Saturday, July 19, 2008
Here is a video segment from the show on the "Penguin House".
Friday, July 18, 2008
Currently, all Charter Amendments are approved countywide. Under the new proposal, amendments that change municipal service, function, power or authority would ALSO have to be approved by voters in that municipality. In other words, when a County Charter Amendment seeks to change a City's services, power or authority, that City's voters should be allowed to accept or reject that Amendment.
Essentially, each city's voters would have the right to "opt out" of countywide rules that are not in the best interest of their community. This would allow local voters to make decisions for their community rather than
It’s important to note that voting for this initiative takes nothing away from residents who live in unincorporated sections of
Adoption of this Charter Amendment will ensure that a City's services, power, function and authority rest in the hands of that City's residents, not voters countywide. The certified question will appear on ballots as indicated below:
REQUIRE BOTH COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL APPROVAL OF CHARTER AMENDMENTS AFFECTING MUNICIPAL POWER OR FUNCTION
Shall the Palm Beach County Charter be amended to have charter amendments that are approved by a majority of Palm Beach County voters take effect in a municipality only if the amendment is also approved by a majority of voters in that municipality, when the proposed amendment transfers or limits a municipal service, function, power or authority?
Visit the LET US VOTE website for more information.
This came in last week showing that the City's Comprehensive Plan is in compliance. If you recall, there were some minor inconsistencies found during the review of the ordinance which passed on second regarding regarding the land use plan change at the beach. This opened the door to certain intervenors and further delay. This chapter is now closed - the beach's future land use designation is "Beach and Casino" and limits any commercial uses to a specific amount of square footage.
Click title for link.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I spent much of today taking pictures of landscaping treatments that are tolerant of salt spray. In doing so, I was introduced to many lushly landscaped properties on Palm Beach - gorgeous tropical environments. If you haven't been on the island recently, you may want to go to experience the contrasts that I witnessed just passing through. Of course their local government resources are much greater than ours and driving through the Town you are continually reminded of that. During the time that I was there today, I saw at least three different parking enforcement vehicles, tickets placed on many cars, heavy landscaping debris pick-up going on in three different parts of the Town, police cars at every major entrance to the island and very visible along the major thoroughfares, tree trimming crews taking care of public trees, etc.
I guess that's how the other .036% of the population lives.
We had the CRA budget workshop meeting on Monday night which was very productive. I thought it was interesting that as the meeting adjourned sometime after nine - my perception was that it was a short meeting. Such is my frame of reference from P&Z meetings while on that board.
Tuesday we had the City Commission meeting which I had planned to listen to from my home while catching up on various work related items. It turns out that the audio stream did not work for me that night. However, I heard others didn't have a problem. I've had issues with browsers recently and am back to using Firefox 3 - the latest release. I have never been able to directly access the audio stream from the City with Firefox - I always have to use Internet Explorer. In the process of sorting things out, I deleted IE 7. That solved the conflicts that I was having with Firefox, but now can't access the stream using the IE6 I still had on my computer. So, if anyone has a clue on how I can get that working again, I would like to chat with you about it.
The big news this week is that the final report on the casino building is out. The Lake Worth Herald claims that the building is unsafe. Another "media" (eh hem) outlet of course claims that all that is needed is maintenance ($$?) and that the public is safe. I have not seen a copy of the report yet, so I will refrain from offering an opinion. (I will try to get one tomorrow and review it here over the weekend) The only thing that I will say is that the structural integrity of concrete buildings on the ocean do not get better over time and do not "heal themselves." After three structural reports all saying that there are structural problems with the building, you would have to believe that there is fire where there is smoke. The real questions will come down to is the general public at risk, how much money would the building require, how extensive and intrusive would restoration be to commercial operations there, over what period of time and, most importantly, WHAT WOULD WE REALLY HAVE ONCE THE WORK IS FINISHED?
Last night, the Planning and Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board acted on the requests by the owner of the Gulfstream hotel. They, nearly unanimously (Ron Exline voted "no" on the historic preservation items), approved the modifications to the existing approval so that an interim phase could go forward without construction of the larger, new building on the western half of the property. In its place would be a tennis pro shop, four tennis courts and a surface parking lot. Lisa Maxwell asked some good questions regarding the storm drainage situation in the area and some additional conditions made their way to the final motion.
