2020 Amendment Forums

Click on the link below to view the forums for Conservation Collier and the six Constitutional amendments that will appear on the November 3, 2020. You may also go to the Collier County website … colliercountyfl.gov… then go to the video archive to view the video.





By Dave Trecker

What’s our most valuable asset?

Most people would say it’s our shoreline, with its beaches and bays and inlets. A focal point for tourism, it sets Collier County apart; visitors always head straight for the beach. And it provides a weekend destination for the rest of us.

Plus it has financial value. The coastline is a growth magnet for new businesses and new residents, drawing not only from our northern states, but from countries around the world. And it adds immeasurably to the value of our homes.

There’s no question the shoreline is very important. It’s also very vulnerable.

Like much of the rest of Florida, the Collier coast is flat, threatened by sea-level rise and fierce tidal storms. Hurricanes are on the rise, with Category 4 and 5 storms projected to increase in frequency by up to 87% by the end of the century. But you don’t have to wait until 2100 to see the impact. Experts say we could have as many as 180 tidal floods a year by 2045.

The Naples area is particularly exposed. An analysis by CoreLogic estimates a storm reconstruction cost of $43 billion, one of the highest in the nation. And we continue to build along the shoreline, putting more luxury high rises in harm’s way – the most recent example being One Naples at the foot of Vanderbilt Beach Road, now up for county approval.

Short-term measures to deal with the threat are few and far between. Coastal Zone Management shores up eroded beaches with frequent truck hauls, bringing quarry sand to repair the most badly damaged areas. Rocketing flood insurance rates discourage some coastal building. Otherwise little is being done. No zoning changes, no mandated elevation of shoreline structures, no surcharges to discourage coastal building, no steps to elevate roadways or protect infrastructure.

And you can’t blame our local officials. They have a limited budget and immediate problems to deal with, not the least of which is the COVID-19 pandemic. Coastal resiliency is well down the priority list.

But it’s not being ignored. Fortunately something is being done about it. A far-reaching plan is being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen our beaches and protect inland property. Driving the project is Gary McAlpin, head of CZM. Sensing the coastline’s vulnerability, McAlpin worked with USACE for nearly ten years to secure funding for a feasibility study.

That study went public in August 2020. Incorporating stakeholder input, the plan will be finalized for review by the USACE chief in 2021 and subsequently sent to Washington DC for approval by numerous committees and eventually by Congress. Funding authorization for engineering and permitting would then be sought. With a comprehensive design in hand, USACE would seek federal money to implement Phase 1.

What does the plan entail? It’s a fifty-year, multi-stage blueprint for safeguarding the shore, with an overall cost in the billions. The plan calls for the U.S. government to foot 65% of the bill and Collier County 35%.

Phase 1 would involve massive beach strengthening – increasing beach width to 150 feet and building dune heights to 10-14 feet – and large-scale protective plantings. Sand would come from offshore dredging.

That would be accompanied by selective hardening with seawalls, groins and surge barriers, as well as elevating and flood-proofing critical infrastructure.

A unique feature of the project is hydraulic isolation and protection of six separate coastline areas. That means taking a number of small bites, each providing standalone protection.

To the USACE’s credit, the plan aims to use taxpayer money wisely. Resiliency measures are proposed only if they’re cost effective. Some areas are candidates for beach buildup and hardening, while others fare best from elevating and flood-proofing buildings.

McAlpin points out the USACE feasibility plan is just that, a plan. Buy-in from stakeholders is essential. Certain elements of the plan may be adopted and others changed. It will be an interactive process. And it will take time to wind its way through the government bureaucracy. Competing with other proposals for the same money, the project will require vigorous lobbying by our Congressional delegation.

While the USACE proposal is our best bet at this time, it could be scuttled for any number of reasons. If so, the county would have to come up with its own design and, importantly, find the money to pay for it.

One thing is certain. We must protect our shoreline and start to plan for it now. The risks are real. Sea-level rise, coastal storms and hurricanes aren’t going to go away.

Dave Trecker is chairman of the county’s Coastal Advisory Committee and a long-standing member of Collier Citizens Council.

Murray Hendel Award


In 2017 the Collier Citizens’ Council wanted to find a way to honor one of its founders and first president, Murray Hendel.

The idea was to establish an annual award to be given in Hendel’s name to someone who had made extraordinary contributions to Collier County.

2020 will mark our fourth year in awarding a Collier citizen who has made such contributions: Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. He follows Carrie Kerskie, Judge Janeice Martin and Nancy Laschied, all honored for their extraordinary contributions in their respective fields of endeavor.

