Saturday, February 21, 2009

Street Painting Festival brings art to the people A record 230 artists are expected at the Lake Worth event

Slideshow from Saturday - Street Painting Festival 2009 - Downtown Lake Worth

Wow! What a day in downtown - I have never seen more people and more artists for Street Painting Festival. These are shots that I took during the day while artists worked on their masterpieces. Tomorrow, I'll take another set that will show the finished product. Come by and see me at the beer truck - I'll be pouring from 12-3 p.m. - tips go to Lake Worth Kiwanis children's charities.


Fun little videos from today in beautiful downtown Lake Worth...

McDonald wins Palm Beach mayor's race by one vote

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Special Showing: Rachel Carson Documentary - 3/5

This is an event sponsored by the Palm Beach County Planning Congress and is open to everyone. We were lucky to be chosen for an exclusive showing of the documentary in this area. Other showings will be held across the nation during the month of March. Rachel Carson was the author of "Silent Spring." The book opened a door of awareness to the effect of pesticides in the environment. A panel of noted women environmentalists will discuss the film along with contemporary environmental issues.

I will be attending. I invite anyone interested in going to contact me and we can double up on transportation. It would also be an opportunity to join the Planning Congress. Membership benefits include access to a series of monthly events that highlight planning, zoning and environmental issues unique to South Florida. I'd love to see a large group from Lake Worth take advantage of this opportunity!

Did they break the law? Boynton commissioners had e-mail discussion out of public view about controversial project

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All Time Record - Past Three Days!!

Gulfstream Appeal - The Rest of the Story

I wasn't keeping track of time, but this item consumed at least an hour and a half. For some, it probably seemed longer. As expected, Vice-Mayor Golden chaired the meeting and Mayor Clemens attended the meeting courtesy of a speaker phone. When the Vice-Mayor Golden introduced the item, Mayor Clemens immediately made a motion to deny the appeal and that was quickly seconded by Commissioner Lowe.

They were about to call Mr. Celi up to present his appeal, again, and Mayor Clemens objected - the first of a number of times - saying that Mr. Celi has already presented his case for an appeal. He didn't make the case before and shouldn't be given an opportunity again. I won't go through all the mind-numbing detail, but Mr. Celi did get to present his case again, the Gulfstream responded and Rachel Bach was the consumate professional in answering countless questions from the three commissioners (any guesses?)

The main issues they were circling around where the phasing of the project and whether the tennis courts on the western half of the lot consisted of an "interim" plan rather than a permanent "stand alone" plan. The three commissioners voiced concerns that somehow the Planning and Zoning board didn't review the plan as final since they expected the multi-story hotel/spa to eventually come along to address various issues permanently - which approval the Gulfstream has withdrawn. Ms. Bach and the Gulfstream said that it was represented to the board that it was a "stand alone" plan. This discussion went on and on, mostly driven by questions from Commissioners Jennings and Mulvehill.

One of the things that really went under-the-radar were the nine (9) conditions that the Gulfstream offered the Commission so that they could essentially deny the appeal with conditions. Here is the document as submitted by the Gulfstream:

Taken as a group, these are major concessions and serve to clear-up some of the confusion surrounding the project. They also include contributions of $20,000 for city historic preservation activities (signage?), preparation of 501.c.3 documents for a non-profit to run a museum and $25,000 to assist in the cataloging of items in the museum. They also offered meeting space for bona-fide neighborhood and city groups free of charge.

Not once was this mentioned during the meeting (except the $20,000 item that was one of the original condition of approval). Commissioner Jennings said that during one of the meetings she had with the property owners, they offered to hire workers from the labor center if she'd vote for it. The Gulfstream responded that they were willing to do anything that would be a positive for the city and wanted to be the best neighbor possible. She then asked what if this appeal is approved. The Gulfstream then said that there would be no project...period.

This is where it got interesting. Commissioner Jennings started to come around and sounded like she was ready to vote for the motion to deny the appeal. Mayor Clemens mentioned the conditions and, posturing, said that he wasn't going to vote for the conditions as they represent a "quid pro quo" and he didn't think that was a good precedent to set on the part of the city. He then disclosed that he didn't receive campaign contributions from either Celi or the Gulfstream. This forced Commissioners Mulvehill and Jennings to make the disclosures that they had received contributions from Celi, but not knowing that this would be coming before them. Hmmm.

Now, I think that was very short-sighted on the part of the Mayor and I was prepared to say, if Commissioner Jennings voted for the motion to deny without the conditions offered by the Gulfstream, that she looked a gift horse in the mouth and turned it down. The same would have gone for the Mayor and anyone else who would have voted for the motion without including the conditions. That's when Commissioner Jennings requested that the Mayor amend his motion to include those items offered by the owner of the Gulfstream. I think this was an attempt to box the Mayor in, but he ended up amending his motion to include all the conditions. That was the motion that was voted on and passed 4-1, with Commissioner Mulvehill dissenting - she hung her hat on the "interim" nature of the plan.

