Saturday, July 25, 2015

Developing story: big changes coming to Dixie Hwy. in the little City of Lake Worth

Sun Sentinel reporters Angel Streeter and Yiran Zhu have a very short but highly significant news item about Dixie Hwy. in Lake Worth. Their sources are the FDOT, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, and the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

You can read the article and see an interactive map here. Here is an excerpt from the article:
Cities like West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach and Tequesta also are planning for big changes to the road by narrowing it, building bigger sidewalks and adding bike lanes and shade trees. Some want more vibrant downtowns; others are reacting to the influx of residential development to the corridor.

Too cute: this was on Twitter yesterday

News item in The Lake Worth Herald this week

I've been getting many calls and others contacting me about this item in The Lake Worth Herald this week:
Click here for the entire letter and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Thank you everyone for the kind words.

NBC5/WPTV reports about the rash of shootings in West Palm Beach

The Cpt. Silva Farewell Potluck Picnic is TODAY in Bryant Park

Friday, July 24, 2015

[UPDATE] Lake Worth Artists and Cottage Entrepreneurs (ACE): Frequently Asked Questions

[UPDATE: Thursday evening (7/23) I had a meeting with ACE concerning their 'home occupation' zoning change proposal. Check back here tomorrow for my thoughts on the meeting, the ACE proposal, my conclusion/recommendations and research I've done to support my conclusions. In the meantime here are my first thoughts on the proposal by ACE below from Thursday morning (7/23)]

This is from an information sheet (FAQ) put out by the group. They have agreed to meet with me to answer some of the questions that I put forward here yesterday. This 'FAQ' doesn't quite do that, but it is a start. I am glad they are reaching out to people but think that should ideally have been done earlier in the process.

My main concerns center on the extent of the geographic area they may be talking about: Eighty-percent of the city, approximately the total of residential land in Lake Worth is a very large area. I am also concerned about how these changes will be reviewed and by whom. And I have many questions about how much is too much to allow in a residential zoning district.
I also find it interesting that the supporters of this initiative seem to be made up of many in the group who were against the height ordinance. It seems to me that these residential zoning changes would have much greater impact on people's daily lives and affect people where they live, much more than whether a hotel can be six stories instead of four stories east of Federal Hwy.

I'm having trouble with this Princess and the Pea attitude toward height, but being very laissez faire when it comes to people living in residential neighborhoods with one- and two-story homes. Many homeowners bought property in theses neighborhoods expecting certainty in their zoning code; not expecting whimsical changes from time to time because some think they have a better idea and hired lawyers and PR people to sell it to the community.

But I am glad we are going to be talking. Hopefully compromise and understanding will carry the day.

Cultural Plaza Screen on the Green CANCELLED for tonight

After much consideration and pouring over weather forecasts from several different sources, the CRA has announced they will be postponing tonight's Screen on the Green. A new date will be announced next week. The NAPC Front Porch will be there when the Screen on the Green returns! Please share this information with everyone.

No, you're not smelling burning bodies and hair in Lake Worth

Jamel Laneé at NBC5/WPTV does a very fair and accurate news segment on the crematorium in Lake Worth having issues with their facility. Here is an excerpt from the text of her report:
     Some living near the All County Funeral Home and Crematory are concerned that dark smoke coming from the funeral home is possibly ashes of deceased people. [it's not]
     The Palm Beach County Health Department said that what people are actually seeing is soot, which it said is similar to what is seen when diesel is burning.
     The Health Department, which oversees crematories, showed up after it received several complaints along with pictures showing the thick, black smoke coming out of the building.
     Burners within the incinerators are reportedly not working correctly and the Health Department is trying to figure out why.
Here is the definition of soota black, carbonaceous substance produced during incomplete combustion of coal, wood, oil, etc., rising in fine particles and adhering to the sides of the chimney or pipe conveying the smoke: also conveyed in the atmosphere to other locations.

For example, when you see a truck going from a stop and gaining speed you'll see a puff of smoke from some vehicles. This is when the truck is switching gears and the result is 'incomplete combustion' of the diesel fuel.

Coyotes in Greenacres! How long before they're in the City of Lake Worth?

It won't be long. And it will be welcome news for some in our community. If you recall the news segment by Jonathan Beaton at CBS12/WPEC, Lake Worth has a terrible cat problem on the lettered streets here in the City. There is speculation why they're sticking to the lettered streets and some think the dogs and cats are carving up the City into territories.

There might be a solution to the feral cat problem in Lake Worth, and the answer may come from Greenacres. Here is the news from Kevin Thompson on coyotes spotted in the area:
     Two roaming coyotes were recently spotted and the top halves of two dead cats were found in The Landings at River Bridge on Jog Road, according to an email from the president of the community’s board of directors.
     Residents received the email on Tuesday.
     “This was a total surprise to me because we’ve had raccoons like crazy,” said Jeneil Stevens, who has lived in River Bridge the past five years. “Maybe this might cure that problem.”
If you spot a coyote in the City of Lake Worth or have other good news you want to share with Kevin Thompson at The Palm Beach Post, here is his contact info:
Twitter: @kevindthompson1

Happy Hour of the Week: The Beach Club, Lake Worth

Leslie Gray Streeter has her "Happy Hour of the Week" and this week it's The Beach Club. From the article:
Why we like it: Honestly, even if the food was awful, which it’s not (it’s delicious!) we’d come here just for the view of the golf course and its colorful creatures, like the young duck that came and sat under our table on the patio, and the golfers taking a break for a beer. And then there’s the Intracoastal and a peek of Palm Beach, where they’re paying through the nose for sandwich and you’re chilling on your $5 slider over here in the L-Dub. It’s all delicious.
     Why else we like it: It really is possible to be full off of the Happy Hour menu here and feel like you had some real food. And it’s good food – the chicken sliders with bacon are surreal.
If You Go: The Beach Club, 1 7th Ave. North, Lake Worth, at the Lake Worth Municipal Golf Course, (561) 585-8976

