Saturday, November 16, 2013

State Senator Jeff Clemens on "Quiet Zones" along the FEC RR Tracks

Via West Palm TV.

It turns out it is also "Today" east of Federal too...

Click title for link to city's website that explains fire hydrant flushing.

Mahatma Gandhi

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Kolter Group plans 13-story Hyatt Place Hotel for downtown... |

More hotel rooms for Palm Beach County, just not here in our downtown, yet. Click title for link to article. It seems like this group is also involved in a future hotel for the Briger Tract.
Hyatt has been active in Palm Beach County in the past five years, opening a Hyatt Place in downtown West Palm Beach in 2009 and Delray Beach in 2012.
The Kolter Group is developing the hotel. It also developed the other Hyatt Places, as well as luxury condos and multifamily communities in several Palm Beach County locations, and is planning to develop the Briger tract in Palm Beach Gardens, which is set aside as a biotech research hub to expand The Scripps Research Institute.

Palm Beach County rental income may grow corporate profits |

A trend that may be fraught with problems, corporations are buying up single family residential properties, bundling them and attempting to sell securities from them based upon the rental inncome. But these companies are used to managing multi-family properties, not many single family properties that may be spread out around a large geographic area. Click title for link to article. Here is one of the possible consequences:
“What scares me is these groups are not property managers, not of single-family homes, and they have never been property managers before, and I’m not sure they can do it now,” Johnson said. “I think I could do a two-hour class on problems with this investment.”
Corporations own hundreds of Palm Beach County single-family homes that they are renting out. They’ve recently started securitizing the rental income to sell as bonds.
Homes owned by corporate interests
Blackstone’s Invitation Homes, 715
Starwood Property Trust, 325
Southeast Florida Rental Housing, 145
American Homes for Rent, 80
FREO Florida, 45
Colony Financial, 43
Source: RealtyTrac, Palm Beach Post research

Bridge success |

The Shiny Sheet editorial from about two weeks ago stands in contrast to the reality of the closed bridge today. Methinks they popped the champagne bottles too early, doling out kudos far and wide. Click title for link.

Repairs to broken Flagler bridge locks to begin Monday |

More news on the recent emergency closure of the Flagler Memorial (North) bridge between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. Click title for link to article. Here's some detail:
“We didn’t expect the recent settling, and we don’t expect more settling now, but we can’t entirely predict that,” he said. “It’s not unusual to get a little more residual settling a few days after, but based on the last readings, it looks like the settlement has stopped.”
Wolfe said it’s too early to say whether the $9.4 million emergency foundation repair by Archer Western Contractors was a success. The DOT awarded the contract in April and Archer Western finished last month, earning a $675,000 bonus for finishing ahead of schedule.
“We are confident that we can repair the bascule leaves and reopen the bridge, so that’s a success,” Wolfe said. “Long-term success will be maintaining traffic while building the new bridge adjacent to it.”

And from the Department of Redundancy Department comes this...

In case there is any question, we now have an official sign from the city that tells us it is "Today" and the fire hydrant is being flushed. The beauty of this communication is that tomorrow can also be "Today", along with any day next week, or three months from now.

It is always "Today" in Lake Worth. The city has discovered eternity. We are truly living in the now, that's why they call it the present - filled with "potential."

Since the piece aired on Channel 5 Tuesday, the hydrant has not been opened. "Today" it is open again. This is done to draw freshly treated water into the lines to sustain "chlorine residuals."

If you are around "today", bring a bucket and take home some free water, fill your toilets and dog bowls!

Down deep with Ms. Prancercize...a passionate perspective...

Have you seen her pistachio ads?

"It's not just glitter and a bowl of cherries, it's a challenge!"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Throwback Tuesday: The Cross Florida Barge Canal | The Florida Squeeze

From the Florida Squeeze website, this is something that never happened, but could have. Click title for link to site. Here is a video that takes a snapshot from another era. This idea resurfaces from time to time.

Harry's sign is back-up!

Long story, but it was the liquor delivery truck driver that backed into the sign. Yes, the truck was that high. Tammy was the bartender and she was on today. I asked her about the incident. She said the driver left after the delivery and hit the sign as he left the property. Sort of a hit and run - he didn't come back for an hour and a half. He said that he went to get a camera from Walgreens that is all of a few blocks south on Dixie.

Anyway, we went there this afternoon to catch up on the story and check out the decor. Fun place that I don't go too much. Here are some pictures.

Tammy chatting it up at the bar.

Former "Blue Marlin" sign that graced Dixie Hwy. for many years.

It has seen many come and go in its day - now safe here.

Any resemblance to a blogger by the name of "Pinkie" is purely coincidental.

Check out today's (11/15/13) Episode of "High Noon in Lake Worth" with Florida Economist Dr. Bill Stronge

We talked about a wide variety of topics related to Florida's economy, its history and prospects. The second half of the show contains a discussion about downtown Lake Worth and Delray Beach's success and what it means for our city's future. Enjoy!

Last Monday, we dropped by E.R. Bradley's Beach Club...

We were on our bikes at the end of the ride and hadn't been there since it opened. Ended up enjoying a $3 draft beer on the deck and talking to the manager. Nice fellow. They are canvassing the neighborhood with fliers and the like. I know that Parrot Cove is having their holiday party there and there are some wedding receptions on the books. The pictures are deceiving as there were groups of people inside at the time, but we just hung out on the deck. We'll definitely be back. Looking at their menu, the prices are in line with their Lake Worth location.

