Saturday, April 22, 2017

Millennials, young families, and “big boxes”. An editorial in Tampa Bay Times (“Winner of 12 Pulitzer Prizes”).

The editorial published by the Tampa Bay Times (2 excerpts below) on April 20th titled, “Balancing neighborhood character, new housing designs” will be of interest to many here in Palm Beach County and in cities such as Lake Worth as well. The challenges here in South Florida for coastal communities are not unique.

Zoning can be a mundane topic for many but can turn into a firestorm of controversy, and very quickly, if neighborhoods think their quality of life could change due to changes in the zoning code: more traffic, more noise, more demands on already stretched city services. Back in 2015 when a group called the Lake Worth Artist and Cottage Entrepreneurs (ACE) began an initiative to change City zoning codes to allow for more “home occupations”, little did they know what they were walking into.

The mistake ACE made was not making this a community and City-wide discussion and instead sought to build political support to move forward with changes to the zoning code. Two elected commissioners were sympathetic with their objectives. Those 2 electeds are no longer commissioners here in this City of Lake Worth.

Every city, big or small, has to deal with these challenges of an evolving economy and changes in housing preferences. Here is how the editors at the Tampa Bay Times see their region’s future going forward:

The cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa have plenty to offer millennials and young families, including beautiful parks, bustling bar and restaurant scenes and improving job prospects. One challenge is housing, much of it aging and small by comparison to the 3/2s of modern suburbia. Developers are eager to resolve the mismatch by building bigger, modern homes that can appear out of scale in established neighborhoods. As the Tampa Bay area evolves, urban planners should strive for a better balance between preserving the character of neighborhoods and encouraging a housing renewal that meets the needs of younger residents.

and. . .

That’s where codes and zoning come in. One builder’s representative said in an email to St. Petersburg officials that it’s not “the government’s business to tell a family what size home they should have.” Maybe not what size, but certainly where, and with reasonable conditions. When uniformly enforced, zoning preserves the integrity of neighborhoods by limiting home size, requiring setbacks from neighboring properties and providing incentives to make new houses fit in. St. Petersburg, for example, is considering sensible new guidelines that would limit home size but allow builders to exceed the maximum if they incorporate design enhancements that mitigate the “big box” feel of new homes. Those kind of incentives leave flexibility for people to build the house they want while having a positive long-term effect on how neighborhoods evolve.

Do you live in Lake Worth? Do you know how your neighborhood is zoned? Use this link and spend some time going through the resources and maps. For example, do you know the height limit in your neighborhood? All that information is on the City’s website.

Reside in City of Lake Worth? Know what the POC is? For daily readers of this blog it’s important to remember. . .

. . . there are many new residents of this City who know nothing of the POC, an issue we’ve been dealing with for decades. That’s why I re-post blog posts like this one every now and then.

Many involved and/or long-time residents of this City recall well the Park of Commerce (POC) over the years and efforts to do something, anything, to have that prime piece of real estate add tax dollars to our City’s coffers. Is the POC a new idea? The answer is No. Not even close.

Past city commissions have tried, and failed, to make this area (see map below) a major contributor to the City’s commercial tax base giving homeowners less of a burden. Some former elected’s were so desperate to have something happen in the POC, anything, even a chicken farm was suggested. Luckily, that idea didn’t go far.

This image will surprise you and explained later in this blog post.

New residents in this City, if they’re not cautious where they get their information from, will be misinformed by “facts” on other blogs, social media, or even news reporters that don’t understand the entire story. You may have heard this news about the Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant for $1.4 million. So where exactly is the POC?

To see this map for yourself go to the Citys zoning map. And while you’re at it you can see how your neighborhood is zoned.

In the map above is the POC: Roughly it’s the dark shaded area west of Boutwell Rd., east of the E-4 (Keller) Canal, north of Lake Worth Rd. (John Prince Park) and south of 10th Ave. North. Now that you understand where the POC is, how long has this been a matter of debate in the City?

Let’s look at one example of many (the first image above is the front cover of this “Citizens’ Master Plan”):

The Lake Worth Park of Commerce Citizens’ Master Plan, Charrette Draft Report prepared by the TCRPC in October 2001.

Fifteen years ago. I have this original report prepared by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC); if you would like to borrow it let me know (my email address is Here is another image from the report:

Recognize anyone? Ever heard of anyone named Dana Little?

There are names throughout this document many of you will recognize. Enjoy this charming video I did of the POC back in 2014, a small area in the City of Lake Worth with so much potential, “the P-word” if you will:

Would you like to organize a “Cottages of Lake Worth” presentation for your local organization or a group of neighbors?

Below is a short and gracious letter received from the Director of the Lantana Public Library. The letter was sent to me but as always, as noted in the letter, it was another group effort.

The Lantana Public Library, “A place for serious readers”, is located at 205 West Ocean Ave., 561-540-5740. Use this link for the hours, resources, and more information.
It was a splendid group of people who showed up for “The Cottagespresentation at the Lantana Library. Would highly recommend this venue for anyone to talk about a subject of interest.

It’s important to understand this presentation is not just about selling more books. But. . . it is nice when it happens. Pretty soon though there won’t be any more books left until the second printing arrives here in the City of Lake Worth at a future date still uncertain.

Thus far presentations have been the full length of 40–45 minutes with a Q&A following (e.g., as the one held at the Boynton Beach Historical Society), another was an interview on the BBC, and still others were very short, just focused narrowly on one topic. A presentation can be just 5 or 10 minutes and very informal.

For example, in the next few weeks or so will be giving short presentations to neighborhood groups in the City and will let you know when and where. These will be short but hopefully interesting for those in attendance. Every part of the City is different and special in its own way. Just a few of the myriad of topics:
  • What’s so special about the historic cottages in Lake Worth?
  • How did lot sizes come to be platted?
  • What effect did I-95 have on this City? And what is so unique about our two exits off this Interstate roadway?
  • Why is the Allied Africa campaign in WWII so significant in our history here in South Florida?
I’ll leave it up to you to see if there’s interest within your group or organization. If there is then contact me and we’ll go from there:

You’ll need a computer and projector with screen or a large flat-screen TV with HDMI for a small group, a room ideally made dark enough for everyone to see the slides and, I hope, a lot of question to follow as well.

