Saturday, September 28, 2013

Identifying the Extremist Brain: Worth a listen given our situation here in Lake Worth

Click here for related article.

Open-plan bathrooms: the ultimate hotel horror? | Travel | The Guardian

Yet another reason to loathe hotels, much like Madonna loathes hydrangeas. Click title for link to a growing trend in hotel and residential design.

FPL continues to replace power line under Intracoastal |

This is a major project. Bill and I stumbled upon it when we rode our bikes to downtown West Palm Beach and back. There is activity going on at the barrier island and the mainland (WPB). West Palm Beach is getting the butt end of the stick. Most of the noise and smoke it coming from that side as that is where the directional boring is taking place. There is a property for sale right next to all the construction activity that will be hard sell while this is going on. We stopped by the next day and took some pictures.

These are from the Palm Beach side. 

There is more staging area on the causeway (Southern Boulevard) between the two sites. Here they are storing some clay that will be used to stabilize the sandy soil around the conduit.

And this is the West Palm Beach side.

And this is looking east toward Palm Beach. The cable is going just to the left of the white house. This will establish a new looped system that will protect part of Palm Beach from future outages.

West Palm Beach Mayor Muoio chatting in her office this earlier this week...

The WPB Mayor talks about a change in the economic development staff and how that position will be taken up by one of her assistants after October 1. I'm not sure what she means by being a "go to" person. She also talks about the Chapel-by-the-Lake property and how she thinks that the the 20+ story project is too "blocky" - sounds like she would like to see two towers. Interesting to note that there is no height limit on the property. The main issue seems to be the size of the building relative to the small setbacks. There is acknowledgement that something will be built there, which is how you have to look at a project some times. What is the next best thing that could be put there and is it waiting for the other opportunity? We also hear that they expect $1.5 billion worth of investment in the form of property improvements over the next five years. But this doesn't mean that suddenly the city is flush with money. They have similar pension issues as our own.

As far as a critique of the video itself, Mayor Muoio is rather soft-spoken and does not come off as a forceful presence. Those of us not "in the know" - meaning outside of West Palm Beach politics - don't know the gentleman "interviewing" the Mayor. So we have to ask the question, "Just who is this guy?" It might have been more effective had she just talked to a still camera. And we also are left asking where are the real reporters from the local media? But I give her credit for reaching out to her constituents this way. It is what I encouraged the group of Palm Beach County city managers to do at least for five minutes once a week. I also think that the City of West Palm Beach could afford to get the videographer a tripod. But the shakiness is somewhat endearing.

Allen West Accused of Anti-Semitism, Is Out of Work (Again)

The other blogger's hero steps in it again. Seems like they are prone to the same gaffs and missteps. Who sees a date-night in their future? I do. Click title for link. Click here for another account of the story and a dashing picture of the former Congressman looking like the decorated (overly so?) Army veteran that he is.

Amazon remains mum as permits sought for potential Florida sites - Jacksonville Business Journal

Palm Beach County apparently still in the running for one of Amazon's "fulfillment centers." Others are making the pitch too. In 13 or 14 years, the Park of Commerce will be ready for such a project. Click title for link to article.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Received from Mango Groves Neighborhood Association

Nice Video of an Event inside the Cultural Council building (originally the Lake Theater) from 9/20/13

Bill Gates confesses: 'Control-Alt-Delete' was a mistake | Fox News

City Manager Bornstein referred to the Lake Worth 2020 Plan as a "re-boot" for Lake Worth's next hundred years. It would be great if it could be done by a simple key stroke, but that isn't in the cards. Interesting admission by Mr. Gates. Click title for link.

2,000-home development plan revived west of Wellington |

Why someone would want to live west of Wellington is a mystery to me. This is an example of urban sprawl. What if we had those 2000 families that would live in those 2000 units buy our inventory of vacant and foreclosed properties? I can't think of a greener way to go. If Lake Worth does not put out the welcome mat for people who are not already here, then we are part of the problem. Think of the Pogo cartoon. Click title for link.

