Friday, October 26, 2007

From the City of Lake Worth

Lake Worth Tri-Rail Station

On October 31st at 3:30 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chambers there will be a presentation to the community concerning the results of a workshop on the Lake Worth Tri-Rail Station. As part of the 13th annual Rail-Volution conference, urban designers, transportation planners, real-estate economist and developers representing various parts of the United States will meet to create a concept plan for a livable community adjacent to the Lake Worth Tri-Rail Station.

The City of Lake Worth has requested that the charrette participants present their findings and concept plan to the Lake Worth community. Please come and hear their recommendations concerning balancing parking, development pedestrian amenities and density around the Lake Worth Tri-Rail Station.

Click here for link to a recent article from the Seattle area regarding the reduction of one's carbon footprint through use of mass transit. I have downloaded a copy of the report that is referenced here. Let me know if you would like me to forward a copy to you.

Below is an outtake from the article:
"The study found that taking public transportation can be more than ten times as effective in reducing a household’s carbon dioxide emissions than other household actions. One commuter who normally drives alone can reduce their carbon footprint by 10 percent by simply switching to public transportation. If one person in a two-car household gives up using the second car entirely, he or she can reduce the household’s carbon footprint by 30 percent. Science Applications International Corporation prepared the study, titled Public Transportation’s Contribution to U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reduction, for The American Public Transportation Association (APTA)."

and later on in the article:

In light of the new study, APTA is calling on Congress to incorporate public transportation into a national climate change strategy that includes providing additional funding levels for more public transportation investment. Specific policy goals include providing tax credits to major employers who spend resources to support mass transit ridership programs, and tax credits to developers for mixed development residential, commercial and transportation sites that encourage greater use of public transportation.

and from the APTA report:

Are there favorable land use impacts that public transportation contributes to that result in positive environmental and social benefits?

Answer: Public transportation provides many benefits that go beyond energy and CO2 savings – as transit assets are being used to accomplish these important functions.

Investments in public transportation have the benefit of supporting higher density land uses that allow for fewer vehicle miles of travel. While it is difficult to precisely measure this impact, a number of studies have attempted to estimate the relationship between
transit passenger miles and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction as a proxy for this effect. The results range from a reduction in VMT of between 1.4 miles and 9 miles for every transit passenger mile traveled. The outcome would be more efficient use of roadways, reduced road maintenance, shorter highway commute times and reduced need for street and off- street parking.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Reminder - Ethics Workshop

Links inoperable above. Please contact me at for a copy of the original .pdf file. Click images for more detail.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fun with Electronic Devices!

I am having fun with electronics! As you know if you have been reading this blog, there is a national conference next week in Miami called "Rail-Volution" and it deals with creating more mass transit opportunities and encouraging unique development opportunities around them. They named me "Tour Coordinator" which I consider an honor. These are professionals from around the country (world?) that are focused on converting the way we get around to more environmentally sensitive methods - that is finding ways of getting people out of their single passenger fossil fuel burning automobile and into other environmentally sensitive means of transportation.

What is going to happen is that a group is coming up to Lake Worth on a bus next Wednesday morning. I volunteered to give an overall orientation and introduction to Lake Worth to the people who signed up for the day trip as part of the conference. We are going to spend the day looking at and dissecting the area around the Tri-Rail station. This is all consistent with what the City has done in its master plan to encourage transit related development around the station. This will include the area around the Community College to the west too.

Anyway, I've started working on my presentation. Initially I thought of doing a Powerpoint on the bus and narrate it while in motion. I've decided against that now - too many moving parts. What I have done is download some video editing software and I plan to either do a powerpoint that I can pre-record with a voice over courtesy of the new software or create a video through the same program. Whatever size of file will be too large to post here, but let me know if you'd like a final copy.

As part of the learning curve, I have already realized that my camcorder is not up to the task. That piece of electronics was purchased about 2 1/2 years ago. Figured out that I needed some software and immediately assumed (you know what happens when you assume - if you don't, e-mail me and I will tell you!) that I could get the software that came with the camcorder (which has long since disappeared) from the JVC website, the manufacturer of the camcorder. Well, no such luck. My call to customer service (those wonderful 800 numbers) eventually told me that the software had long since been discontinued and was not available on line. Planned obsolescence for sure. Then, a light bulb went off and I remembered that I wa susing another laptop at the time and it did have the software installed. Eureka! It worked. But only after spending about two hours yesterday getting video and then realized, after buying two cords from Radio Shack (total $60) that it only could send images to the computer that were about the size of a postage stamp. Not good to see on a bus with screens equally as small. Back to the drawing board.

So, I went out again today and used my digital camera's video function to see how that would work. Got back, downloaded the miscellaneous video pieces on my laptop and found out they were all .mov files that my new editing program doesn't recognize. Then I did a Google search for "convert mov to avi" (avi is what the program recognizes) and downloaded a freeware program to convert that. No problem. Files converted.

I experimented with a small video with titles and transitions that I am currently uploading to my blog while I am writing this. The whole "embedding" thing didn't work too well (not at all). So I am trying this. Still have yet to have success. The Blogger limit is 100 mb and the upload is 90 mb. Now it keeps re-setting for some reason.

And after a long wait, it is up and you can witness its tremendous content - hardly. But that's life on the learning curve.

Update: After getting up this morning, I found an error message saying that the upload was not successful. More attempts will be made today. The Blogger people are working on the problem. This is now officially a personal quest!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A couple of notes and reminders...

Check out the new poll to the upper right of the blog. It's going to run to the end of the month, so make sure you indicate your feelings regarding public comment during Commission meetings from now until then. I will withhold comment on my feelings until after the poll closes, and then will summarize the poll results in a new post. I am also preparing a critique of the Mayor's performance - six months into his administration - that will be posted shortly. NOT TO MISS!

We're also on for a new Truth Matters show this coming Tuesday, 10/23 at 8 to 9 p.m. Lots of stuff to go over and don't forget your comments and questions are welcome. I'll be posting an announcement on the new Lake Worth Talk discussion board as a reminder too.

An observation: I've bumped into a lot of people recently that are more concerned than ever about the direction the City is headed. From the amount of properties for sale, a perceived increase in crime, bureaucratic tales that test the bounds of horrific and seeming lack of direction from those vested with that task, a more negative view of our City is emerging in the minds of many (if this is even possible) and it has me gravely concerned. It's something that I am feeling as well, but do not want to admit. There are positive things that we can accomplish and, if not entirely turn the tide, we can slow its progress. Keep your mind open for ideas on how we can turn this ship around and make this a better place for everyone to live, work and visit.

DRAFT Zoning Map based upon Master Plan

This is a preliminary and rough draft of the revised Zoning Map based upon the information gathered during the Master Plan process. That effort has spanned three years and cost the City upwards of $1,000,000. The Planning and Zoning Board is in the process of wrapping up review of the changes to the Comprehensive Plan. At their November 14th workshop, they will be looking at the Future Land Use map (which is part of the Comprehensive Plan) and checking with the existing version, along with a similar analysis of the current and proposed Zoning Maps.

I hesitated posting these here due to their preliminary nature and some glaring (at least I think so) errors. But there are some themes here that are important to get to know and how these will reflect the City's development pattern in the future. The new Land Development Regulations (LDRs) will replace the City's current Zoning Code. Those new regulations are under review by staff and the consultants are providing code language to support the new provisions that are reflected in the Zoning Map. Remember, you can click on these images to see more detail and you can also save them on your computer by selecting "File" in your browser. Select "Save as..." and select a place on your hard drive to store them.

As future versions of this Zoning Map emerge, I will do my best to post them. Remember, if you have questions, you can post them under this entry by clicking on "Comments".
To make things a little more readable, I cut the original image into five segments. Above is the legend which shows the various zoning districts.
Here's the northeast part of the City, along with part of the downtown area. One of the most obvious errors here is that the Courtyards property is still shown as Commercial when it is zoned MF 30. The Arbor Plaza area across the street, by the canal, really should be the MU (Mixed-use) district that the other areas of Dixie Hwy. are. It would make an ideal mixed-use location for a redevelopment project. The mixed-use district will be more permissive than the current High Intensity Commercial in the provision of residential and office uses. Also, per the Master Plan process, more sensitivity is given for the areas surrounding the commercial areas and their transitions to adjacent residentially zoned areas.

Also note the Downtown East (red) and the Downtown Central areas - both are roughly based on our existing Central Area Commercial districts - done to better reflect the uniqueness of each area and their own and adjacent land use characteristics.

Finally, conservation zoning is being designed and will be applied to the Snook Islands which are the newly placed mangrove islands in the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Above is the southeast part of the City. One item that is being explored is the establishment of vesting procedures for property owners in the area north and south of the downtown - in roughly the same areas that were covered by the Zoning-in-Progress (ZIP). The ZIP was done to prevent the speculative accumulation of our historic cottage housing stock - part of our thumbprint that makes Lake Worth, Lake Worth. It may be possible, using this process, to actually return the density to better reflect the built environment there than the current density - yes, down-zoning. Stay tuned for this. Another glaring omission, and this is on our current zoning map as well, is the area in the extreme southeastern part of the City where we have built mulitfamily structures along the Intracoastal - but both the land use and zoning show a single family designation. Also note that the Federal Hwy corridor will be getting its own mixed use district (similar on the north side of town as well).

This the northwest part of the City. Not too many changes here other than accounting for recent annexations. Note that the Gateway area is reflected on the draft proposed Zoning Map, where it has not been reflected yet on an official map. That is another important point. The City, no surprise, has done a poor job at keeping and maintaining its official zoning map. The current version that is being distributed as the official Zoning Map has a date of 1990! So, it is hoped that since we are in a digital age, we will have a way to easily maintain an accurate copy of the future land use and zoning maps of the City.

Finally, the southwest part of the City. The most important changes here are the addition and creation of the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zones - both an east and west version. The west version coincides with the area around the Tri-Rail tracks where the current station is and west of there. Treasure Coast Regional Planning Congress' suggestion is to extend that area as a "transit corridor" all the way to the Palm Beach Community College - which is right in tune with what I have been saying all along. Remember, this area will be the subject of a charrette to be held on 10/31 as part of the national Rail-Volution conference that will be held in Miami, but will make a special trip to Lake Worth. The eastern TOD area will be the likely home of the future transit passenger station on the FEC tracks. Its area extends south from Lake Avenue along H street and the idea there is to introduce more of an arts and entertainment focus there. More on that later.

We also need to update this area in relation to recent annexations - dare I remind anyone of Sunset Drive?