Sheriff Rambosk has served as a police officer , an assistant city manager and city manager in the city of Naples before he became Sheriff of Collier County in 2009.

As Sheriff he has instituted numerous innovations that have served our area well within the parameters of law enforcement.

However while serving as Sheriff, Kevin has also served our community by serving actively on numerous county not-for-profit boards : Collier Resource Center, the Shelter for Abused Women, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Collier , Boy Scouts of America , the Community Blood Center ,Juvenile Justice Center , Youth Haven and Substance Abuse Coalition of Collier County.

He has also been recognized for his numerous efforts by the following awards: 2020 NAACP Humanitarian Award, 2019 Florida Sheriffs’ Risk Management Fund Leadership award, named one of Gulfshore Life Magazine’s 2017 Man of the Year , 2016 Government Champion of Youth Paragon Award, Florida Business Recognition Award by Collier County School Board, 2014 Good Citizenship Medal-National Sons of the American Revolution , 2014 David S. Crawford Law Enforcement Officer Victim Services Award, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi 2013 Excellence in Leadership Award, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce 2012 Man of Distinction Award, 2011 Leadership Award by the Florida D.A.R.E. Officers’ Association, Outstanding Community Policing Award by the National League of Cities , Outstanding Crime Prevention Program “Love our Kids” – Lock your Guns program award by the Florida Crime Prevention Association.

It is our pleasure and honor to add one more well deserved distinction to Sheriff Rambosk’s roster of awards, the 2020 Murray Hendel award for his extraordinary contributions to all of Collier County.


By Dave Trecker

The threat is real.

Florida is the flattest state in the country, with 1,350 miles of shoreline, much of it vulnerable to storms and flood surges that batter beaches and threaten coastal property. Some 35% of the state’s nearly 9 million homes near the shore are at risk of flooding.

The Naples area is particularly exposed. An analysis by CoreLogic estimates a storm reconstruction cost of  $43 billion, one of the highest in the nation. Flooding is bad now and will worsen as the sea level rises. And Isaias reminded us that hurricanes visit Florida every year, whipping up vicious storm surges.

The shoreline is clearly at risk.

The good news is something is being done about it. A far-reaching plan is being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen beaches and protect inland property.

The impresario driving the plan is Gary McAlpin, head of Coastal Zone Management, which is responsible for maintaining county beaches, inlets and bays. Recognizing the coastline’s vulnerability, McAlpin has worked with USACE for nearly ten years to secure funding for the feasibility study.

The study is now at a critical review stage. USACE has drafted an initial plan en route to a 50-year, multibillion-dollar blueprint for safeguarding the shore. The plan calls for the U.S. government to pay 65% of the cost and Collier County 35%.

McAlpin says, “The USACE recognizes the need and is willing to partner with us to develop a risk-reduction program that will benefit all county residents and businesses.”

The first stage, to be implemented when project funding is obtained, involves massive beach strengthening – increasing width to 150 feet and building dune heights to 10-14 feet – and large-scale protective plantings.  That will be accompanied by selective hardening with seawalls, groins and surge barriers, as well as flood-proofing critical infrastructure.

A centerpiece of the project is hydraulic isolation and protection of six separate areas. That means taking a number of small bites, each providing standalone protection.

The intent is to use the taxpayer’s money wisely. Resiliency measures are proposed only if they’re cost effective. For example, some areas may require beach buildup and hardening, while others fare best from elevating or flood-proofing buildings.

McAlpin points out the USACE feasibility plan is just that, a plan. Buy-in from stakeholders is essential. Certain elements of the plan may be adopted and others changed. It will be an interactive process.

Moving forward, the program has several milestones.

  • Approval of the feasibility plan by the Chief of USACE (2021)
  • Congressional authorization of the project
  • First-stage Congressional funding
  • Project development, engineering and permitting

County staff and commissioners have been briefed on the USACE study.

The next step is two public workshops, August 18 at 1-3 p.m. and August 24 at 5-8 p.m., at which the Army Corps will solicit comments and suggestions.

The workshops will be virtual and can be accessed at https://usace.webex.com/meet/alicia.m.logalbo. Enter your name and email address. For the audio portion, call (817) 336-1829, access code: 9556794, security code: 1234. A backup line is (888) 363-4749, access code: 5073286, security code: 1234.

The interim report, entitled “The Collier County Coastal Storm Risk Management Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement,” is available at www.saj.usace,army.mil/CollierCountyCSRMFeasibilityStudy/.

To submit comments, email Collier-CSRM@usace.army.mil or send by regular mail to: Mr. Zach Martin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, 803 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510. The deadline is September 14.