1960s Retro-vision of the Future...

Flood insurance rate hikes up to 900 percent slam Florida |

Nightmares like this one keep happening until something is done at the Federal level. Click title for link.
Ask Aaron Greenwood. He purchased a home this year figuring the flood premium was $4,397 a year. He never imagined a nearly 900 percent increase to $43,885.
“I would not have purchased this home if I had been aware of the increased flood insurance premiums,” said Greenwood, 43. “I cannot pay the new premium. I cannot sell this home with a flood insurance rate of over $43,000 a year.”

7 of NYC’s Last Surviving Old-Fashioned Phone Booths | Untapped Cities

How is Clark Kent coping with the loss? These are some great "survivors" of the past that used to be ubiquitous features of the urban landscape. Some of these still have operating payphones. Click title for link.

Retail-planning pro mum on Royal Poinciana Way PUD |

Robert Gibbs was brought in some 5 or more years ago to Lake Worth when Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council did a week-long charette here. I remember him saying that the best investment possibility he saw in Lake Worth was the land between the two railroad tracks along Lake and Lucerne Avenues. He saw the long term use of those railways as commuter lines made that area very attractive for retail. I have also had the opportunity to take a class from Gibbs at Harvard during the summer about downtown retailing - what he likes to refer to as the "corner of Main and Main." That's where all the pedestrian activity is.

I do fault him for not recognizing the profound effect of e-commerce on the life and health of downtown shopping areas. 

He was in town and talked to the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce and this is what he said, in part. Click title for link to entire Shiny Sheet article:
Palm Beach itself, he added, is among the “top five medium-size urban areas” in the country, based on criteria such as property values, livability and shopping opportunities.
Gibbs drew a direct correlation between the quality of an area’s retail and its home values. That’s why many municipalities with rundown or aging shopping districts or malls, he said, are looking to redevelop those properties to meet the changing needs of today’s stressed-out consumer, who has “a very bad attitude about shopping,” he said.
Time-strapped women, who do most of their shopping after work or on weekends, want to get in and out of stores quickly, he said. So they frequently have a small group of go-to places where they shop regularly, knowing that the inventory will suit them. And they don’t mind paying for the convenience of parking at a meter just outside a shop’s door.
“Time is the new luxury,” Gibbs said. “We’ve also found that meters are the only way to keep employees or store owners from parking right outside their doors.”
But he criticized electronic and credit-card meters as too confusing for most users.

FPL’s three-year storm hardening plans approved |

And how much is the city of Lake Worth spending on upgrading and hardening its electric distribution system? This article, click title for link, details how much FPL is doing and spending. Like:
FPL’s 2013 Palm Beach County Storm Plan
This year FPL did the following in Palm Beach County:
Inspected roughly 8,000 utility poles for strength
Cleared tree limbs and vegetation from 2,000 miles of power lines
Examined more than 199 main power lines with infrared technology
Upgraded 16 main power lines serving key thoroughfares, grocery stores and more
Source: Florida Power & Light Co.

SBB railways debuts starbucks' first on-board concept store

I hope Tri-Rail sees this. This "Starbucks-on-the-tracks" is being used on a rail line in Switzerland. Click title for link.

Lantana reunited: Bridge to open Saturday night with party,...

More bridge news. Click title for link. From this story
The bridge has been closed for 19 months, forcing motorists to detour to either Boynton Beach or Lake Worth. Although the bridge will open to vehicles this weekend, county engineers expect sporadic lane closures for some final touches on the project.
The bridge was completed ahead of schedule, officials said. Town officials had been given a completion date of March 2014.
The bridge, at $32 million, is the most expensive road project undertaken by Palm Beach County, said county Mayor Steve Abrams when he toured the bridge last week.

Flagler Memorial Bridge Update

West Palm Beach/Town of Palm Beach – Following two days of inspection and surveying, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has determined that the recently completed repair system on the Flagler Memorial Bridge is performing as anticipated and there is no additional structural distress to the existing piers because of the recent settlement. 

The project team will continue to monitor the bridge over the weekend. On Monday, Nov. 18, PCL, the contractor for the bridge replacement project, will begin span lock repairs. The bridge is expected to reopen to two lanes of traffic (one lane in each direction, including trucks), on Monday, Nov. 25, contingent on no additional settlement. 

PCL will not resume work on the main piers for the new bridge until after May 1, 2014, to minimize potential impacts and assure that the existing bridge remains open to traffic for the 2013/2014 Season. If the bridge continues to settle after work on the main bridge piers resumes, the department will revisit the need to close the bridge for safety reasons. 

Prior to May 1, 2014, the redundant foundations will be re-jacked to assure that the repair system is carrying the full load of the bridge. The department and the project team will consider redesigning the remaining foundations for the new bridge, in order to minimize further settlement of the existing structure, with the intent of maintaining traffic throughout construction. Potential time and cost impacts of a redesign will be evaluated. 

The Flagler Memorial Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic following settlement detected on Tuesday, Nov. 12, which affected the span locks that hold the bridge spans in place when they are in the down position. Approximately one inch of settlement was recorded between Tuesday, Nov. 12 and Wednesday, Nov. 13. There has been no additional settlement in the last 24 hours. 

