Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pizza Question:

This is from another local blog:
Hi. I was wondering about something simple. I would like to ask all the candidates for their answer to the following question: Do you like pizza, and, if so, what pizzeria would you call if you wanted a delivery? What toppings, if any, would you ask for? Thank you very much for your time! I am going to vote for the candidate who's answer suits me best. Good luck in the forthcoming election! :-)
This is a really easy question to answer for me. There is a great family-owned pizzeria down the street from me on Dixie Hwy. - dangerously within walking distance. After sushi, it's probably one of my favorite foods. It's Tony's Pizza and Pasta (they also make pasta for Palm Beach restaurant clients) - phone 588-9940. Every now and then I will get their meatball dish to go for comfort food, but my usual order is a small pizza - all veggie plus garlic minus olives. Never have liked olives whole, but olive oil is fine. I've never had it but I hear they make a great white chicken topped pizza too.

And as an added treat for other members of my family, I happen not to like gnawing on the crust - the part and the edge without toppings. So Mars and Venus help me with those.

Please call them - they do deliver and tell them "Wes sent me!"

City Commission Fact Finding Tour of Downtown with Noise Meter


Salute to Lake Worth High School Football

These were taken at Evening on the Avenues last night - 8/21. A little rally for the Lake Worth High School Trojan football team. Coincidence: my high school, college and now Lake Worth teams all had maroon and white for their colors. Support the Trojans next Friday night as they play Olympic Heights at home!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Noise Regulation is a Complex Task

Click title for a link to just one source found on the Internet. There are many others. Who will be vested with responsibility of using the meter - code enforcement (at night with a drastically reduced staff?), the Sheriff (they won't collect the money at the beach, would they do this task?) Will it be a progressive disciplinary system - first a warning and then other steps leading up to what? And, all this must be done with calibrated equipment that can meet a test of the court - as this is where most claims end up - especially if a municipality goes so far to attempt business closure or shortening of hours of operation.

Does the Commission know what they are getting into? Don't we have other priorities? This is interesting to think about - we don't have a Comprehensive Plan in compliance, we have a work-in-progress set of land development regulations (zoning code), questionable expertise in the zoning staff and city attorney re land use issues and we are going to tackle one of the most difficult to administer/enforce provisions of zoning?

It's sort of like a guy who runs an ice cream truck suddenly thinking that tomorrow he'll be successful making French pastries.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not an uncommon sentiment...

This was left as a comment to the previous post about the Commission's Fact Finding mission:
I'm done. Just done. I'm so sick and tired of the backwards trend this city is experiencing. I've lived here for just over 3 years and thought I would see a growing city, not one on a continuous backward slide. My partner and I have discussed the situation and are looking to leave the area the first chance we get. The firing of code enforcement is the last straw, Of course our home is no where near what we paid for it, but we will take a credit hit with either a short sale or foreclosure just to get away from this awful, ridiculous mess. I am absolutely shaking with anger and frustration. I can't wait to leave this town behind.

Rearranging the deckchairs...

Let's talk a little bit about this Friday's tour of the downtown. The Commission is convening a special fact finding mission at 9 p.m. in front of the Library. The purpose is to go around the downtown to take noise meter readings at various downtown establishments that have outdoor music. I posted the agenda yesterday and it has the businesses that have been targeted. Who is the leader of this effort? It is none other than Commissioner Golden. She is the one that proclaims she is "promoting economic growth" on her campaign business card.

This comes at the same time that more than half of the code enforcement department received their walking papers. Does it make sense to drastically cut the code enforcement staff at the same time you are proposing to give them a whole new task - policing music and merriment in our downtown?

I used to live at 509 1st Avenue South - between L and M streets - one block south of Lake Avenue. For the four years I lived there, I knew that on Friday and Saturday nights there would be music and joyful noise coming from our commercial areas along Lake and Lucerne. I also knew that I might have to take longer to look for a parking space if I was away and came back during those hours. That is part of the downtown, urban experience. I loved being able to walk to any establishment in the downtown, City Hall, the bank, the Library, restaurants, etc. It fit my lifestyle well. Eventually, I ended up buying my own house which prompted my move - but it was not due to any negative about the downtown location. In fact, in terms of noise, I was more bothered by what seemed the constant drone of ambulance and fire truck sirens as they would pass on Lake Avenue coming from the station and going to a call. Sometimes it felt Armageddon was happening, but that is the closest to a complaint about noise that I can muster from my experience.

