Saturday, January 22, 2011

Click here for cool site that compares U.S.standard of living to other countries.

It would be interesting to have one for cities too.  Remember, the 2010 Census information by locality is due out next month.  Stay tuned!

Lake Worth needs no consultant: Switch to sheriff's office has paid off for city

Shock and awe! The PBP gets it right for once. Click title for link. One of the key lines in the opinion piece:

But the decision to explore whether to get rid of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office or reduce its presence is a misguided, risky approach.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Click here for news on Genesis Neighborhood Association being selected as a "Featured Community" on the Neighborhood Link website.

As recently as June 2009:

Former Commissioner Cara Jennings wrote a letter to Bob Dennis of the Department of Community Affairs asking if the city could remove the Beach and Casino (BAC) land use designation for the beach and replace it with an amended version of Parks, Recreation and Open Space for the beach.  Mr. Dennis wrote back that the city couldn't do so since it wasn't in the future land use map (page 2) that was transmitted at first reading.  This, however, did not stop the city from changing the future land use designation for the Sunset parcel when the Comprehensive Plan was adopted.

Responses from Stanton and McVoy re E-mail on Beach and Casino land use and zoning:

Benny's on the Beach Fundraiser

Dear Wes,

Robert Waples and I, in a collaborative effort between Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Genesis Neighborhood Association, Palm Beach Sheriff's office  are taking action to assist the new Secretary/Treasurer for Genesis.  Her home needs some work due to termite damage and the A/C is shot and generating exorbitant utility bills.   She needs assistance with items to continue providing the proper care for this wheelchair bound senior with many health challenges that she rescued from Terraces of Lake Worth.  

We are proud to announce that Deputy Sheriff Donovan hit the ground running and in less than 48 hours from hearing about this woman's plight has spoken to contacts that do a/c repair, exterminating, medical professionals that may help donate some repair work and supplies.  That is not the best part, he also coordinated a fundraiser at Benny's on the Beach.  We cordially invite you and all your readers and their friends to come to Benny's on the Beach on January 29th, 2011 for a fundraiser breakfast they have generously agreed to host.  Please help us show Benny's how grateful we are to them for doing this by showing up in big numbers.  Part of the proceeds from the breakfast will go toward aid for this woman.  If they see a big turn out imagine how willing they will be to continue their support of our local community service efforts!

I hope that your readers also realize how important it is to patronize the businesses in our community who, even though they are hurting also from a weak economy, still care enough about the community they operate in that they don't hesitate to give back.  I was told that when they were asked to help they didn't even flinch, they said let's set a date!  

Wes since your blog is Lake Worth's best and has the largest amount of followers, I am sending you this to post.  It will help us get as many people possible to this great fundraiser.  I look forward to seeing you and the rest of our neighbors there.

Mark A. Parrilla
Genesis Neighborhood Association, Inc.

RE-POST: More copies of what is being distributed through our fair city...

Since everyone seems to have acquired AMNESIA, I thought that I would repost items related to the "We Love Lake Worth" campaign throughout the day.  This is the door-to-door signature gathering campaign that ended up being headed up by our current District #2 City Commissioner Christopher McVoy.  The petition campaign was designed to repeal the land use and zoning on the beach property - the same Beach and Casino land use and zoning district that is being used for the current beach project.  As you will read below, this campaign had more to do with a power grab and misinformation than anything else.  Pictures I will post later show people wearing "NO Beach Lease."  Well, ladies and gentleman, these ordinances had nothing to do with a beach lease.  They are meant to correct an over-sight in the former land use and zoning designation for the beach.  This did not end well as the city sued Christopher McVoy and others related to the effort, the suit was later dropped and nothing came of the petitions - even though the PEOPLE who signed them were made to believe otherwise.

No - this was more about rallying the troops, voter identification and spreading lies than anything else - setting them up for the next election.  No wonder people want to forget it ever happened.

The following post is from June 2007.

 Here are the two other petitions authored by We Love Lake Worth, Inc. I happened to be in City Hall this afternoon at the Department of Environmental Protection public hearing on the issuance of the outfall permit for the Reverse Osmosis Plant. I left the meeting to head downstairs to the City Clerk's office.

I chatted with Pam Lopez and asked for copies of these. She said that she thought there were probably changes made after she met with whoever from the group that authored this. So, these may not contain the actual wording of those petitions going to your neighbor's door.

The one that I posted first related to the reconsideration and referendum to repeal the land use designation category "Beach and Casino". Sorry that the following are in reverse order below (it's hard to drag these images around once they're uploaded, so you gotta kind of take what you can get), but there are two petitions here that ask for the Commission to reconsider their decision on the change of the land use designation of Beach and Casino (Ord. 2007-10) and the decision on rezoning the beach property to Beach and Casino zoning district (Ord. 2007-20).