The Flagler Memorial Bascule Bridge (drawbridge) Replacement Design/Build Project includes replacing the existing bridge with a new bascule bridge connecting the Town of Palm Beach and the City of West Palm Beach over the Lake Worth Lagoon and the Intracoastal Waterway. The new bridge is being built south of the existing bridge, which will remain open during construction. The Flagler Drive overpass will be replaced with an “at-grade” intersection. New lighting, pedestrian features, traffic signals, drainage, and landscaping are also included in this project. The estimated cost of this project is $94.2 million. 

For more information about the Flagler Memorial Bridge Replacement Project, please call Public Information Officer Tish Burgher at (561) 702-9096 or email her at Project information can also be found on the project website:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Get your tickets!

Beach Re-Nourishment in Action

Taken today just south of the Boynton Inlet.

PHOTOS: The Kennedys in Palm Beach, through 1963 |

Great collection of photos from a time when Palm Beach was home to the "Winter White House." Much history here and this is a focus now in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the assassination. Click title for link.

A/N Blog . Bike Share Round-up> Chicago Surges, New York’s Safety Record Shines, Los Angeles Lags

Interesting assessment of various public biking programs, mileage and safety records. New York's program is considered a success. Click title for link.

Council passes PUD but opposition promises fight |

In a 3 - 1 vote, the Town Council approved the PUD 5 zoning for Royal Poinciana Way yesterday. But, it's not over till it's over. Don't know when they will see this:
Click title for link.

Today: State Senator Jeff Clemens to Speak at Lantana Chamber of Commerce

Time: 11:30 am to 1:00 pm
Place: Old Key Lime House
Speaker: Senator Jeff Clemens
Location 300 East Ocean Avenue Lantana, FL 33462
Contact Lynn M Smith # 561-585-8664 with any questions

Lake Worth Leisure Services Department Recreation Division

Dear Holiday Bike Give-Away Supporter: 

Once again it’s that time of the year, on Saturday, December 14th, the City of Lake Worth is hosting its 48th Annual “Holiday Parade” for the residents of our community to enjoy and celebrate the winter holiday season. As part of the festivities, the Lake Worth Kiwanis is coordinating a Santa’s Winter Workshop at 
the Downtown Cultural Plaza prior to the parade from 2:00-7:00pm. Activities will include food sales, bounce houses, arts and crafts, music and entertainment. The highlight of the day is the highly anticipated bicycle raffle for the children in attendance! 

We are asking local merchants/businesses once again to contribute to this wonderful community event by donating a brand new bicycle or $50 towards the purchase of a new bicycle to be raffled off. The first 300 kids to attend the event will receive a free raffle ticket. Last year, fifty (50) new bicycles were raffled off because of supporters like you. We are attempting to exceed last year’s numbers by raffling off even more new bicycles! 

This is a great opportunity for your business to be a part of this wonderful community event. In return, your company logo will be displayed on the event banner and your business will be mentioned on all event advertising, as well as throughout the raffle and hourly announcements. 

If you have any questions or comments about this event, please contact us at 561-533-7363. Thank you for your time and consideration of this donation request. We look forward to hearing from you soon.  

Melissa Garvin 
Melissa Garvin, Recreation Supervisor 
City of Lake Worth Leisure Services Department 

Joe Minicozzi on Downtown Development vs. Big Box/Sprawl Development

Town News Releases Posted on: November 13, 2013 Flagler Bridge Temporarily Closed: Secretary James Wolfe Addresses the Mayor and Town Council

Florida Department of Transportation Regional Secretary, James Wolfe, updated the Mayor and Town Council on 11/13/13 regarding the temporary closure of the Flagler Memorial Bridge. Secretary Wolfe reported that the bridge is being evaluated to determine what actions need to be taken to re-open it as soon as possible. More information will be provided as the Town is updated by the DOT.
Since the Flagler Bridge’s closure on 11/12/13, the Town’s Police Department has implemented the traffic control plan it developed last spring for events such as this. Together, the Police and Fire-Rescue Departments have put into effect medical transportation protocols to ensure EMS units can leave the Town quickly to reach nearby hospitals.
The Coast Guard has granted the Town’s request to minimize bridge openings during this period. Effective today, the Royal Park Bridge will not open for boats from 8:16 am to 10:14 am and from 4:16 pm to 6:14 pm. The Southern Blvd Bridge will not open for boats from 8:31 am to 10:00 am and from 4:31 pm to 5:59 pm.
Construction on main roads is now either complete or postponed to ensure major arteries are not obstructed during the Flagler Bridge’s closure. The Town is also adjusting employee schedules to reduce traffic onto and off the Island during the peak rush hour periods. We ask for the community’s understanding, as garbage and trash service will begin earlier than normal during this period.
We encourage everyone to sign up on the Town’s website to receive “News Flashes” and “Emergency Alerts”. The Town will provide updates on the bridge issue as we learn more and will also provide traffic updates periodically. Please register your email and cell phone number, and follow us on Twitter to maximize the ways we can reach you.
Please see today’s online Shiny Sheet article for more information.
Shiny Sheet Article

Coastal Palm Beach County Coastal Hazard Statement 11/14

High risk of rip currents through Thursday evening... 

