Boca Raton City Council Elections Loom August 28th

TOWER 155 RISES ALONG (AND ON) SE MIZNER BOULEVARD IN DOWNTOWN BOCA

TOWER 155 RISES ALONG (AND ON) SE MIZNER BOULEVARD IN DOWNTOWN BOCA

Boca Raton is at a crossroads.

As a recent vote in our City Council so dramatically illustrated, our elected officials were split 2-2 between the desires of developers and the wishes of local residents. At issue was whether to grant a zoning variance so that the developer of Tower 155 could use a vacant lot on SE Mizner Boulevard as a “staging area” to facilitate construction. SE Mizner Boulevard is a neighborhood, and neighbors objected vociferously to the creation of another construction site near their residences. Council Members Singer and Rogers sided with the developer; Council Members O’Rourke and Mayotte with the opposition. The proposed variance failed on a tie vote—a victory for the residents on SE Mizner.

Tower 155 is a twelve-story, two-acre building that an earlier Council vote allowed to be built on a 1.2 acre parcel. It may be the Taj Mahal (and priced accordingly), but it’s the Taj Mahal on a postage stamp. Just look at how it rises like a concrete and glass wall right next to the sidewalks on either side. The developer doesn’t even have enough room to maneuver his construction equipment without shutting off lanes of both SE Mizner and East Boca Raton Road. The existing alley between Tower 155 and the Post Office is now wide enough for little more than bowling. Don’t believe me? Take a walk or ride over there and see for yourself. The first thing you will ask is “Who approved this?”

The answer is Councilmen Singer, Weinroth, and Mullaugh on a 3-2 vote. Councilmen Weinroth and Mullaugh are no longer on the City Council—although Weinroth is running for Palm Beach County Commissioner this November. Scott Singer became Mayor of Boca following Mayor Haynie’s removal, and is currently running for election to a full term.

Councilman Singer’s elevation to Mayor created two Council seats to be filled on August 28th. The occupants of those two seats will determine the future direction of our City Council—and of our City. Three candidates are running for Mayor. Scott Singer and BocaWatch founder Al Zucaro are the two frontrunners. Running for Singer’s old seat (Seat A) are Andy Thomson, who has the endorsement of the Chamber and a lot of developers, and local activists Tamara McKee and Kathy Cottrell. BocaBeautiful.org is taking a close look at the positions and voting records of all the candidates and will be deciding about endorsements in the next few weeks. We think that Boca’s City Government needs a change of vision and direction. We are looking for the best people to deliver that change.

Make sure you are registered to vote

The election date was chosen because it is the day that Palm Beach County holds primary elections for the November ballot. It is ironic that such an important vote on Boca’s future will take place at a time when many residents are out of town. You can thank ex-Mayor Haynie’s legal difficulties for that. If you want to have a voice in Boca’s future it is important that you make sure you are registered to vote. You can find out by making a simple phone call to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections office in Delray: 561-276-1226 or in West Palm Beach: 561-656-6200. They will tell you. The deadline for registration for the primary is July 30th.

What to do if you are registered but out of town & how to get an absentee ballot?

Once registered, if you are not going to be in Boca on August 28th or for the early voting August 18–25, you can request an absentee ballot from the Supervisor of Elections office. The easiest way is online at www.pbcelections.org. Just click on “vote by mail” and follow the instructions. If you don’t have a computer but have a car, take a leisurely drive up Congress to 345 S. Congress Ave, Room 103, in south Delray Beach and the friendly staff behind the counter will take good care of you. No fuss, no muss, no waiting. Absentee ballots will be mailed to you after July 24th at the address you provide. Be sure to mail it back well before August 28th so your vote will be counted. You can also call one of the phone numbers above and request a vote by mail application that, once you receive it, you can mail back and get your absentee ballot mailed to your non-Boca address.

On August 28th we will know which way Boca’s future lies. With a resident-friendly majority on our City Council and some fresh faces in City Government that future can be a lot brighter. The stakes on August 28th couldn’t be higher. Wherever you are, be sure to vote.

