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August 23, 2023

Navigating Growth: Unveiling the Monroe County ROGO and BPAS Systems in the Florida Keys

Today, let’s dive into the Monroe County Rate of Growth Ordinance (ROGO) and Building Permit Allocation (BPAS) systems. You may have heard about them before, but I’m here to break it down in a way that’s easy to understand, especially if you’re eyeing that dream home in the Keys or considering investing in a piece of vacant land that has never been developed upon. Since the Florida Keys is an area of critical concern the State of Florida has enacted these systems to assist with our community’s growth and preserve its charm. And guess what? ROGO & BPAS have implications that reach far beyond developers and builders—it affects all of us in the Florida Keys.

ROGO: A Brief Overview Controlled Growth for Sustainability:

ROGO and BPAS are our guardians of growth, ensuring that development occurs in harmony with our resources and infrastructure. As we bask in the island’s beauty, these mechanisms work quietly in the background, aligning growth with the county’s ability to provide services and, most importantly, ensuring visitors and locals safety during hurricane evacuations.

So, what’s the deal with ROGO & BPAS? It’s a framework that controls the issuance of building permits for residential and commercial properties in Monroe County on vacant parcels of land. That is any piece of land that has never had a building permit or structure on it previously. This competitive allocation system is set to end by 2026 with some areas, such as Islamorada, which have already allocated all of their building permits.

The Backstory: Evolution of ROGO

Let’s rewind to 1972. A study was conducted with the aim of ensuring the safe evacuation of the Keys’ population within 24 hours in the event of a hurricane. This study led to the birth of ROGO and the determination that new building permits would cease after 2023, now 2026. Most think that since the dates were extended to 2026 there has been additional permits given from the State of Florida, this cannot be further from the truth.

Initially, the study predicted around 3,500 more dwellings could be built in the Keys. This included various types of residential units, from homes and condos to affordable living and hotels. As population growth surged, the county realized it needed a way to manage the growth while ensuring public safety and maintaining the Keys’ unique quality of life.

ROGO’s Journey and Challenges

ROGO operated for 14 years, attempting to control growth, but it fell short of effectively managing it. In 2006, the system got a makeover, introducing a points-based Tier System to direct growth sensibly and conserve environmentally-sensitive areas. This resulted in a competitive permit application process, which meant builders had to compete for a limited number of permits each year, leading to longer waiting times.

As the end of ROGO loomed in 2023, challenges emerged. Numerous vacant building lots were left in limbo, causing potential legal issues for property owners. There was even talk of legislative action to reimburse these owners for unbuildable properties, putting local and state governments in a tight spot.

Navigating ROGO’s End: An Innovative Approach

To tackle the impending challenges, the county got creative. In 2012, they issued a set number of ROGO permits to be distributed through 2023, aiming to balance the demand and the evacuation goal. However, they knew this wasn’t a long-term solution.

The county explored various strategies, including land acquisition and updated evacuation models, to avoid hitting the ROGO wall. In 2019, they decided to amend the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code to extend the available ROGO allocations through 2026.

Looking Ahead: The Impact on Real Estate

So, where does that leave us? As an informed real estate buyer, you should know that the end of residential development in the Keys is still on the horizon. Despite potential technological breakthroughs or creative solutions, the reality is that the supply of Florida Keys real estate remains fixed, while demand continues to rise. Whether you’re dreaming of a beachfront condo or a cozy home in the Keys, understanding ROGO is essential. It shapes the landscape of real estate here and ensures that our paradise remains a haven for all of us seeking that unspoiled quality of life.

As always, stay informed and feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to explore the fascinating world of Florida Keys real estate. Until next time, keep those dreams of paradise alive!

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Taylor Engel

Florida Native, living in the Florida Keys for over 20 years! Realtor, Property Manager, Animal Lover, & Consultant for Rodan + Fields Skincare!

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