The Obtuse Blogger (TOB) and another long, silly list of crime in Lake Worth

TOB confirms on her blog she is indeed "Obtuse".
OK, there is crime in Lake Worth. Also have it on good authority, if you can believe sources like The Palm Beach Post and NBC5/WPTV, there is crime in a few other areas in Palm Beach County as well. But TOB has a habit of posting these obnoxiously long lists of crime which no one is going to read, or verify, except for a reader of my blog with an attention to detail.
From a previous silly list: "Beverage Violations" are not crimes.
In TOB's latest rant about crime in Lake Worth are these:
  • 5 Beverage Violations
  • 6 Other (what is "Other"? Not defined. Is "Other" a new crime?)
  • 1 Disturbance (a car stereo too loud?)
How many crimes this time are outside the City of Lake Worth? 7
  • 2700 BLOCK 6TH AVE S
  • 2600 BLOCK 6TH AVE S
  • 2400 BLOCK 2ND AVE N (2)
  • 6200 BLOCK PINE DR
All this information is thrown against the wall without any context and also note that she never posts a list of arrests made; isn't that interesting?

This is nothing new from TOB; here is just one more example of her lack of research: The 6200 BLOCK OF PINE DR is west of Lantana and south of the PBC Airport, how could she not know that?

All Aboard Florida: Construction of stations has begun, track and crossing work to start soon

About this video: Construction is underway for each of the stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. These stations exist along the All Aboard Florida route from Miami to Orlando. Track work and new grade crossing equipment installation will begin soon.

[A LOOK BACK] Margaret Menge's pity party: the lead-up to her pulling the plug on her tabloid

[THE HISTORY: On February 28th Margaret Menge had a pity party and she had another one on May 1st, her last as 'editor/journalist'. She shut her tabloid down and of course it's everybody else's fault and she did nothing wrong. You didn't need a Crystal Ball to see her tabloid going down in flames; when you have an ALWAYS FREE tabloid that's delivered FREE with almost NO ADVERTISING the word 'unsustainable' comes to mind. So, without further ado, a look back at Ms. Menge's pity party in February as reported on this blog:]

There is so much nonsense in this week's Trib by Ms. Menge it's a challenge where to start: more "Common Ground (no 's') Church" nonsense, city commissioner's in a car together is a "Sunshine" issue (it is not), and a "Classifieds" section that is downright hilarious.

First though, some background—this 'newspaper' only began FREE circulation on January 16th of this year—and it is still free (mull on that for a few minutes). As of today, 2/28, that's only 44 days ago and just 53 days prior to a municipal election here in the City of Lake Worth. Note she did something very similar in 2012:
On Sunday, July 29, 2012, Margaret Menge rolled out her on-line 'newspaper' called The Lake Worth Sun. The last story in The Lake Worth Sun appeared 100 days later, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. That was election day in Lake Worth.
[November 6, 2012 was the day Commissioner McVoy was re-elected.]

Now for Margaret's pity party. The following excerpts appear in her House Editorial (Lake Worth Tribune, 2/27/15) titled: "This Community Newspaper Needs Your Help":
     I [Margaret Menge, Editor and Publisher] have an awful lot to say about the news this week. But I have to take a break to ask for your help.
     I need help if I am to continue to put out this newspaper every week.
     I need someone to type up the Events Calendar each week. You could do it from home. It should take a couple of hours to gather the information, type it up and send it in.
     If there's someone pretty sharp out there – maybe a retired attorney or journalist – I would really appreciate your help in going through this [PBSO] crime report and rewriting it in English.
     If you have not done so already, please subscribe to the newspaper. Just do it. Send your check in, and we will bring a paper around to you. Free delivery to College Park and all other homes east of Federal is a promotional thing, and it's going to end very soon.
How interesting! [and...]
     The newspaper business is tough, and more money has been going out than coming in over these last three months as I worked to set up an office and start the newspaper.
And this comes as a surprise? To whom? [and lastly, drum roll please...]
     I want to keep this paper going. But it's a terrible lot of work...But I need more help. I don't mind admitting it.
Note that Margaret's editorial uses the word "I" sixteen times. Which makes you wonder who this 'community' newspaper serves: her or us.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), 1694–1778, writer, historian, and philosopher known for his wit:

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
Click title for link to more information on Voltaire.

What's going on at the Lake Worth Playhouse? The 2015/2016 Season

Current Regulations in Lake Worth Sec. 23.4-6.—Home occupations

Click title for link to Municode section in the Lake Worth, Florida code of ordinances. A group that's not taken their proposal before the Lake Worth public as yet or sought public comment is proposing to change the residential zoning to allow manufacturing, among other commercial activity in the City's neighborhoods. This has made Lake Worth residents very angry.