A retired chemist, Dave Trecker is chairman of the county’s Coastal Advisory Committee.

Linda & Nick Penniman receive Conservancy highest honor

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has bestowed its highest honor, the Eagle Award, on Nick and Linda Penniman, long-time supporters of the environment and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida at its annual meeting. The award was presented by Van Williams, president of the Conservancy’s board of directors.

“It is our honor and pleasure to support this couple, recognizing how much they’ve contributed to Collier County and the Conservancy over the years,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s their integrity, dedication and unwavering commitment to what we do and what needs to be done here in the county.”

Each year, the Conservancy presents its prestigious Eagle Awards to individuals and organizations that provide outstanding leadership on environmental causes, shepherd philanthropic initiatives and participate in grassroots activism.

“Linda and I do what we do not for the recognition, but because of the work that needs to be done,” said Nick Penniman. “This award was truly special to us because it was given to us jointly, recognizing the work that we do together. There’s no other place in the region where you have as many environmental issues to address. We truly believe the Conservancy is the most effective organization in the country as their work is urgently important to the development of Southwest Florida. It’s a great honor and very satisfying for us to be involved.”

Nick Penniman retired in 1999 as publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Currently on the Conservancy’s board of directors, he served as board chair from 1995-1997, and led the Saving Southwest Florida campaign to build the Conservancy campus for two years. For the Conservancy’s 50th anniversary in 2014, he published “Nature’s Steward: A History of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.” He is a former member of both the Coastal Advisory Community and the Environmental Advisory Committee for Collier County. His second book, “A Toxic Inconvenience: Red Tide and Blue-Green Algae on Florida’s Coast,” was published late last year.

Linda Penniman served on the Naples City Council from 2014 -2019, championing the environment and serving on a special taskforce for The Conservancy, chair of the Collier County Waterkeeper and aiding the city of Naples Planning Advisory Board, Coastal Advisory Committee and other organizations.

To learn more about the Conservancy, visit www.conservancy.org. ¦

How does your Fire Agency compare?

How does your Fire Agency compare? 

Comparing costs of one Fire Agency with another in responding to emergencies is not an exact science.

There are several variables such as geography covered, types and number of residential and commercial buildings, population and its demographics, to name a few.

Fire Agency budgets include Personnel, Benefits, and Operating costs (supplies, fuel, maintenance), plus Capital costs such as refurbishing/building new fire stations, adding/replacing fire trucks, which could add to one year’s budget, but not the next.

The National Fire Incident Reporting System categorizes Fire Agency responses. For calendar year 2017 the 5 local Fire Agencies were dispatched to 54,820 responses.

By percentage these were: Rescue & EMS 63.0%; Good Intention Calls (calls canceled before arrival or controlled burning) 15.2%; False Alarms 8.9%; Service Calls (person in distress or other public service assistance) 8.2%; Hazardous No Fire 2.2%; Actual Fires 1.9%; Overpressure No Fire 0.1%; Severe Weather 0.1%; Special Incident Complaint 0.1%.

Each local agency’s percentage breakdown was similar.

Taking annual Personnel and Operating budget costs (not counting yearly capital related expenses) and dividing this by the responses, you arrive at the average operating cost per response.

Using 2017/2018 fiscal budgets and 2017 calendar year responses, the overall result was $81,929,042/54,820 responses = $1,494.51/response.

Immokalee: $3,868,947/4,349 responses = $889.62

Greater Naples (EastNaples+GoldenGate+IslesCapri+Ochopee+I75): $28,352,756/20,927 responses = $1,354.84

Marco Island: $6,019,938/3,872 responses = $1,554.74

Naples: $9,818,028/6,234 responses = $1,574.92

North Collier (NorthNaples+Corkscrew): $33,869,373/19,438 responses = $1,742.43

To: “Would you support a single combined Fire and Emergency Medical Response Independent Special District in unincorporated Collier County that is governed by an independent elected body, to provide a unified emergency response”?

In March 2016 voter response was 63% “YES”

What is the next step for Fire Agency leadership of the 3 Independent Fire Districts?  

Marvin Easton
Retired IBM Consultant

There are options

There are options

Is it in the best interests of Collier County resident/tax payers to split  the Collier County Sheriff’s Office into five separately organized,  managed, administered, operated and funded Public Safety organizations, with five separate training and operation’s protocols, and five separate personnel compensation and benefit programs?

Is five separate Collier County EMS Medical Response organizations better than one coordinated comprehensive countywide responder?