Unfortunately, this may be on a future City Commission agenda as a litigant was in the audience. The expectation is that he will appeal this decision to the City Commission, as he has with previous decisions, and carry those into the courtroom. It is really unfortunate that the community is denied use and improvement of this facility in the meantime - it is a historic signature hotel property on our waterfront. But for these legal challenges, things could be moving ahead more quickly.
Just tonight, the CRA had its joint meeting with the City Commission to review the CRA budget and priorities. Commissioner Lowe did not attend and Commissioner Jennings arrived later to the meeting. It might be a good idea to listen to this when the audio is available on the web. I will provide a link. I responded to Commissioner Jennings call for an emphasis on very low and low income housing and to Commissioner Golden's admonition that members of the CRA speak for the board when they talk, not just their own opinion. You really need to hear the exchange to get the full affect.
Thanks for visiting - readership continues to be high and I appreciate the opportunity to help keep you informed.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I managed to get a few shots of 431 N. L between the rain drops this afternoon. What a big improvement on the main structure. I have to say the crew the city uses to do this work is fast and efficient. On the existing windows could be reasonably repaired they used panes they had salvaged from the other more badly damaged windows. They work professionally and efficiently. They are hampered by what the city will let them do but that does not keep them from doing a very good job. While the outbuilding is still an eyesore it has been well secured and it should at least keep people from gaining entrance to it. While the crew was not told to board all the windows to code on the outbuilding (most of the windows are still covered with scrap fencing and old boards) they did properly board doors that were once again opened by trespassers and I could tell they were taking their time to re-secure the mishmash of fence and wood to keep people from accessing the interior. It would be best if that ou building was indeed torn down as has been approved.
The main structure looks 100% better and is fairly weather and vermin proof now. In two of the photos you can see some rather confused pigeons trying to get back into the building! The property is not by any means compliant with the city's own code, but it is far better secured and now stands a chance of not being further damaged by weather or trespassers.
Thanks again for keeping this property "in the spotlight"!
My thank you to the Mayor and City Commissioners:
Thank you for protecting an important historic structure. The crew came out today and finished the job. Now, we need to find a good use for the building. Returning it to a 4 unit residential structure seems to be the best bet. The next immediate step would be to go ahead and tear down the out-building. That might need to go before the HRPB again to formalize the demolition.
Thanks again. The neighborhood and city are a better today due to your actions.
Don't forget the P&Z meeting tonight re the Gulfstream changes.
The art of being sick is not the same as the art of getting well. Some cancer patients recover; some don’t. But the ordeal of facing your mortality and feeling your frailty sharpens your perspective about life. You appreciate little things more ferociously. You grasp the mystical power of love. You feel the gravitational pull of faith. And you realize you have received a unique gift – a field of vision others don’t have about the power of hope and the limits of fear; a firm set of convictions about what really matters and what does not. You also feel obliged to share these insights – the most important of which is this: There are things far worse than illness – for instance, soullessness.
Parking is currently free at county-owned beach parks, while most municipal beaches have meters. Maybe the county should start charging for beach parking, too.
The Juno Pier charges a nominal admission. Why not ask a dollar or two to stroll out on the boardwalks at the Wakodahatchee and Green Cay Wetlands facilities?
Golfers pay greens fees. Wouldn't tennis players kick in a few dollars to play on our county-owned tennis courts?
How about $1 to borrow a book or a DVD from the library? It's still a lot cheaper than buying them.
Palm Tran and Tri-Rail are experiencing record ridership. Maybe their fares should be increased to cover more of their operating costs.
I realize that none of these options will be very popular, but lawmakers and citizens who demanded property tax relief had to know there would be a trade off in public services. That's just basic economics.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please feel free to call me or my staff at 355-2202.
City of Lake Worth votes to challenge dredge and fill by Town of Palm Beach!At the Lake Worth city commission meeting last night, the Town of Palm Beach appealed to Lake Worth not to opposed their 18 million dollar dredge and fill project that would surround the municipal beach at Lake Worth with poor-quality material. The City of Lake Worth Commission then voted 5-0 to join Surfrider Foundation, the Snook Foundation, the Eastern Surfing Associaion and three individuals in their legal challenge of the project. The Town of Palm Beach announced last week that they are setting aside 2 million dollars to fight the legal challenge. The meeting overflowed with surfers, fishermen, divers and residents who want to protect their beach. Only one person spoke in favor of the dredge project. That guy hates the near shore reef because he hurt his foot on it. The crowd laughed at his reasoning.
The actual court hearing is set for late August. No group has ever stopped a project like this, so wish us luck, and send money!