Below is the current City regulations for 'Home occupations':

Sec. 23.4-6. - Home occupations. 
a) Purpose. It is the purpose of this section to provide for the orderly use of residential premises for certain customary home occupations. This provision allows for a portion of a residential unit to support a home office space that generates income for the owner/tenant. If is further the purpose to assure that none of the residential ambiance of a neighborhood is modified or in any way diminished by the presence of said home occupation
b) Design and performance standards. 
1. Limited use. The home occupation shall be conducted within the residential premises and only by the person who is licensed to do so and is a resident of the premises. The individual so licensed shall not engage any employees to assist in the home occupation. 
2. Pedestrian and automobile traffic. The home occupation shall not generate pedestrian or automobile traffic beyond what would normally be expected in a residential district. 
3. Maximum area of use. No individual home occupation shall occupy more space than twenty (20) percent of the total floor area of a residence exclusive of any open porch, attached garage, or similar space not suited for or intended to be occupied as living quarters, provided however, in no event shall such all home occupations occupy more than forty (40) percent of the total floor area of the residence or one thousand (1,000) square feet, whichever is less. 
4. No signs or advertisements. No signs, banners or flyers shall be permitted to advertise the accessory use of the premises for an occupational purpose. 
5. Limited equipment. No equipment shall be used on the building site except telephones, typewriters, personal computers and mailboxes. 
6. Stock in trade. No goods shall be sold on or from the building site. Stock or inventory is permitted in so much as will fit within the allowable area of the residence being utilized as a home occupation and does not create a health or safety hazard. No outdoor storage of materials or equipment related to the home occupation shall be permitted on the premises. Deliveries may not exceed that which would be utilized by a private residence and shall not be disruptive to the immediate neighborhood 
7. Parking. The vehicle used for the home occupation is limited to a passenger car, van, or pickup truck. The vehicle may not be more than twenty (20) feet in overall length and not more than seven (7) feet in overall height. Any vehicles used solely in connection with such home occupation must have separate off-street parking facilities in addition to those provided for the residence, except as otherwise regulated by city ordinances. 
8. Residential character. There shall be no alteration in the residential character or appearance of the premises in connection with such home occupation. 
9. Neighborhood impact. A home occupation shall not create any nuisance, hazard, or other offensive condition, such as that resulting from noise, smoke, fumes, dust, odors, or other noxious emissions. Electrical or mechanical equipment that causes fluctuations in line voltage, creates any interference in audio or video reception, or causes any perceivable vibration on adjacent properties is not permitted. 
10. Three (3) home occupations per residence. No more than three (3) home occupations shall be permitted at any given residence at one (1) time. Each home occupation must maintain the required applicable business tax receipts and use and occupancy certificates.

Another Palm Beach Post article about a Lake Worth crematorium: sans the smoke "shroud"

Here is the first paragraph from Joe Capozzi's article that appeared above the fold on Sunday, July 19th:
The thick black smoke was hard to miss. It curled into the sky, swallowing the tops of palm trees and tumbling down like a shroud over the downtown streets around Lake Avenue just west of U.S. 1.
This latest article in the Local 'B' section today (7/23) is far less dramatic than what appeared in Sunday's print edition and includes some very helpful information. We learn that the operator of the crematorium is close to identifying/correcting the problem and is working with the local Lake Worth NAPC's Royal Poinciana Neighborhood Association. Here is an excerpt:
     The operators of a Lake Avenue crematorium have apologized to residents of a nearby neighborhood after heavy smoke from a cremation was released into the air last week for the second time in 16 days.
     All County Funeral Home & Crematory informed the Palm Beach County Health Department about the latest smoking incident, minutes after it occurred on the morning of July 16 and said it had identified a potential cause.
     “We won’t rest until we figure out the cause and we sincerely apologize to anyone who has been negatively affected by these incidents,’’ Shaun Luyk, All County’s general manager, wrote that day in a letter to Sarah Malega, president of the Royal Poinciana Neighborhood Association.
Now more about the story that appeared in Sunday's printed edition. Won't get specific but it appears my blog post that day (7/19) resonated with some at the Post. My point is simply this: the crematorium incident(s) in Lake Worth is/are news but have no place on the front page, 'A' section of the paper. This is a local story and belongs in the Local 'B' section. The City of Lake Worth was used to sell more papers. Burning bodies, smoke "shrouds", the (imagined) smell of cremated hair can achieve that purpose.

A month (or so) ago an article was published in the Post about crime in Lake Worth. Crime was down in the City in most categories which should have been the main focus but it was the spike in some violent crime that made the headline and stole the day at The Palm Beach Post. Look at the Tweet below they sent out promoting the news article by Kevin Thompson; does this sum up the general bias they have about Lake Worth?
Note: "good old Lake Worth".

From the Broward New Times: more Florida bicyclists killed by cars

This is on the heels of another bicyclist killed in Stuart by a large commercial truck. The New Times' Andrea Richard has this news about two more bicyclists killed in Broward County:
     Colleen Lynn Berzok, 37, a children’s swimming instructor in Coral Springs, was struck by a car Monday night, July 13, and was pronounced dead the following afternoon. The collision, still under investigation, occurred at the 2800 block of E. Sunrise Blvd., a stone's throw from Fort Lauderdale Beach, by a driver who remained on the scene, according to FLPD, which has yet to release the identity. Out in Weston just a few days later, on Friday, July 17, bicycle rider Steven Caine, 51, father and CEO of Larry Kline Meats, was struck by driver Michael Chatman, 30, and killed around 5:30 p.m.
     Florida leads the nation in fatal bicycle and pedestrian crashes, according to a 2013 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
     “Florida is dead last,” says Florida Atlantic University Professor of Urban Regional Planning Eric Dumbaugh. “We have the highest rates of pedestrian/vehicle fatalities in the nation.” [emphasis added]
     Dumbaugh purports that South Florida’s street are simply poorly designed for multimodal transportation use. The posted speeds, such as 45 mph, are too fast for pedestrians to share the road safely with vehicles.
Unfortunately the death of Austin Gilliam is slowing fading into the past and will soon be completely forgotten by most, except for the family of course. Austin only did what DOT signs instructed him to do: "share the road" and it cost him his life.

