involved in efforts to improve water quality. Red tide is a natural phenomenon, but it can be limited/prevented.\

Trump Signs NFIP Extension Into Law

NFIPOn September 8, President Trump signed a 3-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that was due to expire on September 30. The signed legislation also authorized $15.25 billion in emergency funding for disaster relief and rebuilding that includes $7.8 billion for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The program now will remain in effect until December 8. The NFIP provides flood insurance to 5 million homeowners nationwide. Lenders require flood insurance in order to close on mortgage financing if the home is in a flood zone.

The National Association of Realtors® supports the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, H.R. 2874, which passed the House Financial Services Committee a few weeks ago. The bill would reauthorize the program for five years, encourage private insurers to enter the market, cap annual insurance premiums at $10,000, and grandfather existing rates for certain homes that are already covered and in compliance with building standards. It also would make money available for owners to elevate their homes or take other flooding precautions and enable communities to use flood mapping techniques that are more accurate than the government’s. The bill would make a number of other reforms, including improvements to the processes for owners who file a claim or want to submit an appeal. (For updates, go to www.floodsmart.gov )

36th Annual Taste of the Islands

crow 36th tasteC.R.O.W.’s (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlfe) 36th Annual Taste of the Islands will be held Sunday, November 12, at the Sanibel Community Park (across the street from SanibelSusan Realty). Gates open at 12 p.m. and close at 5 p.m. The event features live music and showcases Sanibel and Captiva Islands’ vibrant and diverse restaurant community. New this year, guests can meet CROW’s Animal Ambassadors in the Sanibel Community House.

Live entertainment will be provided by the LCEC Killa-Watts. This unique musical group started as a fundraiser a few years ago and has grown, benefiting many causes throughout the Southwest Florida community. The core Killa-Watts members have been true to the mission of making music, having some fun, and helping those in need by sharing their talent at little, or no cost to help raise funds for worthy causes. They have opened for Lee Greenwood for a Veterans fundraiser, played dozens of United Way and Chamber of Commerce events, and supported efforts to fight Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and many other worthy causes.

Admission to Taste of the Islands is $7 and children younger than 12 years of age are free. Guests purchase CROW Bucks to get their “tastes” from participating restaurants. Item prices range from one to six CROW Bucks. Admissions and CROW Bucks are available for purchase at the event and in advance through CROW’s website (click here to buy online) and can be picked up at the Will Call booth at Taste of the Islands. Proceeds from Taste of the Islands ensure CROW’s continued success in providing the highest quality care and treatment of injured, ill and orphaned wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care. Funds also support public educational exhibits in the Visitor Education Center. Healthy wildlife means a healthy environment for all of us. For more information about the 36th Taste of the Islands, please visit http://www.crowclinic.org/articles/36th-taste-of-the-islands.

SanibelSusan Realty Scoop

Not a lot of island real estate action this week, but we did get a few inquiries from Sellers thinking about listing for “season” and the roadways are getting busier, indicating they “are back” and inventory may increase.

Florida Realtors logoCommittee assignments for 2018 at Florida Realtors® came out this week. It looks like the old gal isn’t going to be retiring anytime soon. Committee work yields good business connections, so I am happy to serve on the state leadership team again next year. The Mid-Winter Business Meetings are the end of January, with my five committees all during a 2-day window, so it will be a quick trip to Orlando for me then. The other committee obligation in Orlando is during the annual governance meetings in August (that sure seems like a long way off, and appreciated that it’s in what’s typically a slow time here).

We are hopeful that the island will be busy this weekend with some folks celebrating a 3-day Columbus Day holiday. We’ll be working.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®

Sanibel realtors logoNo Association of Realtors® Caravan this week. The every-other-week schedule was revised to skip two weeks because of the Association’s annual meeting at the end of October. Next Thursday, we will have our new home listing in Gumbo Limbo on Caravan.

The action posted since last Friday in the Sanibel/Captiva Multiple Listing Service is below.

Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity September 29-October 6, 2017

Sanibel

CONDOS

3 new listings: Lighthouse Point #217 3/2 $499K; Blind Pass #B207 2/2.5 $499,997; Plantation Village #312 3/2.5 $1.79M.

5 price changes: Blind Pass #E205 2/2.5 now $409K, Loggerhead Cay #463 2/2 now $519K, Snug Harbor #312 3/2 now $699K, Sand Pointe #215 2/2 now $719K, High Tide #C101 now $995K.

1 new sale: Sundial West #H406 listed at $789K.

3 closed sales: Sanibel Moorings #931 2/2 $490K, 1311 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $750K, Royale Tern #103 3/3.5 $1.43M.

HOMES

5 new listings9448 Begonia Ct 3/2.5 $699K (our listing), 585 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $725K, 707 Cardium St 3/2 $899K, 6123 Starling Way 3/2.5 $1.2999M, 2915 Wulfert Rd 5/6.5 $3.4M.

1 price change: 8995 Mockingbird Dr 3/3.5 now $949K.

2 new sales: 655 Anchor Dr 3/3 listed at $749K, 2628 Coconut Dr 3/2.5 listed at $1.35M.

4 closed sales: 2150 Egret Cir 3/2 $505K, 9455 Beverly Ln 2/2 $525K, 587 Sea Oats Dr 3/2 $660K, 3364 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $670K.

LOTS

1 new listing: 6411 Pine Ave $363.5K.

No price changes.

2 new sales: 2501 Wulfert Rd listed at $183.9K, 1026 Fish Crow Rd listed at $395K.

No closed sales.

Captiva

CONDOS

3 new listings: Beach Villas #2523 1/1 $539K, Sunset Captiva #204 2/2 $1.249M, Beach Homes #18 4/3 $3.445M.

No price changes or new sales.

2 closed sales: Bayside Villas #4118 1/2 $337K, Lands End Village #1614 3/3 $2.3M.

HOMES

No new listings.

1 price change: 15831 Captiva Dr 2/2.5 now $4.975M.

No new or closed sales.

LOTS

Nothing to report.

This representation is based in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® 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 the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.

Enjoy your weekend!

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan