Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just started using Sports Tracker...

Available as an Apple or Android app, it keeps track of your workouts - walking, running, biking, calculates calories burned, average and max speed and distance.  It also records your route and you can share your workout information via social media.  I won't bore you by posting all of mine here, but this is to show you want it can do.  Check it out if interested.

Response from the National Trust for Historic Preservation re Gulfstream Hotel

This is the response I received from the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the Gulfstream Hotel's nomination for placement on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.

Dear Wes Blackman,

We are sorry to inform you that the Gulfstream Hotel was not selected for the 2013 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places®. We appreciate your efforts in submitting an application and bringing the Gulfstream Hotel to our attention.

The selection process for our endangered list is always competitive, as we receive many deserving nominations but can only spotlight 11. Nevertheless, there are many other ways for you to garner attention and support for this endangered historic place. To learn more, contact your local preservation organizations. Should Gulfstream Hotel remain in peril, we hope you will consider re-applying next year.  

Thank you for your continued support of preservation and best of luck on your efforts to protect this special place. 


Germonique R. Ulmer
Vice President of Public Affairs
National Trust for Historic Preservation

"Ponce de Leon is as hot as paella on Calle Ocho."

Click here for more on the various Viva Florida 500 displays and events in the area.

Friday, May 10, 2013

New Antique Row Project Breaks New Ground in WPB | City of West Palm Beach

Click title for link to the City of West Palm Beach's website where they are announcing a new project on Dixie Hwy. in the heart of Antique Row.  Check out the video below where Mayor Muoio claims that building permit revenue this year in West Palm Beach will be higher than 2005, which was the peak of the boom.

It's morning in West Palm Beach - and on their portion of Dixie Hwy.

An anticipated new documentary: Vivian Maier - Urban Street Photographer

Coming out later in 2013.

Reality check...

Before getting carried away with how charming the city of Lake Worth is, we need to be reminded of some sobering facts.  I'll be doing a series of posts that include some of the slides from the city's Department of Community Sustainability PowerPoint presentation.  This is being used as a basis for community meetings in various districts throughout the city.  The next two will be the following:

District 2  May 28  6pm
Shuffleboard Courts  1121 Lucerne Avenue
District 4  May 30  6pm
Cultural Council  601 Lake Avenue

They are broken into districts - #s 1 and 2 have had theirs already, but you can be from anywhere in the city and attend these.

The takeaway from these slides is that the city is heavily dependent on its residential tax base to fund the ad valorem part of the budget - that generated from property taxes.  Here you can see the precipitous fall in property values since 2007.  It really is disproportionate in relation to our "charm", our "potential" and our central location.  These are some strong headwinds for the city to recover and overcome.

West Palm wins national water challenge | West Palm Beat blog | The Palm Beach Post

West Palm Beach beat other cities within its size category (100,000 to 299,999) - Lake Worth's size category's winner (30,000 to 99,000) was Bremerton, Washington.  Click here for list of winning cities.

Do you know how I think West Palm Beach was able to win this?  It heavily used social media - FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube and its own website to promote the effort.  Will Lake Worth ever be in a position to officially - using the city's website and it's own FaceBook and Twitter accounts - reach out to residents and others interested in the city's goings-on with pertinent information?  Imagine!  The need for blogs like this and others might disappear.  Click title for link to article.

Miami Dolphins ‘open-minded’ to stadium in Palm Beach - Miami Dolphins -

Dolphin Stadium in the Lake Worth Park of Commerce?  Maybe not, but where would be a good place for a pro football stadium if one were to land in Palm Beach County?  Click title for link to Miami Herald article.

Citrus Disease With No Cure Is Ravaging Florida Groves

Efforts to find a way to stop the spread of citrus greening have failed, and the damage is growing increasingly extensive, especially to oranges. From the New York Times article (click title for link):
Before this year, the losses and increased costs of fighting the disease had already taken a toll on Florida’s citrus industry, which has been in decline for 15 years. In a 2012 report, University of Florida agricultural analysts concluded that between 2006 and 2012, citrus greening cost Florida’s economy $4.5 billion and 8,000 jobs.
Some orange packers and small and midsize growers have sold their groves, razed them for development, or simply abandoned them. Others have postponed replanting lost trees, which take five years to mature, until they know whether a cure will be found. Many more, including the largest growers, are doing what they can to survive; they say they are optimistic they can hold on long enough for researchers to find a treatment.
This does not bode well for those who wish to curtail urban sprawl.  If Florida's future rests on the almost exclusive use of the automobile to get around, former orange groves will be "ripe" for low density development, away from transit routes and without the benefit of existing infrastructure.  The future of redevelopment in Florida and how the state will responsibly accommodate new population growth will be through redevelopment of already established cities - like Lake Worth.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A candid talk by City Manager Michael Bornstein to the Lake Worth Rotary Club (7/8/13)

Note that my camera limits video to 10 minutes in length, so at about the 10 and 20 minute mark there is a fade in and fade out. I pieced three together but I don't think I missed much.  It's a good summary of what is going on, what the challenges are and what is being done to bring change about.