County Key Player In Addressing Climate Change

Palm Beach County, as well as Broward and Miami-Dade, are trying to get out front in addressing sea level rise and climate change. Click title for link to article in the Town Crier (Wellington). They are also reaching out to municipalities.
An important aspect of the county plan is municipal outreach, specifically as it relates to climate, he said. “We are in the process of meeting with our cities, and we are taking a different approach in our county than the ones that were taken in Miami-Dade and Broward,” Van Arnam said.
The county is making use of the action plan to offer assistance to municipalities with their own sustainability programs.
“This partnership-building, we believe, is critical to having the implementation of the action plan be sustainable into the future,” Van Arnam said, explaining that the municipalities will have the choice of adopting the action plan in its entirety or using parts of it that apply to them to build their own plan.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Concrete Posts Shaped Like Male Genitalia The Talk Of Scott Township « CBS Pittsburgh

It might just be me, but I don't think there is a problem here. Bollards are used in many urban areas and are usually pretty much the same shape. I don't think these are more suggestive than another design. You can, and people do, say the same thing about bananas, pencils and toothpaste pumps. Click title for link.

Florida House Democrats pick Pafford as next leader - Florida -

Former High Noon in Lake Worth show guest State Representative Mark Pafford is in the news. He was voted leader of the Florida House Democratic Caucus. Click title for link to article. Looks like he is in for some immediate challenges.
By a 29-12 vote, with one abstaining, Pafford beat Rep. Alan Williams for a job that earlier in the week had belonged to Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg.
“The first thing is getting everybody comfortable, understanding that we’ve hit the reset button and we are one,” Pafford, 47, said to reporters after the vote, acknowledging the disarray that awaits him. “I have some work to do immediately.”

Urban Biking and Commutes | Sustainable Cities Collective

A little bicycle propaganda never hurt anyone. Click title for link to article. The video demonstrates how a bicyclist in Melbourne, Australia rode to work and passed 589 cars in the process.

Container City: The Colombian Food Court with Personality | This Big City

How about this as a redevelopment idea for Dixie Hwy? It would seem in some ways to be a natural. Click title for link.

Miami Web Awards 2013: Calling for Nominations

If you are so moved, I would appreciate your nomination this year for "Best Neighborhood Blog." Click title for link and please share with your friends. The deadline is October 9th.

Paulo Coelho

"When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny."

DOUBLE-HEADER! Seth Bramson and Chaz Stevens 09/27 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Politics Podcasts

Join your host Wes Blackman for a two hour special edition of the show. Two guests will be featured and both have been on the show before. We will first welcome Seth Bramson to the High Noon in Lake Worth studios. You may recall that Mr. Bramson is the resident expert for the Florida East Coast Railroad. In our first show, we talked about the beginning of modern history in south Florida with the arrival of the railroad and ended up talking about the 1920s. We will start the conversation from there. My second guest will come on around 1 p.m. and it will be Chaz Stevens. Mr. Stevens authors the MAOS or My Acts of Sedition blog. We will talk about the just-closed criminal investigation he endured, local politicians of a "religious nature" who should come out of the closet, friend Fane Lozman's take on the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office and the city of Boca Raton.

Click title for link to listen to the live show between noon and 2 p.m. tomorrow or for the archived show after it airs. Leave questions as comments below. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

World Thrift Poised to Take Over the World!

With the announcement that World Thrift bought the now former Park Avenue Barbeque property, I thought it deserved a little photo essay. A sign posted on the World Thrift front door now tells people that it is o.k. to park on the lot to the south since they now own it.
 Above is view of the former Park Avenue lot during the mid-afternoon today. Customers of World Thrift are already parking there.
Besides the public sidewalk along Dixie, there is a section of fence that has been removed to allow "access" between the two properties. The World Thrift property was parked fairly full - about 85% I would guess. There was the usual parking in the aisles of the parking lot on the north and south property lines, which shouldn't be allowed anyway.
 The picture above is of the Arbor Plaza parking lot along its southern property line. It is north of World Thrift. These are almost exclusively World Thrift shoppers. While there, we say three of four cars carry off people that came from World Thrift. They did no business in Arbor Plaza.
This is the famous "charity bin" in the eastern part of the World Thrift parking lot that fronts on Dixie Hwy. A "Welcome to Lake Worth" sign for sure.
The contents of the open bin today. Do you think that World Thrift may use this to supplement their inventory?