John C. Gore
President
BocaBeautiful.org

A disappointing public meeting on closing Boca's Downtown Post Office

Is this to be our new Boca raton post office?

Is this to be our new Boca raton post office?

The US Postal Service held its perfunctory meeting on the possible closing of Boca’s only downtown Post Office on March 29th. As expected, an overflow crowd of very unhappy residents showed up—despite the fact that the public session was scheduled at 4:30 in the afternoon on the eve of Passover and Easter.

Mr. Damian Salazar, a “real estate specialist” from USPS’ Dallas office conducted the meeting.  He has obviously done this before. He explained 1) that the current situation is the result of the Post Office losing its lease; 2) that USPS would really like to relocate to a smaller, more efficient location somewhere “nearby”; 3) that there is a legal process which is triggered by this public meeting, followed by 30 days for comment and then a “decision”; 4) USPS has identified some alternative sites, but is nowhere close to choosing any one of them, if they choose any at all.  He offered a vague pledge to keep the current location operating “until a suitable alternative can be found and provided we have a lease,” but then admitted that the decision was not his to make.

Mr. Salazar then took “questions” from the floor.  His scattershot approach to receiving citizen input further exacerbated the frustration of those present. However, amidst the somewhat chaotic outrage, a few important facts emerged:

SUN SENTINEL AD TO HELP SAVE BOCA's DOWNTOWN POST OFFICE

  1. The USPS does have a four-year lease on the property. It was signed by the landlord seven months ago and has been sitting on somebody’s desk at USPS ever since. It is a four-year extension, but the landlord was never advised that USPS was looking for a ten-year lease as Mr. Salazar claimed. The landlord, who was at the meeting, expressed a willingness to negotiate a 10-year lease and he even offered to work with USPS to help them relocate to another of his properties once they sign the lease. This was above Mr. Salazar’s pay grade, but he promised to pass along the offer.
  2. After today’s public meeting, the public has 30 days to send comments in writing (hard copy) to Mr. Damian Salazar, 7800 N. Stemmons Fwy., Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75247-4220. Only hard copies by mail will do. Apparently the USPS needs the business. It is very important that each and every one of us who cares about our downtown post office write to Mr. Salazar. It can be short and sour, it just has to be in writing. They will be counting the number of letters they receive.
  3. At the end of the 30-days, a “decision” on the future of Boca’s downtown post office will be made. Mr. Salazar had to admit that a possible decision might be to close the post office, “although that is not what we want to do.”
  4. The lease issue was not Mr. Salazar’s only credibility problem. The USPS maintains a public list of sites that are being considered for closure. Boca’s downtown post office has been on that list for many years. In fact, the Mayor and city officials were successful in their attempt to keep the post office open several years ago. To say this has all come about because their lease is up in July is a bit disingenuous… maybe as disingenuous as them claiming that this is all about relocation.
  5. The good news is that today’s public meeting was very well attended, with an overflow crowd at the Community Center Annex. The attendees were quick to register their anger. The bad news is that such a reaction was expected and did not change any USPS minds at the meeting. But maybe that doesn’t matter because we were repeatedly told that they were not the decision makers.

The bottom line: today’s meeting was just the opening gambit in the procedural game that’s about to unfold. Boca’s downtown post office is clearly at risk. A decision to close could come as early as May.

What should we be doing about it? 

  1. First, send a letter to Mr. Salazar expressing your outrage at the possible closure and the process. If they are seriously considering alternative sites, why aren’t we holding public meetings about THAT? 
  2. Second, urge USPS to work with the current landlord to find a compromise that will keep our 2nd Street station open. 
  3. Third, send a copy of your letter to Boca’s Congressman Ted Deutch, US House of Representatives, Washington DC. And a copy to each of our US Senators: Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, at the US Senate, Washington, DC. Do this within the next two weeks! Do it today!