And lastly, try to schedule a time and go visit our Lake Worth Historical Museum to learn more about our City’s unique history:
  • City Hall Annex Building, 414 Lake Ave., on the 2nd floor.
  • 561-533-7354
  • Hours: Wednesday and Friday from 1:00–4:00.
  • Tours by appointment.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

News about Greenacres in The Lake Worth Herald, “Notice of City Council Public Hearing”.

The meeting details are below. Question: Have you read any news about Greenacres in The Palm Beach Post lately? The Herald print edition, by the way, is still ¢50. You can pick up the print edition at the City’s newsstand in the Downtown (600 Lake Ave.) every Friday. The latest from the City of Greenacres:

ORDINANCE NO. 2017-08: An ordinance adopted by the City Council of the City of Greenacres, Florida, amending Article II, Sec. 2-26 and Sec. 2-27, of the Greenacres Code of Ordinances, increasing the compensation of the mayor and members of the City Council; providing for a cost of living; providing for certain benefits; providing for repeal of conflicting ordinances. . .

The details:

This Ordinance will be considered by the City Council at their regular City Council meeting to be held on Monday, May 1, 2017 at 7:00 p.m., in the Council Chambers at the Greenacres City Hall located at 5800 Melaleuca Lane, Greenacres, Florida, regarding the proposed Ordinance.
     This Ordinance may be reviewed by the public at the Office of the City Clerk at City Hall from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Interested parties may appear before the City Council at this meeting and be heard with respect to this proposed Ordinance.
     If any person decides to appeal any decision of the City Council at this meeting, they will need a record of this proceeding and for that purpose they may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the proceeding is made, which record includes the testimony and evidence upon which the appeal is to be based. The City does not prepare or provide such record.

City of Greenacres
Joanna Cunningham, MMC
City Clerk

City Press Release: Closing of boat ramps in Bryant Park

For more information contact: Lauren Bennett, the City of Lake Worth’s Special Events Manager at 561-533-7395; email

Lake Worth — For the Annual Reggae Festival the City of Lake Worth will close the Bryant Park boat ramps from Thursday, April 20th at 9:00 a.m. until Sunday, April 23rd at 10:00 p.m.
     For details about this event and others please visit the City’s website.

Located in central Palm Beach County, Lake Worth is a dynamic, multi-cultural city with an individualistic style. People are drawn to the city by its acceptance of different cultures and lifestyles, historic districts, hip downtown and colorful arts district.

Press Release from City. Cancelled and rescheduled: “3rd Annual Beach Clean-Up and Dive Against the Debris”.

For general questions/information about the City of Lake Worth, contact Mr. Ben Kerr, the City’s Communications Specialist at 561-586-1631; email:

“Due to the unfavorable weather forecast and probable ocean conditions for Saturday April 22nd, the City of Lake Worth had to postpone the Annual Pier Clean up and Dive Against the Debris. The new date is set for Saturday May 20th 2017.”

For more information, contact Doug Yoakum, the City of Lake Worth’s Aquatics Manager at 561-718-4304; email:

Question: Anyone planning to represent cities of Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, et al., at TCRPC meeting tomorrow?

Continue reading and you’ll find out why this is important; see the highlighted text below. This meeting is being held at the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC):
  • April 21st [tomorrow] at 9:30 a.m.
  • Wolf High Technology Center
  • Indian River State College – Chastain Campus
  • 2400 SE Salerno Road in the City of Stuart [Martin County]
Agenda item 9. Subject: Resolution Addressing the Proposed Locally Preferred Option for the Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project.

From Resolution #17-03:

WHEREAS, the Loxahatchee River is a significant regional resource located in Palm Beach and Martin counties; and
WHEREAS, alterations to the landscape and drainage patterns have severely impacted water quality and natural systems within the Loxahatchee River Watershed; and
WHEREAS, stormwater runoff from urban and agricultural areas threatens the long-term
viability of the Loxahatchee River and other natural systems within the watershed; and
WHEREAS, the original Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project was to accomplish five goals: 1) restoration of the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River (one of two nationally designated Florida Wild and Scenic Rivers); 2) restoration of the Loxahatchee Slough; 3) the reduction of damaging fresh water discharges to Lake Worth Lagoon by increasing surface water storage and conveyance; 4) restoration of the Grassy Waters Preserve and enhancement of water supplies for local governments in Palm Beach County; and 5) the provision of better flood protection for the western communities within the County; and
WHEREAS, most of the current alternatives being studied are only designed to accomplish two of the five original watershed restoration goals; and
WHEREAS, the proposed Locally Preferred Option, developed and agreed to by a partnership of six affected local governments and special water improvement districts, is designed to accomplish all five original goals in a better manner than other alternatives being studied.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council
encourages the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District to support the modeling and planning efforts associated with the proposed Locally Preferred Option components of the Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project.

To read this entire agenda item use this link.

Does anyone remember Thomas Altman? He was murdered last year, on March 25th. Remember Woodley Erilas?

Everyone working so hard in the City of Lake Worth to cut down on senseless violence, continue to work hard and pray.

It’s a mystery why some crimes, a homicide for example, get the overwhelming attention of reporters and news outlets and others, like the murder of Woodley Erilas for example, don’t. Remember the murder of Thomas Altman last year? That case, still unsolved, received multiple articles in The Palm Beach Post and from several TV news stations for well over a week. News about that murder was well-publicized by social media as well.

The murder of Woodley Erilas, however, received scant attention from the news media. He was murdered on January 9th, 2015, in the early morning here in Lake Worth. The case remains unsolved and the family continues looking for leads. This crime occurred on the 900 block of North ‘H’ Street. The family wants anyone with information about this homicide to call Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.

Woodley Erilas was only 27 years old when he was murdered in 2015.

There was one news station, NBC5/WPTV and their reporter Jacqulyn Powell that covered this news, including an update from July 2016 about the family and friends of Woodley Erilas. Here is an excerpt from the text of a news segment:

“His sister says her family won’t rest until detectives find the person who is responsible for his death.
     ‘He accepted everybody,’ Vanesa Erilas says. ‘He looked at the bright side of every situation, and for him to leave the earth this way is heartbreaking.’
     Anyone with information about Woodley Erilas’s death is asked to call Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.”