So, I will be traipsing downtown with the Commission on Friday night - visiting businesses that have been targeted by the City Commission. I would suggest a walk through some of our blighted neighborhoods with overcrowded structures would be time better spent - but apparently a lot less of that is going to be done now with this regime on the Commission. Instead, they want to beat up on the businesses that make Lake Worth a popular night time attraction and bring dollars to our community.
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Don't forget to pick up a copy of the Lake Worth Herald today (8/20)

There you will find profiles of all the candidates whose names will be on the ballot - except for Mayoral candidate javier del sol. We are also left wondering what Commissioner Golden's accomplishments were and what her goals are for another term. Actions do speak louder than words.

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Agenda for Friday's City Commission Walking Tour (8/21)

I plan on attending the Commission's "Community Fact-Finding Tour" of the downtown on Friday. This is the one with the noise meter which will be used on businesses with outdoor music as a test. See above agenda.

Lake Worth bar loses its bid for nightclub status - "Mojito's"

This is a re-cap of the three hour ordeal from last night's City Commission meeting. Click title for link to PB Post article. Even though her name is not mentioned in the article, Commissioner Golden was the one that really led the attack. Commissioner Jennings came in at the end to make the motion to deny the request, which Commissioner Golden seconded.

What did I take away from the exhausting process? The first thing is that our planning/zoning/legal staff needs to up their game in a big way. I was surprised to see the Commission go through the important process of declaring "ex-parte" communication - stating who they had talked to and saying that regardless, their decision would be made based upon the evidence presented at the hearing. That was the good part, but it deteriorated from there. Staff seemed ill-prepared with facts and the basis for their recommendation and apparently reversed their previous recommendation of approval made before the Planning Board meeting. The Planning Board voted 4-3 to deny the distance waiver request. In most all localities, staff usually maintains their original recommendation and forwards it with the recommendation from the Planning Board. In my opinion, the basis for staff's denial was based on their perception that there were three independent businesses there, but they happened to all be operating under the same license. Staff had little detail as to the number of uses the distance waiver should apply to within the 900 ft. radius requirement and wasn't sure about the length of a city block in this area. It also became apparent that staff had not gone to the building as it was a surprise to them that there was a second story. Staff also wasn't sure about all the other 5 a.m. establishments in the city and was very sketchy on the details related to Sneakers' nightclub approval at 4th and N. Dixie.

There was a compromise on the table that would have allowed them to stay open to 3 or 4 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but the acting city attorney said that if the Commission found in favor of the nightclub request, the closing time would have to be 5 a.m. I didn't agree with this interpretation of law, but that was the advice given to the Commission.

Granted, the facts were murky on this application. I remember singing karaoke at this location when it was "RVs" and I remember them saying that they had an "after hours" license. This particular business was doing things responsibly, from all accounts. And there was a lot of public comment pro and con. Of course our code language was tricky and needs an overhaul anyway - but the time to do that was not last night. Which again shows the importance of keeping your code up-to-date but to do that you need a competent staff with time to do that. There is also a concentration of bars in our downtown, but this one is one of the oldest and came before the things that were around it.

Had I been up there, I would have probably pushed for the compromise. Instead, we are sending a message that it is difficult to do business in Lake Worth and a portion of our downtown working population won't have a place to go after their late shift.

Comments like these were not helpful and paint a broad brush over bar patrons' supposed habits. This was made at the Planning Board meeting. There were others equal or worse than this made at the podium last night.

I do agree with the need to make a presentation to the neighborhood association before going through the process.

This was a tough one that would have been less difficult with a more able and prepared Planning and Zoning staff. It may result in other lawsuit against the city due to the favorable record created by the applicant.

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Tales from the City Commission meeting...

Temple Development/Boutwell Road - The Commission ended up turning them away, a good thing - turns out that the County already pledged the $200,000 they were looking for from the city - so their application was moot. However, it brought up up a lot of discussion about what the City Commission wanted at this corner and the ultimate make-up of the Park of Commerce. I didn't time this one, but it went on way too long with little concrete information being dispensed by anyone.

This is an e-mail I sent this morning to the Mayor, City Commissioners and the City Manager:

You all ended up with the right answer for the senior housing project last night. However, I was frustrated by the lack of confidence in what the land use and zoning were on the property. I am sure the property owner will be more than frustrated when he gets a report back from the gentleman that appeared before you last night.

If my recollection is correct, the property has a high density multiple family future land use designation and MF40 zoning, with a Residential Planned Unit development. Without combing through the City Commission archives, it is my belief that this all went up to DCA for the future land use assignment when the property was annexed. During that review, we met with the County many times regarding the issue about how much residential we could have along the perimeter of the Park of Commerce. Ultimately, they agreed that it was o.k. to have residential/mixed use along Lake Worth Road - particularly for this property along Boutwell. The thinking being that people who eventually work in the Park of Commerce might live there and could walk to work - something that would be much less likely with an uninspired senior housing project.

