At a recent Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting held on October 23rd, a presentation presenting arguments for, or against, turning Dixie Hwy and Federal Hwy into one-way roads throughout the downtown was made.  CRA Chair Scott Singer was the driving force behind the initiative as a possible downtown traffic solution; a solution for a problem that has been talked about for quite some time.  The hoped-for outcome is to have traffic flow more efficiently through the downtown while creating a more ‘walkable’ downtown by the year 2024; a meritorious debate but…. that is not what caught my attention.

Boca:  We have a Problem

As the presentation proceeded a slide was shown highlighting the impact on intersections in the downtown if the one-way routes were implemented vs. keeping traffic flows as-is.  Chairman Singer couldn’t help but notice the abject failure of the intersection at Dixie and Camino which brings us to one of the major points of this article:  The ruling Ordinance 4035 originally targeted this intersection for reconfiguration upon achieving a certain level of buildout in the downtown.

Guess what?

Development prevailed…. the original ordinance was changed to favor development over implementing the public safeguards.  Once the buildout level trigger point for this intersection was achieved, things changed.

On February 9, 2015, the CRA passed Resolution No. 2015-03 CRA, followed by Ordinance 5295, eliminating what was once a mandatory project to improve traffic flows.  The narrative that accompanied this ruling specified two supporting reasons for the change

  1. A historic designation described as “extends from the eastern terminus of the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge to the intersection at South Dixie Highway.” Please note that the historic designation does not include the intersection itself.
  2. Due to the shifting emphasis on development from office to residential, traffic will be lessened at the intersection from what was originally projected.

The unanimous vote to approve this change was done by:  Mayor Susan Haynie, CRA Chair Scott Singer, Councilman Robert Weinroth (who originated the motion to approve), then Deputy Mayor Mike Mullaugh and then Councilwoman Constance Scott.

With some exception regards CRA Chairman Singer, all others on that council had a near perfect voting record in favor of OVER-development.

Here is the link to the original resolution with staff recommendation:

Old Definition for Insanity…. Doing the same thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results

For those that travel through the Camino/Dixie area and are currently dealing with daily traffic congestion, you have the opportunity to see what will be coming for the old Winn Dixie Shopping Center on November 7, 8:30 AM at the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner’s Associations, at the Community Center adjacent to City Hall.  Per the Federation website:

A Representative of Florida Crystal will make a presentation about the proposed re-development of the Camino Square Retail Center (West Camino Real & SW 3rd. Ave.) to a Retail/Residential Project.  The proposed Project will include Retail space, two buildings with a total of 350 Apartments, and parking.”

Florida Crystal (FCI) is a substantial sugar producer who established the development company FCI Residential, some years ago operating under different LLC’s.  A company related to FCI is Florida Crystals Dev Corp. whose name appears on Councilmember Weinroth’s initial campaign report (identified as a manufacturer) as contributing the maximum of $1,000.

This is the way OVER-development gets done in Boca:  Campaigns get funded by developers> Elected officials show appreciation> Quality of Life diminishes.

It’s time to stop the insanity.  It is time to discontinue electing (again) those that favor OVER-development.  ‘Resident Friendly’ candidates are becoming available as the alternative….

Let’s Put a Bow on This!

Some pertinent points need to be made.  Some of which have been noted before:

  1. We began this factual report with but one example of how we have deviated from the original DDRI plan; Ordinance 4035. There are many others.
  2. Mayor Haynie and Councilman Weinroth along with many members of the development community have justified their votes or endorsement of OVER-development by stating that “we are only following the plan created thirty years ago.” This is simply not true.  Over the years our elected officials, at the behest of the landowner/developers, have gone far astray from what was originally intended.
  3. Traffic is a problem and is a direct result of the OVER-development approved by our elected officials. Traffic count projections which justify the OVER-development are questionable based on the congestion our residents have begun to witness on our roadways.
  4. If you build it, they will come. Developers have worked hard and spent the necessary funds to put in place the elected officials that will endorse their desire to “build to the max”.  The end result is more population occupying scarce space and taxing our infrastructure and roadways leading to a negative impact on our quality of life.
  5. There is no law written that demands the City of Boca Raton needs to allow building to the max.
  6. Development – YES! Bring it on!  OVER-development – NAY!  Not anymore.
  7. The Downtown and Planned Mobility Districts are examples of how development professionals changed the original plans to suit their unquenched thirst for profits. It would be well advised to be on alert as to how the game changes for other sections of our city.  Think Midtown and Twentieth Street.
  8. The only hope is to elect officials that will safeguard the residents and protect us on quality of life issues.

As has often been heard before, we, the residents can bring about a stop to this insanity….Remember….

‘Your vote is your voice; let your voice be heard in the Election(s) of March and November, 2018’.

Al Zucaro