Saturday, June 23, 2012

Don't forget this example of Suzanne Mulvehill's ability to predict the future...

And to manipulate facts and be a political opportunist.




Another Mulvehill Pre-Election Parade!

From: Pamela Lopez
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 10:50 AM
To: Andy Amoroso; Christopher McVoy; Elaine Humphreys; Michael Bornstein; Pam Triolo; Scott Maxwell; Silvina Donaldson; Suzanne Mulvehill
Subject: new Political Committee

Please be advised that on June 22, 2012, I have registered the Respectful Planning Lake Worth Political Committee for the purpose of supporting a City Charter Amendment regarding heights of buildings in Lake Worth not to exceed 45 ft. downtown between Golfview and Dixie and not to exceed 35 ft. along Lake and Lucerne A Street and F Street’s.

File under "Circle of Light and Related Charades, Parades and Escapades"

Friday, June 22, 2012


Someone has found her way to the keyboard again.  Click title if you want to hone your interpretation skills.  Of what language, I know not.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Commissioner Mulvehill on the Travel and Training Budget

This is a portion of last Tuesday's City Commission meeting (6/19) when the Commission responds to issues raised during the public comment on unagendaed items.  Peggy Fisher raised the question about how a two week trip to Germany for a 12 minute presentation could be in the public interest.  There was also an item that McVoy had on the agenda for a two day conference in Boca Raton where he was asking for $100 in travel, beyond the $200 for conference registration.  $100 for travel to Boca for two days?

Anyway, this is the closest Commissioner Mulvehill has come to broaching the travel issue since her international fling to Germany.  Will we hear a report about the conference at an upcoming City Commission meeting?  We are all ears!

E-mail from Pam Lopez, City Clerk re Board Appointments

The following was sent out in an e-mail received by applicants for the various board positions - at 10 a.m. this morning.  Click here for the attachment/agenda for next Monday's interview schedule.  In the e-mail, we are informed that the deadline for new applicants for the five identified boards has been extended until 6/22 - tomorrow!  I wonder how else this was advertised prior to this?  But it is now.  Tell all your friends who may be interested as they may not have known a deadline was extended.

The convoluted writing style has come to be expected - and why can't people that applied for two boards be interviewed now?

June 25th Commission agenda to interview bd applicants

All of the backup material for this meeting is available on the city’s website 

Attached please find the agenda for June 25th in which the Commission will interview and appoint members to various boards…..please watch for your name and time….if there is a dash next to your name it means that you are interested in that board, but not assigned a time to be interviewed.  It is the Commission’s policy to interview all applicants during their first board preference selection….many of you have a 1, 2  or 3 next to your name….it is there to inform the commission and public of your preference.

I am currently working on the June 26th agenda, which is for the City Recreation Board and Sister City Board. 

Due to the limited # of applicants received as of the May 25th deadline, the Commission authorized the deadline for individuals to submit applications  to the Employees and Firefighters Pension Boards, Construction Bd of Appeals, Finance Advisory Board, and Historic Resources Preservation Board to continue until June 22nd…..the meeting to interview the above 5 boards has been scheduled at 5:30 PM on July 23rd.  If you have selected as your first preference any of the above 5 boards, you will be notified of your time to appear and be interviewed sometime in July.

Today's mango harvest...

My response to a kind reader's questions regarding the relationship between the City Charter, Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations...

The Charter and the Comp Plan are two different things.  The Charter is sort of the bedrock Constitution of the city.  It establishes the right of the city to function, what its basic powers are and it is subject to state and federal law.  It contains things that SHOULD be requirements - like the employment of an internal auditor for example.  That was a "should" that wasn't and still isn't being done.  But what is the recourse if the city doesn't live up to the "shoulds" in the Charter?  Really, nothing other than running the risk of being sued by citizens for not following it or by not re-electing Commissioners that don't follow it.  In many ways, it can be the fox watching the hen house.

The Comp Plan is required by state law of all local governments in Florida.  It is the general policy document as it relates to a community's entire land development regulation system.  It includes goals, objectives and policies that are implemented through the zoning code - or land development regulations.  The legislation that changed last year did nothing to alter this requirement, other than to lessen state regulation of what a local community can do.  It also removed requirements that capital facilities, infrastructure, be in place at the time of a development's impact.  That was probably the biggest change, without much effect on what we do in Lake Worth, along with less oversight.  To get a sense of the change, and considering Governor Scott's "jobs" focus, the former agency was named the Department of Community Affairs and now is changed to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The Charter is a place to wave a flag and highlight a divisive political issue - it sounds important to the public, but in reality it has little authority over land use, technically.  For example, in 1996 when the electorate said that buildings could be built up to 65 feet east of Dixie and up to 100 feet west of Dixie - the Comp Plan and land development regulations (where the real rubber hits the road) were never changed to reflect the "voice of the people."

Also, there is no requirement that height limitations be placed in the Comp Plan.  By putting them there, you are just making it more difficult to change them in the future.  This was more the case before than now given the loosened regulations.  In the end, the Comp Plan and Zoning Code are fluid documents that can be changed with varying degrees of difficulty.  And in an ideal world, the Charter should be silent to land use issues, but if it isn't - all three documents should be parallel.

I hope this helps clear things up and doesn't create more confusion.  It can be frustrating since these things create so much talk about very little.  We are talking about allowable height for buildings that might and could be built - theoretically.  We are living in an abstraction when we talk about these things.

To do things according to Hoyle, if the Charter is changed so that it regulates height in some way, the Comp Plan should be changed to reflect that.  Otherwise the change is meaningless.  And as it stands now, the proposed Charter change language and the Comp Plan language that was passed last Tuesday are not consistent at all - not in terms of dimension or location.  The Charter change would be for 45 and 35 height limits, with the dividing line being "F" Street - the Comp Plan language would be for 45 and 65 foot height limits, with the dividing line being Federal Hwy.

By the way, I don't think Mr. Hoyle ever has worked for the city of Lake Worth in any capacity.

The Comp Plan and Land Development Regulations are what matter.  The Charter would just indicate the intent - that the city thinks something is important enough to put in the Charter - but it would not trump what actually regulates the use of land in the city.

By the way, the Charter can be changed by a majority vote of the City Commission - you do not need a referendum. (editor note:  Upon writing this, there seems to be a difference of opinion on whether this is the case or not.  The City Clerk says it has to be changed by referendum - I remember our esteemed City Attorney saying that it could be by vote of the City Commission.  More confusion...)

And if there are things in the Charter related to land use, then all three should be parallel - or that sends an uncertain message to those who would invest in building something new here.  Frankly, amending the Charter for an issue like this just serves as a big rallying cry for an election - but has little practical impact if it stands alone.

Editorial: FPL could be ticket to Lake Worth’s next era.

The Post editorial board is on a roll!  Let me know if you see any swine in the skies over Lake Worth.  Click title for oink.

Cerabino: What’s in a name? For Lake Worth, it’s ‘weird’

Cerabino: "It should change its name to Lake Weird."  Click title for link.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gael's World

Planning and Zoning Board member Gael Silverblatt commenting on Comprehensive Plan changes at last night's City Commission meeting.

Lynda's World

Planning and Zoning Board Chairperson Lynda Mahoney commenting on the Comprehensive Plan changes at last night's City Commission meeting.

Cara's World

Former Commissioner Cara Jennings commenting on the Comprehensive Plan changes at last night's City Commission meeting.  Thousands of dollars?  Try $1.5 million in checks written...the indirect costs are more significant.

Jo-Ann's World

Former Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden commenting on the Comprehensive Plan changes at last night's City Commission meeting.

Berkeley man makes a (really rather nice) dumpster home | Berkeleyside

Taking dumpster diving to a new level.  Perhaps a model for Lake Worth redevelopment? - Clearly meets any height restrictions.  Here's a video.  Click title for link to article.

CITY OF DELRAY BEACH - MEDIA RELEASE City Participates in Florida Green Energy Works PACE Program

Click title for link.  This program is a way businesses can finance energy related improvements and pay them back through their property tax bill.  Also notice the detailed press release common to Delray Beach's operations.

Most affordable gay neighborhoods - Jun. 19, 2012

Lake Worth makes the list - on CNN/Money's website.  Click title for link.  From the article:

Miami/Fort Lauderdale
Most popular neighborhood among same-sex male couples: Wilton Manors, Fla. ($206 per square foot). Affordable alternative: Oakland Park, Fla. ($115 per square foot).
Most popular neighborhood among same-sex female couples: Wilton Manors, Fla. ($206 per square foot). Affordable alternative: Lake Worth, Fla. ($66 per square foot).

Boca Raton High School - Turning their pool into a money-maker...

Lake Worth commission changing maximum building heights

Willie's take on the Comp Plan vote last night by the City Commission.  I am working on a post about the height issue, the master plan, the Charter, the Comp Plan, the land development regulations, the idea of a referendum, the historical precedent of taller buildings, etc. It is turning into a Master Work which might be published in a set of six bound volumes...For now, click title for link to article.

It may be easier for me to answer direct questions from you - that way I could focus on what are the most critical issues.  If you want, leave a question on any or all of the above subjects as a comment and I will attempt to respond.

Click here for summary of changes to the Growth Management Act that the state of Florida adopted last year.

LivingHomes Reveals First LEED Platinum Certified Multifamily Development in Silicon Valley! | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

And for those all a ga-ga for things green, here is a platinum certified green multi-family structure.  How would you like to see this sort of building along Federal Hwy?  Click title for link to article and slide show.

Design Time Capsule: Rediscovered Paris Apartment | Apartment Therapy

This is historic preservation of a different sort.  I've always been intrigued with the notion of a time capsule - here we have one in the form of an apartment and its contents in Paris.  People afraid of change will find this article particularly comforting.  Click title for link.

Voters in November to decide whether to add “Beach” to Lake...

Willie's take on the decision to place the name change on the ballot.  Consistent with my previous post, I think a less superficial effort to better differentiate what is Lake Worth the city and what is Lake Worth the mailing address is needed.  The city can make some headway by always having a constant, timely and accurate stream of public information from city hall.  We can dream, can't we?  Click title for link to article.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

City Commission Meeting - 6/19 - Live

McVoy arrives at 6:15 p.m.  Click here for audio.

There was a lot of discussion about Consent Item A - the waiver of fees for NSP2 participants.  Both Commissioners Mulvehill and McVoy wanted to discuss it - why Mulvehill didn't ask that it be pulled and instead talk about it under Commissioner comments is unknown.  Consent passed.  10A passed.  10B passed.

Item 10 C - First Reading on Comp Plan.

Posted on 6/20 - had trouble with the Internet connection in the chambers.  Lots of videos in the hopper that will be out later today.  I left at the break around 8 p.m.  I understand that McNamara made a stink about Commissioner Amoroso having a shop in the downtown that would be affected by the height limit - which if you took that to an extreme, no one should be voting on anything since the Commission's actions have an impact on the value of property in the city.  Ludicrous shenanigans, I tell you!  Anyway, both the comprehensive plan items passed on a 3-2 vote, which included the possibility of building heights up to 65 feet east of Federal.  We are not done with this yet - as there will be a second reading and then we have to work through the land development regulations.  

Maybe I should hold a class on the basics of planning and zoning.  Would anyone like to attend? 

Wish the video was longer...

So we could all enjoy that bouncy version of Theme from a Summer Place.   For those that like the original...

Some pics around the Casino Building from today...

Pics of the Casino Building from today...

Commissioner Amoroso invited a group of caterers and party planners to look at the Casino Ballroom and related facilities this morning.  I was invited to come along since one of the professional planning groups that I belong to may be interested in having their annual holiday party there this December.  Whether the city is going to contract out the "booking" of the facility or if it is going to be done "in house" has yet to be decided - along with pricing of the space.  Also to be discussed, probably at a special City Commission meeting sometime in mid-July, is to what extent certain community groups will have access and at what rate, if any, that access will carry.

