“Give me your tired, your poor , Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Florida has adopted this entreaty (from the base of the Statue of Liberty), with a few edits. But before we start, a little video to explain life as we know it...
2022 is off to a roaring start here in Sunny Florida. 47 degrees this morning and still the white skinned tourists swarm to the beaches. At least they’re trying to get there. Traffic is dense here in Sarasota at the best of times, and our Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is doing their level best to snarl it beyond belief.
All of our Sarasota beaches are on the other side of a bridge, as is our boat. So close, yet so far. Regular beach traffic resembles a mass of lemmings heading for a convenient cliff yet the FDOT has decided that the traffic leaving the mainland US41 should head to Longboat and Lido Key via a roundabout which is the name they give to traffic circles to try to fool us into thinking that we will see an eventual improvement in traffic rather than a suicidal free for all. The eventual they’re referring to is about twenty years down the road according to their traffic studies.
Unfortunately, it takes about two and half years to complete said “roundabout”. This means they’ve ripped up the only intersection which leads to and from Longboat, Lido and the beaches and given us a very confusing temporary traffic pattern with hundreds of Jersey barriers, traffic lights and “no turn” signs. Temporary is about two and a half years, so 2024. Maybe. This traffic detour worked poorly when only local drivers were around. Since January 2, it seems like every other car attempting this gauntlet is from Indiana. The music of screeching tires, scraping bumpers and angry horns fills the air, along with a few well-chosen epithets and hand signals. Welcome to Florida!
It used to be that these visitors would come south, rent a condo or a small house and be gone by Easter. Things, as they say, have changed. Florida, and the Sarasota area in particular, is experiencing an unending stampede of buyers waving wads of cash at any structure with a “For Sale” sign. In the last week, Redfin has been overworked with all the “Price Increase” tags they’ve had to glue onto “For Sale” listings. Houses asking over $10,000,000 no longer rate a second look from the local newspaper.
With enough free cash (and I do mean CASH) you can buy a house here in Sarasota. Furnishing it, or God forbid renovating it is another story. Rooms to Go is a ghost town, your best bet for a microwave is Target and the pool guys are backlogged a couple years. Our Governor, Ron DeSatan, cracked down on those pesky undocumented terrorists that were mowing the lawns and trimming the trees and so even in a town where every other truck is a landscaper, you can’t get anyone to lift that dead palm tree off your pool cage.
You might think that all those people rushing to buy houses down here would add to our labor pool but you would be DEAD WRONG. All those people who quit their jobs and took early retirement came here to relax and they aren’t going back to work stocking shelves at Publix or taking your cocktail order at the Ritz. Instead, they’ll be stealing the Maria and Ana tag team that you expect to be cleaning your house next Thursday.
If you think you’d rather just play golf or go boating until the hullaballoo dies down you’ve got to stop this type of wishful thinking. Golf, which was dormant until February 2020, is now the hottest game in the country. Virtually every golf club, including sand pits no one would ever sneeze at before Covid, has a waiting list and a new, much higher initiation fee (remember: Cash). Even the City of Sarasota, once conflicted about the future of the Bobby Jones course, has authorized a rebuild of the 18-hole Donald Ross course and the construction of a nine-hole executive loop.
The shortage of boats is old news, but if you were prescient enough to order last year, you might see your new ship on the horizon. And that’s where it will stay unless you also have a waterfront home with a dock and a boat lift. If you want to hear someone laugh, just call a marina and ask about slip availability.
Our governor, the afore mentioned Ron DeSatan is preparing for his 2022 election (and the 2024 Presidential election) by banishing Covid from the state. Vaccines are no longer mentioned, masks cannot be required in schools or businesses and case numbers are reported only once a week. Our state motto is “Covid, What Covid?” Our Surgeon General got his license from a moldy box of CrackJacks and managed to totally skip the “do no harm” part of the Hippocratic Oath. He does have a couple million doses of Ivermectin if your horse needs de-worming.