Saturday, February 9, 2013

Palm Beach Post Wrong – Setting the Record Straight | City of West Palm Beach

Refreshing to see a municipality stand up for their side of the story through a web presence and use of social media.  I found this from a post by the city on FaceBook.  Click title for link

Click here for the latest from our friends at Earth First!

Things seem a little unsettled at their LW HQ.

Daily Affirmation #3 "Vote Yes - Keep Lake Worth Afraid"

Friday, February 8, 2013

Daily Affirmation #2 "Vote Yes - Keep Lake Worth Confused"

Mango Groves Neighborhood Association Art Stroll 02/08 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Blog Talk Radio

200 Block of North “L” Street
Lake Worth 33460

     Mango Groves Neighborhood Association kicks off the new year with the 1st Annual Mango Groves Art Stroll at Coconut Walk, a newly renovated, exquisitely European townhome complex on L St., just one block north of  downtown Lucerne and Lake Avenue.  Twenty artists from South Florida will show their art in the secluded bricked courtyard of the Coconut Walk residences.  Pets welcome.

 In addition to sculptors, jewelry, paintings, and photography, there will be informal modeling by Trash Fashions (all recycled, including handbags, made of bicycle inner tubes), also clothes by London Edge, seen on on Worth Avenue.  Javier Del Sol, Master Storyteller will be telling stories for the children and adults at 3:00p.m.,   There will be a Pop-Up Café with food and drinks to benefit the LW Recreation Board, Cookies by The Palm Beach Cookie, as well as many unique gifts for Valentine’s Day.  Music will be provided by Mel and Vinnie, Lake Worth favorites!  This is a great family day, and wonderful for art lovers who wish to find original art at affordable prices as well as some great gifts.

  Coconut Walk, the scene of this event is on the 200 block of N. L Street, has been in the news recently.  Three of its newest  homeowners found their home through the NSP2 program.    Mango Groves Neighborhood  with its unique and eclectic cottages, is notable for being within walking to the hub of all things downtown.  Lake Worth is home to a growing number of talented artists, and musicians,  many who live in Mango Groves.   We welcome all to take a stroll and come see. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Daily Affirmation #1: Vote Yes - Keep Lake Worth Low Rent

Why Boynton Beach Is Staking Its Claim In Kinetic Art | WLRN

What one of our competitors is up to related to art events.  Click title for link.  From the article:
The city of Boynton Beach sees kinetic art as a way to carve out a niche for itself in South Florida's competitive art event market. That's according to Debby Coles-Dobay, who is the art in public places administrator for the city.
"We looked at the art fairs that are typical out there,” explained Coles-Dobay, “from Basel to ArtiGras to Sunfest and the other ones in between, and said, you know, we don't want to be another, 'me too.'"

La Joya Village Public Outreach Meeting

From a fellow urban planner friend of mine...


·         "Provides community supported guidelines" -- What "community" are we talking about? If it passes, it will be imposed by a tiny minority within a City of 35,000 residents.

·         'Increases tax base without burdening City services" -- No evidence whatsoever for this claim. How does reducing building height in the City's core "increase the tax base"? It seems to me that the height limit reduces existing property values and eliminated the possibility of increased assessable property in the future, therefore reducing the existing & future "tax base".

·         What additional "infrastructure" would be required for a 65' bldg that would not also be required for a 45' bldg? The city is already built out. Its "infrastructure" is in place. What is meant by "infrastructure"--streets, water, sewer, parks, etc.? How much redevelopment potential is actually affected by this referendum? It's only a few square blocks in a city of 7 square miles. The area affected by the height limit is a tiny portion of the City & the redevelopment potential of this area is even smaller, since a large portion is in a National Register-listed Historic District. How much new demand could this small area possibly place on city infrastructure and services? Furthermore, the City has "concurrency" requirements mandated by State law & its own LDRs. By law, no development order can be issued if levels of service for key "infrastructure" cannot be provided when needed to service the new development. Concurrency requires the developer, not the City,  to assure provision of necessary public facilities.  This rhetoric may apply in theory to development of agricultural land in the far western or rural areas of the County, not to urban infill as in LW. From a truly regional perspective, greater density/intensity should be encouraged in LW, not discouraged.

·         "Promotes  reinvestment in historic & vacant properties" -- How does a height limit "promote" reinvestment in any way?  It is clearly intended to discourage investment within the affect area. Vacant properties are less likely to be built on if they are made less economically attractive.