The New Times reporter quotes a bicyclist from Ft. Lauderdale that for those familiar with the story, don't do much to help the cause. I've followed the police accounts of that incident when a bicyclist was arrested during a Critical Mass ride in Fort Lauderdale and also heard first hand accounts of witnesses. The accounts in the New Times begin with the minutes prior to the confrontation and not with what started it all, the fifteen to twenty minutes leading up to the arrest.

The people I talked to who were there that day decided never to attend a Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass ride again after watching how some behaved, including the cyclist quoted in the New Times. Frankly, if we're going to be honest about bicycle safety we can't place all the blame on motor vehicles; bicyclists share responsibility and need to establish good will with the motoring public and police.

Lake Worth Herald editorial: the July 30th Casino complex presentation(s)

Here are two excerpts from The Lake Worth Herald this week:

     With presentations scheduled for the city’s Casino Complex there are probably special meetings taking place to plan disruption during Hudson Holdings’ presentation. There are some in Lake Worth who will not listen, their minds are already made up. 
     Sadly, the minds are made up based on inaccurate information or just plain lies. It is sad Lake Worth politics get so dirty, especially since much of the problem is guided from outside the city. 
     Some of our commissioners have a penchant for telling businesses moving into the area how to run their business. What they can and can’t do, well beyond the limits set in the city’s codes and ordinances. 
     This was witnessed again when the new owner of Hammond Park was before the commission. What they proposed was well within the constraints of the city and still, commissioners wanted to tighten the rules. This is a tactic attempted on Publix when they were proposing a grocery store in the same neighborhood.

[and. . .]

     How long will it be before one of the commissioners proposes an ordinance to require chicken coops on all properties with a backyard larger than 20 square feet? 
     Maybe, one of the commissioners who got elected by telling lies about Hudson Holdings’ intentions at the beach will propose some of the profits from the Gulfstream Hotel (when it opens) be used to build the chicken coops, instead of going into the pockets of investors who took a chance on Lake Worth. 
     Maybe the same commissioner, under the guise of “Dark Skies” will require the Gulfstream to paint the windows black so the lights don’t disturb wildlife or anything else sleeping in Bryant Park. 
     Then again, maybe the sky will fall and the commissioner will actually propose something productive for the city. Slim chance, his coaches won’t allow it.

If you think the idea of chicken coops in the City is absurd please read this.

West Palm Beach Mayor Muoio: emergency meeting on violence

Kate Jacobson at the Sun Sentinel has this report on the recent spike in violence in West Palm Beach. Here is a short excerpt:
     On Wednesday, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio held an emergency meeting with community leaders and clergy after three shootings within two miles and six hours.
    Adams' death is at least the fourth fatal shooting the city has had since the beginning of the month and the 55th shooting since the beginning of the year.
     Witnesses and victims are not coming forward, officials said, making it hard to catch those responsible. They hope the mayor's meeting will garner some solutions about how to reach the community and stop the violence.
     "Victims are not telling us what they know," said Elliot Cohen, director of communications for the Mayor's Office. "Any city can put hundreds of police officers on the street, but it's not going to do you any good if you don't have cooperation in the city."

Lake Worth Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell making sense; answers grandstanding by Comm. McVoy

A new housing project is moving forward in the City but with one last gasp at grandstanding by Commissioner McVoy, again. This time it's about a new community with GATES! in an area downtown that's had crime issues. Here is my post on July 18th which includes a video of the painful proceedings. This, mind you, ended up a unanimous vote for the developer to proceed. Here is the Post's Kevin Thompson article which appeared today in the print edition:
     Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell said he’s not fond of gates, but understands the reasons for them.
     “We have to remember, unless our code prohibits it…this is not our money and it’s not our property,” [emphasis added] he said. “We really need to embrace folks who want to invest in this city and that’s something that’s alluded this city for decades. We pay lip service to it, but when (investors) come in, we beat them up.”
     Under the new plan, Bella Terra will have 12 one-bedroom units priced at $145,000 and 24 two-bedrooms townhomes selling for $225,000.
     White [Bella Terra owner Troy White] said the one-bedroom units should catch the eyes of young people looking to become homeowners.
      “These will be extremely marketable to millennials,” White said. “A lot of them are being priced out of the market and forced to rent.” White plans to start construction in the fall.
If you have good news you want to share with Kevin Thompson at the Post such as a community cleanup or a recent Crime Walk with PBSO here is how you contact the reporter:
Twitter: @kevindthompson1

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

From the Tom McGow Archives: Laurence and Dieudonne "Dee" McNamara with pitchfork and happy piglet in Greenacres

Tom McGow's clever satire of Mr. Laurence McNamara and Mrs. Dieudonne "Dee" McNamara in 2009. Tom McGow was quite disturbed at the prospect of Mr. McNamara (on left) becoming the mayor of Lake Worth.
Another classic photoshop from the inimitable, superbly talented Mr. Tom McGow. Here is the original post by Tom McGow where this image first appeared. Remember, Tom McGow produced this in 2009, well before the software we use today that is so "user friendly".

Concerned residents sound off about proposed code changes

"We are alarmed to learn that a special interest group has been formed to promote approval of commercial businesses locating in any and all areas of Lake Worth that are zoned Residential only. In order for this to occur, the City would have to decide that depriving Lake Worth voters the quiet enjoyment of their home was acceptable in order to forward the goals of a special interest group.

Any such action by the City of Lake Worth would be a disaster on multiple levels. First, it would destroy homeowners equity, second, it would significantly reduce the number of families that would consider purchasing a home in Lake Worth and third, local businesses such as Art Galleries would suffer from City support of Special Interests. The problem of lawsuits is, of course, a given.

