It’s pretty impressive and hard to ignore that a group of dedicated citizens were able to gather over 2000 signatures in summer months regarding development on waterfront property west of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Here is an update from one of the petition coordinators…

We did it!

The citizens of Boca Raton came together and made a statement that their voices will be heard. On May 31, 2016 citizens submitted 2,068 notarized signatures to the City Clerk, more than twice the required 1,030 signatures. The fact that we obtained this many signatures in a short period of time during the off-season makes this an amazing accomplishment and sets a precedent for future actions where the citizens feel disenfranchised. This article provides a brief overview of the background of the petition drive and a view of next steps.

The activity was started by a committee of five citizens submitting a notarized affidavit to the City Clerk specifying that they are organizing an initiative petition to have the City Council adopt an ordinance. The ordinance language is quite simple: “City-owned land adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway shall be used for public recreation, public boating access, public streets and city stormwater uses only.” The intent is to preserve open space along our waterfront for all citizens to enjoy. The affidavit was submitted on April 28 and citizen petition circulators began obtaining petition signatures on that date.

Approximately 80 citizen petition circulators were engaged in collecting signatures. The City Charter requires that every signature be witnessed by a circulator; therefore it was impossible to use one of the on-line petition apps. Technology did play a large role in communicating with the circulators. Social media and email were used extensively to communicate with petition circulators as well as petition signers.

We set a goal of obtaining 2,000 signatures by May 28 and we made it! In fact after we submitted the 2,068 notarized signatures on May 31 citizens were still asking to sign petitions. We have many more signatures than 2,068 that we’re holding in case we need to submit them for some reason.

After the notarized signature sheets were submitted to the City Clerk, they were sent to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections for validation, i.e., every signature was checked to make sure that the person is a certified voter in the City of Boca Raton. The Committee paid $.10 per signature for the validation process. On Friday, June 10 we were notified that the Supervisor of Elections sent a Certificate of Sufficiency regarding our petition signatures to the Boca Raton City Clerk. The notification indicated that 1,723 signatures were accepted. The rejection rate was 15%, which is very low according to the Supervisor of Elections Office. The main reason that signatures are rejected is that the information cannot be read by the checkers.

Nevertheless our signature requirement of 1,030 was exceeded and the City Council will be presented with the Certificate of Sufficiency in the next couple of days. They will then have a maximum of 60 days to adopt the ordinance, reject it or ignore it. If rejected or ignored the City Council then has a maximum of 60 days to hold an election where the citizens get a chance to vote on the ordinance. If the dates don’t allow the ordinance to be placed on a ballot of a regular election, a special election must be held.

A special thanks to the Affidavit Committee, the petition circulators and the petition signers. We’ll continue providing updates on City Council actions on the ordinance. Let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Jim Wood