* timing... through at least Thursday evening.

* Impact... strong rip currents are ongoing and will continue. All
swimmers should remain out of the water.

Precautionary/preparedness actions... 

There is a high risk of rip currents.

Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away
from shore... which occur most often at low spots or breaks in The
Sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as jetties and
piers. Heed the advice of lifeguards and the beach patrol. Pay
attention to flags and posted signs.

If you become caught in a rip current... do not panic. Remain calm
and begin to swim parallel to shore. Once you are away from the
force of the rip current... begin to swim back to the beach. Do
not attempt to swim directly against a rip current. Even a strong
swimmer can become exhausted quickly.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Language Change to LDRs being considered tonight by the HRPB

Designed to prevent another "ginormous" garage in your neighborhood.


LAKE WORTH, FL--- Florida State Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), along with State Representative Bobby Powell, Jr., is sponsoring a “There Ought To Be A Law” Competition for the AP Government Students at Suncoast High School. The students were asked to come up with an idea for a new law and formulate that idea into a legislative proposal. At the end of the competition, one proposal will be chosen and filed as a Bill for the upcoming Legislative Session. 

"Certainly, Legislators don't have a monopoly on good ideas," Clemens said. "I've heard some of the students' early idea drafts and I'm excited to see what they've come up with." 

The students at Suncoast High School began working in groups of four on their proposals in mid-September. The deadline for submission was October 28, 2013. Of the proposals submitted, five proposals were chosen as Finalists.

“Public participation is the most important part that we rely on as public officials,” said Powell. “This is an opportunity for our best and brightest to contribute to the process.”

The Finalists will present their proposals to a panel on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 6:00pm – 7:30pm at Suncoast High School. At the conclusion of the presentations, one proposal will be chosen to be filed as sponsored legislation for the 2014 Legislative Session.

Serving on the panel are: Dr. Linda Cartlidge, Principal, Suncoast High School; Mr. Kevin Oates, Assistant Principal, Suncoast High School; Dr. Debra Robinson, PBC School Board, District 7; Vern Pickup-Crawford, Legislative Liaison; State Representative Bobby Powell, Jr., Florida House District 89.

Southbound Alton Road to be closed for a year in Miami Beach - Miami Beach -

More evidence of sea level rise and what is required to combat it. Click title for link. This is from the article:
The southbound Alton closure is a result of a $32 million project by the Florida Department of Transportation. Below ground, FDOT is installing three new pump stations and an underground drainage system.
“Ultimately this project is to improve the drainage in this area. It’s to help mitigate the flooding. It’s to help prevent the high tides from coming back onto the street,” said FDOT spokeswoman Heather Leslie.
The neighborhood is often inundated by rain or even just high tides, as the southwest area is among the lowest-lying land in Miami Beach.

Gaetz returns with bill targeting renewable fuels while AP report aims at ethanol initiative | The Florida Current

David Mica of the Florida Petroleum Council, recent guest on a High Noon in Lake Worth show, is quoted widely in the article. His group wants to rollback the increased requirements for ethanol content in gasoline. Click title for link.

Dr. Bill Stronge - Noted Florida Economist 11/15 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Politics Podcasts

Join your host Wes Blackman as he welcomes Dr. Bill Stronge to the High Noon in Lake Worth studios. Dr. Stronge received his Bachelor's Degree in Economics from Iowa State University in  1971. A native of Ireland, Bill received his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the National University of Ireland in 1964. He was a professor in the Economics Department at Florida Atlantic University 1971-2006 (Chair, 1981-90). FAU Director of International Programs 1990-2003. He is now Professor Emeritus of Economics and engages in economic consulting and research for a variety of public sector and private sector clients. In 2008 he published The Sunshine Economy, an Economic History of Florida Since the Civil War, University Press of Florida. Recently, he was appointed a Fellow with the Economic Development Research Institute (EDRI) in Palm Beach County. For the past several years he has monitored economic trends in the county and regional economies for EDRI, contributing to the EDRI Quarterly Economic Reports and Economists’ Roundtable and Internet Chat Room. In 2009, he became an adjunct professor of economics at Nova Southeastern University in the Master’s in Real Estate Program and in 2011 in the MBA Program.

Click title for link to live show between 12 and 1 p.m. or after show airs for archived version. Leave questions as comments below. Trying again after last week's technical difficulties.

Cost kills possibility of broadcasting council meetings |

I remember City Manager Bornstein saying he was given similar numbers by staff on installing a camera and live streaming video from the Commission Chambers. To his credit, he realized that a simple webcam from Office Depot and a cable were about all that is needed. True, the picture is a bit fuzzy and it is hard to sift through an entire meeting if you are looking for something. But it is useful for people who can't make it physically to the meeting to watch in real time and of course there is archived video afterwards. What I do just supplements the effort and increases accessible by having the videos on YouTube and they are usually in smaller segments according to different sections on the agenda. 

Palm Beach has the money to broadcast its meetings in HD and stream it to the world. The point is, they don't want to. Click title for link.

Sprawl Development Plan - Minto Development - Western Palm Beach County

If we don't support and promote the redevelopment of urban areas, pressure is reinforced that encourages development like this. For an orientation of where this is, the north/south road in the center of the site plan is Seminole/Pratt Whitney Road.

