My Personal Rants about America’s newest form of government – the Private Residential Community

There she blows…. January 7, 2007

Filed under: Living in Florida — RobinW @ 9:23 am

The 2006 Hurricane season is ancient history. With El Nino working its magic in the Pacific, we were blessed with very few named storms and a fairly calm summer here in Florida. Don’t get too comfortable because in just a few short months you’re going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blob Out in the Gulf of Mexico and making two basic meteorological points:

(1) There is no need to panic.
(2) We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Florida. If you’re new To the area, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for The possibility that we’ll get hit by “the big one”.

Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple Three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at Least three days.

STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.

STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this Sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in Florida.

We’ll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:

HURRICANE INSURANCE: If you own a home, you should probably have hurricane Insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long As your home meets two basic requirements:

(1) It is reasonably well-built, and (2) It is located in Nebraska.

Unfortunately, if your home is located in Florida, or any other area that Might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer Not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to Pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance Business in the first place.

So you’ll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will Charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your House. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss.

We don’t know much about the company that has issued our most recent hurricane policy. For all we know they will be in bankruptcy court come April or May of next year.

SHUTTERS: Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all The doors, and—if it’s a major hurricane—all the toilets. There are Several types of shutters, with advantages and Disadvantages:

Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, They’re cheap. The disadvantage is that, because you make them yourself, They will fall off.

Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get Them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands Will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.

Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they’re very easy to use, and Will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have To sell your house to pay for them.

“Hurricane-proof’’ windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane Protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand Hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so. He Lives in Nebraska.

“Hurricane Proofing Your Property: As the hurricane approaches, check your Yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, Visiting relatives, etc.; you should, as a precaution, throw these items Into your swimming pool (if you don’t have a swimming pool, you should have One built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these Objects into deadly missiles.

EVACUATION ROUTE: If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an Evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying Area, look at your driver’s license; if it says “Florida” you live in a Low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being Trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped In a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two Hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

HURRICANE SUPPLIES: If you don’t evacuate, you will need a mess of Supplies. Do not buy them now! Florida tradition requires that you wait Until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into Vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of SPAM. In Addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:

23 flashlights. At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes out, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.

Bleach. (No, I don’t know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for. But it’s traditional, so GET some!)

A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant.

A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)

If you live south of Orlando, A large quantity of raw chicken to placate the alligators. (Ask anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.)

$35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

Good luck and remember: it’s great living in paradise! Those of you who aren’t living in Florida yet you should come. Really!


How the Grinch (Intrawest) stole Sandestin December 12, 2006

Filed under: Living in Florida,Sandestin - Home Sweet Home — RobinW @ 7:59 pm

The folks in Sandestin
Liked living there a lot…

But Intrawest would soon
make them wish
they did NOT!

Intrawest wanted money; wanted more than its share.
For the homeowners of Sandestin it was too much to bear.
With a sinister plan to make revenues soar,
They plotted, they schemed, they built even more.
No matter the noise that the homeowners made
Intra-west’s plans
just wouldn’t be swayed.

“Our roads are congested!” the homeowners cried.
“We couldn’t get out of this place if we tried!”
“The beach is too crowded to stand much less sit,
The bathrooms you offer are not even fit
for barn yard much less a first class resort
Your standards we feel are a little bit short!”

“The gates that once kept us safe and secure
Stand open to anyone the bars can allure.”
“We’re fighting a battle it seems without end
The SOA gives you OUR money to spend.”
“We don’t know the reason
We can’t even guess –
Why Intrawest, have you made such a mess?”

While Homeowners griped and asked for an answer
Intrawest spread their plans like a cancer.
“The rights that we bought allow us to build
Why should we care if the homeowners aren’t thrilled.”
“They should have known better than to buy in this place
We can’t be held liable for taking their space!”

“They should have been smarter and studied our habits
The wise ones among them have run just like rabbits
to better communities, with compassionate plans
for liveable places with respect for the land.”
“It’s not our objective to sell you a home
We’re all about image and setting a tone
So people will come for a week or a day
To eat at our restaurants
to drink and to play…”
“Our version of paradise can’t even compare
to the treasure you owners claim that you share.”

The homeowners scowled and they planned a rebellion
“We’ll give you a road block where once there was not one”
“We’ll fight at the court house
We’ll fight in the news
Listen to us or you’re going to lose!”