The surprising “hot button topics” at the City Commission meeting last Tuesday: Facebook and “panhandlers”.

The City Commission meeting from last Tuesday, April 18th, is now available online. Use this link to watch the entire meeting which lasted less than 2 hours. Two topics in particular stood out: the issue of panhandling and questioning the reasoning why our City does not have a Facebook page. More about that later.

In case you didn’t know, the City of Lake Worth is now posting City Commission meetings on YouTube. This and more information can be found on the opening page of the City of Lake Worth’s website. Videotaping Commission meetings was something Yours Truly did for quite some time. Now it’s nice being able to sit home and watch the process of government happen in real time.

And yes, Dustin, I heard what you said about the Michigan State Spartans. Am looking forward to October 7th, my dear friend.

You may have seen one of my Lake Worth Commission YouTube videos before, e.g., the quite un-charming “Outburst in the Commission chambers last July, 2016, or another video from May 2011 when then-Vice Mayor Suzanne Mulvehill praised the work done by PBSO and former Cpt. Rolando Silva here in our little City of Lake Worth (Silva is now the captain in Wellington).

On the subject of PBSO, Cpt. Todd Baer gave an excellent update last night and very highly recommend you watch. Click on the link in the opening paragraph above and watch starting from the 12:45 minute mark; the Q/A ends at the 52 minute mark.

Commissioner Omari Hardy seems not pleased at all with the City’s reasoning for not having a “City of Lake Worth” Facebook page. Hardy is completely right. There is nothing at all wrong or inappropriate posting about upcoming Commission meetings and workshops, City press releases, and urgent news from the City. Remember Hurricane Matthew last year?

The City of Boca Raton is on Facebook. Their City Council meeting is tonight, from their “Meeting Notice”:
  • Wednesday, April 19, 2017
  • City Council
  • Live Meeting Coverage TONIGHT at 6 pm
The City of Lake Worth needs a Facebook page a month ago. Going another month doesn’t make any sense.

And on the subject of panhandling: this is a very big deal with the public. The City needs to listen and they need to act in some way. The public perception is the City is “dropping the ball” on this matter. Again, Commissioner Hardy brought up this topic and so did the public at the Commission meeting last night.

City residents are concerned about our City’s image and there are public safety matters as well. Of course, most everyone is aware there is a certain former commissioner — one with money to burn, just waiting for the City, a City employee, or a PBSO deputy to make a mistake — and then file a big, juicy lawsuit giving our City a big “black eye” in the media and press. That is a legitimate concern; the City needs to act responsibly on behalf of the taxpayers.

However, one person in particular raised some very serious concerns about panhandlers at last night’s Commission meeting: watch that for yourself using this link.

Here’s an idea: Can the City of Lake Worth form a volunteer board to handle this issue of panhandling? If you recall, the City just recently formed a board for a very small group of residents over concerns about the C-51 Canal. Just pointing that out.

Anyhow, last night’s Commission meeting was a bit less than 2 hours — that’s very good news — the business of the City is being treated like real business in a business-like manner. That’s why the elections last March were indeed “seismic”, our New Lake Worth City Commission (for the most part), is doing the business of the City in a professional manner.

And. . . when will the official photograph of the New City Commission be put on the City’s website? Where are the photographs of Commissioner Omari Hardy and Commissioner Herman Robinson? The election was almost 5 weeks ago.

The Blue Front BBQ on Dixie Hwy. in Lake Worth: One of the few survivors of “roadside architecture”.

Stumbled upon a postcard of a roadside motel and restaurant in Perry, Florida. The city, which is situated in Florida’s Nature Coast about 50 miles south of Tallahassee, has a number of U.S. Routes, including U.S. 27, that meet and run through the city.
Before the dawn of Interstate highways and turnpikes, these roads were how people traveled long distances by automobile. Dixie Hwy. (U.S. 1) played the same role in the middle part of the 20th century. This created demand for lodging and restaurants along these routes and the “Mom & Pop” motel and dining era began here in Lake Worth.

Some of these structures used particularly eye-catching Mid-Century Modern architecture which became its own genre commonly referred to as highway or roadside architecture. The resulting building design usually ended up being a “sign” itself, designed to attract the attention of travelers along these roads.

Below is an example of just such a roadside motel/restaurant called the “Skylark” in Perry, Florida during its heyday, and a picture of how the same buildings look today.

The structure itself was part of the advertising:
The ‘motel’ presently with its signature arched sign.

What remains. You can still see the original sign with its unique outline, sans the neon.

We once had many examples in the City of Lake Worth along U.S. 1. “Kristine’s”, now home to Blue Front BBQ, is a notable survivor. Here is a postcard of that building during the mid-1950s.

When you drive down Dixie Hwy. can you see the resemblance to the former Kristine’s?
This structure is one of the few survivors of restaurants and “highway architecture” to lure in and interest customers passing through our City prior to I-95.

Below is an early edition of the former “Patio” restaurant that once occupied the southeast corner of Cornell Drive and North Dixie Hwy. It was later expanded, lost much of its character, and ultimately was demolished. The property is still a vacant lot today, across Dixie from the former “Park Avenue BBQ”, which is now a parking lot for World Thrift next door — the good news is they are doing a nice job of streetscaping and landscaping — not an eyesore like it once was.

The vacant lot where the Patio restaurant once stood remains an eyesore, and has been for many years.

The empty lot, once the “Patio”, is used mostly now for gimmicky signs and an easy short-cut sometimes.
The former “Patio Coffee Shop, Lake Worth, Florida”. All these years later still a vacant lot and eyesore on Dixie Hwy.

For the most part, time has not been kind to these structures. Most have been either modified beyond recognition or demolished. There are areas of the country that still retain and promote their architecture along these former once-thriving and bustling highways. Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway are examples.

Along this stretch of Dixie Hwy. in this City many see the potential, also referred to as the ‘P’ word. Slowly but surely it’s changing for the better and a lot of people are noticing. It’s never fast enough for Yours Truly though.