Charlie Crist campaign team looks a lot like President Obama’s campaign team - Florida -

I'm not much of a Crist fan for a number of reasons, but definitely not a fan of Governor Scott. It seems that Florida's "Team Obama" is lining up to support Christ. Click title for link to article.

Council backs $59 million bond |

The Town of Palm Beach is going after its own version of a Lake Worth 2020 plan, putting big money toward what it thinks are priority capital improvements. It doesn't sound like their bond issue is subject to a vote of the electorate, at least according to the article. One of the points the Town Manager makes is that the time to issue the bonds is now due to the low interest rates. And I guess the Town of Palm Beach is still studying whether to broadcast its Council meetings through streaming video. My bet is that they don't want to. Click title for link. From the article:
The Town Council approved on Tuesday a bond issue of up to $59 million to pay for capital improvements, coastal protection and renovations to Town Hall Square and Memorial Park.
That includes more than $40 million for phase 2 of the accelerated capital program, which includes improvements to drainage, sanitary facilities, sidewalks, Memorial Fountain and street lighting. The work is scheduled to begin in 2017 and take about three years to complete.The bond issue is being done early to take advantage of lower interest rates, Town Manager Peter Elwell said.

Fast-track legislation? Bill would allow speed limit of 75 on... |

State Senator and Former Lake Worth Mayor, Jeff Clemens (D) is in the news with a new proposal to raise speed limits on rural roads around the state. He acknowledges having a bit a of a lead foot himself. Click title for link. Here's what he says:
Clemens, who records show has had a number of traffic violations, including speeding, in the past three years, said he has not had any accidents. “Being a fast driver doesn’t always mean you’re a bad driver,” he said.
Clemens emphasized the effort is aimed at rural and more isolated stretches of roads. “Not I-95 in South Florida,” he said. 

Student-built home for Habitat for Humanity on 7 trucks,... |

Watch for this happening today on our street. Cool concept. The time for modular homes has come. Click title for link. Here's the key aspects:
Habitat supplied the building materials. The students, mentored by their teacher, a volunteer project manager and local subcontractors, did all the work.
The house rolled out of the Academy’s shop yesterday, according to the school district’s web site.
Loaded on seven tractor-trailers, It will be driven in pieces to 130 South E Street in Lake Worth. The goal is to have the 1,206 square-foot house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms “completely installed” by sundown.

Neighbors upset about open fire hydrants, city says they are "flushing" the system

In case you didn't see the lead piece on Channel 5 last night, here it is. Click title for link.

Wal-Mart: An economic cancer on our cities -

Must article in Salon - click title for link. Joe Minicozzi is mentioned throughout the article. For a time, ten or so years ago, he was a planner working for the City of West Palm Beach. He is the father of the many traffic calming devices you find on the streets of our neighboring, larger city. He is now is Ashville, North Carolina and he offers a thorough explanation of the importance of traditional downtown redevelopment versus "sprawl" development - like Walmarts and acres of single family homes on large lots, serviced primarily by the automobile. It turns out that the return in investment of jobs and tax revenue is hands down better in downtowns as it is in Sprawl-ville. Read on.
To explain, Minicozzi offered me his classic urban accounting smackdown, using two competing properties: On the one side is a downtown building his firm rescued—a six-story steel-framed 1923 classic once owned by JCPenney and converted into shops, offices, and condos. On the other side is a Walmart on the edge of town. The old Penney’s building sits on less than a quarter of an acre, while the Walmart and its parking lots occupy thirty-four acres. Adding up the property and sales tax paid on each piece of land, Minicozzi found that the Walmart contributed only $50,800 to the city in retail and property taxes for each acre it used, but the JCPenney building contributed a whopping $330,000 per acre in property tax alone. In other words, the city got more than seven times the return for every acre on downtown investments than it did when it broke new ground out on the city limits.
When Minicozzi looked at job density, the difference was even more vivid: the small businesses that occupied the old Penney’s building employed fourteen people, which doesn’t seem like many until you realize that this is actually seventy-four jobs per acre, compared with the fewer than six jobs per acre created on a sprawling Walmart site. (This is particularly dire given that on top of reducing jobs density in its host cities, Walmart depresses average wages as well.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pics from the Channel 5 Visit Today

"Look Ma, no crime tape!"

Tune-in at 6 p.m., Tonight on Channel 5

My kitchen sink gets its 15 seconds of fame!

Just got word: Miami Web Awards - November 14th

You have been selected as a finalist for New Times Miami Web Awards! 

We will be celebrating Miami's interweb superstars with a Tweet Up at Shots Miami from 7:30-9pm where you'll enjoy complimentary drinks and bites. The Web Awards ceremony will take place from 9-10pm

See you at #MiamiWebAwards! 

Best of luck, 

Miami New Times Staff

Friedrich Nietzsche

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music..."