We now have a former destination restaurant where its parking lot is being used by another business of questionable quality - but it does fit our demographic. And the building will be used for storage - what better use for a commercial property along Dixie Hwy. in Lake Worth! It won't use any power and won't attract any people that wouldn't otherwise be here.

Mystery buyer of Park Avenue BBQ property revealed |

Testimony to the vibrant and charming retail atmosphere along North Dixie Hwy. A former restaurant to be used for storage. Click title for link.

Lake Worth Playhouse - L-DUB Film Festival

Big doings at the Lake Worth Playhouse this weekend. Click title for link that has a list of events, location, date and time information. From the website:
The Fourth Annual L-DUB Film Festival presents the newest, most exciting and original films by independent filmmakers every September.  For three days in Lake Worth, the Festival celebrates the best new independent films in a warm and welcoming environment and offers exceptional education workshops with established professionals. The Festival emphasizes filmmaker networking and skill development while showcasing South Florida’s rich trove of talent and opportunity to the international filmmaking community.
The primary mission of the L-DUB Film Festival is to encourage and provide a venue for new local filmmakers and offer useful professional training in our workshops. To that end we are pleased to announce that last year’s L-DUB award winning film “Flea Market Finish Line.” By Ika Santamaria  was recently showcased at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Poodle viciously attacked and killed by three pit bulls

Terrible incident happening in Lake Worth as reported by WPTV. Click title for link. We had a similar situation last year with vicious dogs that we not properly secured and they terrorized the neighborhood until the owners finally moved away. Animal Care and Control was involved with that situation too. It is not an expedient process. Many times offers came to the home with paperwork and the people would not come to door so that they could be served. Scary for anyone who has dogs, cats or children, for that matter.

For insurance implications related to "dangerous dog breeds," click here.

Lake O water’s southerly shift helps troubled rivers, officials say | Post on Politics

Ten billion gallons flowing south probably seems too little, too late for those areas east and west of the lake that have suffered from increased fresh water flow into estuaries. Click title for link to the Post on Politics article. This is telling:
Gov. Rick Scott, who in his first year as chief executive, sharply cut the budgets of state water management districts and eliminated the state’s lead growth management agency, is now trying to ease the problem.
Scott, seeking re-election next year, said last month that he wants state lawmakers to pick up the
entire $60 million tab for building a wetland needed to reduce releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie.
Scott blasted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to do its share of the project.

Conduct Us | Improv Everywhere

This is a cool site by a group calling itself "Improv Everywhere." They are a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. We know different collectives around here. But check out their website (click title for link) and see the kinds of things they have done in urban spaces. We could do something similar here in the lighter, quicker, cheaper vein. Here are some of the types of things they have done.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Anger is the Internet's most powerful emotion

This is a USA Today article and it rings true in many ways. Would the other blogger ever show up at my door with a gun drawn that has a bullet with my name on it? Probably not, I hope. But the keyboard and screen do create a wall of anonymity. They also let the passions flow. Maybe this is an innate human characteristic or maybe it is one that we can overcome if we want to overcome it. Click title for link.

A good time for a spiritual...

Other things we learned at the Lake Worth 2020 presentation at the College Park N.A. meeting...

