Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Pace of Building Permits

Another item from the Commission Meeting last night (May 2): Commissioner Vespo made a series of excellent comments, although their revelations were disappointing, regarding the slow pace of building permit issuance through the Building and Zoning Department. He lamented the fact that a computer upgrade costing $600,000 to address uniform access through all departments and to streamline the issuance of building permits was slated for FY 2007. He was absolutely correct in pointing out that the issuance of building permits is the lifeblood of the business and development community - translating into property tax and permit revenues for the City. A "blockage" in this flow of permits frustrates citizens, residents and property owners who are attempting to improve their properties and, in turn, improving the City as a whole. We have to see what we can do to "fast track" this upgrade to break-up the log jam. Personnel loses within the Building and Zoning Department are also part of the problem.

As my father and I were walking back from dinner at Dave's, we bumped into Genia Baker in front of City Hall who said that she was sitting in the dark, deep in the basement, punching buttons, trying to get caught up with just that task - issuing building permits - this at 9:30 p.m.

Bleak, very bleak.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

First of Many

Well, here I am.

My father has been here since Saturday and it has been great to have him around. We haven't gotten to some of the physical tasks that I had planned, but we have had many long discussions about things important to our relationship.


We attended the City Commission meeting tonight so that he could see what goes on in the City of Lake Worth.

We ended up leaving around 8:45 or so. He was getting hungry and we had experienced enough. He'll be back for the Planning and Zoning meeting tomorrow night before he leaves on Thursday morning.

Regarding the Commission Meeting - ugh! I think we might be at an all time low in terms what people think about the progress of the City in terms of meeting and addressing its problems. Here we are, facing a summer season of peak electrical use and we are stuck in neutral regarding the upgrade of our utilities. We are mired in the discussion of 26kv vs 13kv transmission system; cost over-runs and little going in our favor toward resolving this issue. It is our - the City's - problem and no one is going to solve it oth
er than us - there is no super hero that is going to sweep down from the sky and rescue us from our plight. The best course of action is to stick with something and go with it - MOVE and do not vacillate. Which ever side wins out, that is the direction that we will follow. This should be based on the advice of experts in the field and not self=appointed electrical distribution system experts.

But, did we talk about the most pressing problem facing our City? - the upgrade of our electrical system - during the first 2 1/2 hours of the meeting.? No - instead we spent the majority of time discussing the Mayor's decision and action of putting up the Confederate Flag in front of City Hall. The best course of action would be to admit the mistake, not defend it, and move on. But, the Mayor decided to rationalize his actions by creating a distinction between the Rebel flag and the Confederate Flag and that somehow the Confederate Flag was better as an honor to those that died from the Confederacy during the Civil War. This was rationale lost on most Commissioners, most significantly Reetha Lowe, and the conversation turned to more of discussion about the power of the Mayor to act on his own without Commission approval, the need for a "flag policy", how the City handles organized protests in general - and an extensive public comment period on all of the above.

The commission did get through its Public Hearing items and passed, on first reading, a moratorium on the development of 25 foot wide lots until we can assemble guidelines which reflect new State building code mandates regarding the proximity of adjacent structures and a pattern book of preferred designs for structures on 25 foot wide lots. Commissioner Burns called me up to explain what the Planning and Zoning Board was attempting to do with this and I think I got the important points accross. Commissioner Jennings asked some good questions regarding accessory structures and the applicability of the ordinance to them - it would cover them as well. She was concerned about halting the ability of property owners to bulid these accessory structures - as additional living space etc. She offered an amendment to the motion to approve the ordinance which would have allowed accessory structure construction, but withdrew it before the final vote.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"