A vacant lot isn’t “Charming” along our Dixie Hwy. A parking lot isn’t all that much better but it’s nice to see some business owners take pride in their parking lot to make it a bit more appealing. And for that I’m grateful.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A sitting Lake Worth City commissioner and a former commissioner — “in their own words”.

A brief explanation about what you’ll read and see for yourself below: Former Lake Worth City Commissioner Ryan Maier at a Commission discussion about a “curbstoning” ordinance in September, 2016, used a “Red Herring” to try and confuse the public by linking the issue of selling used cars illegally with panhandling and aggressive panhandlers.

City Attorney Glen Torcivia did a real good job of keeping the discussion on point, explaining that this ordinance is a simple yet necessary change to an existing one, already used by the County to curb the illegal selling of used cars.

Maier used this item on the agenda as a way to bring up one of his most important topics of all, to the exclusion of nearly all others, the homeless. Since that time he opted not to seek re-election. However, whilst Maier was still a sitting commissioner and had not yet decided whether or not to run for re-election, on this blog opined:

“If you’re OK with aggressive panhandling and public urination (remember, ‘It’s not that big a deal) then Maier is the candidate for you.”

Former Commissioner Maier:
     “I do not support aggressive panhandling ordinances.
     “I cannot see any definable loss through aggressive panhandling except that it’s maybe annoying.

District 3 Commissioner Andy Amoroso:
     “Aggressive panhandling means somebody that’s literally following someone down the street.
     “It does affect my business, the downtown businesses, City as a whole . . . and it’s the same ones over and over and over.

Wednesday in the City of Lake Worth: It’s Pickleball, the Rotary Club, support groups, and much more.

Below is information about a local church here in our City, the Lake Osborne Presbyterian Church, that hosts a support group every week. This blog post from last week was titled, “Things To Do in our City: Just a few ideas in this week’s Lake Worth Herald”.

Always on page 2 of The Lake Worth Herald — if you didn’t know — is the “About Town” section. Take a stroll Downtown to the City’s newsstand located at 600 Lake Ave. across from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County (open til 4:00 today; closed Sunday and Monday).

There is a man named Andy at the newsstand and he will be happy to assist you. Nowhere else can you get so much information about this City. . . and get this: the Herald print edition still costs only ¢50.

To find out about subscription prices and more about the Herald use this link.
“Lake Worth’s Oldest Established Business — Established in 1912”

Here are some “Ongoing Events” in the paper this week:

ADULT PICKLEBALL every Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Sunset Ridge Tennis Courts, 14th Avenue North, Lake Worth (between A and D Street). Adults 18 and over. $1 per player, balls and paddles provided. For more information call 561-533-7363. Sponsored by the City of Lake Worth Recreation Dept. For more information contact Steve Haughn, 561-214-0685.

TAI CHI instructions are given Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. at Freedom Park, Pinehurst Dr., in Greenacres. There is no charge and public is invited.

LAKE WORTH ROTARY CLUB meeting every Wednesday at Brogues Down Under, 621 Lake Ave., downtown Lake Worth. Noon. Come visit, become a member! For info call Ron Leeds at 561-969-9600.

And from “Upcoming Events”:

EARTH DAY COMES TO LAKE WORTH. Gray Mockingbird Community Garden will be hosting an Earth Day Festival Saturday, Apr. 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Two stages of music and entertainment, food court, indoor green presentations and fashion show. Rain or shine. 2000 N. D Street, Lake Worth. Just look for the northend water tower.

And then there’s this item in the paper:

GriefShare. A support group for people who have lost someone either recently or some time ago meets on Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Lake Osborne Presbyterian Church. The church is located at 2101 6th Avenue S. in Lake Worth. For more information, call 561-582-5686.

Excellent take-out Guatemalan and Mexican food in our Downtown Lake Worth.

Jeff Ostrowski is a Business reporter and restaurant reviewer at the Post. He visited and wrote a review of Café Tecun located Downtown off the beaten path at 7 North ‘L’ Street. Hours: 6:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m.

The take-out items on the menu are indeed excellent, especially the tamales (!), two thumbs up from Yours Truly. From Ostrowski’s review:

“Café Tecun serves Guatemalan and Mexican food. There are tamales, tostadas, tacos, burritos, salads and sandwiches. The ceviche is the most expensive item, at $12. Everything else is $10 or less.

To read the entire review by Ostrowski use this link. Was his food review helpful? Let him know using this link.

A blog post from yesterday. News from Palm Springs, and before long, a topic of discussion here in the City of Lake Worth.

The blog post was titled, “Presentation by Richard Reade, Village Manager, Village of Palm Springs”.

The image below is explained later in this blog post, following the “Draft Minutes [Subject to Modifications] of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council [TCRPC]”, on March 17th.
Do you know what an unincorporated “enclave” is? Also called a “pocket” or a “finger” in some cases. There is one here in the City of Lake Worth. Learn more about this important issue below, following these minutes (two excerpts) from the TCRPC:

Richard Reade, Village Manager [note: links and emphasis added], and Kim Glas-Castro, Land Development Director, from the Village of Palm Springs provided an overview of legislation currently being proposed to address the issue of majority voluntary property owner annexation consent.
     Mr. Reade indicated because his community is built-out and there has been a large population growth they do a lot of infill redevelopment and annexation. He stated there are a number of ways to annex property that are allowed by statute, but in areas that are more developed the involuntary annexation process is a key economic development tool.
     This type of annexation requires a 50 percent or more vote of property owners to agree to the annexation. Mr. Reade explained that this becomes a problem when there is a registered voter living on a parcel and they are not the owner. He stated it essentially takes away the property owner’s right, even though they are paying the taxes for that property, to make the decision of whether or not they would like to be annexed into the municipality.
     Mr. Reade indicated Representative David Silvers and Senator Jeff Clemens are sponsoring identical bills that propose to revise the text of Section 171.0413 of the Florida Statutes to remove the restriction that the presence of non-owner registered electors places on the use of the property owner majority consent procedures in 171.0413(6) of the Florida Statutes.

and. . .