If you didn't or don't have time to watch the videos, here are some interesting factoids and revelations that I heard from the city:
  • The city's taxable property value is 1/3 of what it was before 2007.
  • $2 million more comes from the utility as a transfer to support the General Fund than comes from property tax revenue.
  • There are 11,636 residential units in the city. About 2,000 are vacant.
  • 82% of residential properties in the city have less than a $100,000 taxable value.
  • 97% of residential properties in the city have less than a $200,000 taxable value.
  • The presentation was finished late yesterday, is not currently on line and focuses on the impacts to District #3 given the location of the meeting.
  • Commissioner Szerdi and Vice Mayor Maxwell attended the meeting.
  • They are now working on a project period of 7 years instead of 5 years to complete the projects.
  • In the Full Plan, the Park of Commerce time horizon for completion of infrastructure is 13 to 14 years.
  • Steve Carr said, regarding the Full Plan, that they prepared it to determine what all the needs were and then are attempting to determine whether it is affordable. "When looking for a car, not everyone can afford the convertible with everything."
  • Sidewalks may or may not be included. Sometimes to replace bad sidewalks along a good street would mean tearing up the street. They are still looking at options.
  • The plan does not move utilities out of the alley, except in limited cases. It is not moving all utilities to the street. The alley system will remain and may be improved with shellrock.
  • Streets and Storm Sewer Department has four people...period. They are the ones fixing potholes. It takes two of those people to run the street cleaner, which is why we haven't seen it out recently. Potholes are a priority. The new budget has two additional part time positions.
  • City has very limited resources. Whatever happens will require a vote of the electorate - too much to fund out of general revenues.
  • Bornstein: "I spend all day choosing which child to feed."

Nice, professionally produced video by the CRA promoting the Urban Arts Lofts...

Olivia Newton-John calls in exorcists at multimillion-dollar home where shooting suicide took place | Mail Online

Seems to be a rather drastic, emotional reaction to what happened at the home. To those that sell real estate in Florida, do you have to disclose whether or not there was a death through violent act at a property that is for sale? It seems to me that some states require that sort of information. Click title for link to article.

From the College Park Neighborhood Association Meeting 9/23/13 - Presentation by City Staff on Lake Worth 2020

Last night, the College Park Neighborhood Association held a neighborhood meeting where City Manager Michael Borntstein and other city officials made a presentation on the Lake Worth 2020 Master Plan.

The city showed a revised PowerPoint presentation from the original that was used during the August 24, 2013 Visioning Meeting. The video switches between the screen and the speaker. We were told that this version used last night would also be posted on the city's website. I will monitor that and share it when it appears. Until then, I suggest you watch the video in "full screen" mode. Some of the print used on the handouts was too small to read on the sheet or on the screen. I scanned some sheets that were passed out last night and posted them below. I've tried to make them a little more readable. Click on the images to make them larger.

There were about 25-30 people from the general public that attended last night. In the third video of the playlist, you can see the general assemblage of people during the question and answer session. We found out that this is very much still a work in progress and there is no guarantee that it will be on the March ballot. If it is, it might be structured in different ways.

Steve Carr, Finance Director and Jamie Brown, Public Services Director each made part of the presentation.

Base Plan

Full Plan

Millage Estimator
One note here. There are errors in these charts. One glaring one is the $1,050 first year payment for properties with a taxable value of $50,000. This is a definite work in progress that is updated daily.

From the Tropical Triathlon...

TROPICAL TRIATHLON 2013 from grapeseeker on Vimeo.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Martin County vs. The World: Here Come de Judge | Sunshine State News