The fate of Boca’s downtown post office will ultimately be decided in Washington. If we are to influence that process, we must show that we are united and determined to keep the 2nd Street station open. Boca’s City Council has already passed a non-binding resolution to that effect; we have shown up in force to express our displeasure; organizations such as BocaBeautiful and BocaWatch will be contributing to the lobbying effort in Washington. We will be pushing for a large letter writing campaign in the weeks ahead to bolster our case.

Thanks to those who attended the CRA meeting on Monday and today’s pro forma session with the US Postal Service bureaucrats. Attending these things is about as much fun as a root canal, but your participation is key to our ability to influence the outcome.

The pause that refreshes

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As the City of Boca grows and grows, The City Council should be asking developers, “Before you build this building, how do you suggest we handle the additional traffic it will generate?”

Dealing with traffic and parking first would actually open the path to more graceful and resident-friendly development in the future. 

Here’s a novel idea for our City Council as they contemplate their agenda for the next two years: Why not take a slight pause in approval of major new construction projects until we have a plan in place for solving Boca’s traffic and parking problems, particularly in our downtown?

Not a moratorium, but a pause, to give our city leaders a chance to put in place some creative ideas for congestion relief. A pause would also give them time to measure the impact of all of the buildings currently under construction or not fully occupied. We won’t fully realize that impact until the snowbirds return next November. The increase in traffic could be dramatic, particularly on Dixie, Federal, and Palmetto and in all those adjacent neighborhoods, as frustrated drivers look for alternative routes.

This is not only good planning, it is good politics. Why pour more gasoline on the fire when Boca residents are already unhappy about overdevelopment? Why add to the problem and approve more massive construction projects like 200 Mizner during the summer when many residents are out of town?

Developers will not like the idea of a pause—time is money, after all. But a pause to get our infrastructure right and make Boca more habitable is better than outright rejection. Dealing with traffic and parking first would actually open the path to more graceful and resident-friendly development in the future. And to make the pause as brief as possible, developers could devote their considerable resources to coming up with creative solutions to Boca’s congestion and parking problems. The City Council should be asking, “Before you build this building, how do you suggest we handle the additional traffic it will generate?” The more creative minds working on this, the better. The quicker and smarter the solutions, the better for all of us.

It’s a win-win. And it’s common sense.

Norman Waxman
Vice President
BocaBeautiful.org

Boca Raton Election Results

Voters in Boca clearly registered their concerns about over-development and traffic in the March 14th municipal elections, and our new City Council has promised to take notice.

Al Zucaro came within 1200 votes of defeating incumbent Mayor Haynie, despite her enormous developer-financed funding advantage, name recognition and an extremely negative attack campaign against Mr. Zucaro. But judging from her statements during and after the campaign, the Mayor got the message that all is not well in Boca. For his part, Mr. Zucaro will return to his role as civic activist as editor-in-chief of BocaWatch. This is good news for all who are concerned about Boca’s future.

BocaBeautiful’s preferred candidate, Andrea O’Rourke handily won her race, giving us a voice on the Council who will be critical of new development that is not supported by sufficient infrastructure and which violates the design criteria in Boca’s building codes. Scott Singer also handily won reelection.  During the campaign he appeared to heed the concerns of those whose neighborhoods and lives have been impacted by overdevelopment, and from those who are afraid that their neighborhoods might be next. We have hope that Mr. Singer’s experiences of the last three years will make him an advocate for more prudent development. If he continues to listen carefully to the concerns of Boca residents, he will be.

That leaves only one unabashedly pro-developer member of the City Council: Robert Weinroth. When it comes to the concerns of our residents, Mr. Weinroth is often in denial, but even he must feel the winds of change that have started to blow through City Hall.

Thanks to all of you who contributed and voted in this year’s municipal elections. It is startling to realize out of a population of 80,000, Boca’s future was decided by only 11,000 voters. It is comforting to realize that at almost half of them supported candidates endorsed by BocaBeautiful.org. We shall see if this translates into a change of direction in the management of our City. We will be working hard to ensure that it does.