Remember that the two ordinances/petitions relating to the land use designation recognize already existing land uses present at the beach. We have always had commercial uses at the beach in the casino building. Passing these really just affirms what is there and we recognize the likelihood of that continuing in the future.

The accompanying ordinances are unsigned, but other than that they are identical in wording to what was passed. Supposedly the ones that are being peddled door to door have copies of the official documents. Also notice the received stamps dated June 7th with Pam Lopez' initials - on that date they became a public document. The "press conference" was held on June 12th, on public property, at the steps of City Hall. That is when the "We Love Lake Worth" people claimed the petitions were personal private property. Go figure.

What are they hiding?

These are public documents and should be treated as such. Any claim by those that carry these that they are somehow not available for viewing is a spurious claim. Politely challenge those that insist otherwise!

Petition re Ord. 2007-20 (click on image for greater detail)

Petition re Ord. 2007-10

Now, a couple of other things to consider. I am all for petitioning one's government, gathering signatures and getting an item or items on the ballot. However, I dare say that the same people that are distributing these petitions might have been collecting signatures for the repeal of the Sunset Drive zoning and land use decision. Now, you will recall that upon collection of those signatures and delivering them to the City, they were turned around at the door due to a State of Florida law regarding the inability of appeal of a land use or zoning petition in the form of a referendum. I think that will still be an issue here with these series of petitions. So, I hope that the organized group behind this effort realizes that in advance. There is a lawsuit regarding the Sunset Drive petition currently winding its way through the court, but I hear nothing is currently happening with it. I guess the plaintiffs may be occupied with other things, perhaps saving their money or perhaps realize their chances are small at getting it reversed. Who knows?

I also have it on good authority that there is great misinformation being delivered to doorsteps throughout Lake Worth. One instance included a discussion on the lack of windows on the east side of the Lucerne building downtown and how somehow that meant that the Library was coming down and the Lucerne expanded. It was suggested that with the signing of these petitions, that somehow that possibility would be eliminated.

A little explanation is needed regarding the Lucerne and the lack of windows on the east side of the building. When I was on the Planning and Zoning Board, the plans that we approved had real windows on the east side of the building (by the way, the building also had a public parking garage as part of it which was the determining factor in my vote recommending approval for the project). As the project wound its way through the building permit review process, the windows were eliminated due to provisions in the building code related to proximity of adjacent structures - existing or future. The Library is a contributing building in the Old Town Historic District and is protected as such. There is no plan to expand the Lucerne to the east and the library building is safe. In fact, I think we should put it forward as a National Historic Landmark (which really would not offer additional protections), but would honor it for being the important public building that it is.

So, you say, "Hey Wes, this was about the beach, why did you spend a paragraph talking about how the library is not threatened by demolition?" Well, I say back to you that I felt I had to since this is what is being talked about when the doorbell rings and signatures are being gathered for these petitions.

And that's where petitioning and signature gathering as practiced here in Lake Worth does a disservice to those people signing the petitions, to the City and its future and to the integrity of the process.

What this allows is a SPECIAL INTEREST group to seize this method so that they can ultimately and eventually get their way at the detriment of the City's long term interest, let alone not basing their appeal on the truth and the real subject matter.

So, here are the petitions. Their legal validity will likely be questioned. The real reason people are signing these may remain a mystery, except for those wielding words at the door.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Annabeth Karson advocating for police checkpoints and random searches.

This is from the meeting when the Commission voted to go with the Sheriff's Department.  Ms Karson expressed her support of keeping the city's own police department and instituting checkpoints and random vehicle searches with the department.  A glimpse of coming attractions?

Copy of E-mail sent to City Manager, Director of Planning and Preservation and Commissioner McVoy:

I also called Board Chair Lynda Mahoney and, instead of hearing my concerns over the telephone, she instructed me to send my comments to the Board's secretary and she would distribute them to the board.  I forwarded the above e-mail this afternoon.

Unionized City Workers Picketing the "progressive" City Commission Meeting last night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tonight's (1/18/11) City Commission meeting:

The absolutely most important item on this agenda is Item E under 11-New Business.  It is a proposal to hire a consultant to study and recommend how the city provides and pays for police services.  As many of you know, the city entered a contract for the Palm Beach County Sheriff Office (PBSO) to provide police services within the city - eliminating the city's own police department.  You need to read the back-up (begins at page 155 -lengthy) or at least the city manager's transmittal memo on the item.

The most telling portion of the transmittal memo comes in the portion called city manager's recommendation.  Here is most of it:
Not only does this attempt to find other alternatives to the widely popular professional police services that are provided by PBSO indicate, yet again, that the city of Lake Worth is difficult to deal with any contractual relationship - it is yet another attempt to pull a major plank from the house that makes the city a livable place. Things are bad enough as they are with PBSO - can you imagine the alternative?  Will the study address potential increases in crime rates, loss of lives and property and continuing decreases in property values?

