Measure discourages stock piling of unused vehicles in the city

Key West City Commissioners met for a second reading this past Wednesday and needed less than two hours to approve changes to ordinances governing sightseeing companies in Key West — most notably Historic Tours of America and City View.

The first reading took place in October under the prior commission and many of the amendments were solidified at that time, including a provision on sound. However, during Wednesday’s meeting Commissioners agreed that any vehicles added to a sightseeing franchiser’s fleet would be subject to $7,500 in licenses fees to the city to discourage companies from stockpiling unused vehicles in Key West.

“This basically allows the free market to dictate how many companies can enter Key West,” said Key West Mayor Craig Cates. “If companies want to add more trollies they can always reproach and ask for an amendment, but now they are all subject to one agreement.”

An amendment calling for franchises to pay 5 percent of on-vehicle ad revenues to the city was struck down after HTA President Ed Swift contested the measure. However, Trollies will only be allowed to cover up to 20 percent of the vehicle with endorsements.

The Duck Tour sightseeing vehicles have been a contentious element of the debate. While nothing was inked on Wednesday, both HTA and City View have verbally stated they would be willing to forfeit that right. 

Commissioner Margaret Romero did make a motion to amend three provisions but did not find a second on any of the attempts. For example, she called for GPS tracking systems on sightseeing vehicles, a measure that was struck down by the previous commission in October.

The city’s attempt to “level the playing field” between sightseeing operators was seemingly accomplished; while steps were taken to avoid what many feared would become micromanagement by the city over the industry. In October, Mayor Cates said the city’s desire is for all enterprises to succeed.

“People sometimes forget that [the city] is partners with all these organizations,” said Mayor Cates. “Only 16 percent of our tax base is paid by the public — the remaining is derived from enterprises. It is in our best interest to see them do well.”


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