John C. Gore
President
BocaBeautiful.org

Bocabeautiful.org endorses Al Zucaro for Mayor and Andrea Levin O'Rourke for City Council Seat B

Al Zucaro, candidate for Mayor of the City of Boca Raton

Al Zucaro, candidate for Mayor of the City of Boca Raton

Andrea Levine o'Rourke candidate for Boca City Council Seat B

Andrea Levine o'Rourke candidate for Boca City Council Seat B

Al Zucaro has been arguing strenuously for the past five years for orderly, planned development in Boca, hedeserves a chance to practice what he preaches as Mayor of Boca Raton. Andrea O’Rourke can be expected to take a fresh and balanced approach to future development in Boca and to pay immediate attention to our city’s parking and traffic problems—she deserves your vote.

March 14th will be a critical day in the history of Boca Raton. Voters will be presented with a clear choice as they vote to fill a majority of the seats on the five-member City Council. For too long, Boca’s City Council has served the interests of big developers and the Chamber of Commerce. As a result, we have experienced an unprecedented and unplanned for building boom: block after block of concrete behemoths in our square mile downtown, with similar plans pending for midtown Boca. We have seen the unintended consequences: traffic jams, parking problems, and 14-story buildings where the sun and sky used to be.

As Mayor and long-time City Council Member, Susan Haynie must bear some responsibility for Boca’s building binge. She calls now for responsible development and for traffic solutions, and has made some positive moves in that direction. But she has been on the City Council for the past decade and has voted for many of the most unpopular development projects in our city.  Al Zucaro, on the other hand, has been arguing strenuously for the past five years for orderly, planned development in Boca. He has railed against insider deals that benefitted big developers at the expense of our quality of life. His website, BocaWatch, has attracted thousands of loyal readers in its quest for a more resident-friendly government in Boca. He strongly supported a “yes” vote on the Boca Question on last November’s ballot; the Mayor was opposed. The “yes” vote, which was really a referendum on overdevelopment in Boca, carried by 67%. Al Zucaro deserves a chance to practice what he preaches as Mayor of Boca Raton.

Andrea O’Rourke is running for Council Seat B against Emily Gentile and Andy Thomson. A 20-year resident of West Boca and a 17-year resident of East Boca, she has a distinguished record of service to the community, having served as the Chairperson of the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner’s Associations and as Editor of Boca Watch. Unlike her opponents, she is not beholden to either development interests or to the Chamber. Mr. Thompson moved to Boca only six months ago and his campaign appears to be financed by developers and their attorneys. Ms. Gentile is also an unknown quantity, but the fact that pro-development retiring Council Member Mullaugh has endorsed her is a worrying sign. By contrast, Andrea O’Rourke has been active in Boca civic affairs for well over 15 years. During her tenure as Editor of Boca Watch she was a voice of moderation on development issues. She can be expected to take a fresh and balanced approach to future development in Boca and to pay immediate attention to our city’s parking and traffic problems. She deserves your vote.

Scott Singer is running for reelection for City Council Seat A. He has been a deliberative and thoughtful Councilman who has been more than willing to listen to the concerns of residents.  Of late, he seems to have taken those concerns to heart—particularly where development is concerned.  But Mr. Singer has voted for some of Boca’s most egregious development projects during his brief tenure on the Council, and for that reason the Board of BocaBeautiful is unable to endorse his candidacy. However, nor can we wholeheartedly endorse his opponent, Patty Dervishi, due to her lack of government experience. What she lacks in governing experience, she makes up for in her passionate opposition to rampant development. We suggest you make your choice for Seat A based on the credibility of what each candidate says between now and March 14th. Do their words match your concerns, and do you believe them?

So there you have it. If you don’t like what has happened to Boca and would like to see a change of direction at City Hall, March 14th is your chance to make it happen. Vote to elect Zucaro, O’Rourke and either Singer or Dervishi to ensure a more beautiful future for Boca Raton. With your vote, we can secure a resident-friendly rather than a developer-friendly City Council.

The Board of Directors
BocaBeautiful.org

What has Bocabeautiful accomplished?