Two Interesting Planning-related Articles

One about the importance of walkability in a south Florida, particularly Miami, context and what some options are being looked at to address the issue.

And one on the notion of "Placemaking" and the "Power of 10" - Where a city or region needs 10 or more major attractions or districts, 10 specific places within those districts, 10 things to do at those places and that layering uses like this creates a meaningful urban experience or public life.


David Rauschkolb - Founder of Hands Across the Sand 05/10 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Blog Talk Radio

Join yours truly as I welcome David Rauschkolb to the High Noon in Lake Worth studios. Mr. Rauschkolb is the founder of Hands Across the Sand - an event of environmental awareness that will take place on May 18th at 11 a.m., with one scheduled right here on our own Lake Worth Beach. Started in the state of Florida in 2010 in response to the BP oil spill, the event has now reached worldwide proportions. Its purpose is to create lines in the sand against oil drilling in our ocean waters and to say "yes" to clean energy.

Click title for link to live show between noon and 1 p.m. Friday, May 10th or for the archived show after it airs.  Leave questions as comments below this post.  Thanks!

Corps meeting on proposed Lake Worth Inlet channel dredging is... |

I wonder if this dredging activity proposed for the Lake Worth inlet (between Palm Beach and Singer Island) will be discussed at the Lake Worth Lagoon Symposium coming up on May 15th?  Click title for link to the Shiny Sheet article.  The Town of Palm Beach is monitoring the project for potential impacts.  Apparently, the channel has not been dredged for 50 years.  Interesting statistics on the port too - did you know that it was the 18th busiest in the nation?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

[CPNA] Neighborhood Alert

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

An urgent reminder to please be aware of suspicious activity in the College Park neighborhood. Last week one of our neighbor's home on Bryn Mawr was burglarized right in broad daylight. Our neighbor was even home at the time but was out working in the yard. Please keep a sharp eye for any suspicious activity and ALWAYS keep your front and back doors, garage and patio doors - locked, even if you're just outside.

When new neighbors move in, you'll be doing yourself and everyone a favor by introducing yourself and welcoming them to College Park. Let them know that this is a neighborhood that cares about public safety and protecting our families and homes. We watch out for each other and we encourage them to join us in that effort.

As always,PBSO strongly encourages everyone to call the non emergency number if you see something or someone in the neighborhood that just doesn't "feel" right. That includes door to door solicitors that may not be legitimate, may not be licensed and may be trouble. That includes vehicles seen trolling the neighborhood that may be looking for an easy target. That includes anything or anyone that seems out of place or unusual.

NEVER confront anyone you think might be acting suspiciously yourself. Call PBSO.

The non-emergency number is: 586-1611 That number goes directly to the District 14 office on North G St.

You can also call the PBSO central office non-emergency number: 688-3000

For emergencies that pose an immediate threat to life or property call 911

Thanks Everyone and Let's Stay Safe!

Florida House of Representatives - HB 101 - Enterprise Zones/City of Lake Worth

General Bill   by Kerner (CO-SPONSORS) Rooney
Enterprise Zones/City of Lake Worth: Authorizes City of Lake Worth to apply to DEO for designation of enterprise zone; provides application deadline & requirements for area of enterprise zone; requires DEO to establish effective date of enterprise zone.
Effective Date: January 1, 2014
Last Event: Died in Finance & Tax Subcommittee on Friday, May 03, 2013 7:16 PM

Click title for link to more information.

Report from the Planning and Zoning Board - 5/7/13 City Commission Meeting

Chair John Rinaldi shares the board's recent actions and activity with the Lake Worth City Commission.  The board has reviewed and approved two residential rental projects recently and continues to work on the Land Development Regulations.  He notes from observing and listening to the public at meetings is that there is a distrust about what the city is doing with its zoning regulations.  He also points out that there is no redevelopment activity on Dixie Hwy. and that it is sorely needed.  Mr. Rinaldi wonders if there could be some sort of incentive created so that they are is more attractive to investment.