Our monthly Surfrider Foundation Chapter meeting is tomorrow night, July 17th, and we will have a notary on hand to verify all our member questionnaires that are required for the case. If you are not a member, you can join on Thursday and have direct impact on the case. Please attend and help us win this fight! The meeting is at 7:30 Thursday night at Ground Swell Surf Shop on Donald Ross Road in Juno Beach. The shop is on the north side of Donald Ross Rd, next to Dunkin Donuts, just west of U.S. 1.
See you there, and thanks to everyone helping us make history.
This is just an FYI that the Commission approved a change in the City’s Board attendance policy from 25% of meetings to 20% of regularly scheduled meetings, which became effective July 10th. Section 2-83.1 of the Lake Worth Code of Ordinances, now states,
“If any member of the board shall fail to be present at three (3) consecutive regularly scheduled meetings or at twenty (20) percent of the regularly scheduled meetings of the board held within any 12-month period, the city clerk shall declare the member's office vacant, and the city
commission shall promptly fill such vacancy.”
You will not see the change online in Municode until the next code supplement is released, in about a month. I’ve attached Ordinance 2008-14 for your records. Have a great day!
Deputy City Clerk
City of Lake Worth
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Notice that most of the cities listed here focus on short commutes, low crime, good schools, proximity to continuing education facilities, the ability to work/shop within the community where you live and the provision of green/recreational space/bike paths, etc.
The agenda above is for this coming Wednesday's Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board meeting. The owners of the Gulfstream are coming back for what looks more complicated than it actually is. For some reason, the staff report and back up material are not available on the City's website. This was a policy that I pushed for when I was chairman of that board. I hope that it is just a fluke this week and not representative of a new policy.
If you were to read the staff report, you would likely be overwhelmed with minutiae. So I don't advise it. Really, the owners are simply wanting to go ahead with the already approved renovation of the historic hotel structure. They also want to preserve their approval on the new spa building (to the west) so that when economic conditions change they can go ahead and build as already approved. In the interim, they propose a tennis pro-shop along the southside of Lake Avenue, along with the addition of tennis courts on the western parcel. To do this, a number of conditions need to be altered - that is why they are appearing before the board.
Below are some renderings of what is being proposed and a visual review of what already has been approved:
Coincidentally, there is another item on the agenda listed before the Gulfstream items concerning the relocation of the historic building to 211 N. L Street. This is being done by another party and not by the owner of the Gulfstream.
The PEACE Organization was founded in 1991 by local congregations which came together to commit to work together on addressing justice issues in Palm Beach County. PEACE now includes 8 member congregations, and recently held an Action Assembly with 800 people present.
Who can be part of PEACE?
Any congregation or organization in Palm Beach County with a mission to work for . justice. Those who are not members of congregations can work as part of a team affiliated with a congregation.
Who controls PEACE?
PEACE is run by a board of directors. The Board is composed of the clergy person and 2 lay representatives from each member congregation.
How does PEACE decide what issues to work on?
Members of PEACE conduct an annual listening process within their congregations in order to identify the most pressing community concerns. From this Listening Process a list of areas of concern is compiled. Congregations then gather to vote on one or two specific areas to focus on each year. Some areas that have been chosen in the past include jobs, health care, education and crime and drugs, and housing. From there, issue committees are formed to do research on the problems in these areas and identify winnable solutions.
Who gets paid at PEACE?
The majority of the work of PEACE is done by volunteers. Currently there are only two full time staff people for PEACE.
What do funds raised go towards?
The majority of the funding for PEACE goes towards paying staff, training leaders through local and national workshops, and maintaining a small office.
How does PEACE achieve positive change in the community? PEACE addresses root causes of community problems by pushing for systemic change. PEACE accomplishes its goals through taking "direct action" using the example of Nehemiah on issues (gathering people to meet face-to-face with decision makers). PEACE is not a direct service organization. PEACE is not a political organization and does. not endorse political candidates.
The organization is a coalition of churches. It is important that the pastor be aboard to get anywhere in a congregation.
Many female prostitutes serve as look outs for their male counterparts during burglaries. Lieutenant White reminded us that whenever we someone walking the streets here, they have to lay their head down somewhere. He also said that Lake Worth's lower quality housing stock and relative affordability make it the first place that convicts released from prison come to reside.
So, please be aware of any vacant house that you have in your neighborhood and monitor it for unauthorized entry.
Now for a couple of my own observations. Last week, I entered into a conversation with a gentleman, about 30 years old, at a local establishment. I asked him what he did and where he lived. He said that he had been in prison for the past year and was just released last Saturday. He said he was living at 13th Avenue North and Federal.