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As President of BocaBeautiful.org, I am often asked “Why do you bother?” or “What have you accomplished?” Looking around Boca as it has mushroomed in the past five years, it is easy to conclude that the battle to save the character and quality of our city has been lost. 

But to give up now is to ignore 1) the dramatic political shift that Boca’s building binge is producing, and 2) the raft of enormous development projects that are still awaiting approval. Make no mistake. The defenders of development are far from finished. There are development projects on the drawing board for downtown and midtown Boca that could result in 50% more construction between now and 2020, and a commensurate increase in traffic, parking, water, pedestrian safety and other problems. The battle for Boca is far from over. There is still time to get it right.

So what have organizations like BocaBeautiful.org accomplished with your hard-earned donations?

  • We have highlighted the problems of overdevelopment in downtown Boca Raton. Thanks in part to our efforts, this is now a hot button issue.
  • We have done this through strengthening our media and government presence in our website, with full page newspaper ads in the Sun Sentinel and Coastal Star, in articles and Facebook posts on the widely-read Boca Watch site, in press interviews, through our repeated presence and presentations at City Council and other government meetings, and by coordinating with other concerned residents on development issues such as last November’s Boca Question ballot referendum.
  • Through our efforts we have helped change the political dynamic in Boca. We have provided a channel for the residents to express their anger at what has happened here. As a result, no longer can a developer expect instant approval and zoning variances for any project. The City Council is suddenly wary of public disapproval and of what might happen in the Council elections this March.
  • We have helped delay, for three years and running, the largest development project ever proposed for downtown Boca: 200 Mizner—the Monster on Mizner. The developer is regrouping for another try, and we will be there, urging them to pay attention to residents’ concerns.
  • Above all, we have bought precious time for those who run this City to step back, take a breath, and to do the traffic and infrastructure planning necessary before any more massive construction projects are approved. We have given them a reason to say “no” to the developers who would rob our city of its distinctive style and elegance. We are providing a counter weight to years of developer dominance and developers’ money in Boca Raton politics.

With important City Council elections coming in March, now is not the time to give up the fight, throw up your hands in despair and move to Vero. Join us, and get involved in the effort to save what is left of Boca Raton that is really beautiful.

Want to make a difference?  

Make a donation to BocaBeautiful.org on our website or by mail to 500 SE Mizner Blvd. Apt A-109 Boca Raton FL 33432. We will be your voice at City Hall.

John C. Gore
President
BocaBeautiful.org

BOCABEAUTIFUL.ORG. 500 SE MIZNER BLVD. APT A-109, BOCA RATON, FL 33432. TEL: 561-517-5383. REGISTRATION #CH4841. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

 

What's wrong with development in Boca Raton?

Developers are losing significant ground as public disapproval of monster construction projects in Boca Raton has been manifested in relevant ballots. This past November a whopping 63% of Boca’s voters approved a measure banning commercial development on city lands adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway. With City Council elections coming up on March 14th, we invite you to vote for candidates that can do better for the City of Boca Raton.

To be blunt, it is just as stupid to characterize those who oppose development in Boca Raton as “not-in-my-back-yard crazies” as it is to claim that those who support it are the “paid stooges of developers”. The 2017 local elections are upon us, and you are going to hear plenty of this.  Vital questions surrounding Boca’s future deserve a more intelligent debate.

Development—or redevelopment—comes in many forms. There are projects, big and small, of quality and taste. One could argue that Mizner Park (although it was very controversial at the time) falls into that category. Then there are projects that look like they don’t belong in Boca.  The Mark and the new budget Hyatt Hotel are examples. Some projects are just too big for the land or neighborhoods they occupy: Palmetto Promenade, Tower 155 (it received a special variance), and the proposed monster Mizner 200 come to mind. Some projects don’t belong in the neighborhoods for which they are proposed: a Walmart on the beach or a museum in a residential enclave. These are all questions of style, taste, quality and suitability.