These conditions, while not too common, are included in many development orders. You can think of them as voluntary impact fees that benefit the entire community. We have often talked about establishing a local impact fee ordinance, but in this state of the economy that isn't going to happen. I was glad that the Commission voted to deny the appeal and include these concessions.
Unfortunately, no one there last night got to hear what they were.

Commissioner Jennings ended the discussion by commenting that she was glad that they took the time to look at every issue and did not abide by the timeline of the "developer." She also didn't like the appeals process because it put such a burden, almost impossible, to make the case on the part of the person making the appeal. She thought they should be able to look at the specifics zoning issues of the approval and not just whether or not the Planning and Zoning board had enough competent and substantive information on which to make their decision.

Finally, I respect Commissioner Jennings for ultimately making the right decision in the front of a room that was nearly 100% of her closest supporters, albeit reluctant and painfully slow to come to.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It took forever, but the City Commission denied the Gulfstream appeal!

More details later, but the vote was 4-1 to deny Mr. Celi's appeal with Commissioner Mulvehill voting "no." The Mayor, who made the motion to deny, disclosed that he hadn't received campaign contributions from either the property owner or from Mr. Celi. Commissioners Jennings and Mulvehill then followed with their disclosures, saying they received contributions from Mr. Celi. Commissioner Jennings said this vote was the one that she felt least strongly about. There's more and I will go over what conditions were approved with the denial of the appeal.

This is good news.

I guess we won't be hearing from Straticon tonight...

Good news. Hmmm, I wonder why? :)

Announcement from City: Parking Restrictions for Street Painting Festival

To facilitate the set-up and commencement of the Annual Street Painting Festival to be held on February 20-22, 2009, parking and vehicular traffic will be temporarily prohibited on the listed streets from Friday, February 20th, 2009, starting at 5:00 a.m. through Sunday, February 22, 2009, at 9:00 p.m.

To assure a safe and successful Street Painting Festival, your cooperation in this matter is urged. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office will be towing vehicles parked on the listed streets in violation of this temporary order.

Lake Avenue and Lucerne Avenue from Dixie Highway to Federal Highway

J Street from 2nd Avenue North to 1st Avenue South

K Street from 2nd Avenue North to 1st Avenue South

L Street from 2nd Avenue North to 1st Avenue South

M Street from 2nd Avenue North to 1st Avenue South

All closures will be re-opened at the completion of the festival at approximately 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 22, 2009.

2nd Avenue North will be the eastbound detour route. 2nd Avenue South will be the westbound detour route.

6th Avenue South and 10th Avenue North are also suggested detour routes for people using I-95.

The Lake Worth Bridge will be open.

Anyone having questions concerning this matter may contact Lt. David Moss, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, 561-202-9618.

Monday, February 16, 2009

City Commission Meeting Agenda 2/17

It's my understanding that Mayor Clemens will be out of town for this week's Commission meeting and arrangements have been made for him to participate by telephone. Vice-Mayor Golden will conduct the meeting. I'm not sure about encouraging the practice of using the phone to attend the meeting as I think it leaves room for conspiracy theorists to wonder if that indeed was the intended person on the other line. It leaves open questions about what else they were doing at the time and who was with them, etc. I would be disappointed if this became common practice.

Here are some items that draw my attention.

The first item under presentations will bring Straticon up to the podium. This is done at the request of a certain Commissioner. You have three guesses which Commissioner that is and the first two don't count. If you guessed Commissioner Mulvehill, you earned 5 gold stars!
I'm not sure what you think, but didn't they give a presentation last on 1/27 before the Commission? The City doesn't have a formal relationship with this company yet and the City is preparing it's Request for Letters of Intent (RLI) and then a Request for Proposal (RFP) for companies like them to submit proposals to renovate our beach and casino building. Should they even be in the building? Shouldn't there be some "cone of silence" during this time? Is Commissioner Mulvehill's mind made up about who she would choose before others have even had the opportunity to present their credentials? Do you think that other potential respondents might notice this preferential treatment given to this firm? Is the information they will provide coming from an objective, professional source? How can anything they say be seen as objective at this point? They want the job and they want a return on their investment of time and money spent on the structural analysis. Do we give all potential respondents to the RFP the opportunity for a 10 minute presentation before the Commission?

