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Islamorada Community alliance

Advocacy For Residents, Education and Preservation


Regularly, up to 18 vehicles park outside a commercial enterprise on the Old Highway on Plantation Key.

Commercial uses need parking areas.  But, a residential lot can't serve to negatively affect neighbors by serving as that parking area!

  It's never legal to park on a bike path or sidewalk.

Nowhere to Turn

It's Saturday, July 17, 9:30 a.m.  on the Old Highway at Mile Marker 82, and there's usage problems. Two truck drivers with deliveries  park on opposite shoulders of the 17-foot-wide road, and likely will be there for a while. What are their alternatives? A pedestrian is ahead hugging the edge of the road, and a cyclist is coming up behind the pedestrian, and announces his approach. If a vehicle also wants to drive on this rural road at this moment, where is s/he to go? This congestion is a daily conundrum in our village.

We need multi-purpose paths along both sides of the Old Highway on three of our four islands.  Will it take death to finally fix the problem? There's an alternative... Flush with Covid stimulus money, can the village design  and install these needed paths and fix this once and for all? See zoomed-in photo below and related story here

A few minutes later on US 1 same morning, (Sat. July 17, 2021, 9:40 a.m.) near MM 84.3 (below), a passenger truck pulling a boat and trailer parks on a highway shoulder near an intersection. A pack of cyclists scoots by in the bike lane while cars also whiz by.

Where is the driver? Needed bait or sunscreen at Abel's Bait & Tackle or a coffee at Starbucks? There are parking lots available at both those sites, but  this driver pulls off and stops wherever s/he wants for however long s/he wants. This can't continue. See zoning editorial (related to traffic story) here

Case study: Old Highway throughout the Village

Development along the Old Highway on Plantation Key, Windley Key and Upper Matecumbe Key is an issue. Several buildings with residential and commercial uses that front U.S. 1 also back up to the Old Highway. If there are insufficient roadways, sidewalks and parking areas to accommodate residential and commercial uses, then trucks, cars, bicyclists, runners and walkers converge on the Old Road simultaneously. At best, these confluences are inconvenient. At worst, someone is going to get hurt. And, as ever, space is a commodity in the Florida Keys.

On Upper Matecumbe Key, semi trucks delivering goods to multiple locally-owned businesses regularly drive on the two-lane Old Highway and usurp the whole narrow lane. Just 17 feet wide, this roadway was not built for 18-wheelers, which measure 8 feet, 6 inches wide. Upon encountering a semi with a vehicle also in the other lane, the cyclist, parent with a stroller, or other user has to veer off the road into the gravel, which is dangerous due to the sudden and unwieldly avoidance actions.

Truck drivers park where they must to make a delivery, which usually is in the right-of-way, creating a one-lane byway for those same trucks, cars, bicyclists, runners and walkers. The haphazard parking conflicts with visitors who like to cruise in small packs along the Old Highway on upscale resorts’ beach cruisers, and it upsets the locals who for years had the Old Highway to themselves for a leisurely place to walk their pets, jog with kids in strollers, or ride their bikes. 

While Keys residents and visitors alike enjoy their adult beverages, converting the use of a business from office or retail to brewery has created parking problems in both instances of the successful breweries on Upper Matecumbe Key.

Often, there are 18-wheelers that unload their product in the turning lane of U.S. 1 on Upper Matecumbe as well, further inconveniencing motorists and creating hazardous situations. Meanwhile, on Plantation Key, a truck stopped and parked on the sidewalk and the U.S. 1 shoulder July 14 to unload its goods, while a tent advertising Georgia peaches sprang up in the same location causing havoc along a thoroughfare where the speed limit is 45 mph. The adjacent nursery likely was hoping the peach stand would encourage visitors to park at the nursery and peruse its goods. But, the stopped truck and vending location are neither legal or advisable. They create blind spots and may cause traffic to slow down, and there was no possible way for walkers or cyclists to use the multi-purpose path as it was completely blocked.

Along the Old Highway, and throughout the village and the Keys, larger homes are being built and parking space often is inadequate, especially when there are five bedrooms or more, accommodating multiple families. Usually, the intended use of these large homes is as vacation rentals. As well, destination weddings and family reunions -- while on the surface wonderful celebrations and social events -- create huge problems including noise for the surrounding residents and businesses while putting overuse pressure on the infrastructure, such as wastewater.

Imagine what Plantation Key’s Old Highway is going to be like when numerous mobile homes are packed into a Sun Community, oceanside, where affordable trailers used to be. The gridlock along the Old Road, which used to be of some comfort to full-time Keys residents as a way to bypass traffic on U.S. 1, will be irreparably changed as a useful alternative.

