When Charley and I bought this condo in Florida, he went to Delray Beach Library to get a card. "Sorry," the woman behind the desk told him. "We can't give you a card because you don't live in Delray Beach. You live in a pocket."
"But I can show you my driver's license!" Charley responded. "It clearly says my address is Delray Beach."
"It says Delray Beach, and that is probably where your mail is processed. But your number on Route A1A is in a pocket that's not part of any town," the woman maintained.
Being Irish, Charley persisted. "I'd like to see the head librarian." When he started to create a scene, I headed for the car. In a short while, he approached the car waving a library card. Clearly he had intimidated her. I was afraid to show my face in there. Instead, I made lists for him to pick up for me.
When we got back to our condo, Charley questioned the manager of our complex. Tom Hill had been there since the buildings went up in the early 80's, and he still provides all our answers!
"Tom, I've never heard of anyone living in a pocket before. What the hell does that mean?"
"It means that our building and everything for half a mile south of us along A1A are in an unincorporated pocket. We're not part of any town. Thirty percent of the land mass of Florida is in unincorporated pockets."
"What do we do about taxes and services?"
"You pay your taxes to the county and all emergency services have to come from a county station. It's way out west in Boynton Beach and it takes a while."
"So we live in a pocket, pay taxes to the county, have no library, and could croak before the paramedics arrive? Whose water are we drinking and who's the lucky recipient of our sewage?"
"Boynton Beach." Tom was a hands-on manager, but a man of few words. He dispensed information on a need-to-know basis.
"How do we claw our way out of the pocket?"
"You have to be invited to be annexed by a surrounding town."
"What if we don't want to be annexed by that town but by another one?"
"The pocket has to vote and the town that's annexing has to vote."
The karma in the state of Florida was bad enough after the "hanging chad" incident that elected G.W. In its infinite wisdom, the legislature recently mandated that unincorporated pockets would have to be absorbed by surrounding towns. In 2007, the Florida Coalition for Preservation mounted an offensive to prevent the overdevelopment of Briny Breezes mobile home park. They were successful. Next, the Coalition worked to persuade the town of Gulf Stream to annex our pocket. Gulf Stream is an incorporated town on Route A1A between our pocket and Delray Beach. Our pocket would benefit, if annexed, with a lower tax base than Boynton Beach to the north; a strict zoning code for future building along the ocean, preventing the skyscrapers in Boynton Beach that sit vacant; and round-the-clock police with closer fire/rescue.
After a year of campaigning, we have this month become part of Gulf Stream. Now we have a different problem. Should we change all our legal documents (passport, wills, health care, etc.) to the new address? Mail delivery from Delray Beach and our zip code will remain the same. If we stand in the DMV for four-five hours (no exaggeration!) to change our driver's license to Gulf Stream, when we get to the front of the line the clerk will say, "Show me proof that you live in Gulfstream, not Delray Beach." What are we supposed to show? I think Charley and I will take two cars!
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.