With Lake Worth struggling to increase real estate values while fighting blight, crime and disorder, crumbling infrastructure and issues like Sober Houses, the least rational action would be to make that job even harder by taking a step to make Lake Worth less desirable.

We made a decision to buy a home in a Residential zoned location. We want that condition to remain unchanged and will enthusiastically support efforts to avoid Commercial incursion that would injure our home value.

Marty Welfeld
Teresa Miller"

COMMUNITY CLEANUP Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association

Greetings friends and neighbors of Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association.

Make plans now to join the Lake Worth CRA, Royal Poinciana & Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Associations, Commissioner Andy Amoroso & many other volunteers of all ages taking part in efforts to clean up and improve our local community.

When: Saturday July 25th, 8am - 11am
Where: Lake Worth Arts Center (Shuffleboard Courts): 1121 Lucerne Ave.
Any questions? Call Lake Worth CRA at (561) 493-2550.
Light refreshment provided.
Community Service Hours Offered.

Look forward to seeing you there.

And as far as having an enlightened dialog about community issues, consider this.

As if we didn't have enough to be concerned about...manufacturing in a residential neighborhood

It has come to my attention that there is a new group formed in our City called "Lake Worth Artists & Cottage Entrepreneurs." Here is their mission statement:
Here are a list of their goals:
I am still reviewing all of the information that was given to me. From what I can tell, this is an organized attempt to open up single and multifamily zoning districts to a greater range and intensity of what can be considered "home occupations." 

Goal #6 is especially interesting. 

Currently, the city defines home occupations as being the following:
Home occupations: Any regularly pursued activity conducted on a building site which is secondary to the principal use of such premises as a residence, and which produces a reliable and regular livelihood income for the resident so employed. Home occupations are those occupations customarily practiced in the home which have limited client presence on the residential site. Such occupations are incidental and secondary to the principal use of the premises as a residence. Home hobbies where services or products are not sold are not considered home occupations.
The keywords here are "secondary" and "incidental" to the principal use as a residence.

Let me ask these questions for a start (this is very preliminary). These items and others will be examined further in the future:
  • Look at the official future land use and zoning maps for the City and you will see that approximately 80% of the City carries a residential future land use and zoning designation. Is the intent to loosen the standards for home occupations in all residential areas of the City? 
  • We have underutilized land along many commercial corridors, particularly North Dixie Hwy. How will this proposal impact the redevelopment of this designated commercial zone in the City?
  • Does this mean that you could employ people who do not live in your home to work in your business there? 
  • Does this mean that you could employ up to three people, working at the same time, on services or manufacturing products for sale in your home?
  • Does this mean that customers would be encouraged to come to your home to access services or purchase products made in your home? Would this be at the same time that you and your three employees would be working?
  • How would such an operation affect your neighbors? Parking availability on your street?
  • Would there be regular deliveries of materials used for manufacture or production in your home? How would those be accommodated?
  • Would there be regular hours of operation? 
  • Could there be materials or equipment not suited to a residential area that may be used in the operation of your home business?
  • Are there other regulatory agencies and related requirements (accessibility, health, food service inspection, etc.) that would be met?
  • At what point does a home business not become secondary or incidental to the principal residential use of the structure?
  • What were the expectations of you or your neighbors when they bought their single family home? Did they consider this as a possibility? If they did or didn't, would the establishment of these home industries have altered their decision to purchase their property? Would the loosening of these regulations negatively affect residential property values?
  • Will there be standards for the review of these sorts of requests to use a residential structure for other than it was intended? Are there insurance or mortgage consequences for the operator/owner/tenant of these residential properties with expanded home occupations?
  • Are there Comprehensive Plan changes that would be required if such an allowance were made for an expanded array of home occupations?
  • What would the enforcement mechanism be? Code enforcement?
  • What would the review procedure be? Would there be a requirement to notify your neighbors of this sort of request? How far a radius would that be from the subject property? Would they have to consent affirmatively to allow business in their neighborhood/building?
That's only a start. These are the current standards of what is referred to as a "conditional uses" must meet in order to be granted. Would these conditions have to be met prior to issuance of a business tax receipt for this sort of expanded home occupation?

Remember, our zoning regulations are "inclusionary." That means that anything not mentioned is expressly prohibited. Here is the language from the code:
Sec. 23.3-4. - Inclusionary as to permitted use.
The intent of this chapter is that it be "inclusionary." That is, principal uses, accessory uses, and conditional uses specifically stated for each zoning district shall be the only uses permitted. Any use proposed within any given zoning district which is not a stated use or use type within said district is expressly prohibited. Questions of whether a use is of a type listed shall be interpreted by either the planning and zoning board or the historic resources preservation board, but no use variance shall be approved. 
Your comments and concerns are welcomed. I also welcome input from those behind this initiative. Here is my email address.

I am also curious how this will work through the legislative process. All these changes would need to be reviewed by the staff and the two boards that regulate land use in the city.

Did you buy a house in the City of Lake Worth in January 2012?

If you did then you made a very good decision. Jeff Ostrowski at The Palm Beach Post has a very short item explaining why; here is an excerpt:
     The company [Zillow] crunched the numbers on rebounding housing markets and determined that Palm Beach County’s luckiest homeowners live in modest homes in Lantana — provided they bought in January 2012.
     Zillow looked at through-to-today trends. Lantana’s low point came in January 2012, when the typical house cost $84,200. Now it’s worth $148,900, a 77 percent jump.
     Other fortunate homeowners are in unincorporated Lake Worth (up 74 percent), the city of Lake Worth (also up 74 percent), Lake Park (up 73 percent) and Greenacres (up 73 percent).