     Mr. Reade noted they have received support from the county staff in this process and they work very closely with the county on all annexations.
     Mayor Gerwig [Anne Gerwig, Mayor of Wellington] stated this type of annexation can be a very helpful tool when trying to annex small areas into a municipality, especially when they are completely surrounded by the municipality. She noted the Village of Wellington annexed two communities and there was a bit of an issue, but were able to get the measure approved by the property owners with the assistance of the County.
     Mr. Reade indicated the involuntary annexation process is critical for annexing in the small pockets of land, because within these pockets there are code enforcement and policing issues that the municipality cannot handle until the areas are made part of the city. He said it is very important to give back the authority to make decisions to the property owner and not to the tenant or person who may be living on the property.

If you’re familiar with District 1 here in the City of Lake Worth, there’s an “enclave”, or an area of unincorporated County, surrounded by the municipality of Lake Worth (see image above). The concern among a growing number of Lake Worth residents is whether these County residents are getting services for which the City is not getting reimbursed.

This was addressed at the TCRPC in October 2016. Use this link to read a blog post published shortly thereafter. 

Staff provided an overview of annexations and enclaves. Staff indicated annexation is the process whereby property that lies outside of the boundary of a municipality is brought within municipal limits; and an enclave is unincorporated land surrounded by a municipality or a barrier such as a canal that prevents access to the area, except through the municipality. Staff indicated there are five types of annexation: voluntary is when the property owner requests to be part of the city; majority voluntary is for non-residential properties whereby a majority vote of the owners determines annexation; referendum where the citizens of the affected area vote on the annexation; legislative when the Florida Legislature adopts a special bill to make that area part of a city; and enclave interlocal where the municipality that surrounds an enclave, and the county work together to transition the area into the municipality. Staff noted some of the concerns with enclaves is an inefficient service delivery for the city and county; difficulty in planning for orderly development; jurisdictional confusion; and unfair benefits without tax payments.

Stay tuned as they say. Expect to see this issue on an upcoming agenda for the City Commission here in Lake Worth.

Press release from last year: “Consider Lake Worth, Florida, to solve your family’s drug addiction problem once and for all.”*

LAKE WORTH, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA — A creative option available to dispose of chronic drug users in the United States, as reported widely on TV news and The Palm Beach Post (September 2015), is an idea for making the problem even easier to manage. Resident(s) in the City, wishing to remain anonymous, placed the deceased in a convenient waste stream collection device so the body could be transported for disposal to the Countys incinerator (free of charge).

Not exactly cremation, but close enough for the budget-minded. Consider Lake Worths success rate when it comes to heroin addiction, for example:

Information from Palm Beach County’s Sheriff Dept. (PBSO) on heroin overdoses in Lake Worth. Red dots (18) are fatals. Room for improvement but certainly not a disappointing success rate. There’s ‘always next time’.

In the first quarter of 2016, as shown by PBSO at a recent City Commission meeting, Lake Worth continues to hold a good success rate: about 20%. Not astounding, but certainly a more affordable option than Delray Beach. How many families can afford Delray? Lake Worths property values, including unincorporated areas west of John Prince Park along scenic Congress Avenue, are rising, but at a slightly lower rate than other cities. That's why costs remain lower in and around the City.

The reason to hurry and purchase that one-way ticket to Lake Worth is the possibility of a historic hotel being renovated and a new hotel constructed in the Downtown nearby and other developments that could cause real estate values to uptick a few percentage points. Also keep in mind this: How many times have you been disappointed in the past about hopes of recovery?

For example, when that day finally comes you could receive the news in the dog days of July in South Florida. Think about humidity and the travel, food, and lodging expenses! Of course, you could also get the news around New Years Day too but do you want to take that chance? Plus take into consideration your loved ones will to live: Is it high or borderline low?

Dont waste any more time. Purchase that one-way ticket to a sober home in Lake Worth, Florida, for your chronically-addicted family member. Time is money.

Remember: Consider Lake Worth, Florida, to solve your drug addiction problem once and for all!

*For those of you scratching your head: This is not a real press release, but a parody/satire about a very real problem in the little City of Lake Worth and elsewhere in South Florida.

OMG! The PARKING! Where will everyone PARK(!) when the Gulfstream Hotel restoration and property development moves forward?

That is if the restoration of the Gulfstream Hotel and construction of a new hotel to 65′ with a parking garage happens any time soon. We’ll leave it at that for now.

I’m told some residents Downtown are already getting frantic again over The Parking! available for the Gulfstream Hotel redevelopment. So before this gets to the “Houston, we have a problem” stage, find out how the Casino and the Beach can be part of the parking solution without the Beach being part of the actual overall plan in the future.

Most of you will remember the meeting held by Hudson Holdings in 2015: “Better Beach (?), Better Lake Worth (?), Better Life (?)” that got everyone so riled up:

Historically, one of the most vexing problems with the Gulfstream Hotel when it was open for business, was parking. Use this link for a short explanation. A parking garage would solve that problem and those zoning approvals were allowed once already. But I digress.

Back when the municipal pool at the Beach was still open would use the pool 3–4 times a week, mostly on my bike and sometimes by car, arriving around 10:30 or so. During the weekdays that would be when the photo (see below) was taken. The weekdays make up 71% of the week.

Sorry, don’t want to be laborious here but we have to talk some people off the ledge. So please be patient.
View from the Casino complex looking west during an average weekday.

The above picture is of the lower parking lot on the western side of the Casino property. Whilst the smaller, top portion is usually close to full with cars (people eating at Benny’s or making the hike to one of the Casino building spaces) the lower parking lot is mostly empty during the typical weekday. From the site plan, that amounts to about 416 parking spaces, creating a sea of asphalt for would-be automobiles that would occupy these spaces if there were demand for them on weekdays.

I think we can all agree a mostly-empty parking lot represents a lost revenue opportunity, regardless of how you choose to look at “the numbers” that make up the Beach Fund. This Casino parking lot could be the parking for the Gulfstream Hotel to accommodate construction workers, Gulfstream employees, and many others freeing up parking in the downtown.