To be continued –
We’re still waiting for Intrawest’s heart to grow three sizes too big…


Sandestin – A resort that grew into a community November 26, 2006

Filed under: Sandestin - Home Sweet Home — RobinW @ 10:26 pm

The 33 year old resort community of Sandestin has weathered everything from hurricanes to unscrupulous developers and still remains a charming place in spite of it all. Located on the gulf coast, in Walton County Florida, Sandestin boasts 2400 acres of premium real estate. With a beach, the bay, golf, tennis, and endless dining and shopping opportunities, resort residents and guests can be quite happy and entertained while never leaving the resort.

Over time, something strange has happened to Sandestin that no one expected. Without anyone noticing, a community has quietly sprouted and taken root. 20 – 25% of property owners here call Sandestin home for at least part of the year. These residents are here by choice and were originally drawn to Sandestin by its quiet charm. Strangers became neighbors, neighbors became friends and suddenly it’s not just the place that matters it’s the people as well.

This Sandestin community of residents has always been tolerant of the tourism the resort attracts. Many of the amenities of the resort would not be affordable if funded by the full and part time residents alone. The tourist season itself has always been seen as a necessary evil, a price you pay for living in paradise. We gather together some time after Labor Day every year to wave goodbye to the summer tourists and thank them for their patronage and their money well spent.

I have been a resident of Sandestin for 7 years. I have friends who have lived here much longer, some even bought here at the very beginning. A lot has changed in the last 33 years, but most of the change has come in the last 6 years since Intrawest took over ownership and development. In the year 2000 Sandestin offered 730 accomodations for resort guests, in the summer of 2006 this number was 1700. By the summer 2008 we will likely see over 2700 rental units available.

Lately there have been plans a ‘foot to develop Sandestin further into a “Storied” place with artificial themes like an old Florida Fishing Village. Intrawest has created similar places in Nevada, Hawaii, and Colorado but they have never tried to refashion such a well established resort as Sandestin. The problem with their “Disneyland” approach is that there is a real danger of destroying the true flavor of Sandestin. The beautiful images of nature and the soft quiet friendliness of the residents and staff are in danger of being drowned out by the noise that is Intrawest.

Every community must have a conscience and the homeowners are the conscience of Sandestin. We have struggled over the last 2 years to find our voice; we are still struggling today. Intrawest has had very successful projects in the US and Canada but Sandestin is not one of them. In the successful projects, the homeowners were involved from the beginning, giving Intrawest feedback and ideas on how they wanted their community to develop over time. For some reason, the homeowners of Sandestin have been left out of the planning process all together. We often do not learn about new projects until the construction crews arrive to begin work. Intrawest’s practices have detroyed most of the homeowner loyalty and good will they enjoyed when they first acquired the development rights to Sandestin.

I, as a homeowner and resident of Sandestin would like Intrawest to know two things:

1) Even if Intrawest did not realize it at the time they bought Sandestin in 1998, they bought into a community as well as a resort. There’s more to this place than parcels and units and profits.
2) Homeowners do not want to say “NO” to continued development. Rather they would like Intrawest to answer “HOW”.
* How do they plan to accomplish the new construction without over taxing the fragile infrastructure of this 30-year-old development?
* How do they plan to fairly distribute access to amenities as the permanent and tourist populations continue to grow?
* Finally, Intrawest has exactly 2400 acres between the gulf and the bay which is strictly constrained by natural obstacles and existing structures. In spite of vested rights to build out the Development Order they purchased, Intrawest has an obligation to implement a plan that is socially, environmentally, and fiscally responsible for all parties involved.


The Birth of A Political Cartoon November 23, 2006

Filed under: Sandestin - Home Sweet Home — RobinW @ 4:56 am

My neigbors and I have been working very hard lately to let a VERY BIG real estate developer know that we are unhappy about what it is doing to the community we live in. Thousands of homeowners will be directly impacted by the actions of this developer but they have not yet given us a real chance to share our concerns.

For the time being we are trying to get our message out to the world. OK, maybe not the whole world but at least our greater community. Perhaps our elected commissioners will hear us.

It occured to me a few days ago that in our frustration we may have missed the opportunity to use a powerful communication tool. That tool is Humor…

Here is my first attempt at a cartoon to tell a part of our story:
click here —> The Sandestin Aquarium