Here are some pictures and commentary.  First of all, there is no forgetting that you are at an oceanfront location.  Pictures do not do the views justice through the many glass doors.  There are less doors on the west side of the room - but you definitely get the sea-to-lake feeling.  The A/C was on and the building seemed to have full power while I was there.  I would guess that the room could comfortably hold 200 for a seated dinner party - more if it is set up for theater seating.
View looking from the southwest corner of the ballroom.  That is a storage closet on the far wall.
The ceiling is simple, but a thing of beauty.  Lighting is very simple. reflecting a certain amount of value engineering, but it will be functional.  Another decision yet to come is the acquisition of tables and chairs by the city.  It sounded like no money was reserved for banquet tables and chairs.  I think the city would hate to burden groups that are using the space with having to provide their own seating.  But, this is the same city that runs our utility customer service department.  Seriously, I would be concerned about the wear and tear on the building if each group had to unload and load for each event.
View looking from the southeast corner of the ballroom.
The wood floor appears to be of a good quality.  But I do have some issues with the wainscoting.  I am not sure if I am seeing this pre or post punch list, but look at the picture below.
The spacing and finish is uneven throughout.  It is worse in some areas and not as bad in others.  This picture above is the northwest corner of the room.  It also seemed like the material could show dings and bumps easily - which is a concern in ballroom that is apt to have a lot of use and those tables and chairs I mentioned will be moved around often.  In the picture below, that corner could take a lot of beating, but also show the result.  It's not a tragic flaw, but this condition would be a concern.  And someone should check the consistency of the finish and installation.
The picture below is a view out the door but the camera does not do this justice at all.  The height of the wall around the terrace has been a concern of some.  I didn't measure it, but the top is probably around 48" from the deck - which is the standard code height for a railing.  The impact of the view would be greater with a less opaque wall or railing, but a plain wall is less expensive.  Still, to be in the room at all, you cannot avoid knowing/seeing that you are on the ocean.  This might be an obvious observation, but at night the ocean is dark and not that view worthy - I would imagine there will be a lot of evening events.  
Below you can see the width of the terrace area.  I am not sure how the doors operate or whether they can be propped open, but if they can and the weather is nice, you can bet this terrace area will get a lot of use.  It might be possible to have a small event outside just using the terrace.
All of the outdoor areas and stairwells use this concrete aggregate material (detail below).  Again, I am concerned about how this will look after a while with traffic, spills, things falling on it.  It's white (now) - I just think a more durable option that would require less care would have been the way to go, but this also appears to be a product of value engineering.
Some other details - here is one of the often discussed "turtle" lights (below).  This one is on the second floor and has a longer shield than the ones found on the first floor.  They have a bronze-like finish to them.  They may not be the most attractive fixtures individually, like in this picture, but installed as a group they look decent and they are a conversation starter.
You can see what they look like on the first floor in front of the retail area below.
The next picture is the area in front (east) of the proposed second floor restaurant area.  The view from this space is even more spectacular than that from the ballroom due to the increased number of doors. They are also spaced much closer together so it is like you are getting a FULL view of the ocean.  Unfortunately, my automatic focus camera got the best of me and I was not able to get a picture through the doors of the view outside - but it is like nothing else around these parts!  There was some truth to the hyperbole about this space.  We'll see what fills it - hopefully with a successful venture.  The space is unfinished.
One of the highlights was the catering kitchen (below).  The caterers and party planners commented on the size and how it was equipped - all in glowing terms.  They couldn't think of a public event space having something as nice in the area.
The cabinets and counter top (background of picture below) were further evidence of value engineering.  I am not familiar with the quality or reputation of Imperial commercial kitchen equipment. If someone is, leave a comment below.
Another bug-a-boo of mine, being familiar with an ocean location, is that the door hinges are already starting to show signs of rust meaning they will be an on-going maintenance issue.
More later...

Applicants sought for Lake Worth advisory boards


Click title for link to PBP article.

Editorial: Reject overly strict height limits for Lake Worth

Rubbing my eyes in disbelief...the Post actually gets it!  From the opinion piece:

"But the push to allow 65-foot buildings — removing the current 45-foot limit — east of Federal would not affect the entertainment district, which runs west of Federal. A well-planned five- or six-story apartment building close to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulfstream Hotel could increase tax revenues and raise density enough to support the local services that help to make downtown Lake Worth one of the most walkable areas in South Florida.

Lake Worth needs to vigorously protect its small-town character, but it also needs to grow. Limiting planning options for future city leaders could make it harder for Lake Worth to grow the right way."

Lake Worth to consider changing name of city to Lake Worth Beach

This is Willie's review of the two referendum proposals on this evening's City Commission agenda.  I am still assembling my thoughts on how best to demonstrate the confusion and, yes, cluelessness of the height limitation proposal.

