Saturday, February 27, 2010

FYI - I had a nice telephone conversation with Gail Shepherd

She is of the mind that the issue is petty, but I explained my thinking and how my sensitivity to the issue stems from being an urban planner.  She commented on the icy relationship Cara and I seem to have.  I told her there are basic philosophical differences and that I don't think Ms. Jennings realizes that sustainable development has an economic component  - that many of our fiscal problems stem from lack of investment and redevelopment.  The fact that Ms. Jennings actively campaigned against me both times I ran probably has something to do with it.  I am not adverse to talking with her and working with her to make the city better. I just feel that my input is not wanted or welcomed.  And I do make a better friend than an enemy.

We also agreed that the more we talk about Lake Worth and the issues we face, the better we will be as a community.

The gist of the matter...

  • Cara Jennings is a sitting Lake Worth Commissioner, running for re-election.
  • She regularly allows her house to be used by out-of-town guests, so much so that there are house rules, requests for donations for household expenses - Internet access, for one - and there are communal meals.  Most polite hosts do not ask their private house guests to contribute for Internet access.
  • Gail Shepherd's piece identified 18 people paying $30 a head for dinner with the proceeds going to Haiti relief.
  • According to the article, the house is called the "Canew" and is well known among Commissioner Jennings' broad network of anarchists as a place to stay when in Lake Worth.
  • The Lake Worth Zoning Code defines a "Boarding House" as: Boarding house. Any building or structure that is used, maintained, advertised as, or held out to the public to be a place where sleeping accommodations are supplied for pay to transient or permanent guests, or tenants, in which nine (9) or less rooms are furnished for the accommodation of guests, and having one (1) or more dining rooms where meals or luncheons are served to transient guests or tenants. Such sleeping accommodations and dining rooms being conducted in the same building, and for the exclusive use by guests of the facility. 
  • Commissioner Jennings' property has a single family land use designation.  As such, one "family" is allowed per dwelling unit.  Family is defined in the zoning code as no more than three persons that are not related.  This is a long-standing code definition - not one that is "proposed."  Technically, four or more unrelated people are not allowed to reside there.  This is then considered "over-crowding." Changes to the code and perhaps the Comprehensive Plan would be needed to allow either a boarding house or more unrelated people per dwelling in a single family zone.
  • It is guaranteed that one of the bullet points in Commissioner Jennings' campaign materials will be something like "Support protection of our single family neighborhoods."  
  • The character of our single family neighborhoods springs from only allowing one family per dwelling, at the size that is limited by the Zoning Code.
  • Enforcement of the "over-crowding" rule has proven difficult and goes back to lack of effective Code Enforcement throughout the city.  There is one  house in my single family neighborhood that has at least 5 unrelated people living there.
  • There is an apparent reluctance to enforce this rule as it relates to this sitting City Commissioner's property.
  • The complaint made to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Hotel and Restaurants Division (which regulates rooming houses), referenced the article and simply asked: Is there a license for a rooming house at this location and is one needed?
  • Around 80 percent of the City of Lake Worth carries a single family land use designation.  Increasing the number of un-related people allowed to live within a dwelling unit in single family neighborhoods would strain public services and the dwellings themselves.  It would do more to increase density and population than any individual rezoning or future land use plan change.
  • The City, and Commissioner Jennings, defend single family neighborhoods in the courts and on the dais.
  • Options to solve the issue include: Change the text in the zoning code and Comprehensive Plan - which would result in significant change to the character of our residential neighborhoods, stop the practice of routine stay-overs that exceed the three unrelated person limit, or proceed through Code Enforcement.
  • To not do so is another "Do as I say, not as I do."  It also brings into question the Code Enforcement capabilities/loyalties of the city staff.

Friday, February 26, 2010

FYI - I am temporarily away from the computer. I can no longer approve comments and post them remotely - new phone. I will post many comments later. Sorry for the delay.

Gail Shepherd, author of a total fluff piece, is a tool of Cara Jennings' political machine.