Proclaiming National Historic Preservation Month in Lake Worth

Thank you Karen Vaughn, Planning and Preservation Manager and Kelly Christianson, Preservation Planner for accepting the proclamation from the Mayor tonight.  The Historic Resource Preservation Board's monthly meeting is tonight if you want to tune in or come down to city hall to see what we do.

Click here for the National Trust for Historic Preservation website.

Lake Worth to enforce minimum stays for vacation rentals |

This discussion came after the City Commission took a break at last night's meeting.  There is mention of the need to look at some 50 homes that are renting out to people for shorter stays.  Is there a website that identifies these that the city is using as a reference?  I'm not sure this should be the highest priority for code enforcement, but it looks like the city is going to make some effort to control the situation.  Click title for link to article.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tuesday is Travel Rally Day, the national day of observance within National Tourism Week...

And in honor of the occasion, I thought that I would string some thoughts together on the topic.  I have already pointed out that the City Commission will be adopting a proclamation at tomorrow night's (5/7/13) meeting recognizing same.  Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau, put together a nice commentary on the importance of tourism in Palm Beach County and the role it is playing in our economic recovery.  No doubt that even if Lake Worth doesn't have a single hotel meeting today's lodging standards, I am sure that the city benefits from tourists and their dollars through visits to our charming downtown and renovated beach property.  But, I am sure that most would agree that we could take better advantage of the $5 billion spent by 5 million Palm Beach County visitors if we had one, two or three operating hotels within the city, as well as taking better advantage of some unique community assets that set us apart from other municipalities in Palm Beach County.  Doing so would likely make Lake Worth more attractive to a potential  hotel operator.

Let's think about our waterfront.  We have Bryant Park that extends from Lake Avenue to 5th Avenue South and the golf course that extends from Lucerne to 16th Avenue North.  We also have the Snook Islands - phases I and II and a new boat ramp.  And we have the beginnings of a boardwalk along the waterfront in the form of the Snook Islands Natural Area access just north of the bridge.

There was a recent article about the West Palm Beach public golf course and clubhouse in the Palm Beach Post.  In fact, there was a meeting this morning of the city's golf commission - made up of the city commission - to discuss the findings of study showing that there was mold present in the clubhouse, the air conditioning system needs to be re-done along with other failings of the existing building.  Staff is recommending that the building be "vacated" and that a new building be built sometime in the future - perhaps in the next five years.  As the article reveals, the restaurant there has quite a following, at least more so than the one that we have in the Lake Worth clubhouse, that concern is being raised about what will happen to its operations in the interim.  Commissioner Materio is right to raise questions about whether the time is now to do the "tear down" or hear more about what it would cost to repair the existing building.

Those who have been Lake Worth residents for a while remember what the former Lake Worth Golf Course clubhouse was like.  For those that don't, upon entering the building one was treated to the overwhelming fragrance of "Early Nursing Home."  The carpets were perpetually stained and the building did not take advantage of its Lake Worth Lagoon waterfront location.  In the late 90s, we were treated to a new clubhouse, in the same location as the older one.  I don't remember the discussion then, but it seems to me that there was some consideration of moving the clubhouse to the southern part of the course so that it could be visible from Lake and Lucerne and take advantage of the traffic coming and going over the bridge.  Someone can help me out here, but I think the prevailing thought of "let's keep it where it is" carried the day due to changes required in the routing of the golf course.  A clubhouse in the middle of the course allows one to stop for a break between the first nine and the last nine.  I defer to golfers for other reasons for not moving the clubhouse..

And, think about if the clubhouse had been moved so that it could be accessed from Lucerne.  The Gulfstream Hotel was operating at the time and I am sure the two restaurants could have benefited from their prime locations and created a synergy of economic and pedestrian activity in that area.  Then you add the possibility of a water taxi that links all of the waterfront downtowns in Palm Beach County and we'd be able to take advantage of tourists and their dollars in a bigger way.

Someone showed me the amenity book, dated 2005, that was in each of the Gulfstream Hotel's room when it was last operational.  I found it astonishing that under "Recrational Activities," it mentioned a few golf courses in Palm Beach County but failed to mention the Lake Worth Golf Course that was essentially right across the street.

So, for now, we have a closed Gulfstream Hotel which may not be a hotel in the future, a golf course restaurant concession that is not a destination and lost opportunities that would take greater advantage of our waterfront location.  But we still have the "potential."  Something Lake Worth is well-known for - its potential.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Does anyone else find this ironic?