Many multi-family or commercial developments, especially on Windley Key including Anglers Reef condos, have occupants park boats and trailers on the landscaped median and right-of-way permanently. On July 19, 2021, 14 lifeless boat trailers were parked on the Old Road median from the Anglers Reef entrance gate north to Hog Heaven at MM 85.3 (see below). As well, 14 trailers with and without boats were parked from Anglers Reef south to Drop Anchor Resort. Is this allowed on public land in other communities? And, see the vehicle coming? Where is the walker or cyclist headed south to go if riding on the Old Highway as well? There is no designated room for that human possibility.

Longtime residents believe this boat/trailer parking in the median likely will happen at the former Sea Breeze-San Pedro Trailer Village site on Planation Key because the Sun Communities  site plan provides no space for trailers or guest parking. 

(Above): A lot on Plantation Key zoned Native Residential, intended as a conservation designation, has commercial signage and the owner desires a change in use. 

Below: The Old Highway on a typical weekend when visitors arrive and locals just want to get to where they normally go -- but all roads lead to the proverbial "nowhere" in terms of actual progress in a timely manner. At least, surprisingly, motorists are respecting the bike path!

The Old Highway on Plantation Key needs attention. Speeding motorists, with some blowing through stop signs, happen daily. Parking for hours at local businesses and non-profit organizations often occurs adjacent to and sometimes on the bike path on the western side of the road, and occasionally on both sides of the Old Highway. Again, the Old Highway was never built to accommodate these uses. And where are customers going to park if lots zoned native residential are granted commercial zoning? Illegal signs advertising businesses already alert residents to owners' goals.

Since the Old Highway shoulders were not intended for parking uses, this creates aesthetic and potentially dangerous situations between passive human use for walking, jogging and cycling and commercial uses such as unloading heavy equipment, deliveries, and parking needs. The Coral Restoration Foundation, at 89111 Overseas Highway, albeit an important entity with a critical mission, regularly has 12 to 18 cars parked on the Old Highway shoulder extending from the far end of its property beyond and past driveways of oceanfront estates which each comprise at least an acre of land.

Since the village incorporated, code enforcement has looked the other way while heavy trucks unload building materials or merchandise at businesses while parked on the Old Highway. Gravel and pea rock kicked up from driving on the shoulders damage the multi-use path, and upkeep like sweeping by the village public works department is rare.

Almost a decade ago, there used to be a public works vehicle a little larger than a riding mower with a rotating brush that swept a wide swath of the multi-use path once a week – or at least that was the goal. However, operation of the device either wasn’t understood or well-maintained, or it wasn’t well-constructed – but the sweeper was out of commission for repairs as often as it was used. When used, conditions were top notch, and even roller bladers could use the smooth path for their enjoyment.

Encouraging development with access from the Old Highway will further exacerbate usage conflict at the entryways; yet, egress and ingress on to U.S. 1 is not recommended due to poor traffic conditions noted as failing "grades" in the county’s 2019 arterial travel time and delay study  particularly in Islamorada. (Click here to see report). At the very least, there should be signs going from US 1 to Old Highway saying “Local Traffic Only.”

What else can be done? Can’t we at minimum limit commercial uses of vacant lots especially when properties zoned native residential are meant to enhance the conservation of hardwood hammocks and help curtail noise from the Overseas Highway? Can’t traffic enforcers ticket those parked on rights-of-way when they impede traffic for more than a few minutes? Can’t we add bike paths to both sides of the Old Highway on three of our islands to give slower modes of transportation and walkers and runners more room to exercise, or enjoy a quiet stroll, while motorists including truck drivers are better enabled to get to where they need to go without fear of running into someone? We need remedies, and the sooner the better.


See related story/editorial "Our paradise to save" and a warning about Paradises Lost.

Near Mile Marker 83.4. Our workers deserve a break, but so do our multi-purpose path users.

Don't park on the path or shoulder!

Parked on Old Highway for personal work July 25, 2021

Our vision

To enhance the community of Islamorada by preserving the quality of life of the residents as well as the beauty and vitality of the native ecosystems and to stop any further degradation of our community from over-development.

Mission statement

To provide the Islamorada residents with information about events occurring in our community that will impact our quality of life, preservation of our native ecosystems, land development, lawful and transparent governance.


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Islamorada Community Alliance

P.O. Box 1507

Tavernier, FL  33070-1507

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