Here is part of the back-up memorandum. Notice the continued propagandistic misuse of the word "restoring" in the subject line:

Under Consent item B, the Commission has an opportunity to formally adjust the order of its agenda by moving Commissioner comments and liaison reports to just before public comment. This makes sense to me as this relates to "news" and gives a chance for Commissioners to tell us what they are doing when they aren't in a formal public meeting. I found this interesting item in the back-up material relating to Commission procedures:

I wonder when these "District Public Forums" fell out of favor. These would be a great idea but with the closed nature of this Commission, I don't see this happening soon. For all her talk about public input, Commissioner Jennings would rather talk to her core group of supporters than actually inform the general public about what is going on and what she is doing to make her district a better place to live. Remember, the political signs and materials of both Mulvehill and Jennings left out any reference to district designations. This confused the voters and allowed Commissioner Jennings to skirt the fact that she actually represented a geographic area of the city. These "District Public Forums" need to be reactivated!

Under unfinished business, the public relations/lobbyist for the city - Politically Correct, Inc. quarterly report is on the agenda. When last I talked to Donna Brosemer, she was trying to get direction from the city administration regarding expectations for her to do more of the press release/public relations activity for the city. Not surprisingly, she was having trouble getting an answer. Perhaps the discussion here will help provide that. As noted before, there seem to be a few press releases that are more informative than what we have come to expect and these are generally well-written. Perhaps this is due to the firm's involvement. We'll find out more tomorrow night.
And, oh joy, Charles Celi will re-present his appeal of the Gulfstream approvals by the P&Z. Expect Commissioners Jennings and Mulvehill, whose campaigns received $500 and $1000 from Mr. Celi, respectively, to be confused and make much more of this than needs to be made. The owner has made additional concessions and offerings to the city that should weigh the balance in the Gulfstream's favor - if it was before an impartial body.

The Sister City Board is a good idea.
I will include the information from the City Attorney's report in another post. The City Manager's report will include information, one assumes as there is no back-up, from the Building Official regarding the review of the multitude of structural reports on the building and how increased shoring will allow the building to stay open past his March 31, 2009 evacuation deadline. This is just a guess.

Lake Worth Street Painting Festival this weekend!

This from the City's website:

The 15th annual Street Painting Festival will transform downtown Lake Worth on February 21st and 22nd. Watch as over 400 Artists use the pavement as canvas to transform downtown Lake Worth into a temporary outdoor museum of original art and masterpiece reproductions. Watch the streets come alive as the artists transform the pavement into works of art. Continuous live music and children's activities are also featured. Click the title for a link to the Street Painting Festival's website. Notice that the CRA provided funding for this event this year due to a drop off in private contributions - the vote was unanimous.

Here are pictures from previous Street Painting Festivals:

Single-bin recycling a hit in Lake Worth

Nice article, some good news this time. Remember the schedule and map for trash pick-up - link in the upper right hand corner of this blog.

Palm Beach County turns 100: A pictorial history

Nice collection of historical photographs from the PB Post website - click title for link.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Palm Beach County to abandon western growth plan

This really is a must read article from the PB Post, click title for link. The subtitle of the article could be called "The seduction of the status-quo." It really points out to the importance of planning for the type of development pattern you want; not the one that is based on haphazard and piecemeal processes that do not consider the whole picture. And, many times, those that oppose one version of a future plan for an area of land realize after-the-fact that one of the discarded alternatives was better than the playing out of the "de facto" plan - the one embodied in current land development regulations and comprehensive plans. It also points out that conditions are not static and often change - and can change quickly. And, to those that are devotees of the Hometown Democracy movement, it shows that the most popular plan is not necessarily the best plan.

I also find it interesting that the County spent $700,000 on this attempt (more if you include the time of their enormous staff) and we, the city of Lake Worth spent about a $1,000,000 and counting on consultants, with still nothing to show for it. Now, my concern is what we will end up with is something that will win the last war, but not something that will help us deal with future challenges. When I resigned from the Planning Board in December of 2006 in order to run for office, we were meeting every week. One week dealing with current applications and the next dealing with the Master Plan and resulting documents. Will we have anything as a result of the time and money spent on this effort? And, once we have something, will it address our current future scenario, rather than the past? The date now is February 2009.

Another thing this brings to mind is that we all should be against further development in the central and western part of Palm Beach County. I, for one, am for a firm urban service boundary line beyond which you do not have extensive development. It is also incumbent on cities like Lake Worth to have their own house in order enough so that there is a rational and possible alternative to sprawl development patterns. Much of the current City Commission is committing an environmentally selfish act for not taking advantage of the natural geographic strengths of our community - existing infrastructure, access to transit - now and in the future, authentic historic buildings and neighborhoods, etc. Our entire community has essentially been "red-lined" by those in positions to make decisions on corporate locations, capital investment and the like. Why is that?

And, lastly, it's a poor choice of a headline since it leads one to believe that by the County abandoning their western growth plan, if you don't read the article, that somehow this is a way to stop growth to the west. That conclusion couldn't be farther from the truth.