Direct Action: What It Is and Why We Use It | Earth First! Newswire

Mr. Tsolkas shares some "how to" advice on "direct actions." He draws from his significant experience. Would you say that eight years without a workable set of land development regulations is an example of paperwrenching? You might. Here is one of the rare, illuminating paragraphs from the article.
Despite years of experience and knowledge now spanning generations, it’s still a challenge to describe exactly what sort of actions fall in this category. Generally accepted on the list are endless varieties of blockades, occupations, and sabotage of all shapes and forms (what we refer to as monkeywrenching); though things like mass marches, home demos, banner hangs, costly administrative petitions, and pro-se legal challenges (or paperwrenching), political pranks and miscellaneous deviltry also often make the cut – depending on who you’re talking to.
Could "miscellaneous deviltry" also include stealing political signs? Is this part of the fundraising campaign and being more transparent?

Is this the best cycling invention ever? The invisible bike helmet is here

Cool invention by two Swedish women. Click title for link to article. Here is a video that shows how this "helmet" works.

Allen West embraces his inner samurai in ‘Guardian of the Republic’ | Post on Politics

That motorcyle West is on would look great tooling down Lake Osborne Drive to pick up one of his biggest fans. She'd look "hot" hanging on to Allen, hair blowing in the wind. Oh, the things of fantasy. Click title for link to an announcement of his coming book.

Golf course development fight prompts new law push - Sun Sentinel

Conversion of former golf course land to a development of townhomes and zero-lot-line patio homes are still an issue in one Boca Raton neighborhood. This fight has gone on for years and now residents are hoping for a state law to come to the rescue. Click title for link. This is from the end of the article:
Yet opponents of the 288 homes contend that a new developer shouldn't be able to build on land sold to them as a recreational amenity.
The proposed rule change would block the ability of developers today to claim that because all of the homes once envisioned for Boca Del Mar back when it was approved in 1971 weren't built, that some of those development rights can now be applied to the golf course.
While residents push for the new law, the latest development proposal goes before the County Commission in January.

West Palm Beach: State should pay for rail ‘quiet zones’ |

Lake Worth is teaming up with West Palm Beach, trying to get money for train crossing improvements. Click title for link to article.
Lake Worth, whose nine gated crossings rank it second behind West Palm Beach, already is in agreement.“You’re going to find all the cities (joining in),” Lake Worth Town Manager Michael Bornstein said Monday. He said cities in the Metropolitan Planning Organization have “all said the same thing: the DOT should step up to the plate.”Bornstein said Lake Worth’s cost could be as much as $3 million. “It would hurt,” he said. “We just don’t have the money.”

Public officials spar via emails: Ellis and Satellite Beach City Manager exchange insults | FLORIDA TODAY |

Satellite Beach officials go into orbit over CRA transfers. These exchanges were between a County Clerk and the Satellite Beach City Manager. Impressive storage room for records there. Click title for Florida Today article.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lake Worth, we have a water problem...

View of the corner of Pennsylvania and Columbia (click for larger image)
In order to conserve keystrokes, I will share correspondence with the City Commission, City Manager and our head of Water Utilities. All of this is public information. I will also summarize the telephone conversation I had with Larry Johnson, head of Water Utilities. This was sent yesterday and I am pleasantly surprised by the prompt responses. Nothing from the elected officials though.

From yesterday morning:

For the past week or more, city water personnel have come to the corner of Pennsylvania and Columbia and ritually opened the fire hydrant at what is the northwest corner of my yard. This has been done without a knock on the door, a flyer, a press release from the city - nothing. As I type this, water is pouring out the hydrant, flowing down the Columbia (River?). The only information I have been able to gather from the water department personnel is that the chlorine is at .02 in this area and it should be .04. This is after asking them - not after being told by them first. It is said that this area "must not be using enough water." Yesterday I was told, after asking, that the chlorine levels at the plant aren't right and that this will be going on for another week or so.

See picture below [above]. This is what it is doing now.

This is in addition to a new apparatus that was placed in the swale that can be seen at the left side of the picture. The light green device cycles every 24 hours and runs, like the fire hydrant is running now. Another "thing" that is green and also at the left of the picture was installed so that the water could be tested without having to come to my house - yes. Before this was installed, city employees would come to my house, unannounced and draw water from any convenient hose bib to get their water sample. I found out about this practice one morning about 6 months ago when I woke up and heard water running in the house. I find an employee taking a sample, and rubbing my eyes, asked him what he was doing. He said that this is a "dead" area at the end of the line and they need to sample the water. I told him I would appreciate being asked before or told about the practice before someone just walks up and starts using my outdoor faucets. He said that the city is about to install something that would eliminate the "need" to test the water at my house.

That is the equipment that appears in the left side of the picture. I know that is the city's property and you can do with it what you will, but it would have been nice to have some say in the placement of this device as it is in the most prominent location as it can be as you turn south on Pennsylvania from the Columbia (River).

I am a rational person and understand that you must test the water occasionally.  But this has now, officially, gotten out of control. 
  • If I was not asking about what was going on, I wouldn't know. The city is following standard procedure and making sure to do it's best not to communicate with residents about the situation and the solution.
  • Is there a public health risk? If not, why all the attention?
  • When the fire hydrant is on, there is very little water pressure to the point where doing wash, cooking, flushing toilets is close to impossible. The fire hydrant is open for hours at a time.
  • Aren't we supposed to be conserving water? What message does it send, especially when the city sends no message formally, that it is o.k. that the city lets thousands of gallons spew forth from a fire hydrant for hours at a time or another device designed to do the same thing no more that 25 feet away.
  • Are we still getting water from West Palm Beach?
Can the City please inform people through whatever channels - smoke signals, morse code, drum beats, signal flares - whatever you are most comfortable using, to inform residents about what is going on.

