Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hammering the point home: Cities like Lake Worth need more from our environmental activists. Just saying “No” is not enough.

Am still waiting for that response to the blog post below. And by the way, a reader of my blog dropped off a document called, “Eastward Ho! Development Futures: Paths to More Efficient Growth in Southeast Florida” prepared by the Center for Urban Policy Research from February 1999. The person I’m told preparing a response should stay tuned to this blog over the coming days and weeks. “Eastward Ho!” is, well, an interesting read you can say. And almost 300 pages long.

It appears this blog post from 1½ weeks ago really got under some people’s skin. Good. The immediate gut-reaction from some quarters was, “OK, Wes. You want more development in Lake Worth? Fine. Put it where?” Where? Really? Have you driven down Dixie Hwy. lately? Been out to the Park of Commerce?

Look below for, “So. . . where can density go in Lake Worth?” It’s clearly laid out in the City’s Land Development Regulations what can be done and just as importantly, what is not permissible per the rules.

We’re not talking about residential, single-family neighborhoods and we’re not talking about “tall buildings” either. Height restrictions are very strict in Lake Worth and most structures would be limited to 30′ or less. Do we have to take a look back to the fear tactics from 2013?
Remember these images that were used to frighten the public? Trolling for votes back in 2013.

The point is this: Everybody is concerned about housing and rising costs. And almost everybody is looking for answers too. But if you’re looking for answers from the ‘enviro activists’, well, good luck with that.

Here’s the original blog post that got some feathers so ruffled:

Theres a real good reason why Drew Martin only got 31% of the vote in the primary last August. And how this dovetails with the referendum in Lake Worth on Nov. 8th [Update: the referendum passed overwhelmingly].

If there’s any chance of saving the Everglades for future generations and stopping western sprawl then many of those in the environmental community will need to stop being obstructionists, re-think their tactics, and bring new ideas. A casual glance at any newspaper’s Real Estate section is proof enough the tactics by the environmental ‘activists’ have been a complete failure.

Possibly what’s needed is an entirely new leadership from the top down within many environmental organizations. The current course, a case could be made, is causing more damage to the environment rather than less.

One simply cannot hold these positions and be a legitimate partner in the debate:
  1. Oppose western sprawl
  2. Oppose more development and density in coastal cities (a moratorium on development?)
  3. Oppose more development and density along the I-95 corridor
Probably nothing illustrates this better than the multi-year effort by Everglades EarthFirst! (EEF!, headquartered in Lake Worth) to stop development of the Alton tract (the former Briger “Forest”) in Palm Beach Gardens. All the while they protested, marched, and had tree-sits in Palm Beach Gardens, further west the 39th city in the County was well on its way to being formed, Westlake. Many more communities out west are being constructed and even more are in the planning process.

The answer to slowing down western sprawl is a simple one. More in-fill development and more density in the cities along the coast and along the I-95 corridor. But what do we hear when new development and density are proposed on Dixie Hwy. in Lake Worth, in the Downtown, or in the Park of Commerce? NO! Not in my back yard (NIMBY). That’s where the YIMBY’s come into play. YIMBY means, “Yes In My Back Yard”.

Here’s a quote from the video below: “Housing is a national crisis. And I think just bringing everyday people together to work on this is the most effective way because it’s uniting people rather than dividing people.
The debate in Lake Worth, for example, should be where to put in-fill development and density, not whether it should occur or not. If density isn’t added to already established urban centers then the population will increase further out west. Period.

And if the bond referendum next Tuesday is approved by the voters in Lake Worth what better way to lessen any financial burden? If the bond passes more businesses and new residents in this City will be helping to pay for new roads, fixing potholes, and continuing the road maintenance going forward.

So. . . where can density go in Lake Worth? Look over Lake Worth’s Land Development Regulations (use this link and scroll down for LDR’s). Below is an excerpt from MU-DH, or “Mixed Use - Dixie Highway”:

The MU-DH Mixed Use – Dixie Highway district is designed for Dixie Highway, Lake Worth’s commercial spine. The MU-DH district is intended to provide the establishment and expansion of a broad range of office and commercial uses, including higher density residential use.

And don’t forget, there are strict height restrictions throughout the City, on Dixie Hwy. as well. For example, also in MU-DH:

East side of Dixie Highway - 30 ft. (not to exceed 2 stories). Additional 5 ft of height under Sustainable Bonus Incentive Program (not to exceed 3 stories).

We need everyone, including the Drew Martin’s in the environmental community, to be part of the answer to slowing down western sprawl. More people are coming to live in South Florida. A lot more people. The question is this: Do you want them living in a new community out west somewhere, adding more roads, new infrastructure, and taking much-needed tax dollars from our established cities?
Also note Martin didnt help himself much with his comment at the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council that the City of Lake Worth was cutting down mangroves. A very serious accusation. Also very false.