A shuttle could pick people up but many might just walk over the bridge since it’s a relatively short walk anyway. And the Gulfstream owners, of course, would pay the City for the privilege of using this parking area especially for the convenience of their employees.

Hopefully, if the Gulfstream Hotel project moves forward there will be many ideas on how to solve the parking issue, if any do arise, and the Casino parking lot is just one idea. All it takes is cool heads to prevail and look at opportunities and possibilities instead of the first reaction always being a near panic. Another potential solution would be the addition of one more level of parking on the parking structure proposed for the redevelopment, the last approval if I recall correctly, left open that possibility to add more levels later.

And finally, you may be asking yourself this question: “Why is the Casino parking lot so large and so empty most of the time?” Good question.

Much like parking lots of shopping malls all across our nation, this space was built for “peak demand” times. The problem is that represents only 29% of the time, a generous estimate on a weekly basis. Add to that the lower level parking being too far from destination uses, the pier and the Casino building itself, you have a situation where people may make the choice, while deciding where to go for lunch or breakfast, they don’t want to mess with the parking at the Beach, having to pay for it and then walking uphill (in the hot Summer!) for the “privilege” of going to the Beach.

There are so many other restaurant destinations in our Downtown many residents and visitors would find more preferable than the hassle of going to the Beach. And unlike the Casino — almost all of our Downtown restaurants have free parking nearby — both free parking lots and free street parking as well.

I hope that helps explain things. And imagine this, there’s more progress to report!

Made it through an entire blog post that brings up the Casino and didn’t once mention the prior City administration that got us all into this mess in the first place and didn’t bring up the Greater Bay plan either, you know, the plan that included a brand new pool and a parking garage at the Beach.

The public was never allowed to examine this plan for the Beach and Casino. Heavy Sigh.
This plan tackled the fundamental flaw all along: a Casino structure should occupy the center of the Beach property. Maybe the Millennials or another future generation will solve that problem once and for all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

City of Lake Worth. Saturday, March 7th, 2015. “LOVE > HATE”. Redacted.

Protest on steps of City Hall. Click on image to enlarge. 
“Redacted”, or to censor, is to obscure text deemed objectionable. Those reasons can be moral, religious, political, and/or other reasons as well.

The Invocation at our Lake Worth City Commission meeting, June 21st, 2016.

This invocation was brief, 2 minutes long, the typical length of an invocation. It was delivered respectfully and with great calm. However, this particular invocation was given following a terrible incident — one that rocked our community, the entire State of Florida, as well as the nation — a terrorist attack just 9 days earlier. An excerpt from the video below:

“Please guide our elected officials with great wisdom and integrity, and energy, and courage, and please guide us. Help us hold together a vision of our world as we long for it to be and for Lake Worth as we want it to be. That everyone who lives in this place will be respected and with an acceptance that everyone might have enough. That together we might enjoy all the fullness of the blessings of life. Then share those with all those in need. We ask all of these things in your many names. Amen and Blessed Be.”
—Quote from the invocation by Dr. Rev. Leah Brown, representing the Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches, following the Orlando Nightclub Attack on June 12th, 2016.

An invocation or moment of silence at the City Commission meeting tonight? The elected next up in the rotation makes that choice.

How did we get from a prayer, or “invocation”, opening each Commission meeting for many decades in our City’s history and now a choice of a moment of silence instead?

There’s still some confusion on how we got to this point. The process now is each one of the electeds — the mayor and commissioners in order — has the option of giving a short prayer, having someone in the community give brief comments in the form of an invocation, or have a “moment of silence”. So. How did we get here?

It all started in December of 2014.

The Insulting Atheist Preston Smith (see below) took advantage of the City process for giving invocations and hijacked the stage. He was given his few minutes to speak and his ‘invocation’ was quite insulting to many, especially for those in attendance that day, including myself. Except for a few people it was a lost opportunity.

Mr. Smith had the option of educating the public about atheism that day and explaining what it is and what it is not. But he chose another option and a lot of you remember that.

It’s interesting to note that since Mr. Smith’s insulting show not a single Atheist from Lake Worth has stepped up to the plate to represent their beliefs, or lack thereof. Why would that be? Possibly some day an Atheist here in the City will take the opportunity to change that image of atheism some still have after Mr. Smith packed up and left town after insulting all of us.

Mr. Smith came to town for an hour or so. Then he left. But things have changed since then and we’re a better City for it.

“He’s coming back for the New Year”, hailed The Obtuse Blogger (TOB) during our Christmas holiday season in 2015.
Some were quite thrilled the Insulting Atheist would return to Lake Worth for an encore. He never has. Would it be the shock/surprise factor has worn off?

Following Mr. Smith’s insulting show the City had meetings, discussion, and ultimately took another route and tweaked the process for giving invocations, or not giving one.

You see, a problem was created for the little City of Lake Worth by Mr. Smith, the Insulting Atheist, and the City began the process of fixing it as best they can. The ‘fix’ is not perfect and not everyone will be happy. There were a few malcontents in the religious community who were quite upset about the prospect of a moment of silence. But they’ve since gone completely silent on the issue.

And so it goes. . .

On the City Commission agenda: Resolution No. 19-2017 — “Public Purpose Food Policy”. Possibly more fodder about “Secret Meetings” and baked ziti at City Hall?

“When public men indulge themselves in abuse, when they deny others a fair trial, when they resort to innuendo and insinuation, to libel, scandal, and suspicion, then our democratic society is outraged, and democracy is baffled. It has no apparatus to deal with the boor, the liar, the lout, and the antidemocrat in general.”
—Quote. J. William Fulbright.

Excerpts from this particular agenda item are below, “Resolution No. 19-2017”, item 9E on the Consent Agenda at the Lake Worth City Commission tonight.

Will a former City commissioner or one from his cabal of followers make a cameo appearance (see video below) and cry “Sunshine Law Violation!”. If you recall, after the elections in March of 2016, the editor at the Post tried to give legitimacy to this “Secret Meetings” nonsense here in our little City of Lake Worth. Read all about that using this link (all of the incumbents if you recall, Mayor Pam Triolo, Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, and Commissioner Andy Amoroso were re-elected by landslide victories).