Thank you!

Response from City Manager Bornstein:


I will have Larry Johnson our new Water/Sewer Utilities director explain in greater detail, but here's the basics.

There is a tank on the north end where the water goes before being distributed.  When the State regulations changed our disinfectant process (chemicals) the chlorination equipment at the tank was removed.  This was done a couple years earlier.  The chlorine levels required to meet Health Dept regs are difficult to maintain in your neighborhood as it is at the end of the line.   Unfortunately the only method available is to draw newly treated water into that area through opening the lines.  It is inefficient, problematic for the residents near the hydrants and makes us look crazy.  Larry has only been on board a couple of months and this is one of the issues he brought to me.  He is in the process of fixing the chlorine levels by reinstalling some equipment on the tank.  He will give you a better update on the ETA of the changes.  He will also correct any technically wrong statements I have made above.

I am so sorry for the situation and I hope we will have it resolved soon.

As to the rest of your email, there are 'fires' like this continually all over the City.  Our goal is the fix them without being told to before someone complains.   It is our responsibility and our job.  Our citizens should not have to waste their time grappling with what should be considered the basics. Your time is better spent living, working, and creating a healthy economy.

There is so much distrust with the City organization, albeit based on experience over years.  I spend a lot of time telling citizens something they have already been promised by a parade of staff.  Most are skeptical and some are just downright bitter.  We find ourselves running hard and fast to fix as many things as we can to earn their trust.  However,  We need to do a better job handling situations like this hydrant and that is our goal.

We are gradually catching up and we will become that responsive, proactive entity the residents deserve and information will be relevant and reliable.  The coming year will see some really cool (industry standard :o)) interface technology being rolled out.  But like everything else here, we are having to concurrently fix the internal processes or even create them before allowing this flow of information and response to occur.  Ugh.

In Public Service,

From Larry Johnson, Water Utilities Director:

Mr Blackman
Both of the devices recently installed near your home are intended to maintain water quality in a less obtrusive manner.  One is an automatic flusher that flushes a controlled amount of water during the night.  The automatic flusher does conserve water compared to manual flushing.
The other provides a location where required water samples can be taken without going onto private property.
Unfortunately we need to flush hydrants manually until repairs can be made to the disinfection system.
I will discuss this with you further at your convenience.  Let me know if you would like to talk by phone or in person.
Thank you
Larry Johnson

This morning, upon awakening to the fire hydrant spewing fresh water again, I called Mr. Johnson and left a message on his cell phone. He called me back and we had a nice conversation. I also appreciate him getting back to me on a typical government holiday. My major concern is the wasting of treated, fresh water that we are told that we have to conserve and how long this flushing at the hydrant will go on. It is clear that the automatic flusher is here to stay and I am o.k. with that, I guess.

This is what I was told. The water when it leaves the plant is fine and has the proper chlorine residual. In fact, they have increased the amount of chlorine to combat just this situation. The situation is that by the time it gets up into the water tower by the ballfields and is distributed through our old 2" and 4" steel lines, the chlorine residual declines. This is especially true for areas that are at the "end of the line", like College Park. Stagnant water loses chlorine as it sits. The situation is made worse by the condition of those old lines.

In order to address the problem, the city plans to install chlorine injectors by the NW water tower. This will be in the "next three to six months." In the meantime, daily flushing of the hydrant will continue to make sure that the chlorine residual is where it needs to be. If we don't do this, we would have to boil our water to cook or drink.

I asked how much water is being lost when this flushing occurs. Mr. Johnson said that they do not know, but it is "a lot." They are working to calculate the total lost on a monthly basis but aren't there yet. The automatic flush is much more efficient, but is not enough to do the job.

An alert neighbor reminded me of the $70 million dollar bond issue that was designed for the upgrade and maintenance of our water and electric distribution systems. Some money from that issue went to that purpose, but a lot of it went to fund the reverse osmosis plant.

Mr. Johnson thought that the needed upgrades citywide could be funded through the Lake Worth 2020 program - that's been talked about a lot here on this blog. And, he added, we are no longer getting water from West Palm Beach.

The following video is from yesterday's flushing. I put the video to Handel's Water Music, supplemented with Music for the Royal Fireworks and threw in the Hallelujah Chorus for good measure. I find the sound of running water therapeutic and I am sharing this as a public service. I just wonder how many gallons this actually is, multiplied by 30 days, multiplied by three to six months.

Boynton Beach now uploads videos of their City Commission meetings to YouTube...

This one is from 11/5/13. Perhaps I should charge Lake Worth for my services.

South Florida Faces Ominous Prospects From Rising Waters

Article appearing in yesterday's New York Times about our fate as sea levels rise and the effect on south Florida. Click title for link.
Long battered by hurricanes and prone to flooding from intense thunderstorms, Florida is the most vulnerable state in the country to the rise in sea levels.

Homeless say they are unfairly rousted at John Prince Park - Page 2 - Sun Sentinel

Palm Beach County is cracking down in John Prince Park, enforcing regulations related to how many people can be in a pavilion without a reservation and others sleeping or lying down in the park. Might this be pushing the homeless population into city of Lake Worth parks? Click title for link to the Sun-Sentinel article - unusual as it is a little north of their traditional territory.