By the way, I am tired of this "city as a victim" mantra coming from the administration and the electeds of the dais.  WE ARE DOING NOTHING TO MAKE LAKE WORTH AN ATTRACTIVE PLACE TO INVEST - IN FACT WE ARE DISCOURAGING IT FROM HAPPENING.  So, then we go to the union and everyone else we have an agreement with and say that "We are poor, getting poorer and in fact we are losing more property value than any other Palm Beach County municipality."  Why are WE not to blame for this?  Face the fact that the current city administration and the majority on the City Commission - by not having an unchallenged Comprehensive Plan, land development regulations that don't agree with that Comprehensive Plan and by a history of being hostile to commercial redevelopment (see Gulf Stream Hotel among other examples) - is doing everything it can to lower property values more.  

All this scheme about saving money by getting rid of the PBSO or reducing services or re-establishing our own police department is just one more thing "out of the way" to allow property values to plummet further.  If we don't have contracts to honor, suddenly the city doesn't have to rely on revenue from property taxes.  I know many people that lost value in the homes over the past four years - a friend of mine did some research recently and found 300 residential properties in Lake Worth that had less than $50,000 in assessed property value.  That means, if the home is actually owned by someone living in it and has a double homestead exemption, they are paying the minimum property tax per year of $333 - period.  There are more properties on the verge of going under $50,000 as well.  

We have a group of people that are figuratively laying in the middle of the road blocking progress related to the city's $23 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant and the Cultural Renaissance Program because they FEAR RISING PROPERTY VALUES AND THE POSSIBILITY OF PEOPLE WITH MONEY (read the former middle-class - not the wealthy) FINDING LAKE WORTH AN ATTRACTIVE PLACE TO LIVE.  

Can we honor our obligations and conduct ourselves in a way that befits the inherent strengths of Lake Worth?  Can we stop the race to the bottom?  It's a race we are clearly winning - but guess why.  There is no one else consciously heading in the same direction.  We get the prize!  Considering getting rid of PBSO would hasten the fall.

Monday, January 17, 2011

While Lake Worth reaches for a new bottom, Delray Beach is featured in the New York Times:

Click title for link.

In South Florida, Style Without Attitude
Published: January 16, 2011
Delray Beach, Fla., is poised to become a national destination as an influx of establishments along East Atlantic Avenue has brought in a new energy: creative, stylish and yet attitude-free.

Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association - 2 Notable Items:

Good Morning friends & neighbors!

There are two upcoming City meetings that will have a direct effect on the Tropical Ridge area. We are asking you to attend and SPEAK OUT at these two meetings because the outcome is so critical to the welfare of the neighborhood. If we don't speak out, then we have no basis for complaint when things don't change.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 6pm - City Commission meeting at City Hall. On the agenda is an item that will allow the City to hire a consultant to research recreating the Lake Worth Police Department. This is a thinly veiled effort by some members of the Commission along with the City Manager to GET RID OF the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (PBSO). As many of you are aware, since PBSO has taken over in Lake Worth, crime has dropped by 14%. PBSO's support of the Tropcial Ridge and the other Associations is exemplary and it would take too much time to list all of the reasons why we need them here in Lake Worth. I implore you to show up tomorrow night and let Commissioners know that we DO NOT want to spend $50,000 on a useless consultant. We DO NOT want to start a new police department and we DO want to keep PBSO in Lake Worth.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 6pm - CRA meeting at City Hall. For the past few years, the CRA has been focused on developing the Cultural Renaissance Program (CRP). This program is designed to create, attract and promote artist living and working in Lake Worth and to create an arts district. You can learn more about the program here. This program is key to helping improve the economic outlook of those neighborhoods west of Dixie Highway, particularly Tropical Ridge. One of the most important aspects of promoting the Cultural Renaissance Program is by creating a brand, which is Lula. At the last CRA meeting, a small yet very vocal minority spoke out vociferously against the Cultural Renaissance Program and Lula, fearing that it would lead to an increase in property values, clean, safe neighborhoods and elimination of blight by creating owner-occupied residences. This outrageous fear of "gentrification" led to the the Cultural Renaissance Program being tabled indefinitely. We would like you to go to the CRA meeting and let the Commissioners know that you are in favor of the CRP and Lula and believe it is most important to bringing back Tropical Ridge and the City of Lake Worth.

MLK - The Last Speech

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Links to staff reports on beach site plan and casino building rehabilitation:

Staff Report

Variance Application

Justification Statement

I was able to fish these out of the Planning and Zoning Board agenda...the one that you can't see any words, just links.

