Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Hello all - some pics of my current project location and hopefully I'll be able to stay here for the remainder of my tour - it's an old British airbase circa 1930's-1950's in Habbaniyah (Happy New Year). Probably won't have a chance to visit the Michiganders during my upcoming R&R but if you're in SoFla, maybe you can buy me a beer!
Kramer applied for food stamps."
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I'm not going to review all of the facts in this matter. There is plenty on this blog. Just use the search function for various keywords and you can find out the background. But, I will remind people that I happened to be the chair of the Planning and Zoning Board when this went through the approval process. Regardless of what the litigants might say, we had multiple meetings at the advisory board level before we made a 5-2 decision - based upon a serious compromise from the original request - to annex, rezone and change the land use on the 4 acre property. Our recommendation limited any potential future development to 10 units to the acre. The City Commission went on to approve all of the above at a vote of 3-2.
There was public input at all levels of the decision-making process and many that were taken on by the applicant and the applicant's agent. The weakness in the process, in my opinion, was that the neighborhood was not integrated into the process before the application was made. Because of this, immediately at the first meeting at the Planning and Zoning Board, we had an adversarial relationship between some members of the neighborhood to the applicant and to the recommending body (P&Z).
Why? I would say that the number one contributing factor to the animosity and the feeling that the neighborhood was not being listened to (when in fact they were) was the composition of the board. This is something that the board itself really didn't have control over - that was the City Commission's responsibility when appointing members to serve on P&Z. At the time, all the members lived east of Dixie Hwy. This project came from the extreme southwest corner of the city and from an area that had been devoid of any development applications for a very long time.
It also came at a time when the development application volume was high at the time and the residential market was booming. More on this later...
So, the first lesson that we can take from this experience is that the make-up of the Planning and Zoning board is important and it should represent people from all four corners of the city. The same can be said for other advisory boards as well. I firmly believe that even if the recommendation and the vote had been the same, with a more balanced representation on the board the controversy would not be what it eventually came to be. Again, a theme emerges that has been talked about here before - the importance of the integrity of process. It also speaks to the need to nurture involvement in our civic activities and neighborhoods across the five mile by five mile square that is the City of Lake Worth.
The second lesson is the effect of political opportunism and the merging of other broader political movements with local ones. We must admit that we exist in a hostile political environment. Unfortunately, it is usually about a quest for power more so than the quest for what is best for the city. We saw this in operation with this process. Suddenly, the most vocal opponents of the project had a friend in the lawyer that was also behind the Hometown Democracy movement. Their goals aligned in that both were seeking to open the land use plan change and all amendments to the Comprehensive Plan to the vote of the people.
It's ironic now that the same people who talk about the importance of referendums on local issues are seeming to ignore the local issues on the ballot during this election cycle. But that, in my opinion, is the danger of relying on referendums to decide these sorts of issues. If it got the attention it deserved all the time by those that the decision affects - great. Given the overwhelming flow of information in this day and age, the clutter can be difficult to wade through and just to find the time for anything is a challenge. I am afraid if we went down this route that only those with a vested and monetary interest would control the process.
What was also lost during this discussion is that there were other steps of project and site plan review that would have taken place before anything was built. This site plan review process could have involved the neighborhood and found additional ways to mitigate the impacts of the project on the surrounding neighborhood.
However, we didn't get the opportunity. Instead, we have years and opportunities wasted. The market has definitely passed (one of the weaknesses of zoning review is that it has a hard time dealing with market forces in metering decisions). We have a vacant, underutilized property in the middle of a single family neighborhood. Eventually, something different will be done there. But what? De-annexation is a possibility - returning the property to the unincorporated county - which would open a whole host of uses more incompatible than the one that was proposed. We'll see.
And we have a vocal group that is unhappy - period. Will they ever be happy? No one really knows. What we can do is start at the neighborhood level and plan for the best use of this property. As long as it is done with sincerity of purpose - on both sides of the table.
For the 4th District Court of Appeal, the results were:
-- 90 percent support retaining Judge Mark E. Polen
Major conclusion - a rezoning and a land use plan change only "affect" the subject property - not others adjacent or nearby it. This is also the argument being used by the beach petitioners - Commissioner Cara Jennings on Monday night said that the beach "affects" all parcels in the city. Maybe so, but not in the eyes of the Court or as it applies to whether or not a referendum on a land use decision is possible.
The Appeals Court is made up of three (3) judges.
The present Charter provides that City-owned property shall not be leased for more than 20 years without the affirmative vote of the majority of the electors of the City. Through a lease agreement with the City, the County currently manages the Snook Islands Nature Area as a nature preserve. This referendum will extend the lease to allow the County to manage the site as a nature preserve for ninety-nine (99) years.
Shall the above described amendment be adopted?