Martin County is facing six administrative challenges to its amended Comprehensive Plan. From the sound of the article, it seems like some of the same "opinion is fact" that we contend with around Lake Worth is at play there too. Who needs the experts! We know what we want. Well, it also costs you money on attorneys fees and is the "over-development" wolf really at the door of Martin County? This is from the article, click title for link.
Real numbers tend to kick the legs out from under her argument sometimes. But, hey, no problem. Citizens notice traffic, not numbers.
For example, Martin County growth has always been slow, between 2 percent and 4 percent in the most active years since 1980. According to the last U.S. Census, between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2012, Martin grew 1.7 percent, as opposed to 2.7 percent for the whole state, and as opposed to neighbors Palm Beach County at 2.8 percent and St. Lucie County at 2.2 percent. Doesn't matter which kind of commission majority gets elected, the Martin County growth rate stays slow.
At the end of the article, Richard Grosso - a land use attorney that teams up with no growth types - is mentioned as having reviewed the changes put forth and put his stamp of approval on them. This is the same gentleman that gave Lake Worth advice on its Comprehensive Plan back in April of 2009, Susan Stanton's first week on the job. Height limits? Sure you can do whatever you want he said. That's when we had a Comp Plan that limited everything to two-stories. It proved to be unworkable and was changed, but now usually pointed to by those in favor of extreme height limitations as an example of how they were able to compromise.


Villa Epecuen: Argentina's Ghost Town - Ghost Town Emerges from the Deep

Eerie scenes from an Argentinian ghost town caused by inundation by a salt lake some 30 years ago. The haphazard remains are appearing again after a record drought over the past decade. Make sure to look through the slide show and watch the video. Click title for link.

This sounded like it could be referring to the Herbert Hoover dike and Lake Okeechobee, but for the salt part.
But soon Villa Epecuen's growth would come to a screeching halt. In 1980 the area experienced a slow but drastic climate shift that dumped large amounts of rain in the lake. Because Lago Epecuen had no outlet to drain the influx of water, the lake slowly swelled, according to NASA. By 1985 the lake's waters were already testing the limits of the dike that protected the village. On November 10, 1985 a severe storm blew through the area, causing the water level in Lago Epecuen to swell until it broke through the dike. A torrent of water cascaded into town, inundating the streets.
Over the next eight years the lake would continue to grow, until eventually, in 1993, Villa Epecuen sat 33 feet below the surface of Lago Epecuen.

Bloggers cover Lake Worth, quibble |

It's here. Click title for link to Lona O'Conner's article on Lake Worth blogging.

Unusual traffic calming device and a colorful character too...


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Florida as seen from the International Space Station.

From "The Real Florida" on Facebook

New strategy helps West Palm go after neighborhood eyesores |

Good summary of West Palm Beach's successes with a new way to assess code enforcement fines. Lake Worth enacted many such code enforcement ordinances over the past year. Now we just have to get the staff together and address the Internal Auditor's recommendations. Click title for link to an article by Eliot Kleinberg of the Post:
If the city had more in liens on a home than a potential seller wanted to pay for it, then no one wants it and it continues as an eyesore — and grows worse. But if the city agrees to reduce the lien to move the property, the owner “just got away with three years of really bad behavior and everybody who lived around there had to endure it.”
Other Palm Beach County cities say they’re looking into West Palm Beach’s success and Lake Worth has adopted a similar program.
Statewide and nationwide, “There seem to be more jurisdictions moving towards having them considered special tax assessment liens, because of the presumed ease of collections,” said Michael Titmuss, chief code enforcement officer of city of Fort Myers and president of the Florida Association of Code Enforcement.

Model to visualize redevelopment on Royal Poinciana Way wins... |

Royal Poinciana Way in Palm Beach has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years. Some feel that there is a need to redevelop the area; others think that was is there is just fine. A new zoning designation of "PUD 5" is on the table to determine and control what will happen in the future. The University of Miami's architecture department is going to help provide some visual evidence of what the changes would look like with the new zoning tool. Click title for link.

Lake Worth availed itself of the services of the same architecture department in modeling what 6 story hotel buildings would look like in our downtown on the relatively few lots that are prone to redevelopment. I would say looking back that the exercise had limited success. It was perceived by some that "oh my God, we are going to have half a dozen six story hotels east of Federal. That was not the point of the exercise and the finer assumptions and conditions were lost on some.

Germany, 'Veggie Day,' and First Lady Michelle Obama -

A little political acid reflux as it relates to telling people what to eat. Click title for link. On a related note, you might want to check out what is really in a fast food hamburger and how much meat (or how little) is in it.