But the issue of what you build is only part of the development story. Equally important is the question of how you sustain development. Do you have the roads, the parking and other infrastructure in place to ensure that the addition of thousands of new hotel rooms and residences does not impair quality of life? Do you have a vision? Are you working to a comprehensive and detailed plan? This is not rocket science; it is common sense. For if you do development in a piecemeal fashion—one project at a time—you end up with unintended consequences and angry residents.

This is what has happened in Boca Raton. Over the past eight years, our City Council has approved project after project—some good, some bad, some very ugly—without careful consideration of the consequences. To be fair, some Council Members such as Robert Weinroth do have a vision: of an exciting “urban center” where our old downtown used to be. He just does not have a detailed plan of what it is supposed to look like or how it is supposed to work.  He has no plan for parking or traffic, and neither (as of this writing) do his colleagues on the City Council. Like in some urban Field of Dreams, their philosophy is “build it, and they (parking and better roads) will come.” So we have had development in Boca without the necessary foresight or planning. And it is a growing mess.

The resulting problems, traffic and parking and overall congestion, have led to public disapproval. Most recently this was manifest in the “Boca Question” on the November ballot, when a whopping 63% of Boca’s voters—a majority in every precinct, east and west—approved a measure banning commercial development on city lands adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway. This ballot measure, which was vigorously opposed by both sitting City Council members and the Chamber of Commerce, is the clearest indication to date that our civic leaders have not handled development in Boca well. It was a referendum on the quality and pace of development, and the developers lost overwhelmingly.

What’s next? First, there will be a pause in major development decisions, as three of five City Council seats are up for election on March 14th. No politician in his right mind would want to vote for another big construction project until after that date. Then on March 14th, the voters will decide the direction that future development in Boca will take.

Make no mistake. The development and redevelopment of Boca will continue. No sensible person is advocating otherwise. At issue are the quality, character and pace of that development; and whether we have adequate infrastructure to handle it all in place before the buildings are built.

How to decide which of the many candidates running for City Council is best qualified to deal with these complex issues? Here’s a simple test:

If you are happy with what has happened in Boca over the last eight years, vote for the status quo. If you are unhappy and think we could do better, vote for candidates who advocate change.

The future direction of development in Boca is yours to decide on March 14th.

John C. Gore
President
BocaBeautiful.org

What's wrong with Boca Raton?

Boca Raton, once our oasis of calm sophistication has become  an undistinguished jungle of enormous concrete buildings. Here are the top 3 things you can do right now to help.

When my wife and I moved here in 2003, downtown Boca was a very different place. It was an oasis of calm sophistication. But look at our downtown now. Enormous city-block square concrete buildings, many of them of undistinguished architectural design (i.e. ugly), block out the sun and sky. When it comes to having a view, beggar thy neighbor, rather than do unto others, seems to be the rule. This is our “urban center” utopia, brought to you over the years by Mayors and City Councils who never met a development (or developer) they didn’t like.

So let’s say you are one of the thousands of residents who are unhappy with what you see?  What can you do about it? Well, you can start attending the meetings of the City Council and the other quasi-judiciary panels like the Community Appearance Board and the Planning and Zoning Board that rule over matters developmental in Boca. At each of these you will be given time (five minutes or two minutes) to express your concerns. You might have to wait two hours, depending on the agenda, but you will get your chance—eventually. And when you do get up to make your little contribution, why is it that the people you are talking to seem so disinterested or condescending? Why does it have to be a confrontation rather than a conversation? Why isn’t our government more resident friendly?

The good news is that some of our government leaders are listening—and you can bet they will be listening carefully as the March 2017 City Council elections draw near. Next March, there is an outside chance that the City Council, which makes all these development, zoning, traffic and parking decisions, could be completely transformed. Out with the pro-development majority, in with a resident-friendly majority. Three out of five seats are up in March, in an off-year local election that usually attracts about 8000 out of 70,000+ eligible voters. You do the math. A dedicated get-out-the-vote effort can swing the results.