As for the name change, I have always felt the city needs to mount a sustained effort to differentiate itself from unincorporated Palm Beach County areas which carry a Lake Worth mailing address.  I agree with most of the reasons for the change contained in Commissioner Maxwell''s memo on the item.  We do need to be cognizant of the expense related to a change in name - both to the city and private businesses.  Our identity as a city needs more work than just name change though - it also requires a commitment to a sustained public information/public relations effort.  That commitment could take the form of a Public Information Officer who could manage a steady drumbeat of press releases and news items related to the city of Lake Worth/Lake Worth Beach.  We actually need such an effort with or without a name change.  

I also think this name change idea was tossed about ten or more years ago - if anyone remembers for sure when it was discussed, please share.  Oh, and we could always call ourselves "Jewel."

Click title for link to PBP article.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Don't miss the latest from Commissioner Mulvehill...

Click here for a link to what was e-mailed out to most of the city last night at 11:09 p.m.  It is an attempt to fan the flames of panic in the hearts of the electorate prior to the upcoming November election, which I suppose would have this as a referendum on that ballot.   There is also no mention that the existing section of the City Charter pertaining to building heights was also part of a referendum on the ballot in 1996 - which allowed buildings up to 65 feet east of Dixie and 100 feet west of Dixie - which also passed by a wide margin.

She actually makes the following statement with what I presume was a straight face.

"Redevelopment is taking place in Lake Worth at a rate that is competitive with other cities in the county."

I scarcely know where to begin with this, except for saying that we again have here another solution looking for a problem.   There are no big bad developers looking to build 65 foot high buildings in our downtown.  In fact, there are very few lots that, given other restrictions already in or about to be in our land development regulations (zoning code), that could ever have a 65 foot tall building on them.

Electioneering anyone?

This is the e-mail message that transmitted this item - which is also on the agenda for tomorrow night's City Commission agenda under New Business:

From: Suzanne Mulvehill
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2012 11:09 PM
Subject: RE: Proposed Charter Amendment on Building Heights

Dear Residents,
I am bringing the attached charter amendment regarding building height to the commission for consideration as New Business item12B at the June 19thregular meeting and requesting that it be placed on the November ballot.

I believe that it is the right of citizens to have a voice in land use issues and redevelopment in their community.

Our community has consistently affirmed that the needed redevelopment in the designated downtown area be compatible with the existing historic character and human scale that exists now.

There continues to be strong sentiment in the community for a maximum building height of 35ʼ in the downtown area. The additional 10ʼ of building height from F Street to the bridge will allow for transit oriented development to prepare for the new train station downtown, a parking structure and additional retail tax revenue from a third or fourth floor. To address resident concerns regarding buildings that exceed the proposed heights, the ballot language includes a provision protecting existing buildings.

Because economic development is crucial to creating a vibrant, sustainable future forLake Worth, the charter amendment I am proposing balances the need for economic development with the communityʼs desire to preserve our unique, seaside community.

Our charter amendment complements other beach communities that Iʼve researched that have passed charter amendments in recent years to maintain their character while creating jobs, growing tourism and preserving their culture and historic ambiance.

I hope the commission will agree that it is the right of the citizens to chart the course of

their community and vote quickly and unanimously to put this amendment on the
November ballot.
Please attend the meeting if you are able or email your Commissioners and Mayor to let them know how you feel.
Suzanne Mulvehill
Commissioner, District 4
City of Lake Worth, FL

"...existing historic character..." would be to ignore the Gulfstream, Lucerne, other tall condominium buildings near the water, Lake Worth Towers, etc.

"...retail tax revenue from a third or fourth floor..."  Laughable.  Ask anyone about the lack of success of retail space above the ground floor.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Power companies submit bids to supply Lake Worth Utilities

Willie's review of the city's proposals for other power providers.  Click title for link.  Of course, Commissioner Mulvehill is quoted first in the article:

“FPL is continually requesting rate hikes,” Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill said. “I would like to hear what residents have to say about selling the city’s largest and most valuable asset and forever being at the mercy of another utility.”

How about those residents, I would suggest a strong majority, who feel as they have been at the mercy of Lake Worth utilities for decades?  Can November come soon enough?