The first thing that jumped from the staff report is that the city is relying on the Beach and Casino land use designation and the Beach and Casino zoning district in order to go forward with the rehabilitation project.  These were created by the same ordinances that our new Commissioner Christopher McVoy circulated a petition to have repealed!  He and his supporters used his efforts to gather signatures to overturn these ordinances as a "positive" to get him into office.  The city is also using the land use designation as included in the adopted EAR (Evaluation and Appraisal Report) Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan as the basis for approval of this project.  The point here is that there is NOW the realization by those in power that this Beach and Casino (BAC) designation is needed to allow for other than open air recreation at the beach.

Had the city acted on McVoy's petition, the items would have been part of a referendum.  Imagine if that had gone through?  Part of the not-so unintended consequences of the former Hometown Democracy movement.

This is the same version of the Comprehensive Plan that is currently being challenged by petitioners (see post on last Wednesday's hearing.)  What if the judge sides with the petitioners and finds that the Comprehensive Plan is NOT in compliance and that the Department of Community Affairs was in error when they proclaimed that the document was in compliance?  That possibility is not discussed in the staff reports or the back-up material.

If the judge finds in favor of the petitioners, then the city will have to hold another transmittal hearing, DCA will issue another Objections, Recommendations and Comments (ORC) report, the city will have to respond to it and then hold another adoption hearing.  During this time, it would be a good idea to review the permitted heights within the city so that we are better positioned to contribute to the success of mass transit, especially any transit-oriented development (TOD) along either railroad.  All this takes time and has the prospect of delaying the beach project - since the wording that allows it is in the contested Comprehensive Plan.

And, not only is the city using language in the Comprehensive Plan that is being challenged, it is also asking for VARIANCES from the Beach and Casino zoning district related to SETBACKS!  You read it here first ladies and gentlemen.  It wants to build closer to the SEAWALL than PERMITTED!  Remember then Commissioner Jennings' infamous PowerPoint presentation - complete with people running from on-coming waves?

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Images related to Beach and Casino Renovation Item on Planning and Zoning Board agenda of 1/19.

Click images for more detail.  I wouldn't recommend trying to download or access the agenda back-up from the city's website.  The files are large, take a long time to load (and this is with a cable Internet connection) and unclear exactly what you are looking at.  The agenda itself is unintelligible - did they use invisible ink?  Here is a screen shot of what you get:

I am going to attempt opening up some of the links on the above, but we are unable to see exactly what parts of the agenda they belong to.  Nothing will likely be done about this until Tuesday, if then, due to Monday being a holiday.  I also understand at the last meeting, Mr. Waters indicated that there was no conflict of interest since all that is being reviewed is the site plan for the beach and that he didn't have any part in the development of that.  But it also appears that the Board will be reviewing the architecture and the layout for the building, which I believe Mr. Waters had something to do with.  If not, why was his firm a subcontractor to REG?  The Planning and Zoning Board's role here should be review of the site plan and community appearance, which would include the architecture for the building.  The notice at the beach only indicates "Site Plan Review."

Proposed Casino building elevations
I have the most problem with the western elevation.  I think it looks disjointed without a unifying look.  It also doesn't greet one as a front - which it is when you think about it as it is the first thing that you see when you crest the Lake Worth bridge when you approach from the west.

This elevation just doesn't make my pulse race.  It looks like we are looking at someone's backyard, which in essence we are.  There should be more of an architectural statement here that indicates the importance of this building as an attraction and a destination - things that everyone involved with the promotion of this project talks about.

Catching up...

I've been a little distracted recently and have been lacking time to get caught up on the blog.  Not that there isn't enough to talk about - there is.  Yesterday, my father left for Indiana after a ten day visit here.  It was nice to spend time with him, participate in the classic car show at the Breakers and travel around Florida to see relatives and long term friends.  I have also gotten back into bike riding - as part of a New Year's resolution.  It's been two weeks now and I am already seeing positive changes in my energy levels and physique - yes, I do have one.    Some of you that have known me a long time might remember seeing me peddling on our local streets.  But, the last time I did so on a regular basis was over five years ago.  Back problems and general inertia were to blame.  It was amazing how physically easy it was to start again - it was the psychological part that was the most difficult.  Now I am back into at least a 10 mile every other day rhythm and it feels great.

Things I am working on that you will be seeing shortly.  Forget trying to see, download and decipher the plans for the beach from the City's website.  I spent most of the morning converting the pdfs to jpegs and will be posting them on here later today.  There is also a memo from the City Manager about hiring a "police consultant" to determine ways to save money on the sheriff's contract - or re-establish our own police department.  It's a long one and a must read.  You can get a start on it here and I will be adding my two cents soon.  There is a lot to discuss there.  The item will appear on this Tuesday's (1/18) City Commission agenda.

Later - hope you enjoy the weekend!

Oh, and here is a link for the item that appears in the first comment.  Sarah "Echo" Steiner is part, and one of the founders, of the dominant, hierarchical, prejudicial, non-democratic political machine currently in supreme power in Lake Worth's race to the bottom.