So, the bottom line is that the land use and zoning for residential is in place and o.k. with the County. To go back and say that we're rezoning this now to commercial or industrial would be backtracking. But has that stopped us before? I'll leave that up to you all.

I had a card up to speak on this item and could have shed light on the issue and history last night - but, for whatever reason, the Mayor chose not to call upon me.

Let me know if I can be of help in the future. Parenthetically, I am concerned about the vague answers coming from the planning and zoning staff on this issue and others.

Wes Blackman
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Seen and heard tonight at City Hall...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lake Worth Commissioner Lowe won't seek new term in November

Click title for link to PB Post article:

"In District 3, the race to represent the northeastern section of the city will sound familiar to voters who participated in the 2007 election.

Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden, completing her first term and serving as vice mayor, faces Wes Blackman, an urban planner and former city planning board chairman who lost the District 3 seat to Golden in a March 2007 runoff."

FYI - I garnered 47% of the vote in the run-off - essentially losing by 90 people.

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Copy of Bio Narrative

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

Click title for link to Commissioner Golden's website - check out the colors and the "check mark" at the bottom of the page. This is what we have come to expect from the city's least original Commissioner. Look for more examples of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery on this blog. Expect a thorough "Rose Garden" strategy from the incumbent. Notice too that she refuses to use an association with District #3 in order to further confuse the voters.

And we already have to correct the math on her website - she has been in office two years and eight months - due to moving the election from March to November. This gave her more time to accomplish something - but what??

As of noon today, there will be only two candidates in each of the District #1 and #3 races:
  • District #1 - Exline vs. Maxwell
  • District #3 - Blackman vs. Golden
Waiting on confirmation for qualifiers in the Mayor's race.

My campaign website will be up soon. In the meantime, keep checking back here for updates.

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Wes Blackman's First Priority as Commissioner: Commitment to Open Government

  • Improved city website;
  • Strict adherence to Sunshine and open records laws;
  • Repeal of research fee for public information requests;
  • Monthly City Commission "listening" meetings held throughout the city;
  • Fewer daytime meetings;
  • Develop many ways to reach this Commissioner.
Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Monday, August 17, 2009

City Commission Work Session Today (8/11) - Where is the $3.6 million of City money for the beach?

Still unaccounted for...and did anyone bill the sign company?

Click title for link to City Manager's back-up memo - but the real information seems to lie in the City Manager's report from July 31. The following describes a meeting between County officials, city staff, Michael Singer Group and Kimley Horn:

Second page, second paragraph - why don't we have the $3.6 million match as required by the existing intergovernmental agreement with the County? We now have to "renegotiate" this agreement?

It reads to me as if they are attempting to separate the site improvements from the Casino building - leaving the possibility that the Casino building will be put off yet again. This after poking and prodding the building for the ?? time.

Have we lowered our expectations of beach redevelopment to providing the required parking spaces for the county and another parking lot for city residents - essentially by re-stripping the parking area and laying more asphalt for another one?

Fla. reports first population decline since 1946

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida's population has declined for the first time in 63 years and economists blame the recession for empty classrooms, plunging tax revenues and a severe slowing of people moving to the Sunshine State.

The director of the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research Stan Smith the population dropped by 58,000 people between 2008 and 2009. This is the first decline since large numbers of military personnel left the state in 1946 after World War II.

Click title for link.

Abandonment: 8 Cities That Might Not Make It

Plea for New Urbanists to focus on revitalizing existing cities first - click title for article and pictures.

ZoomPool - California Carpooling matching website

Click title for link. Why not south Florida?

Read more about it here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tuesday's (8/18) City Commission Agenda

Working on post re Mojito's item - distance waiver for nightclub request. Click title for link to complete agenda back-up. Not to miss is the City Manager's weekly report.


Fascinating reports by Global Green USA on incorporating REAL green building principles into affordable housing projects.

Compare these innovative projects with the affordable senior housing project being brought forward by Vice Mayor Golden on Tuesday's agenda. This would compete for affordable housing tax credits and requires a $200,000 commitment from the city of Lake Worth.

In Lake Worth - suddenly it's 1970! Is this the best we can do for the gateway to our Park of Commerce?

Click here for back-up information.

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Wes Blackman for City Commissioner District #3

Click here for Google/NASA based interactive map showing effects of sea level rise

Materials and Applications - a non-profit design think tank

M&A is a research center dedicated to pushing new and underused ideas for art, landscape and architecture into view.

M&A is a nonprofit research and exhibition space in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California, USA. We are known for building community around experimental art and architecture projects, including semi-annual installations in our exhibition space at 1619 Silver Lake Blvd. Lectures parties and performances year round.

Click title for link to intriguing and creative ideas put forward by this group.