·         "Protects the Gulfstream" -- Yes, we all "love" the Gulfstream & would like to see it functioning as a hotel. But the proposed height limits make redevelopment of the Gulfstream less likely because it seriously reduces development capacity (i.e., land value) on the adjacent properties along Lakeside Ave. These lots are an integral part of the "Gulfstream" property. Let's get real. The Gulfstream may be an iconic property, but it is not economically designed for "modern" standards. If it were, it would have been restored already. The historic hotel itself has now been vacant for a decade and has had several owners with different redevelopment concepts. The historic building has not been redeveloped because it is not economically feasible to do so as a "stand-alone" property. The old hotel exceeded the standards of the 1920s when guests arrived by railroad, but its small rooms, lack of parking, poorly laid out interior spaces, bad support service areas, lack of a ballroom, etc. pose major challengers if you want it to function profitably as a modern hotel. The old building can probably be converted to an ACLF or similar group home, but the City will lose the substantial economic benefits (and jobs) of a "destination" hotel. It needs a linkage to the adjacent property to offset the economic limitations of a 90-year old building. Don’t be fooled -- despite their protestations, the "Respectful Planning" proponents are no friends of the Gulfstream & some have actively tried to thwart its restoration as a functioning resort hotel.

·         "Allows a boutique hotel" -- A meaningless statement. What exactly is a "boutique" hotel? Where exactly would it be built within the height limit area? Is one of the characteristics of a "boutique" hotel that it is no taller than 45'? Who devised that rather convenient rule?

·         "Does not limit development in Commerce Park" -- An irrelevant & gratuitous statement since the Referendum does not extend to Commerce Park.

·         Supported by "residents" in the Master Plan Process ." -- Completely untrue and patently dishonest. Height limits city-wide were discussed as part of the Master Plan Process (you may recall that as the multi-year process that squandered $1.2-million in public funds). The Referendum proposal for height limits in the City Core was never discussed in any way and would undoubtedly have been rejected if it had been proposed. The Comp Plan (and the LDRs to implement it) actually limit all development in LW to 30' -- including the area subject to the Referendum. This height limit can only be exceeded if the developer provides "community benefits", the nature of which are currently being defined in the draft LDRs. Rather than arising organically from the Master Planning process, Respectful Planning represents a dishonest effort by a dissident minority who were not willing to accept the recommendations of those who did participate in a tiresome public process. In deciding to ignore the Master Plan Process and impose its minority views, "Respectful Planning" is being absolutely "disrespectful" to the community.

·         "1700 voters signed the petition" -- So what? What were they told? With that logic, why have a referendum at all? It's less than 5% of the of the City's population of 35,000.

·         "Low rise trend of coastal communities" -- I'm not aware of any such "trend" in coastal communities. some are "low rise"; others are very high rise & everything in between. Each community has its own vision. Perhaps It should also be kept in  mind that LW is not actually a "coastal community", unless you mean the Intra-Coastal. Our oceanfront "coast" is limited to the length of the LW Beach Park. The communities cited by "Respectful Planning" to justify height limits in LW's Core Area are communities with actual developable oceanfront coastlines -- most have the word "Beach" in their names. Many of these are struggling with redevelopment, where true high rise condominiums and hotels are replacing existing signal family neighborhoods. That is not LW's problem. At most, we have had a few new low rise (3-story max) townhouses. The unstated bogeyman here is always the Lucerne Condo -- an anomaly that Respectful Planning would like to present as the norm that immanently threatens the lifestyle they seek to protect. There are now plenty of alternative protections in place (historic districts; 30' max height city wide; "community benefit" plan) to prevent a repeat of that mistake.

·         "Reflects urban planning ideals of bldg height to roadway width"  -- Source? Yes, there may be some architectural principles that may apply, but how do they apply to this situation? There has been no discussion of what these standards may be or how they would be violated by a max. 65'/6-story building in LW's core area.

·         "Prevents incompatible developer variances and incentives"  -- A meaningless statement. The referendum does not prohibit variances or incentives. It just imposes a limit on building height. There is no way a developer can get  a "variance" or provide an incentive to exceed the existing height limits or the new height limits demanded by the Comp Plan & the Master Plan Process 'Respectful Planning" is so fond of citing.