Pool Survey on the City of Lake Worth's Website

Click here for a link to a survey for pool users and residents to fill out regarding their experience at the municipal pool. This just appeared on the City's homepage without much fanfare and it shows that they're interested in soliciting comments about the pool's operation and other factors. I have filled it out. It does ask for your name and address. I am not sure you can't fill out more than one survey. If you can determine that let people know through the comments section of this post. You can also share what you think about the questions. Are there any that should have been asked, but weren't?

Here is what you will see in the lower left side of the homepage if you get to the link that way.
Highlighting mine.
A portion of the survey.
There is no stated purpose behind this survey other than "Staff is dedicated to providing you an enjoyable experience." There is also no time frame given for the survey or if it is intended for the City to use in relation to the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) process (which has been terminated).

The special City Commission meeting called for respondents to the ITN is due to occur July 30th, 6 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at City Hall.

Would you believe me if I told you. . .

If I told you an elected city commissioner in the City of Lake Worth who:
  • Has a PhD in science
  • Is a believer in sea level rise
  • Is a believer in climate change
  • Is a supporter of "Green" technology
  • Is a supporter of "Best Practices"
  • Is a supporter of "sustainability" and "resiliency"
  • Is someone who demands accountability. . .
. . .would support building a large public structure east of the Coastal Construction Line and immediately west of a beach on the Atlantic Ocean WITHOUT PILINGS? You wouldn't believe it would you?
That's right. Lake Worth Commissioner Christopher McVoy supported constructing the 'new' Casino building without pilings. And to make matters worse the seawall protecting the Casino was never properly inspected. 
So much for the "Scientific Method".

Steve Jobs

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Another NET Community Cleanup, save the date

Save the date and join Commissioner Amoroso, Lake Worth CRA, Royal Poinciana & Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Associations in efforts to clean up and improve our local community. Community Service Hours Offered. For more information call 561.493.2550.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

[UPDATE] Mike Olive and his church: Seeking the "Common Ground" or just a clever ruse in Lake Worth?

[UPDATE: Mike Olive and his church had a bad day today (7/22). After the post (below) on 7/21 The Palm Beach Post came out with an editorial, a complete smackdown of 'pastors' like Mike Olive and his ilk. In the next few days will have some excerpts from the Post editorial. In the meantime, read about Mike Olive and his 'church':]

Mike Olive and his flock at the Common Ground (no 's') church have taken a decidedly different tone of late which is very welcome in our tolerant, little City of Lake Worth. This recent tone is in sharp contrast to when he accused the City of a 'war on religion' and other outrageous, circus-like stunts to get attention.

He continues to promote his church on The Other Blogger's (TOB's) site which is awkward in light of her recent KKK debacle, Confederate battle flag support, and myriad instances of race-baiting. But where he goes to promote his church is his decision and none of my business. 

Below are four images: the first two recently appeared on TOB's blog and the second two are from the Common Ground (no 's') church's Facebook page in the days leading up to SCOTUS's gay marriage ruling:
Mike Olive at his Common Ground (no 's') church.
Note the words, "biblical insight in how to deal with cultural issues".
Here is a link to Romans 1:24-32. Mike Olive posted this on Facebook page with the question, "What do you think?" In retrospect we should ask Mike Olive the very same question.
Another image from Mike Olive's Facebook page.
Note that Lake Worth is home to the Compass Gay & Lesbian Community Center, has one of the largest Gay Pride parades in the country, raises the Gay Pride flag every year, has at least two gay commissioners, one of the must-attend parties every year is at the gay-friendly Mad Hatter leading up to the annual Raft Race, and I could go on and on about the gay presence in Lake Worth. 

Lake Worth is kinda gay, Mike Olive. If your intention is to seek the 'common ground' I suggest you stop cherry-picking Bible verses to buttress a dead-end argument; unless, of course, your intention was never to seek the "common ground" in the first place.

Meeting on Lake Worth Casino and Beach Complex July 30th, 6 p.m.

This item appeared in The Palm Beach Post today (7/21).
Click here for link to the article by Kevin Thompson at the Post. It's my understanding that the other two respondents to the Invitation To Negotiate (ITN) have dropped out (the wave park idea and a possible tenant for the second floor restaurant space) so it will only be a presentation by Hudson Holdings.

The "troubled" Casino and pool complex will be the focus of this meeting, not THE BEACH! Please check back to this blog for much more on this meeting and what to expect. This is the ITN process, by the way, that threw the 'editor' of a now-defunct tabloid into a hysterical frenzy she never quite recovered from:

Prior to PBSO taking over for Lake Worth PD: Annabeth Karson wanted roadblocks and checkpoints to enter City

One of the suggestions in 2008 to solve the horrendous crime problem in Lake Worth was by Annabeth Karson: she wanted to set up roadblocks and checkpoints to enter the City. That gives you an idea how terrible the crime problem was prior to PBSO taking over.

From Vox: We don’t say “plane accident.” We shouldn’t say “car accident” either.

Start paying close attention to news reports about vehicle 'accidents'. Words do mean things so an effort is being made to change how these events are reported. From Vox is this article on the subject:
     To most people, the terms "car crash" and "car accident" are largely interchangeable. But a growing number of traffic safety advocates have been pointing out that there's actually a big difference — and they want journalists, public officials, and everyday people to say crash, not accident.
     The two groups behind the recent campaign — Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets — argue that the term "accident" makes it seem like crashes are inevitable, rather than preventable. In a subtle way, it normalizes the crash and discourages us from looking more deeply into their causes — whether alcohol, reckless driving, or bad street design.
[and. . .]
     All this might seem pedantic, but there's a real point here. We live in an era when most Americans drive around in multi-ton machines at high speed, and these vehicles kill with surprising regularity. They cause 30,000 or so deaths per year, as many people as are killed by guns. If we want to cut down on that number, it's worth examining the language we use to describe these events.