Click here for link to original article from February 8 and click here for one from yesterday.  Notice some of the comments - I guess New Times thinks its o.k. to refer to a person as an "assfly."  I will be talking to Ms. Shepherd today since she is way off the mark on what I am pointing out and will discuss the solutions to, and implications of, the situation - if that is even anyone's desire.  Apparently, most people want to shoot the messenger.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Check out 4:40 on - follow the bouncing ball.

Volen Center Emergency Fund for Seniors - forwarded by County Commissioner Abrams

Letter from the Volen Center

February 10, 2010

Dear Friend of the Elderly:

How often has a senior who needs assistance with prescriptions, housing costs, medical supplies, utility payments, and other emergencies come to you for help? How often have you had the funds available to meet such diverse emergency needs?
Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Volen Center has been given the opportunity to provide just such emergency relief funds for seniors. We are extending an invitation to other agencies and organizations to join with us in using these funds to aid the seniors we serve.
An application form with submission guidelines for the Volen Center Emergency Fund for Seniors is enclosed. The process is simple. A member of your staff can assist the senior needing assistance in preparing the application and attaching appropriate documentation, which you or the applicant will then send to my attention. The application will be reviewed and, if approved, the aid will be issued as rapidly as possible. The rules:
                    The applicant must be 60 or older and a Palm Beach County resident.
                    Requested documentation must be provided.
                    The Center will NOT issue cash payments to the applicant; payments will be made directly to the provider of the service.

The emphasis is on providing assistance based on need and while preference will be shown to seniors with low income, the decision will be made based on both the nature of the need and income.
I encourage you to make use of this opportunity.

Yours sincerely,
Elizabeth Lugo

Click here for Department and Business and Professional Regulation website: What services require a State of Florida license? PUBLIC LODGING ESTABLISHMENTS

822 N. C Street, Lake Worth, Florida 33460

Lake Worth expected to settle water dispute with county for $4.1 million

Click title for link to PB Post article.  Stanton claims Pyrrhic victory.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thank you Ms. Hayes for the suggestion to post this...

Click title for link to NACA website.


NACA’s historic Save the Dream Tour has been an incredible success with hundreds of thousands participants in thirteen cities. Thousands of homeowners received same day solutions having their mortgage payments permanently reduced by over $500 and many by over $1,000 a month often with interest rates reduced to 3% or 2% and sometimes a principal reduction. NACA has legally binding agreements with all the major lenders / servicers to achieve this. All of NACA’s services are FREE.

W. Palm Beach, FLFeb 25 - Mar 1stPalm Beach Convention Ctr

Click here for link to "The Emperor’s New Suit" by Hans Christian Andersen (1837)

All this hypocrisy led me to think of this story.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Click here for link to live audio from the City Commission workshop (2/23)

This is another night where the City Commission and the CRA meet on the same night, at the same time, in the same building.  Right now, the streaming audio is from the City Commission meeting, but there is not the usual CRA meeting audio.  It also does not allow City Commissioners to take in the CRA meeting live.  Communication between the two bodies has been faulted as a reason for more Commission control of the CRA.  This scheduling does nothing to help the situation.  People actually attending either meeting cannot fully listen or participate in the other.

Can we find different nights for the Commission work session meetings?  Or can we have the CRA meet at Compass and have a separate URL for that feed?

The Commission is talking about our water supply right now - it sounds like SFWMD is asking questions about our water use.
Commissioner Jennings is attending the meeting via the phone and is complaining that she can barely hear what is going on.  Wasn't this supposed to stop?  This is a non-voting meeting - does that make a difference?

Went to the beach today...