·         "Compatible with existing predominate low rise buildings"  -- This is one of the most dishonest statements made by Respectful Planning. It is completely and objectively untrue of the blocks at the eastern end of Downtown near the bridge surrounding the Gulfstream -- the City's historic "Hotel Zone". The buildings there historically and in fact exceed the 45' limit. Some even exceed the existing 65' limit imposed in the 1990s. Since they ignore historical and practical facts about LW's existing development patterns, "Respectful Planning" arguments do not seem to be particularly "respectful" of truth.

·         The Comp Plan currently has a 30' limit throughout the City. This seems to be a far more restrictive requirement than this Referendum. This additional height limit is redundant & unnecessary.

·         The referendum did not address the fact that the LW Charter already has height limits imposed by a prior referendum in the 1990s (100' west of Dixie; 65' east of Dixie). If the Referendum passes, this will only be changed in the narrow corridor between 2d Avenue North & 1st Avenue South. The rest of the City will have higher height limits (although still subject to the 30' limit in the Comp Plan). However, we will end up with two inconsistent height limits in the Charter. Why does "Respectful Planning"  assume that the its height limit automatically trumps the older one? Both express the "vision" of the community. More confusion abounds.

The Greater Bay site plan for the beach...

In response to popular demand, I am presenting the proposed site plan put forward by Greater Bay.  It was never officially submitted or reviewed - the land use and zoning designation were in a legal limbo at the time.  And of course, we were all hearing how Straticon and Suzanne Mulvehill will "save" the former Casino building.

The key feature of this plan was moving the Casino building to the center of the property, opening up a view of the ocean from the bridge.  It would also consolidate the required parking through use of a parking deck, providing two levels of parking at the building.  This would have adequately addressed ADA access issues and off-street loading space for merchants, restaurants and events at the building.  It also would have eliminated the existing pool building and better integrated the pool into the overall site plan.

This unrealized site plan cost the city $2.4 million and led to the current operational problems at the NEW beach - since what we have there NOW is a reaction to what was proposed here.  None of the best ideas of this plan made it to the current version due to political prejudice and as a way to keep things "as they were", even though in the final result things ended up not being the same.

A not-so-startling revelation at the joint Planning and Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board meeting (2/6)

As part of the continued review of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs), both the Planning and Zoning Board and the Historic Resource Preservation Board met last night to review the draft permitted use table and the proposed Article 4: Development Standards.  As we delved through the various aspects of the code, we landed on the following provision which requires commercial projects to provide space for off-street loading.  Staff introduced this as being carried over from the code as it currently exists.  This means that this requirement is in full force and effect, as represented below:
Section 23.4-9. Off-street loading regulations.
a) Minimum loading space requirements. Minimum loading space requirements shall be as follows:
1. Every hospital, institution, hotel, commercial and industrial building or similar use, having a floor area in excess of ten thousand (10,000) square feet requiring the receipt or distribution by vehicle of materials and merchandise, shall have at least one (1) permanently maintained off-street loading space for each ten thousand (10,000) square feet of gross floor area or fraction thereof.
2. Retail operations, wholesale operations and industrial operations, with gross floor area of less than ten thousand (10,000) square feet, shall provide sufficient space (not necessarily a full berth) so as not to hinder the free movements of vehicles and pedestrians over a sidewalk, street or alley.
b) Access. Each space shall have direct access to a paved alley or street.
c) Size. Each space shall have a minimum length of twenty-five (25) feet, minimum width of twelve (12) feet, and a minimum clearance height of fourteen (14) feet.
I inquired, since the city enforces this requirement on others, whether the city complied with this requirement as it relates to the beach redevelopment project?  Upon review of the wording above, staff responded with a simple "no."

Let the record show...

Continued City Commission responses to public comment...a lot about the beach...McVoy thinks everything is great...

City Commission Responses to Public Comment 2/5 meeting...

Public Comment on non-Agendaed Items from the 2/5 City Commission Meeting...

Be sure to hear the Mayor read Dustin Zack's comments about the beach parking situation near the end of this ten minute video.

Editorial: South Florida Water Management District billboard... |

Still lots of questions surrounding who gave the green light to the billboards in the first place.  And, let's let the various ethics commissions sink their teeth into this investigation - that might be money well spent.  Click title for link to editorial.  At least the PBP is still able to do some investigative reporting.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Commission Comments from last night's (2/5) meeting...

For the many of us that march to the beat of a different drummer...

Police derail donkey ride into Palm Beach |

Blatant case of donkey discrimination.  I guess that you can't be a real ass and just walk around Palm Beach.  Click title for link.