Video from last Sunday's neighborhood walk in District #1

The Lake Worth CRA and the City of Lake Worth on Twitter: 'Follow' them here

Click on the "Follow" button in the images below to see news from the City and the CRA:

Memory Monday: Back to school

Click title for link. This is from yesterday's Palm Beach Post and includes a picture of Lake Worth High School at the top of the page. Other Palm Beach County schools are shown at various times through their histories.

Premature Death Notice: Published last November by the Palm Beach County Tea Party

From Ed Wolff, the Founder and Director of the Palm Beach County Tea Party, we have this wildly premature death notice called In Memoriam:
United States Constitution
Born September 17, 1787
Died November 20, 2014
Cause of Death: The amnesty executive order of Czar [sic] Barak [sic] Hussein Obama.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Blast From the Past: Anarchists Stylin' in the L-Dub...

A history lesson: L-Dub is slang for 'Lake Worth' in the ever-dwindling Anarchist community here in south Florida. The 'L' is short for "Lake" and the 'Dub' is short for "double-'u' " as in the letter "W", hence the term L-Dub. I've got to keep reminding myself there are a lot of new residents in the City who don't know this stuff. Welcome to L-Dub dude!
Note sign in black letters:


Below is a video of the El Dub Anarchists when they weren't so risk-averse and dependent on the conveniences of modern society (aka the glory days):

Here is the Tweet of the day

Live in Lake Worth? You're going to hear the acronym "ITN" very soon

What is an ITN? You've come to the right place. Sans the wild speculation and half-truths an ITN is an 'Invitation to Negotiate'. It's a tool the City of Lake Worth chose to solve a problem: namely, the failed business plan at the City's Casino complex at the BEACH. Think of an ITN as a city saying to the world, "we have a problem and we're looking for ideas to solve it". It's that simple.

City Manager Michael Bornstein in the video below starts from the beginning: what an ITN is and why the ITN process was chosen. The video is a little more than 7 minutes long. Enjoy.

If you're wondering how we got into this mess in the first place you can blame this jovial group in the image below:
Note that the "failing Lake Worth Casino" is now a confirmed failure. Hence the present city commission's responsibility to move forward in seeking new ideas.

Keep Uber in Palm Beach County

[You can read Jesse Bailey's take on Uber here. He writes for the Walkable West Palm blog.]

On Tuesday, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners will discuss new ridesharing regulations. Entrenched special interests are trying to corrupt the sensible framework currently in place that has been working so well for the community. They want the Commission to make changes that would threaten Uber’s ability to continue operating in Palm Beach County.

Make your voice heard by letting Commissioners know what access to safe, reliable transportation means to you: Contact your Commissioner.

Palm Beach County has been a leader in Florida on this issue, with a Temporary Operating Agreement in place that ensures local entrepreneurs can continue to earn a living and residents have access to safe, reliable transportation options. These benefits would be secure if the Commission passes the same framework into law.

More than 20 U.S. states and dozens of other counties and cities have passed modern, sensible ridesharing legislation that creates a permanent home for Uber. Help us make sure the Commission doesn’t eliminate your access to safe, affordable transportation options in Palm Beach County.

Uber South Florida
Uber Technologies Inc.
1455 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94103

If growth in Palm Beach County is the biggest item of debate county-wide, then why did the Post do this?

Wayne Washington at The Palm Beach Post is doing a series called, "A Question of Growth". He is doing articles featuring the opinions and concerns of developers, farmers, government officials, environmentalists and others.

For some reason this work by Mr. Washington ended up below the fold on the front page of the Post on Sunday; it was trumped by Joe Capozzi's article about the minor crematory incident in Lake Worth almost 3 weeks ago.
The crematoriums Capozzi refers to have been in Lake Worth since at least the 1980's, possibly earlier than that. I wrote a post about this topic on Saturday (7/18) and speculated as to why this story hadn't made the print edition since it had been on-line for several days. I suggested the Post was holding back on publishing this in the print edition to make a big splash in the Sunday paper, and I was right: there it was on Sunday, front page above the fold. Here is how Wikipedia explains above the fold:
Above the fold is the upper half of the front page of a newspaper where an important news story or photograph is often located. Papers are often displayed to customers folded so that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is "above the fold" may be one that the editors feel will entice people to buy the paper.
Would it fair to conclude the Post's editors used this story to sell more newspapers? Mull on this for a few days: "REAL NEWS STARTS HERE"?

Recently closed South Shores Tavern in Lake Worth to be replaced by "seasoned" restaurant pro

Appears Chris Fleming is not wasting any time finding a new tenant. Kevin Thompson has this news about the property at 502 Lucerne Ave:
     “We’re looking to add a little spark to Lucerne Avenue,” Fleming [Chris Fleming partner/co-founder of Strategic Realty Services] said. “There are a lot of people looking to get into the restaurant business, but that’s probably not going to be our first-choice tenant. We want somebody who’s seasoned in the business.”
     Fleming didn’t want to say what kind of restaurant will move into the building, built in 1955.
     “I don’t want to be nailed down to a specific concept,” he said. “But there will be a limited menu and entertainment.”
     Fleming said he’s already talked to restaurant operators in Key West and the borough of Brooklyn in New York. [emphasis added]
If you have other good news to share with Kevin Thompson at the Post (Crime Walks with PBSO for example) here is his contact information:
Twitter: @kevindthompson1

The thing that keeps Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa up at night

Andrew Marra has this sobering news about PBC's public school system:
     Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa has plenty to worry about as he finishes up his first month on the job.
     But the thing that he says keeps him up at night? The county school system’s decaying infrastructure.
     “I would argue that it’s almost a crisis,” he told The Post’s Editorial Board Thursday.
     It’s no secret that the county’s public schools are suffering from breakdowns, decay and poor maintenance.
     The problem, school administrators say, is a perennial shortfall in the school district’s budget for construction and maintenance.

