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

A Letter to the Mayor of Boca Raton

Dear Mayor Haynie and Boca City Council Members,

As a veteran of 45 years in the government relations business, I enjoyed watching you all in action as you debated the 2-acre "housekeeping" resolution yesterday and this evening.  I recognize a done deal when I see one.  But I got the impression that, technicalities aside, you might not have been listening to what your unusually large audience was trying to tell you.  There was an elephant in the room.

As a result of construction approvals made over the last 5+ years, including now Tower 155, there is a groundswell building against unfettered high rise development in Boca.  This is a direct result, not of some influx of anti-development conservationist zealots, but of the practical effect of what we as residents in the "downtown" area see each day.  The  buildings which have been approved as exceptions to the old height limitations are not exceptional.  The Mark looks like a prison.  I don't know what the Archstone project will look like in the end, but at over three football fields in length, I am not optimistic.  The 14-story pile going up at the corner of Camino and Federal will block out the sun on the 7th and 8th holes of the Resort Golf course as well as for the residents of those $6+ million homes in Mizner Estates (too bad for them).  We will wait and see just how aesthetically pleasing Tower 155 is-- but it is a very big building crammed on a very small lot abutting a very small side street.  I hope it is magnificent, I really do.

But Boca's recent construction track record does not afford much cause for optimism.  This is why a rapidly growing number of residents are concerned and disappointed.  Just the concept of the New Mizner on the Green Project has set off alarm bells.  Too often we have seen developers propose 40-story buildings only to "accept" a 25-story result.  And we have seen such faux compromises touted as a reduction in density.

What you heard yesterday and tonight in your Council chambers was "enough is enough."  I would expect that rallying cry will become louder and more persistent in coming months, as concerned citizens get more organized and involved.  I expect that there will be political consequences unless our elected leaders put a brake on future high rise development in the downtown.  What's done is done.  Let's take a deep breath and assess the damage (or benefits) once this latest construction binge has run its course.

But from this point forward, there will be a significant and growing number of people watching development decisions with a very critical eye.  I expect they will be well organized and well funded.

Enough is enough.  I hope you got the message.  I did.

John C. Gore
—Boca Raton

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