To the editor:
Moratoriums protecting snook, manatees, or scrub jays always seem to be the order of the day. We are continuously asked to sacrifice for preservation. Today another species needs protection. The working man in Cape Coral. People do not have enough work, if any at all. Many who find work complain they are underpaid or lack job security. Try conducting a job search on Craigslist, an excellent barometer of the local job market. When a job search is conducted in the Southwest Florida section, results display the city where the position is located. Cape Coral is the clear loser in this department.
Ironically, Cape Coral has a population more than double that of Fort Myers.
Forbes Magazine published an article advertising Cape Coral has a "bad economy." Many celebrate the "top 25 best places to retire" designation in this article. Cape Coral has retirees, but it is hardly a retirement community. A CRA report in March highlighted an acute demographic shift towards a younger population with a median age of 42.
Nine percent are receiving or seeking unemployment benefits. This figure doesn't include the underemployed or those gave up on the job market altogether. Real unemployment may exceed 20 percent.
Also the foreclosure crisis is not over. Although sales have been brisk, Cape Coral retains one of the highest foreclosure rates in Florida according to Realtytrac.com. Rumors of shadow inventory held off the market by financial institutions frequent the media. Foreclosures coupled with a lackluster employment picture point to some headwinds for Cape Coral.
How can the city address these problems?
We must reassess our priorities and adjust our approaches. The city is evolving, and policy must evolve as well. George Shaw, a famous playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics said, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself." The underlying problem facing our economy is a jobs crisis. How can we attract employers and create jobs in Cape Coral? Without jobs, citizens can't pay mortgages. The foreclosures of today then become marijuana grow houses tomorrow, with the blight that accompanies them. Why is Cape Coral behind other communities in the competition to attract jobs and employers?
A degree of blame rests on outdated codes and ordinances, which contribute to the blight they were intended to prevent. There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about a foreclosure with an overgrown yard. Take for example codes that outlaw parking boats in driveways. In the most canaled city in the world, this illogical restriction prevents our boating industry from operating at full potential. Jobs can be created if this is changed, high paying jobs. Mr. Fuccillo should be trying to sell everyone a HUGE boat!
Years ago when citizens lined their streets with palm trees, landscapers were harassed and citizens were cited. Cape Coral, a city void of mature foliage, wanted to prevent landscapers from planting palm trees in a barren city in Florida! If the Cape were a desert, there would be a code against selling ice, the Culligan man would be vilified!
Commercial vehicle restrictions are overdue for amendment as well. I don't want a tow truck parked next door, but we need compromise in light of the economic situation. Vehicle weight limits could be considered. The large employers of yesteryear have moved abroad. Employment opportunities have been exported en masse. In a service sector dominated economy evermore dependent on small business and entreprenuership, restraints on our working populace must be limited. Contact your councilman today. We cannot afford a citizenry evermore dependent on the dole.