That a city without a hotel that meets any minimum acceptable standard for contemporary lodging would be issuing this proclamation for National Travel and Tourism Week from May 4th to 12th?

We are encouraged to wear red in honor of the week this coming Tuesday.

How You Get Hacked at Starbucks [INFOGRAPHIC]

In the same vein, it's not only the government that you need to worry about concerning your digital information.  Click title for link.

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government? | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free |

Something that many people may not realize, but some seem to.  Click title for link.  From the article:
That no human communications can be allowed to take place without the scrutinizing eye of the US government is indeed the animating principle of the US Surveillance State. Still, this revelation, made in passing on CNN, that every single telephone call made by and among Americans is recorded and stored is something which most people undoubtedly do not know, even if the small group of people who focus on surveillance issues believed it to be true (clearly, both Burnett and Costello were shocked to hear this).

Commissioner Jennings' Illegal Boarding House - Re-Post

Note:  Originally published on February 23, 2010 while Commissioner Jennings was in office.  The City Commission will be talking about vacation rentals on Tuesday night and how currently, the code limits rentals to longer that 60 days, but the law is not enforced.  It turns out that there are at least 50 homes within Lake Worth that are renting out by the night or week.  There are certain bed and breakfast establishments that see this as an affront to their doing legitimate business.  Which led me to re-call how the "cow got out of the barn" under the not-so-watchful eye of Commission Jennings.  Seems like she had a good thing going on, and may continue to.  But that's o.k. - what are rules anyway?  Things that are made to be broken, I guess.

 Click title for link to New Times' article by Lake Worth resident Gail Shepherd from February 8, 2010 entitled: "Why Cara Jennings May Be the Healthiest City Commissioner in Florida" This is nothing but a pure fluff piece trying to show that Commissioner Jennings continues to be Lake Worth's living combination of Mother Teresa and Eull Gibbons.

 First, let me say that I support urban agriculture, local produce and sustainable practices in the production of food.  I draw the line at bees, chickens and ducks, but produce plants are fine in the backyard, perhaps even the front yard.  It's better than dried out St. Augustine grass or miscellaneous weeds.  That is not the issue I have with what goes on in the 800 block of North "C" Street - a property that carries a single family land use designation.

The city is governed by a Zoning Code, which corresponds to different areas of the city.  The above map is the future land use map that appears in the City's Comprehensive Plan.  It shows that Commissioner Jennings' property carries a single family land use designation.  To find out what is meant by single family, you refer to the definitions section of the Zoning Code.  The definition for family appears below:
In short, any group of more than three people living together is not considered a "family."  The zoning district most associated with a single family future land use designation is SF-7.  This is the "intent" of that district.
You  can have one single "family" per household - period.  There are other very limited uses as this is our most restrictive zoning district.

No where does this zoning district allow "boarding houses" - as is apparently described pretty accurately in the article by Ms. Shepherd.  This is the definition of "boarding houses" as contained in our Zoning Code.
So, City Commissioners are many things in addition to being our elected representatives.  They serve as models of behavior.  Reading the article, you get the sense that Ms. Shepherd thinks it would be great if all of us could live in such a manner.  And in a Utopian world, it may be an ideal.  However, what would it be like if these "boarding houses" spring up - one on every single family zoned street in the city?  That would amount to intensification of use in our single family neighborhoods - something that Commissioner Jennings vocally and actively opposes at every turn.  A certain four acre parcel on Sunset Drive comes to mind.  Commissioners also sit in judgment of many property owners on other requests and, indirectly, through being the ultimate policy maker on top of the city's organizational chart.  That is: in charge of code enforcement, zoning and planning.  This is also the same Commissioner that stomped on other people's property rights in limiting height across the board in Lake Worth to three stories.  

What is the fix?  If Commissioner Jennings thinks this is such a good idea, she should propose that these "boarding houses" or "Community-Oriented Anarchists Collective Homes" be written into the Zoning Code so that they would be allowed throughout the city - apparently "by right" and not with any licensing or oversight.  Or, lest anyone think that rules that apply to them do not apply to a sitting City Commissioner, she should cease and desist the "boarding house" in this location and find somewhere it is actually allowed within the city. Or, if she chooses to continue this operation, then she should be cited and taken through the code enforcement process.

I hope this was not too "vituperative" Ms. Shepherd.

More from the people that headquarter here in Lake Worth...