Information about West Palm Beach's AAF train station being constructed

You can view pictures and find additional information on "furthering Henry Flagler’s vision for Florida" using this link. Here are some transportation changes and improvements you can expect from All Aboard Florida's new station:
  • Connect with the neighborhood’s existing vehicular, trolley, and pedestrian networks and establish links to the Tri-Rail and Amtrak West Palm Beach Station, creating a new transportation hub for the West Palm Beach area.
  • Give travelers access to downtown West Palm Beach, as well as beaches, shopping, wildlife sanctuaries, boat tours, botanical gardens, museums and more.
  • Consist of a nearly 60,000 square foot future station and platform in downtown West Palm Beach located between Datura and Evernia Streets, with CityPlace and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts Center to the South, and the government center district and Clematis Street to the North.
  • Create more than $164 million in economic impact for Palm Beach County through 2021 and more than 1,200 jobs in Palm Beach County through the construction of the station and rail line.

My resignation letter from the Lake Worth Historic Resource Preservation Board last week

[I am still getting contacted by people who've heard about my resignation last week and have questions. I would direct them to my blog post and their concerns are allayed (assuming since I haven't heard back from them). If you have any questions or concerns please read the letter and feel free to email me if you wish. Thank you, Wes.]

July 16, 2015

Lake Worth City Commission
7 North Dixie Highway
Lake Worth, Florida 33460

Dear Mayor and Commissioners:

It is with regret I submit my resignation from the Historic Resource Preservation Board (HRPB). Currently there are many professional responsibilities that require my attention. Resigning from the HRPB is regretfully necessary in order to pursue those professional commitments.

During my 23 years in Lake Worth I have been honored to serve on many volunteer boards. My first experience was the former Leisure Services Advisory Board. It was an opportunity to learn about Lake Worth and meet other residents who were working very hard to improve our City. That board’s focus was the municipal pool at the beach, the need to heat the pool, and how to bring swim teams in from other areas to use it.

Prior to the public general obligation bond referendum in 2002, I was part of the Beach Steering Committee where we worked with residents, existing tenants, and planning professionals for what was conceived as a city-designed and city-run redevelopment of the beach property.

The advisory board upon which I served the longest was the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board. During my tenure we created the six historic districts within the City, reviewed many development projects and proposals, and orchestrated a “zoning in progress” that allowed the City to rein in development during the early 2000’s boom era.

While on the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), I made the motion for the CRA to apply for the $23 million NSP2 federal grant program. The city commission at the time could have applied for the grant but expressed no interest in doing so. As a result of the Lake Worth CRA’s NSP2 grant award many City residents benefited and households were improved that would otherwise not have been. The money also created the LuLa Artist Lofts, new homes, and many other projects around the City.

Most recently I was a member of the HRPB, serving as its Chairman for the last three years. We were able to approve quality residential renovation projects in keeping with the City’s historic character and played a role in the continual adjustment and refinement of the City’s land development regulations. I thank the staff of the Department of Community Sustainability for their professional support of the board’s important work and the interaction with applicants that came before the board.

I am truly honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve the City in various appointed roles over the years and will continue to remain active in the community. I strongly urge the city commission to take the role of advisory boards seriously and to utilize their skills, knowledge, and counsel. In conclusion, I will continue to make myself available for those with questions, concerns, or observations concerning historic preservation, planning or zoning in the City of Lake Worth.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve our City.

Respectfully submitted,


Wes Blackman, AICP
241 Columbia Drive
Lake Worth, Florida 33460

c: Michael Bornstein, Lake Worth City Manager
    William Waters, Director of Community Sustainability

Miami New Times: Restore Calle Ocho to a two-lane, pedestrian/bikeable friendly street?

In the article by the Miami New Times they have present and historical pictures of Calle Ocho in downtown Miami. Local planners are working hard, pro bono, to restore it to its past glory. Right now it's a 3-lane, one-way, downtown 'highway'. Here are two excerpts:
     Juan Mullerat argues that Calle Ocho is Miami’s most historic street, but sometime between now and the 1960s it was transformed into a three-lane highway to absorb the brunt of the city’s growing east-west commuters. [emphasis added]
     “I’m driving down it down and I don’t see anybody walking, just cars,” Mullerat tells New Times on his commute home. “I think the solution is in the back of everybody’s mind. It’s not visionary. It’s removing a highway and putting a real street where it’s supposed to go.”
     Mullerat is the director of PlusUrbia, a small design firm in Coconut Grove. After the Florida Department of Transportation announced plans to redevelop roadway designs of Calle Ocho from NW 27th Avenue to NW First Avenue, his team began working. For the last few months, Mullerat and a team PlusUrbia designers tackled the “Highway Ocho” problem pro-bono, trying to return Calle Ocho to the calm, pedestrian-friendly main street it was 50 years ago.
[and. . .]
    Whether or not the FDOT accepts PlusUrbia’s proposal, Mullerat fears that FDOT won’t take the opportunity to bring real change. “There’s an effort out there to make better streets. We just want to make sure they are better. I would hate for the powers that be to just put a couple of trees and benches and call it a day,” he sighs.
Now about those one-way streets in Lake Worth . . .