This article explains Ordinance 28-1307, which was adopted in 2012, and proposed Ordinance 5356, which is the subject of a recent citizen petition. The intent of both ordinances is to protect City-owned land on the Barrier Island and western side of the Intracoastal Waterway from being leased or sold for private, non-recreation development. Uses that add to the citizens’ enjoyment of recreation are certainly permitted.

Ordinance 28-1307 and proposed Ordinance 5356 do not restrict City-owned land uses that support recreation. For example; retail, food and rental concessions are viable uses under both ordinances. Currently, a food concession exists at South Beach Park and rental concessions exist at South Beach Park, Red Reef Park and Spanish River Park: City of Boca link. Gumbo Limbo Nature Center also has a full time retail operation and hosts numerous vendors and food concessions on Sea Turtle Day: Gumbo Limbo link

On June 14, 2016 the Boca Raton City Council was officially notified that a citizen ordinance initiative petition successfully gathered the minimum number of signatures. The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections determined that a minimum of 1,030 qualified Boca Raton voter signatures were required and 2,068 were submitted. The result of the signature verification process is that 1,723 signatures were qualified by the Supervisor of Elections. Most of the 345 citizen signatures that did not qualify could not be understood by the verifiers.

Proposed Ordinance 5356 is now with City officials to make a decision. They can adopt the ordinance, reject it or ignore it. If they reject or ignore the proposed ordinance, it will be put to the voters to decide. Here is a current view of timing:

July 21 – Planning and Zoning Board review

July 26 – City Council Introduction

August 9 – City Council Consideration

November 8 – Election (if not adopted by City Council on August 9)

Proposed Ordinance 5356 is quite simple: “All City-owned land adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway shall only be used for public recreation, public boating access, public streets, and City stormwater uses only.” The proposed ordinance is modeled after Ordinance 28-1307 that was adopted to preserve City-owned land on Boca Raton’s Barrier Island for recreation purposes. Proposed Ordinance 5356 extends protection from commercial development to City-owned land on the western side of the Intracoastal Waterway. The proposed ordinance imposes no additional restrictions beyond those that already exist for City-owned land on the Barrier Island.

Some background on the Barrier Island park protection ordinance is that Ordinance 28-1307 was adopted to protect City-owned land between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean from commercial development. In 2009 Penn-Florida told city officials that the Via Mizner project at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and Camino Real would not be viable unless Penn-Florida could develop a private club on the eastern side of A1A on City-owned property known as Ocean Strand. Their rationale was that they had to have a hotel in their project and could not get a hotel company to commit without private beach access. The Ocean Strand parcel is on A1A about a mile south of Spanish River Blvd. Follow this link for some more background on the situation: Sun-Sentinel. Penn-Florida proposed a parking lot for the part of the Ocean Strand parcel that is on the western side of A1A.

To protect the entire Ocean Strand parcel from development a group of Boca Raton citizens started an ordinance initiative petition in December, 2010 and collected 1,500 signatures, more than enough to qualify the proposed ordinance for consideration by the City Council. The city attorney attempted to have the court declare the citizens’ petition invalid. The court ruled in favor of the citizens and the city appealed. Citizens won the appeal in September, 2012 and the City Council adopted Ordinance 28-1307.

Ordinance 28-1307 and proposed Ordinance 5356 are designed to ensure that City-owned land adjacent to the western side of the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean are protected from commercial development. This will help preserve that which makes Boca Raton’s waterway and Barrier Island unique for our enjoyment and the enjoyment for generations to come. The ordinances are sufficiently flexible to allow for adding and changing amenities that support changing recreational interests by the citizens of Boca Raton.

Citizens are encouraged to communicate their support for the City’s adopting proposed Ordinance 5356 at the August 9 meeting rather than waiting for the citizens to vote on the ordinance in November. The City’s web site makes it easy to communicate with the Mayor/City Council by completing the form in this link: http://myboca.us/cityforms/contactUsMain.aspx