Monday, September 19, 2011

A Comment left under the post: Communication to/from a resident to a Commissioner

Left by Anonymous:

Not a defender of SM at all. She should be ashamed she hasn't spent more time focused on the blighted and crime ridden neighborhoods. Commissioner Maxwell could use an ally in that area and it shouldn't have anything to do with any politics anyway.

My frustration is that I've been around long enough to know when Wes was on the dias and was part of the system he now rails against. I would argue the elected officials were just as ineffective and the hired management even worse than the ones we have now. That Wes is "mad as hell and just not going to take it anymore" is admirable and welcomed. I simply wonder when the reality that Lake Worth is full of bad housing stock and suffers from decades and decades of poor zoning codes and more variances than any city should allow hit him.

Surely anyone with an honest cell in his being knows these folks on the dias didn't cause all this mess. And yes, now that Wes has seen the light (in my opinion) my view of what LW should be and could be are much more in line with his. But please understand some of us not only saw all these problems a dozen years ago we wanted to do what Wes thinks we should do now and he really wasn't convinced we should. He didn't publicly rip apart past administrations and inept Commissioners who for years allowed this city to decay to a point it's laughable to expect ANYONE to fix it even in two terms much less a few months.

Just sayin'... 

Well, it's interesting to read the phrase "when Wes was on the dais and part of the system he now rails against."  I'm not sure, but some people are under the mistaken belief that I was a Commissioner at one time.  This may or may not be the impression of this "anonymous", but it is something that I have heard used around town - especially during campaigns.  Others, if they encountered a resident that didn't like things how they were here, blame would be pointed in my direction for all sorts of Lake Worth woes.  It was at times convenient to refer to me as an incumbent - according to many people that told me about what they were told at their doorstep.

The fact is that my time on the dais consisted of an eight year stint on the Planning and Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board - the first two years as an alternate.  The last five years I held the chairman's seat and I resigned to run for office a year before what would have been the end of my term.  I, as well as other members of the board, were well aware of the poor condition of the housing stock in the city and tried, as best we could with the situation and the tools we had at our disposal, to address many longstanding issues negatively impacting the city.

In terms of working on the code, we started the Master Plan process while I was on the dais in order to address deficiencies in our zoning code - that are still there to this day, by the way.  The board didn't have the money so the funding of the over $1 million effort had to come from the Commission. This process was started so that we could determine a coherent vision of what Lake Worth should look like in the future and create a zoning code to get us there.  Seven years later, we have yet to see and start using the result.

One of the symptoms of an "out of sync" code is that you encounter a lot of variance requests since the code does not adequately reflect the realities present in the city.  In other cities, updating the zoning code is an on-going process and is really never finished since conditions and community values change over time - you really never get a chance to catch up.  Since we have never had an adequately staffed planning department, the city made only rare and haphazard changes to the zoning code - which over time can make things worse.

The board that I was on also served as the Nuisance Abatement Board and acted independently of the City Commission when there were code problems combined with chronic crime/drug activity.  This was also back in the day of CAT teams - which we eliminated as the dais changed composition.

I have kept this blog since 2006 and I don't think my opinions have changed that much over time.  I would like to hear what other people think by commenting here.  And there really isn't much to be gained to malign previous actions by an administration or a Commission as our problems are ours now, regardless of who made them.  I just don't see a lot of progress or sense of urgency in addressing them.  I am afraid some on the current dais and administration see it counter-productive to their goal of affordability and sustainability to address some of our intractable problems.