Currently there are five separate Collier County Fire Agencies (down from ten a few years ago). Marco Island, Naples, and the unincorporated county with Immokalee Fire, North Collier Fire  (comprising North Naples and Big Corkscrew), and Greater Naples Fire (comprising East Naples, Golden Gate, Isles of Capri, County operated station, and Ochopee under a management agreement).

The Fire Commissioners stated to the public for those previous Fire Agency consolidations that they were going to both provide better service and save tax payer money.

Although some are dangerous, fortunately fewer than 2% of responses are coded fires. While 86% are coded medical responses, service calls, and good intention calls. The remainder are coded false alarms, and other non-fire calls.

Thus Fire Agencies are mostly in the medical response business.

All Fire Agencies could implement further cooperation in operating protocols, training, and other support functions that could save money.

Another option is Immokalee, Greater Naples, and North Collier Fire Commissioners could continue to further provide better service and save tax payer money, by consolidating into two, or even one Fire Agency for the entire unincorporated County, as supported by 63.7% of those voting and passed by a majority in 51 of 53 county precincts, to that March 2016 ballot question.

Marvin Easton


Timely Actions?

Timely Actions?

There are five taxpayer funded agencies primarily providing medical responses in unincorporated Collier County. CC-EMS, CCSO, and three Independent Fire Agencies (Greater Naples, Immokalee, North Collier, their budgets over $80 million), backed up by Marco Island and Naples Fire Departments as needed.

North Collier Fire is a 2014 successful consolidation of North Naples and Big Corkscrew Fires.

Greater Naples Fire, a 2014 successful consolidation of East Naples and Golden Gate Fires, added Isles of Capri Fire in 2015, and added operation of the I-75 County Station and Ochopee Fire under a management agreement in 2016.

Unincorporated County residents in March 2016 supported continued consolidation of these 3 Independent Fire Agencies, by a majority vote in 51 of 53 voter precincts, and a 62.7% favorable total.

However 2 1/2 years later in August 2018, both Immokalee Fire and North Collier Fire indicated they needed more money to operate because personnel/benefit costs were skyrocketing and Fire Agency financial reserves were declining. Thus they proposed an additional “Fire Fee”.

Residents declaring “no tax increases and no more fees”, voted against the North Collier “Fire Fee” by 79.3% and the Immokalee “Fire Fee” by 66.6%.

There are over 100 personnel above the station level, plus Commissioners, currently staffed to operate the 3 separate Agencies. Not all duplicated/triplicated positions may be necessary if these Agencies are consolidated.

The compensation/benefit money saved by reductions in duplication may better be spent on additional fire stations, equipment, and responding personnel nearer to current and future population centers.

Is it now time for the Fire Commissioners to continue the leadership needed for further cost cutting by implementing the necessary cooperation & consolidation actions their residents/tax payers supported by their vote over 3 years ago?

Marvin Easton                                                                                                       Collier Citizen’s Council

Short Term Home Rentals

Short Term Home Rentals

Following the April 9 BCC meeting, the Collier Citizens Council communicated to each Commissioner its opposition to the March 26 resolution for blanket enforcement of a 6 month minimal rental period within unincorporated Collier County.

Short term rentals are a complex issue with many apparent and unforeseen outcomes – economic, financial, social and human. Accordingly, this issue warrants deliberation and external assistance (consultants) to estimate all consequences from a wide range of regulatory options.

The relevant TDC packet, ignored by all except dissenting Commissioner McDaniel, provides prudent advice from county counsel for more information, including stakeholder input throughout a long term investigatory process of a “difficult and complex issue, whose current breadth raises numerous hypothetical legal issues…”

Further, we emphasized these compelling considerations

  1. Creates a regulatory hodgepodge ranging from no time regulations on Marco Island to 30 days in the City of Naples to 180 days in unincorporated Collier, overruling the self-governance of innumerable HOAs and Condo Associations.
  2. Impacts negatively economic projections for our pending Sports Complex, creating another competitive disadvantage when teams consider all available Florida venues.
  3. Affects negatively affordable housing, especially for seniors and the economically disadvantaged when home-sharing for 6 months is too long.
  4. Impacts negatively TDT collections and  impairs TDT budgets.
  5. Six (6) month leases will morph to 6 months + 1 day to avoid any TDT taxation, reducing collections of $9 Million annually from realtors and homeowners.
  6. Imposes inequity and taxpayers /property owners will circumvent enforcement because of perceptions of bias and unequal enforcement within the entire county including municipalities.
  7. Instituting good governance requires reflection when listening to individual emotional appeals or else bad policy is the usual result.

Ian McKeag

Collier Citizens Council