2. 99-YEAR PROPERTY LEASE: BUILD AND OPERATE NEW YOUTH RECREATION CENTER 1718 SOUTH DOUGLAS STREET
Currently through a lease agreement with the City, the non-profit For The Children Inc. operates youth recreation, free/low cost afterschool and summer programs, academic enrichment, mentoring, employment, and arts services on City property located at 1718 South Douglas Street. For The Children Inc. requests a 99-year lease to secure funding to build a new larger center to continue services. A yes vote will extend the lease to 99 years.
Shall the above described amendment be adopted?
I'm surprised that the various candidate forums that I have attended have not addressed these ballot issues. Where do the candidates stand on these? Can anyone represent or explain these questions to the public at the forums?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
New visits up 20% over last month!
Here are some views from the audience last night. I think all six candidates did very well. We should all appreciate the sacrifice it takes just to run for office, let alone serve if elected. There was a question on the beach that made it sound like the judge has ruled that the item should be placed on the ballot. That is not the case - the judge denied the City's request that the lawsuit be dismissed regarding the length of the lease. I do not know of a ruling or action related to the lawsuit brought by the city about the land use and zoning issue going to referendum.
Commissioner Jennings said that the referendum provision in the city's charter was very important. Mary Lindsey rightly pointed out that if it is so important, why did she vote for the day labor center at the shuffleboard court in violation of the zoning? Why didn't she push for that on the issue to be placed on the ballot? All good points. At the end, Cara seemed to not like being "critiqued" (her word). Then she told people to look at her voting record - where can one find that Commissioner Jennings? Do you have that on your website? Or should we call the clerk's office and ask her to compile all the votes from the previous two and a half years? If only it were that easy.
And a suggestion for forum organizers - please have a sign made that shows which district is which and place that in front or behind the three candidates in each race. I could follow who is runing for which seat, but I am not the typical Lake Worth resident. I think most people would wonder who is running against who - which is not helped by Jennings and Mulvehill not putting their district on their yard signs and perhaps other materials. In fact Commissioner Jennings door hanger passed out by Annbeth Karson last night mentions nothing about District #2 - not even in the disclaimer.
Here is a map of the commission districts in the city:
Monday, October 20, 2008
Apparently Commissioner Golden has something in her eye - from the article: "In Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden's view, the answer should be a combined effort to tackle the city's social ills, combing efforts by code enforcers, police, banks, Realtors and redevelopment staffers."
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...Let me know when you're setting this up Commissioner.
November 4 General Election
President and Vice President
Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Please keep in mind that once you have voted by early voting, your vote is cast and final.
Early Voting Sites
JUPITER BRANCH LIBRARY
705 MILITARY TRAIL
3188 PGA BLVD., ROOM 2401
PALM BEACH GARDENS
110 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. BLVD., WEST
WELLINGTON VILLAGE HALL
14000 GREENBRIAR BLVD.
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS MAIN OFFICE
240 S. MILITARY TRAIL
WEST PALM BEACH
9451 JOG ROAD
HAGEN RANCH ROAD LIBRARY
14350 HAGEN RANCH ROAD
20701 95TH AVENUE SOUTH
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I decided to have some pizza tonight and I like the one with spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella that NYPD has at the beach. So, with scarcely anyone else around, I enjoyed my piece of pizza with an ocean view. With camera at the ready, I took these pictures. You might want to click on the frame and adjust the speed of the slideshow so you can read the captions easier.
From the description on You Tube:
Dionne's Promises Promises was a big international hit released in October 1968 prior to the December opening of the Neil Simon/Burt Bacharach/Hal David Broadway smash Promises, Promises in December 1968. Bacharach wanted to generate as much buzz for the musical and Dionne's Promises, Promises was released about two months prior to the opening of the show. The strategy paid off and in addition gave Dionne six chart hits in 1968 alone, peaking at #19 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Chart, #15 on the CashBox Top 100 Singles Chart, #17 on the Record World Top 40, and #8 on the Canadian Top 10. Promises, Promises turned out to be the show's most difficult number to sing,according to Serene Dominic, as its rapid fire melody left many singers short of breath. To Dionne, the tune was a piece of cake. It was her recording of the tune that proved the ideal vocal guide for the show's male lead, the late, great Jerry Orbach (a heck of a Broadway singer, he also portrayed Det. Lennie Briscoe on TV's Law and Order). Orbach attended Dionne's recording session at A&R Studios in Manhattan in September 1968 and reportedly asked Dionne, "How the hell do you sing this?" He took an acetate of Dionne's session to help him navigate the tune. The flip side of Dionne's Promises Promises single released by Scepter was also from the show. "Whoever You Are I Love You", a showstopper and one of the most hauntingly beautiful tunes in the show, but the subject matter (the female lead attempts suicide after her lover abandons her), alluded to in the tune's piano coda, which rendered Dionne's superlative recording of the song a little too desolate to make the Promises, Promises single a double sided hit. This was one of many, many tunes recorded at A & R Studios in Manhattan and engineered by the legendary Phil Ramone (producer of Billy Joel, etc.)