Last year, when I was canvassing neighborhoods during my campaign, I came across many instances when I thought I was knocking on a door of a "super voter". When the door was opened and I greeted the resident, more than three times I was greeted with "I just got out of jail." That "super voter" that had lived there and voted in all municipal elections had either died or moved away from Lake Worth. Think about the impact that has on the city over the long term. We lose people who were actively engaged in the local goings on enough to vote in every election to a situation where we now house people that make a habit out of violating laws.
Another rental residence that I happen to be familiar with is another variation of this. This is an older 2-1 single family structure that is within a block of Dixie Hwy. For a while now, it has gone vacant. Recently, a group of younger men moved in - who represented to the landlord that they were actually a single mother with two children. For at least two weeks, they lived there without power since they didn't have the money to turn on the utilities. They gather in their lawn to "party" - usually drinking "jumbos" of malt liquor. When things get rolling, they involve the passing street people over to partake in the "fun". Walking by the property when this is going on is intimidating and, if they aren't kicked out soon, I am afraid these gatherings will be the source of more random crime incidents.
The bottom line here is that Lake Worth is in a competitive marketplace within Palm Beach County and the region as a whole. We need to take every opportunity to upgrade and maintain our housing stock, increase employment opportunities and keep our eyes/ears open within our neighborhoods to staunch the attractiveness of our community to the criminal element.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
*Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Jim Stafford for Lake Worth Commissioner District 2
Thank you for a very professional presentation of the proposed 08/09 CRA budget for our workshop tomorrow. I do have a couple of questions from my initial review.
Thanks - that's all for now.
- Any idea to what degree the taxable value numbers will change from those presented here? I noticed that the date of the memo is from June 14 - any updates since then?
- What is the current staffing by position, including the interim position? Timeline for filling that position?
- How are professional service fees negotiated and approved? How is the legal professional contract approved - annually? Is it reviewed by the board?
- How are the City Administration charges calculated and what is the reason for the increase? Is the City providing additional services now that it did not in the current fiscal year? Or have costs increased from the City's point of view?
- Has the CRA ever asked the City to cover electric and other utility charges? Why no increase budgeted here?
- Promotional activities: Where would a broader marketing campaign for Lake Worth as retail location and development opportunity be found - if we had it? Where would a market research effort targeting the development community and corporate location decision makers? Can we get estimates for either of these prior to finalization of the budget?
- Can we require that any code enforcement officer funded by the CRA be certified through the state of Florida program? That was the flier that I forwarded to you earlier.
- What is the current status of the CAT program? I thought it had been discontinued, or at least greatly scaled back.
- Why the decrease in the professional services (streetscape) item?
- How are we planning to expend the brownfield grant funds prior to the end of the current fiscal year? Is there an opportunity to apply for an extension?
- The "Land" line item - is this potential money available for land acquisition?
- Under maintenance of 6th Avenue improvements, I have noticed some of the cap stone on the knee walls to be missing. Do we have replacement materials in storage so that matching is not a problem? Do we contract with the City to do this work, or is it through an outside contractor?
I was told by a local resident that these are not Section 8 rentals and that management of the project will require strict employment verification prior to the signing of a lease. If you are in the area, you might want to get out of your car and walk around the perimeter of the property to check it out. Also, directly south of 4th Avenue North, west of A Street is the property which contains the so-called "Champion" tree. That property is under separate ownership.
We were approached by a visitor to the beach that had trouble interpreting what this receipt meant and whether it was valid. He had put $6 in the "kiosk" and this is what he got in return. I took a picture of it and e-mailed to Joel Morganstern who responded with this information.
I checked with the officer at the beach. What this ticket is, several times a day the machine goes through a “Self Test” During this short period there is a red light that goes on and the screen says ‘Do not deposit any money until red light is off”. People don’t either read it or pay any attention to it. They deposit the money and hit “print” and this is what comes out.
Now, if they approach an officer who happens to be there, or just put it on the dash as if it was a regular receipt, the officer can look at it. He sees that there was $6.00 deposited, because it still shows that, and he sees the time as 11:38 am because it still shows that, and he just does the math in his head and knows when that ticket will expire.
Hope that clears if for you because I didn’t know about it either until you sent it to me.
Thanks for patrolling.
If this happens to you, treat it like the usual receipt and, to prevent it from happening entirely, wait for the machine to finish its recalibration.