You see — the editor didn’t accuse any of our elected officials and staff of doing anything inappropriate — it was just suggested that our Mayor Triolo serving “Baked Ziti” was maybe inappropriate. The editor implied that something may have happened or may happen at City Hall when people show up and have a few bites to eat prior to a Commission meeting.

A little later on a resident of our City wrote this Letter to the Editor:

“[T]o resolve any issues regarding the Sunshine Law and suspicions, it might be prudent that anyone attending a Lake Worth City Commission meeting bring their own dinner and a canteen filled with their favorite beverage. [Cara] Jennings can ring a dinner bell, and the mayor and city commissioners and all in attendance — to a meeting that will go on, and on, and on — can eat together, hold hands, and thus avoid suspicions of secrecy.

In March, leading up to the elections in 2016, the “Sunshine Law Violation!” nonsense was in full high drama. In one dramatic example, a then-commissioner in this City could have just walked up and joined a barbecue/campaign event, but he declined. Instead he pranced the perimeter angrily before throngs of excited Triolo, Maxwell, and Amoroso supporters at that BBQ, leaving everyone wondering, “What was McVoy doing?”. After a few minutes he scurried away:

Sadly, because of all this nonsense, mis-, and disinformation there remain some in the public left “scratching their heads” about the Sunshine Law and what the law is intended to do.

One day a former City commissioner is throwing around allegations like cheap confetti and a few days after an election the claims go away like nothing ever happened. To understand the Sunshine Law, use this link to learn what the law is intended to do and just as importantly, what the law is not intended to do.

Anyhow. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens later on tonight. Maybe somebody will take this off the Consent Agenda for discussion or maybe not. But, if this is brought up for discussion one of the electeds should explain what a former commissioner did, and why so many people are so confused about the purpose of the Sunshine Law. Without further ado:

Consent Agenda Item 9E: “Resolution No. 19-2017 — City of Lake Worth Public Purpose Food Policy”.

Summary: The resolution authorizes the expenditure of City funds for food and refreshment for community-oriented events and functions and certain City services as serving a valid public purpose.
Background and Justification: The City of Lake Worth at times provides food and refreshments to the public including residents, City officials and employees, and other local officials and employees.
     Such occasions include, but are not limited to: conducting public services, community-oriented events, meetings and workshops. The provision of such food and refreshment is considered to be a de minimus* cost to the City that in turn is beneficial to the City’s residents, partnerships, officials and its employees.
     Resolution 19-2017 authorizes the provision of food and refreshments for the services, events and functions listed in Exhibit “A” and states the same serves a valid public purpose and enhances the general welfare of the City and its residents.
Motion: I move to approve/not approve Resolution No. 19-2017 authorizing the expenditure of City funds for food and refreshment for community-oriented events.

As they say, “Stay Tuned”. Baked ziti anyone?

*De minimis is a Latin expression meaning “about minimal things”, normally in the locutions de minimis non curat praetor (“The praetor does not concern himself with trifles”) or de minimis non curat lex (“The law does not concern itself with trifles”), a legal doctrine by which a court refuses to consider trifling matters.

The City Commission Work Session on Tuesday, April 11th: Code enforcement, business licenses, and board appointments.

Below are very important topics that went unaddressed on this blog last week, the issue of our City volunteer boards, board appointments, and one issue in particular that will be a “hot button topic” for a long time: the “C-51 Advisory Board”. More on that later in this blog post.

Use this link to watch the entire YouTube video of that Commission Work Session. For the agenda, and to download the back-up material and PowerPoints, use this link.

I watched portions of this Work Session on YouTube. About 20 minutes into the meeting discussion centered on the nuisance abatement process. The trigger for this sort of code enforcement action that a “Property is subject to three (3) or more incidents of drug sales, prostitution or gang related activities as documented by PBSO”, and “PBSO requests Declaration of Nuisance property to the Special Magistrate.”

Eventually, this can lead to fines and actions taken against the owner of the property by the City in order to curtail the activity causing the nuisance. The discussion turned upon the distinction between a “call for service” and the actual reporting of an “incident”. There can be “calls for service” to a property, but if the activity is not going on at the time PBSO arrives at the property, little can be done. Officers have to see those activities going on at the time it’s happening to document everything.

Many times this involves undercover work over a period of time, and other methods as well, to assemble enough evidence to present to the Special Magistrate. There is a flow chart showing this process in a PowerPoint slide (page 15 of the agenda).

Commissioner Omari Hardy brought up a scenario he heard has played out in other communities as it relates to crime and violent incidents (e.g., domestic) which, according to William Waters (Dir. of Community Sustainability), can fall into this “nuisance” category if they are frequent enough. Hardy was concerned this may create a disincentive for someone who may withhold reporting incidents due to possible activities of other residents in the home, the landlord, property owner, etc.

Such a situation could lead to eviction or other unforeseen consequences. This is a keen observation and one which appears the Commission will be discussing in the future.

Commissioner Andy Amoroso also raised the issue of calls for service and what number or frequency of them should be the trigger for action by the City. Mr. Waters responded there can be calls of a nuisance nature coming from another nearby property that may not have merit. The problem in many cases are individuals repeatedly calling in complaints, not always at a property or location from which the alleged complaint is occurring.

Waters said a call for service does not count towards determining whether a nuisance is actually happening or not. A Code Officer has to see illegal activity going on at the time in order to document it.

Later on in the meeting, the Commission turned its attention to City volunteer advisory boards, the appointment process, and the possible “sunset” (shutting a board down) of boards that repeatedly fail to meet quorum requirements, where more than half of those appointed members need to attend the meeting to proceed. If there is no quorum the board cannot take any action. This happened repeatedly with the Sister City Board, documented many times before on this blog.

Also discussed was the situation where boards do not have a clear vision or direction from the City Commission. This is a disincentive for almost everyone: the members are unsure of their goals, City residents become confused with the process, and the electeds and staff are left to try and make sense of everything.

One such board was the subject of lively and contentious debate, the recently created “C-51 Canal Advisory Board”, a board created for one single issue affecting a very small group of property owners along the canal — vis-à-vis the Blueway Trail Project — whilst there are already boards and processes in place to deal with citizen concerns and questions.