Just drove around a bit.  There is a bright yellow sign strung up at the fork in the main entrance alerting the public that the pool is closed and gives the phone number to the Public Works Dept.  On the beach side along the boardwalk, there is a large "project" sort of sign showing the Singer site plan and announcing the beach redevelopment project.  No time frame is given and no cost figures are presented.  Mention is made of the grant from the County.  Along the right hand side of the sign is the current listing of the Mayor and City Commissioners.  The sign identifies the various City Commissioners by their district, with the exception of the District #3 Commissioner. I didn't have my camera at the time, or I would have sacked some pictures.

One bug-a-boo of mine is the over-use of the term "Vice Mayor", rather than "District #3 Commissioner."  When people voted, they voted for the Commissioner from District #3; they did not vote for "Vice Mayor."  The title of "Vice Mayor" is an honorary one that is voted on my members of the City Commission.  Its purpose is more functional than anything else as it indicates who will run the meetings in the Mayor's absence.  It does not mean, but many think it does through its over-use, that the person who is "Vice Mayor" will take the place of the Mayor should the Mayor resign or not be able to perform the duties of Mayor, for whatever reason.  If that happens, there would be a new election to fill the vacant Mayor position - not a simple sliding over to the center chair by the person who is "Vice Mayor."  There is even a "Vice Mayor - Pro Tem" which you never see used, but that would kick in if the Mayor and whoever "Vice Mayor" is are both absent from a meeting.  Three Commissioners present constitute the minimum number required for a quorum.  Use of the term "Vice Mayor" also symbolically dilutes the notion that Commissioners actually represent in some way the district in which they live.  Given all of these reasons, the term should be rarely used and usually just in the Commission Chambers - not on signs or in general introductions.  Some people like pretending that they are more than they are to connote more importance than one actually has.  This is done on purpose, in my opinion.

Announcement from City of Lake Worth: Adult Flag Football League

Registration is available at the Osborne Community Center 1699 Wingfield Street. Registration costs include trophies, and referees. All games are played Mondays and Wednesdays 18 and Over!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Odds and Ends from last Friday's City Manager's Report (2/19)...

Just getting around to catching up on things - this report came out last Friday and there are some things that jumped off the page.  One is the above regarding the separation of the Planning and Zoning Board from the Historic Resources Preservation Board.  Against the recommendation from staff, the Commission directed them to prepare an ordinance to split the board into two functional areas.  This has been a "pet dream" of Annabeth Karson and regardless of the impact on staff workloads or budget considerations, it appears those that are supported by Ms. Karson are for this answer to a problem that doesn't exist.  The real issue should be to plan for a planning and zoning support staff that is adequate to support the needs of the city - in number of people, experience and talent.  This is going ahead even though the City Commission chose not to do a more major overhaul of the Historic Preservation ordinance and not create two more very large districts west of Dixie Hwy - even with a state grant that would have paid for half of the re-study of the area in question.  If this goes through, in the future look for in-fighting between the two boards and much confusion by the public about which process to follow if they live or have property in a historic district.  This will turn out to be another reason not to invest in Lake Worth and chase whatever remaining redevelopment possibilities out the door.  So goes it with the current regime.
Does anything seem backwards to you with the above items related to the Casino building?  Should the market analysis have come before the RFP for the leasing of the vacant units at the building?  Or was this just another fool's errand due to the coming uncertainty of how the building will be left open during its rehabilitation?  Or is this another example of getting someone we know will tell us what we want to know - lower rents for the Casino building tenants - and then have the ability to wave that in front of people who think that rates for the tenants are below market?  And, isn't this someways premature since we are not sure what is happening with the building and an open space may be a good thing to shuttle tenants to, on and off as the need arises during reconstruction?  And isn't it also premature since I am sure it does not include a "what-if" analysis of what the rents would be given a brand new building built to today's commercial standards?  Oh, and has anyone done a cost analysis of what a new building versus an new/old building will cost?  Wouldn't that be nice to know?

Lake Worth Lagoon Boat Tour - February 24 (Wednesday)

Click here for actual presentations by architects re Casino Building RFQ

I encourage you to watch these - but you may not want to do it all in one sitting.  The presentations lasted about 5 or so hours in total.