West Palm Beat blog | The Palm Beach Post » Blog Archive » West Palm Beach top 10 digital city

Lake Worth's luddite philosophy provides a stark contrast with our municipal neighbor to the north, especially when you realize they are so out front in a group of cities their size in adopting social media and adapting to the rapidly changing ways to distribute information. Click title for link.

Locals pitch baseball complex for downtown West Palm Beach |

Ever ambitious West Palm Beach is trying to line up a location for a Spring League baseball stadium, given the push back from Palm Beach Gardens residents on a stadium proposal in their neck of the woods. How successful they will be is in question. Seems like the Astros are firm on the Palm Beach Gardens location. Click title for link.

In honor of Veterans Day

Sunday, November 10, 2013

That was then, this is now...

Digital Ghost
Today - Up in Smoke or Ashes to Ashes...

Evidentiary Remains

Is It Too Late to Prepare for Climate Change? : The New Yorker

Must read. We are past the tipping point and know it, in other areas, we are about to find out. The future doesn't look bright, it looks hot. Click title for link. Here is the last paragraph:
As we merrily roll along, radically altering the planet, we are, as the leaked I.P.C.C. report makes clear, increasingly in danger of committing ourselves to outcomes that will simply overwhelm societies’ ability to adapt. Certainly they will overwhelm the abilities of frogs and trees and birds to adapt. Thus, any genuine “preparedness” strategy must include averting those eventualities for which preparation is impossible. This is not something that the President can do by executive order, but it’s something he ought to be pursuing with every other tool. As Obama himself put it in a speech this past spring, “Those of us in positions of responsibility, we’ll need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of posterity. Because you and your children, and your children’s children, will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.”

Ultra eco-friendly home could be first on Palm Beach |

Interesting to note that this is Palm Beach's first LEED certified house. Click title for link. You may miss this at the end of the article though. Lake Worth is mentioned in JPMorgan Chase's program to get foreclosed properties back in the hands of private owners. I wonder if these units were part of the NSP2 program, or if this happened in other areas of the city?
On the other end of the housing spectrum, low- to moderate-income homebuyers are benefitting from $250 million in charity from an uncommon source — a bank.
JPMorgan Chase announced in October it had donated or sold at a discount 5,300 homes nationwide since 2009 when it launched the JPMorgan Chase Community Revitalization program.
About 55 homes in West Palm Beach, 26 in Lake Worth, and 21 in Port St. Lucie have been donated or sold through the program.
The plan partners with local non-profit groups to pair families with homes. About 800 homes, which are bank-owned former foreclosures, are in Florida.
“When you can strengthen communities and donate homes and generate jobs, that’s a win all around,” said Ryan Crowley, head of Chase’s government committee partnerships.
Last month, Chase reportedly reached a multi-billion deal with federal regulators to settle probes into its mortgage-backed security sales.

Kolter Group proposes first homes on Briger tract in Palm... |

This article is written by our friend Willie Howard from his new territory. These are preliminary plans and it seems as though official action is a way off in the future. But this stood out at the end of the article. Click title for link.
Environmentalists with Everglades Earth First! protested outside city hall when the city council considered the master plan for the Briger tract in 2010, arguing that undeveloped land in the county should be preserved.
In September, four environmental groups, including the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition and the Sierra Club’s Loxahatchee Group, sent a letter to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service challenging the federal agency’s biological opinion about eastern indigo snakes on the Briger tract.
As of last week, the Fish & Wildlife Service had not responded to the environmental groups’ letter, which argues the agency is obligated under the Endangered Species Act to suggest measures to minimize the impact of development on the federally protected snake.

Delray mayor says sober houses need more oversight - Page 2 - Sun Sentinel

Vice-Mayor Maxwell made this point at the last City Commission meeting (11/5). He is also the chair of the Palm Beach County League of Cities this year and is attempting to use that platform to get the attention of the Governor and the State Legislature. He and representatives from other cities are concerned about the proliferation of sober houses, good and bad as the article states, from overwhelming their communities. Apparently, Delray Beach is feeling the effect from the situation where ADA and Fair Housing laws protect people in treatment programs from discrimination - and in some cases regulation. Click title for link to article.

Proposed ordinance aims to balance preservation, revitalization |

Vote coming Wednesday by the Town of Palm Beach on a zoning change to the Royal Poinciana area of Palm Beach. The City Council has moved the meeting location to the Society of the Four Arts auditorium to accommodate the crowd. Click title for link to article. Here's a bit:
One concern expressed by some town residents is that the proposed ordinance might entice developers to consolidate smaller lots and to use its higher residential-density threshold (up to 13 units per acre, as opposed to a maximum of six under existing code) to “max out” profits.
But no development eligible for the PUD-5 could exceed 1.5 acres in size, Zoning Administrator Paul Castro said in an interview last week. The Royal Poinciana Way Committee, which crafted the ordinance and recommended its approval by the Town Council, installed the 1.5-acre limit “because they did not want the PUD-5 to get too big, like a CityPlace,” Castro explained.
If the proposed ordinance passes, applicants could not seek variances to get around the lot-size rule. Nor could they seek variances to exceed either the building-height limit of 43 feet or the maximum lot coverage of 70 percent.