Repeal the Interim Design Guidelines – Scrap the Pattern Book

Repeal the Interim Design Guidelines – Scrap the Pattern Book

Boca’s Interim Design Guidelines Should Be Repealed and their Sibling – The Pattern Book – Should be Scrapped  

Developers have been exploiting Boca’s Interim Design Guidelines (IDG) to achieve higher density development and clog Boca’s downtown. The IDG allows downtown buildings to rise 60% higher than the traditional Development Ordinance (to 160 feet rather than 100 feet). Further, developers have exploited the complexity of the IDG and loopholes in its Guidelines to increase density (square feet of development per square foot of land) as well as height. Now the City is considering adopting the Pattern Book which would extend the 60% increase in height to the entire Downtown!

In contrast to Boca’s standard Development Ordinance (Ordinance 4035), the IDG and the Pattern Book require complicated quantitative and qualitative assessments of any development plans. According to City Staff, these assessments are so technical that they are subcontracted to a private firm, Urban Design Associates (UDA), the firm that worked with the City to develop the IDG and its sibling, the Pattern Book. 

The City is presently considering adopting the Pattern Book in the near future. UDA, the private firm that developed both the IDG and the Pattern Book has no offices near Boca Raton; however, it decides whether or not a development project is in agreement with their guidelines and recommends approval or disapproval. Not having the capability to perform the necessary assessments themselves, our City staff’s role has been reduced to rubber stamping UDA’s approval recommendations.  If UDA’s Pattern Book were adopted by the City Council, the current arrangement with this private firm under the IDG would become permanent, as only they would be capable of assessing development projects and determining whether or not they are in compliance with the complex development regulation they have developed.  This is not a healthy situation for our City, but is a very advantageous one for UDA’s bottom line.

 Look around at what is coming out of the ground in “downtown” Boca.  Do you think that Urban Design Associates is doing a good job designing our downtown?  Should a private firm have such major influence on our City’s development?

Read More