Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NBC5/WPTV reporter Andrew Lofholm at the Lake Worth City Commission meeting last night.

Below is an excerpt from the text of the news segment which aired on the 11:00 news last night (Nov. 7th) along with the video from WPTV as well.

Check back tomorrow for more of my observations about what happened last night at “New Business” on the Commission agenda, specifically the idea of allowing property owners to “opt out” of historic districts which would in essence, over time, be the end of this City’s historic preservation program; an analogy, a rowboat with fifty small holes:

Item 11A. Ordinance No. 2017-27 - First Reading - amending Chapter 23 “Land Development Regulations”, Article 5 “Supplemental Regulations”, Section 23.5-4 “Historic Preservation” and set the second reading and public hearing for December 5, 2017.

The WPTV reporter did a good job reporting on this topic and maybe the assignment editor will remember to pencil-in Lofholm for the upcoming meeting on December 5th, second reading at the City Commission.

The deeper question, beyond historic preservation, is the overall vision for our City of Lake Worth. How can we say on one hand our City is “open for business” and there is such a need for affordable housing, and on the other hand we’re squeezing out Millennials and young families with children from being able to find and/or afford to upgrade a home in any of our historic districts? Our City has created its very own housing affordability crisis.

And a question: Why are there no historic districts west of Dixie Hwy.? Our history east of Dixie is more worth saving than our history west of Dixie, you know, “on the other side of the tracks”?

Critics of historic preservation, specifically critics of historic districts, are already using the City of Lake Worth as an example why historic districts are a bad policy idea here in South Florida. It’s not outside the realm of possibilities this City could become a test case state-wide of even nationwide for critics of historic districts and how to go about dismantling them for protection from onerous, expensive regulation and decisions by a too-often unsympathetic bureaucracy.

What’s ironic about all this our very own staff managing our historic preservation program has provided all the ammunition critics have been looking for all along. Our City of Lake Worth could go down in the history books as the city that set back historic preservation efforts two decades or even longer. If that should ever happen, it would be very sad, but not unexpected.

No one can say they are surprised. January 2016 was the tipping point in the City’s South Palm Park neighborhood and then the public reached a “boiling point” in June 2016. We kept hearing from those administering Lake Worth’s historic preservation program they were listening. But they weren’t. And the complaints kept rolling in. The phones of our electeds kept ringing. And now here we are.

Here’s an excerpt from the WPTV news segment
last night
(video below):

     The historical designation rules are set by the state’s Department of Interior. Any local law needs approval, which they finally have. The state rejected the first proposal earlier this year. On Tuesday night in its first reading, relaxed rules were approved 5-0 before city commissioners.
     “I don’t think it’s up to us on the commission to tell people what they can and cannot do to their homes over and above the regulations that we already have,” Commissioner Omari Hardy said in an interview.
     The rules, include allowing hurricane windows, no regulation on fences and approved future guidelines on design options.
     Early next year, Hardy will try to get the law to go one step further by allowing homeowners the option to opt out of historical designation altogether. [emphasis added]

Click on play and the news segment by reporter Andrew Lofholm will begin following a brief advertisement: