Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shuffleboard Courts as Day Laborer Center??

The big item on the agenda last Tuesday was the issue about using the building at the shuffleboard court property as a "Resource Center" or, better put a Day Laborer Center. The following is the back-up provided for the discussion under the New Business portion of the agenda:

I attended the meeting and spoke asking questions about the prospect of this. More on that later on.

Before leaving to go the meeting, I happened to see Commissioner Jennings on Channel 5 News talking about the issue. She was at the shuffleboard courts. They interviewed her and many of the shuffleboard players that were present. It's funny, but in my 15 years of being a resident of Lake Worth, I never saw the shuffleboard courts being used. But, apparently there is an active group that uses the facility. The players that were interviewed seemed to keep things in perspective - the underlying theme seemed to be: "The times, they are a changin'." None seemed to make to the meeting. Maybe some did, but they at least they didn't speak during public comment.

But there is a reason they may have become "numb" to the environment found on Lake and Lucerne Avenues, west of the FEC railroad tracks. That is because in December, the City Commission made it illegal (a word that was used a lot Tuesday night in many contexts) to pick up laborers and essentially directed them to the shuffleboard court property. The City Commission has "directed" these individuals to this area. I am guessing that some of them might feel a sense of relief that at least now they would congregate in the building there. Just conjecture on my part.

Public comment on the topic was decidedly against moving forward with negotiating a lease of the property to these non-profit organizations. There were people with strong thoughts on immigration and the fumbling of the issue by our federal government. Those same people believed it was wrong for a branch of government (a municipality) to essentially sanction and facilitate the hiring of these workers. Others were concerned about the proximity of this location to our downtown and the negative influence in might have on adjacent buildings and commerce.

My comments were along these lines. During the interview I witnessed on Channel 5, Commissioner Jennings talked about how this would "formalize" and already existing situation and that if the Commission decided to move forward, the group's operation could start in a couple of months. I commented that this made it seem that the key could be given over without much trouble or impact or respect for other laws/codes. One set of rules that is near and dear to my heart is zoning. No surprise here.

You see, the property happens to be zoned "Public Recreation and Open Space" (PROS) and has a similar future land use designation. Guess what! That happens to the same zoning designation as our beach property and any other park within the City of Lake Worth. The beach would be something different by now in anticipation of the long awaited redevelopment project, but for the lawsuits and the bungling of the future land use change issue. I digress.

So, I pointed out that there is no allowance for a day laborer center in any zoning district within the City of Lake Worth. If the existing zoning is kept intact, then that "use" could be added to the list of permitted uses or uses allowed through special use permit approval. But, adding that to the PROS district where now you can only have "open air recreation" or "essential services", would allow that use in ANY park throughout the City. I don't think we would like to see a day laborer center in Bryant Park, for example. And if it was allowed, but limited to this property? It would be called "spot zoning". Something we heard as a rallying cry regarding the beach.

At this point, my "irony meter" was in the red zone. As we all know, Commissioner Jennings is an ardent guardian of keeping the beach as a "park" and doesn't like the redevelopment project's proposed "intensification" of that park. HELLO - the shuffleboard court property is a PARK and this proposal would bring another use that is not allowed anywhere in the City and establish it here. Besides the City has probably turned away numerous day laborer centers by citing zoning laws in the past - now it would be sanctioning one in its own urban park.

I actually did offer the Commission a way out. That would be to rezone the property to "Public" - (P) and change the land use the same way. It is the same zoning of the City Hall property, allows recreation and many other uses - administrative offices, etc. But it still doesn't permit day laborer centers and that use would have to be added somewhere in the regs.

Regardless of the process used to rectify the zoning and land use situation if this were to go forward, it would take time to properly re-zone the property and go through the amendments to the comprehensive plan. And, the process would open up the opportunity for those not in favor of the other aspects of such a center to block that process. Again, the beach is a good or bad example of this, depending on your point of view.

I also brought up the concern if we end up with the center operating out of a City building, what if someone gets seriously injured while on a job they got by being there in OUR building? We are also not going to solve the problem of people working and not being paid at all or adequately for their labors.

Where do I stand on the issue? During the campaign, I thought that we should follow the Town of Jupiter model for their center - meaning a non-profit organization would run the center ina City building. However, the shuffleboard court property is not the place for that. It may seem to some like this is the easy answer, but I think that easy answer would have a lot of unintended consequences.

By the way, Commissioners Jennings, Golden and Mayor Clemens voted yes to have staff work on a lease for the property. It also sounded like staff was going to create a list of issues for the Commission to review. The Mayor made it seem like this was the next logical step after the Commission's action in December and he wanted to deal with one non-profit, not two. Commissioner Golden referred to the 1954 coup in Guatemala that overthrew a democratically elected government and that this was the consequence of that act.

Things that make you go hmmm.

Ants as Urban Planners

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Benefit Concert for our Mailman John "Martin" Saarino Sunday 1/20

This was sent out by Maura Hennesey today:


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

City of Boca Raton to File Amicus Brief re Sunset Lawsuit

Here we have the City of Boca Raton filing an amicus brief in support of the City of Lake Worth appeal. A similar premise is made in this filing as the Palm Beach County League of Cities filing.

It is my understanding that similar filings are forthcoming from other municipalities. It's good to know that the City of Lake Worth is not alone in this effort.

League of Cities to File Amicus Brief re Sunset Lawsuit

I thought you might be interested in seeing this filing made by the Palm Beach County League of Cities - which represents all 38 municipalities in Palm Beach County. If you have attended some City Commission meetings, you have certainly heard references to the group.

This amicus brief is where someone or entity with a similar interest joins in on one side of the law suit. In this case it is the League of Cities standing along side, in a manner of speaking, the City of Lake Worth as it appeals Judge Fine's original ruling. It is interesting that this document stresses (on page 2) that there is a potential to expose all municipalities to potential referenda on comprehensive plan amendments that affect five (5) or fewer parcels and that is opposite what the state law particularly mandates. Why, you ask? I am convinced the original legislation intent was only to include the SUBJECT property - not those around it. With any other interpretation (such as Judge Fine's), objectivity is impossible and those subject properties that are only made up of one "parcel", might be subject to a politically based (as opposed to one that is factually based) decision made by an elected body. That would happen if the elected body makes a "finding of fact" that the future land use change on one parcel affects six or more parcels.

It's also interesting to note that filing these amicus briefs can definitely influence the ultimate decision by the court.

(Link provided by clicking on the term which provides additional detail on what an amicus brief is and the process surrounding it. Remember, I am not an attorney)

Lake Worth Kiwanis Up-Coming Event

Monday, January 14, 2008

What is going on here?

Each week on Monday, the Palm Beach Post has a list of public meetings on the second page of the local section. For at least 5 weeks out of the past 8 weeks, it shows the City of Lake Worth as having NO meetings. We have a City Commission meeting tomorrow night and it's not listed here.

Something is broken and does anyone care?

Upcoming Conferences of Interest

Center of Urban & Environmental Solutions

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Toward Inclusive Environmentalism: Implementing a Contract With the Earth"
Eminent Conservationist Terry L. Maple, CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo, co-authored A Contract With The Earth with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In the book, Maple and Gingrich declare a need for bipartisan environmentalism - a new era of environmental stewardship with principles that they believe most Americans will share.

Florida Atlantic University's Jupiter Campus
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Lecture 7:00 PM Reception 6:00 PM
Administration Building Auditorium, AD 119

Books will be available for purchase and Dr. Maple will be available during the reception for book signing.

Please RSVP for this lecture by emailing or by calling 561-799-8462.

Thursday, January 24 - Friday, January 25, 2008

Congress for the New Urbanism-Florida 2008 Statewide Meeting
Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida

"Global Climate Change: Florida Solutions"

Keynote Speaker: Tom Pelham, Secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs

Closing Comments:

  • Geoff Anderson, newly appointed Director of Smart Growth America and former Director of EPA's Smart Growth Program
  • Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Dean, University of Miami School of Architecture and Principal, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company


  • Harriett Tregoning, Director, Office of Planning, District of Columbia, and former director of the Governors' Institute on Community Design and prior Secretary of Maryland's Smart Growth Program
  • Anthony Wayne King, Carbon-Climate Simulation Science Group, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Tommy Boroughs, Chairman, Florida Energy Commission, Holland & Knight
  • Stephen Adams, Lead Staff, Governor's Interim Climate and Energy Action Plan, Dept. of Environmental Protection
  • Susan Glickman, Southern Regional Director, The Climate Group

Optional short course on Wednesday, January 23: "Sustainable Urbanism &LEED-ND" with Doug Farr

Register at or Contact Diane or Wynsum at Tel: (772) 221- 4060 Fax: (772) 221-4067.