Lake Worth OKs 10-year lease to retain Benny’s on the Beach |

Willie's standard reporting of what happened at last night's (2/5) City Commission meeting.  I was there for the first part of the meeting and will have video from the Commissioner Liaison Reports and Public Comment on Unagendaed Items, along with Commission reaction to those comments later on today.  Click title for link to article.

Water Management District drops billboard plans - South Florida

Looks like the heat got too hot.  Things that make you go hmmmm.  Click title for link to article.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

No public acknowledgement of this letter at tonight's City Commission meeting...

Perhaps this is one reason why?

Carl Hiaasen: Call this a sign of our sleazy times - Carl Hiaasen -

Calling all environmentalists, calling all environmentalists - look over here!  Why aren't you stopping traffic over this deal?  Is it o.k. to have electronic billboards sprouting all over the Everglades?  Click title for link to Carl Hiaasen's op-ed for the Miami Herald.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Greenacres mayor has plan to market city’s condos

Good idea!  From the article (click title for link):
The mayor’s plan calls for using online ads to drive potential buyers to a section of the city’s website that encourages buyers in the Northeast and Canada to “own a piece of paradise” and tempts them with the catch phrase, “Did you know you could own a South Florida home 7 miles from the beach starting at $40,000?”
1 mile from the ocean sounds better, doesn't it?

FCC proposes public Wi-Fi networks

This would be AWESOME - notice how the big wireless providers are lining up against the proposal.  Click title for link to article.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

David Willson - Editorial Cartoonist 02/04 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Blog Talk Radio

Note:  This show is rescheduled to Monday 2/4.  The show did not air at its usual Friday time due to problems with the host website.  Hope you can join us!

This should be fun.  David Willson is the editorial cartoonist for the Palm Beach Daily News (The Shiny Sheet) and has been for the past 20 or so years.  He is a native of West Palm Beach and has a rich background in illustration.  Click title for link to the live show on 2/1 at noon or for the archived show after it airs.  Leave any questions you would like to ask in the comments section below.  Thanks!

Click here for a link to David Willson's website - where you can purchase his new book Billionaires and Butterfly Ballots.

Update on the ginormous garage...

These are recent pictures taken of the large garage structure at the southwest corner of North D Street and 17th Avenue.  This property is deep within a single family zoned neighborhood.  According to the city, the current code allows for this sort of structure.  Ultimately, the building is to be attached to the existing, smaller single family house.  This will make it "technically" part of the house structure on the property

There is now a silt fence surrounding the other structure, which makes one wonder what is going to happen next.  In answer to a series of questions posed by me in an e-mail to William Waters which included whether the building permit is still open, when will the building be painted and whether there is anything in the code that prevents an unpainted, cinder block building from remaining that way, he responded as follows: "Will get back to you on the garage.  I do believe we now have the authority to have the building painted but permit is still open and I believe there are modifications being sought.  We are getting our attorney involved to ensure everything is to the code we have which no one likes." (1/28/13)

Mr. Waters was out part of last week with a severe eye infection.  I will follow-up with him this week to see if there is anything new.

Builders question Palm Beach County development fee increases - South Florida

Discussion going on at the County Commission level about how to structure impact fee increases and the effect those increases may have on our struggling economy.  One of the lynch pins of the Lake Worth Comprehensive Plan and coming Land Development Regulations is something referred to as "Community Benefits."  As currently conceptualized, this Community Benefit program would require a developer to calculate the project's impact - anything about the second floor would count in the calculation of that building's "impact."  The developer would either pay into a fund established by the city based upon a per-square-foot equation.  The fund would provide a source of money for certain Community Benefit projects identified in a list of projects that the City Commission could change on a year-to-year basis.  They could also provide on-site improvements over and above the minimum requirement, but could not take credit for anything that "mitigate project impacts."  The question has been asked whether, given the fact that no one is beating down the city's door to develop anything, is this the right program to roll out at this time?  Is this the wrong medicine to give the patient?

The city's attorneys are looking at how this program will be structured and are attempting to provide assurance that the whole Community Benefit program is legal and it is one that is defensible.  Other policy decisions will need to be made whether or not it makes sense to impose this requirement on new development at this time.  Questions remain whether or not it can be called an impact fee, a tax, zoning exaction, redistribution of a public resource or any combination thereof.

There is a joint meeting scheduled for February 20th between the Planning and Zoning Board and the Historic Resource Preservation Board which will focus solely on the Community Benefit program as proposed.  Stay tuned...

Click title for link to Sun-Sentinel article.