Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Moving to Lake Worth - A few questions"

Interesting e-mail exchange with someone who may be moving up from Miami to Lake Worth. Revealing what perceptions and impressions people have when they think of our city. Here is the exchange - certain information is edited out to protect anonymity. The posting is done with the writer's permission. Feel free to comment on the post if you want to add more information for this person.

Hello there,

My name is Jane and my family and I are going to be moving to Lake Worth within the next month. I found your website while doing some research on Lake Worth and at this point feel that you are the person to contact about questions I have about the city and where to live. I hope you don't mind that I emailed you but I've tried several other avenues, including contacting the Lake Worth Police Dept to no avail!

We are moving up from Miami. We lived in the downtown area called "The Roads" and lived in an old 1926 home and loved it. We drove around Lake Worth and realized we would like to live in the old part of Lake Worth east of 95 but whenever we mention this area to people in Lake Worth, they look at us like we are crazy and say that it is totally unsafe. I've checked out some crime stats and the sexual offenders site. We have two small boys but don't mind living in a mixed area (economically, racially, etc.). We are not turned off by the fact that there is crime nearby but it is a little...interesting? (for lack of a better word) to read about Lake Worth's high crime rates, especially compared to other cities.

We are currently looking at an old spanish style home on X Avenue North and Y st.

I noticed you are on the board of the Lake Worth CRA and I've been reading up on all of that. It seems like there is a good push to revitalize Lake Worth and thus increase its overall safety.

Sorry this is a bit rambly but I wasn't sure where to start and the last place my husband and I want to end up is way out west in some character-less sprawling subdivision.

Thanks for your time and thoughts!


Jane - so nice to hear from you and thank you for reaching out for information. Lake Worth is a really great community in many respects. I will not kid you...we have our problems and crime (and the perception of crime) is one of them. Almost a year ago now, we merged our police department with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office and there is a marked improvement in responsiveness and proactiveness as it relates to the crime issue. Where you are looking may be more impacted by people walking up and down Dixie Hwy - that sometime need to lay their head down somewhere to sleep. Some of these people scout out houses when owners are away and then burglarize them. One person I know experienced this. If you are looking for an older home, you might want to look in the area immediately north and south of downtown - K through O Streets - you might be able to find some good buys in that area and you are less prone to the Dixie Hwy. influence. That also puts you within walking distance of our cute downtown. You might also want to check out the area north of 7th west of Dixie. There might be some good properties available there.

We need people like you to move here and help make the place better for everyone. There is so much to like - all the public land on the water, sense of place, an engaged population (has its good and bad points - lol).

I hope this will help make your decision.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Wes Blackman


Thank you for the quick and thoughtful reply. Feel free to post my email on your blog, I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts on all of this.

I, too, am intrigued by all the public land that is on the water, and, like you said, the sense of place that seems to surround the east part of Lake Worth. And it's encouraging to know there are engaged residents. My husband and I are truly interested in urban issues, planning, new urbanism, finding ways for people of all ages and economic positions to live amongst each other in community, etc. We would love to help be a part of what's going on in Lake Worth.

Thanks for the insight about Dixie hwy. Too bad the house we are looking at is only one block in. It's been maintained really well and it has 4 bedrooms (a lot of the homes seemed to be on the 2 to 3 bedroom size). Perhaps we will invest in a good guard dog and an alarm system ;)

Thank you, again, for your help. If we end up in the area I know we would like to be a part of community groups, volunteering, etc. Would you mind if I contacted you again if any other questions pop up? I'll add your blog to my reader so we can start getting an idea of what's happening in Lake Worth.


CRA Agenda for 5/26

This meeting, our second regular meeting of the month, is a workshop - no voting will take place. Click title for link to complete back-up information. This should be an interesting meeting. The City's finance director, Mr. Bates, will explain his estimate of a 3% decline in property tax valuation versus the 14% or so actual decrease. We are also discussing the existence and details of two of the CRA's grant programs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Little known fact...

...our downtown Lake Worth - technically the "Old Town Historic District" - is the only commercial downtown in Palm Beach County that is on the National Register. This was confirmed today as I was working on another related project. There are others that are locally designated, but none that have achieved "National" status. It is an honor, not much more than that - same regulations apply. It does offer opportunities for contributing commercial properties to be eligible for a Federal Income Tax credit. I wonder if anyone is promoting this possibility?

I have a copy of the designation report. It's too big to e-mail, but if you are interested, I could burn a disk for you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Click for New York Times article: In the Future, the City’s Streets Are to Behave

In the Future, the City’s Streets Are to Behave
Published: May 20, 2009
The city’s first street design manual aims to get people to think about streets as not just for cars, but as public spaces incorporating safety, aesthetics and environmental concerns.

Another excerpt:

Robert Moses, Mr. Bloomberg is not.

“Moses had a sort of utopian view of orderly, suburban places that de-emphasized New York’s ‘cityness,’ while Bloomberg embraces the soul of the city itself and recognizes it as a solution to the region’s environmental, sustainability, and energy problems,” said Robert Puentes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Palm Beach County Reef Rescue: Need your HELP - Email Governor Crist ASAP

On May 1, 2009 the Florida legislature unanimously passed bill CS/CS/HB 1423 to create the Florida Coral Reef Protection Act. The Florida Coral Reef Protection Act enhances FDEPs ability to protect and preserve coral reefs. It provides authority for the recovery of compensatory damages from those responsible for damaging these important natural resources and provides for coral reef restoration. The bill defines penalties for anchoring on or other vessel damage to coral reefs.