In the meantime, here are three common sense suggestions for those in City Hall who really want to reconnect with the voters who put them there:

  1. Try solving some existing problems before you create any new ones. You don’t need statistics to know that downtown Boca has been transformed. Just look around, or try and drive around. We need creative solutions to our traffic problems and parking problems. Solutions that go beyond “walking is good for you” or “just stand by the curb until a Chamber of Commerce jitney comes by.” We need solutions that involve cars and what to do about them. Most importantly, do not approve any more massive construction projects in the square mile downtown until you have had time to assess the impact of what you have already approved. No more new buildings until the ones under construction are fully occupied and functioning.
  2. Take some simple steps to make citizen participation in Boca’s government proceedings easier and more productive. Putting it bluntly, the meeting notification process stinks.  Either you send out incomprehensible blue written notices to the locals announcing life-altering massive projects, or you put up yellow signs with one-inch type that are useless to anyone who doesn’t make a special trip to read them, or you put something on line at the last possible moment. Surprise! As for the agendas of these important meetings, only the insiders seem to know in advance. There should be greater advance public notice of meetings and earlier publication of agenda items.
  3. The format of City Council meetings could also be vastly improved. The current “public comment” period of 5 minutes for each speaker is archaic and inefficient. Petitioners such as big developers are given ample time for slick Power Point presentations. Organized citizens groups such as BocaBeautiful.org or Boca Watch should be given the same opportunity. It would save the Council from having to hear 8-10 people say the same thing, with varying degrees of clarity or passion. Or how about when people get mad enough that 100 show up, each demanding their five minutes of angst? That’s over 8 hours of public comment. Our City Council meetings should not be an endurance test.  They should be a constructive discourse. 

If we don’t work together in a more cooperative and constructive manner, we will never solve the problems that Boca now faces.

Three years ago, when I made my first appearance before the City Council as President of BocaBeautiful.org, I warned that Boca’s building binge was out of control, that there was insufficient thought given to the effects that all this new construction would have on traffic, parking and infrastructure, and that the anger among Boca’s citizenry was real and growing.  Where are we today? There are still enormous downtown building projects awaiting government approval. Traffic and parking are worse than ever. And public anger continues to grow.

It is not too late for our City Council to do something about it. To solve problems before creating new ones. To make citizen input easier and more welcome. We need to say “enough is enough” before there is nothing left of the Boca we knew and loved.   

John C. Gore
President
BocaBeautiful.org

How does Boca Raton's Primary Election affect development and building issues in the city?

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If you care about development issues in Boca Raton, your vote in the August 30th Primary Election is important.

First, there are seven candidates running to fill two seats on the very influential Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District. 

Having watched the debate among all the candidates, BocaBeautiful feels that both incumbents, Dennis Frisch and Earl Starkoff deserve reelection. They have the necessary experience and have shown a willingness to listen to the concerns of Boca’s beach and park users. 

For the job of Appraiser, we recommend Dorothy Jacks

One would not think of the job of Appraiser as one with a development angle, but Shelly Vane is running for the post. Residents of the Mizner Trail area remember her as a commissioner who voted to allow development on the site, over their heated objections. Now that she is running for Appraiser, they—and others with overdevelopment concerns—have a channel to express their disapproval. We recommend you vote for Dorothy Jacks for Appraiser.

Check the back of your ballot for 2 important issues

There are two important issues on the back of the ballot. Be sure to turn it over when you vote.

  1. The first would require that replacements to vacancies on the Boca City Council by elected, rather than appointed. Vote YES on this question, as it is critical to ensuring that we have a more responsible City Council on development issues in the future.
  2. The second ballot issue is whether the pay of Boca’s City Council Members should be increased by roughly 300%. Boca Watch has recommended a ‘yes’ vote on this issue.  We at BocaBeautiful tend to look at it as a referendum on the Council’s performance. If you think they have done a good job, by all means vote ‘yes.’  If you are less than happy about the decisions they have made over the past 5 years, vote ‘no.’ Their pay may be poor, but so has been their response to the concerns of Boca residents over what is happening to our city.

Be sure to vote on August 30th.  If you are out of town, you can get an absentee ballot this week from the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections at pbcelections.org. Time is of the essence.