This was an issue that should never have become one at all, some commissioners suggested: 1) The C-51 Canal is outside the jurisdiction of the City, 2) Questioning the process of creating a new board, and 3) Why those concerned citizens have not attended public meetings or reached out to the entire Commission to express their concerns. Beside these 3 questions there were others, such as how this process is viewed through the lens of politics and public perception.

The Commission also talked about the length of time, spanning anywhere from 30–60 days, in order to make appointments to boards when there is a vacancy. Since this was a Work Session and not a Regular Commission meeting, no action was taken, but the staff, City manager, and the Citys attorney took many notes and asked a lot of questions to seek the direction going forward.

In conclusion: expect major revisions to the volunteer advisory board appointment process, possible “sunset” provisions for boards, much discussion and debate, and many changes to this process on a future Regular Commission agenda some time soon.

Dear Readers, a short message: 
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Class coming up tomorrow by Phil Materio: Are you interested in glass fusing, also called “kiln carving”?

Does the name Phil Materio sound familiar? It should. Do you know about McMow Art Glass at 701 North Dixie Hwy. here in the City of Lake Worth? Learn more about McMow using this link.

Mr. Materio is giving at class at the Armory Art Center (1700 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach) tomorrow (4/19) from 6:00–9:00 p.m. To learn more and to register for the class use this link:

“This is the perfect way to try a new art form, while learning from a master! An introduction to kiln carving and slumping. If you are already fusing add this exciting technique to your skill set. Create your designs and patterns using simple materials to create contours and textures into the glass.
     Firing takes place after the workshop, so your finished piece will be available for pickup a few days after class. No previous experience necessary.

Monday, April 17, 2017

“Lake Worth’s Code Enforcement”: Another in a long line of stories about this topic posted online (4/14) now in the LWVVSMCPE.

Update: The article in the Post cited in the title published 3 days ago online about Code Enforcement finally made it into the print edition today (use this link), in the LWVVSMCPE (explained below), on page B1, above the fold. Also in today’s paper is the phone number for the Parks Dept. in this City.

However, what never did make it into the print edition was this news: Greenacres’ Mayor Joel Flores to honor residents at the Town Council tonight, “The city at Monday’s City Council meeting [today at 7:00] is scheduled to honor the 2016 President’s Volunteer Service Award winners. The awards recognizes citizens of all ages who have made a significant committment [sic] to volunteer service. In 2005, Greenacres was approved as an official certifying organization for the awards.”

“[T]he division had made ‘great strides’ during his tenure.”
—Pulled quote from a article in the Post: Former Code Compliance Manager Mark Woods on his 3 years working for our City of Lake Worth and his efforts to improve Code Enforcement.

First, before we delve into the latest from the Post, this point needs to be hammered home:

“Is the Gulfstream Hotel still sitting vacant because of Code Enforcement? No. That’s complete nonsense. Maybe later on The Palm Beach Post will blame Code Enforcement for the weather and bridge openings too.”
—To learn more about this important topic: Why Code Enforcement is blameless for the continued lack of progress at the historic Gulfstream Hotel, use this link.

If you didn’t know, other than the ever-continuing updates about Mr. Bruce Webber and his Downtown art gallery, Code Enforcement is one of the most reported (and also mis-reported) topics by the beat reporter at the Post. Below are excerpts from an article likely to be published on Monday in the Lake Worth Very Very Special Monday Collector Print Edition (LWVVSMCPE):

Code compliance, charged with improving neighborhoods by enforcing building, zoning and housing codes, has been under fire since former City Manager Susan Stanton gutted the division in 2012, saying it wasn’t a priority. A year later, Kenneth Oakes, the city’s former internal auditor, in a special report criticized the division for poor attendance, falsification of inspection results and having inexperienced workers.
     The division was in “complete and utter disarray” when William Waters [emphasis added], the city’s community sustainability director, was hired in January 2011.
     “When 20 percent of the city is in foreclosure, abandoned or is being neglected it will take a while to turn it around,” Waters said at Tuesday’s meeting.

and. . .

     Maxwell [Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell] said the city should be more aggressive in staying ahead of those who flip properties and who continually “beat the system.” Lake Worth should also go after a property owner’s assets — car, boat, bank accounts — or shame them, like Maxwell said is done in Milwaukee by putting their name and contact information on a public sign for all to see on a derelict property.
    “There’s a lot of talk about tools and what’s in our tool box,” Maxwell said. “Let’s identify all the tools that are available to us and lay them out there.”
     Hardy [District 2 Commissioner Omari Hardy] said Lake Worth should investigate rotating code enforcement officers, something he said is done in West Palm Beach.

And whilst on the issue of Code Enforcement in the little City of Lake Worth, a quote from Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein:

“We [the City] are held to a higher standard, they [the press] should hold themselves to a higher standard” too.

Going on sale starting today (April 17th): Lake Worth Beach parking decals for permanent and seasonal residents.

The City of Lake Worth is selling “Beach Decals for Permanent and Seasonal Residents” for the upcoming year. Decals are good from May 1st, 2017–April 30th, 2018.

Decals are only available for Lake Worth residents: Zip codes 33460 and a limited area in 33461.* You may have a Lake Worth mailing address (as assigned by a U.S. Post Office) — but if your home is not located within the municipal borders of the City of Lake Worth — you are not eligible for a Beach decal(s).

The Beach Parking Decal Program was created for residents, both permanent & seasonal, of the City of Lake Worth.
For the application and documentation needed, use this link to download that information.

There are 50 designated parking spaces at the Lake Worth Beach for decal holders. Purchase decals at:
  • Cashier’s office, located at City Utilities’ Customer Service Department.
  • 414 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460.
  • Business hours: 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Exception: On Thursday when office opens at 9:00.
Remember! Use the parking spaces designated for resident parking ONLY with your Beach decal to prevent being issued a parking citation.

*To better understand the issue of municipal boundaries use this link for a recent blog post by Yours Truly. After reading this post you’ll better understand our City borders more than most reporters in the press and media do.