THIS IS IMPORTANT legislation.

IT IS IMPORTANT Governor Charlie Crist signs it into law.


.Please email the Governor ASAP and tell him you support the "Florida Coral Reef Protection Act" HB 1423 and ask him to sign the bill into law.

Email the Governor at:

Palm Beach County Reef Rescue

Question regarding CRA appointments...

Wes. Are any of the current CRA members to remain on the board? I'm frightend of who this progressive commission will appoint. We'll have more community gardens than we can handle.

My answer:

Unfortunately, due to inattention from previous administrations, the staggered terms originally designed into the CRA membership structure - generally allowing for no more than two (2) members' terms expiring in anyone year - don't exist any longer. There are a total of six (6) terms that are up for reappointment this time and the only existing member's term that is not expiring is Ms. Ross'. This has been long-standing situation as there was another appointment en masse a few years ago.

They - city attorney's and city manager's office - are looking to determine what it should be as of today, but I have not heard their findings yet. The best those members that want to stay on is to re-apply. According to State Statute, a CRA must have staggered terms - this according to our board attorney. Given the make-up of the current City Commission, this may be result in an abrupt change if not corrected.

It's unfortunate since the current assemblage, in my opinion, works well together and we are doing some great things. In other words, the chemistry is good. You might want to contact your favorite Commissioner or the Mayor and let them know how you feel about this situation.

The deadline for applications is May 29th.

New Law in Virginia Authorizes Incentives for Green Roofs

Click title for link. Click here for link to copy of legislation.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Listening to the City Commission meeting...

During public comment on unagendaed items, it was a consistent theme for the City Commission to get the Comprehensive Plan approved and to the state as soon as possible - not putting it off to November. Somehow staff is being accused by some people for delaying this for the next election cycle thinking that the composition will change that will undo the changes. This was addressed in the City Manager's report. It sounds like it is coming to the next City Commission meeting. There is confusion about this and what will happen with DCA review. Commissioner Jennings says that there is some sort of "courtesy review" step. Note: There is a possibility, once they see the changes - I'll have a better guess when I see them - that DCA will put together another ORC report. This would put off the eventual adoption hearing.

The Mayor says that the County Commission is "liking" the site plan on the beach and is willing to consider extending the time so that we retain the $5 million. We'll see. There was a lot of discussion about the permit spaces and how the County money will be accounted for. The County will not let the grant money be spent on parking spaces that will only benefit city residents.

Commissioner Lowe had a lot of questions on the Community Relations Board - what does empowerment mean, how much support are we giving them, etc??

Can we stipulate that javier del sol has lived here for 30 years so that he doesn't have to repeat it every time he speaks?

The Criminalization of the Ethics Code - June 17, 2009

Community Relations Board

This is up for second reading at tonight's meeting. You can read the purpose of the board, its duties and membership - clicking the title will take you to the complete back-up. My major concern with the creation of this board is its vague mandate. It was supposedly crafted after ordinances related to oversight of police department practices and policies in other communities, but you really have to look for mention of that in the one that is proposed here. Its purpose is so broad that it was talked about being used for an issue like the one on noise in the downtown - which, if there is any board that should be looking at that, it should be the already existing Planning and Zoning Board.

The back-up material also points out a problem with, you guessed it, process. Reading the transmittal memo, you see that this was already scheduled for second reading. There were so many changes made at the time of that reading that the acting City Attorney was firm on the need to have another second reading. This would take care of clerical accuracy and adhere to established legal process. Commissioner Jennings didn't think this was necessary - she thought that eight changes to an ordinance weren't too many to make and another second reading wasn't necessary. I am hoping that Ms. Stanton will continue to crack the whip and not tolerate this sort of sloppy ordinance making and provide the community with some ability to see what is proposed before something becomes the law of the land. I know she already has said no more last minute additions to the agenda.

As far as composition of the board, I like the addition of appointees from the Neighborhood President's Council - and we should look more to our neighborhood associations for representation on city boards as a general rule. Exactly what they will be doing is left to be seen.

Complimentary Anti Crime Symposium June 2, 2009-Register Soon

In Deerfield Beach - click title for link to press release.

Idea for Park of Commerce?

This came over a "Florida American Planning Association Listserv" yesterday.

Does anyone know of a different methodology to promote and or fund redevelopment in an Industrial Park other then through a CRA or Enterprise Zone? Any words of advice or things to know if the area were to be designated an Enterprise Zone?

The City of Coral Springs is in the process of amending our IRD District zoning for this very purpose. Basically, we are promoting redevelopment in the Park by expanding some of the allowable uses to include service-based commercial uses along the perimeter of our Park. We are also moving some conditional uses to permitted uses. Finally, we have incorporated a LEED-based incentive into the Code that gives the development community the option developing a LEED Silver building in exchange for reductions in setbacks and landscaping. During the site plan review process we will determine the level of LEED credits that are being achieved by the design of the site and building. If it can be verified through this process (and our LEED consultant) that the building is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, it will qualify for the reductions in setbacks and landscaping.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Light agenda for 5/19 City Commission Meeting - watch out for add/delete issued the day of...

The sidewalk cafe item is of interest. It's now 6 feet from the back of curb, instead of 5 feet from back of curb - meaning there is more room for the public to walk, but less room for diners. There is also a requirement for "stanchions" - apparently this is standard along an FDOT right-of-way and similar guidelines are in place in Delray Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. It will also be interesting to hear Joe Abruzzo's take on the past state legislative session.

And it might be a good idea to spell the State Representative's name correctly.

A little virtual rain dance - rain in the forecast for this week...