Beware the Trojan Horse

4

Part I

What is Planned Mobility?

Note: The following text in Part I was written many months ago.

The concept of Planned Mobility (PM), as originally presented to the residents of Boca Raton, is a plan to minimize daily car trips on our roads. For PM to succeed residents will voluntarily take buses, car-pool, walk and/or ride bikes and choose to live, work and play within a close distance.

Several PM districts have already been designated and approved within our city. If carried out as conceived, the concept might work, particularly in areas such as Town Center Mall, the Light Industrial Research Park (LIRP) and ARVIDA Park of Commerce (APOC).

There are two crucial components of Planned Mobility, which cannot be overlooked. They are:

  1. Transportation connectivity. It’s an absolute must to provide the infrastructure and short trip transportation to final destinations.
  2. It’s imperative to have mixed used development, which provides the necessary daily services and conveniences within close range.

If done well PM is a laudable goal.

Prior to approval, the discussion changed slightly when those arguing for PM admitted they were not actually lowering the number of daily car trips on our roads. They were simply lowering the distance that people would drive. This is a red flag, to be sure.

But beware of this Trojan Horse, which contains within, the developers’ demand for added “Density”. The narrative from developers will offer justification for increased density beyond existing city codes.

The notion that PM is a “solution” is a false narrative. The plan is designed to increase the value of the underlying property and if allowed will further stress our roadways and infrastructure. The trouble will come for those that live in the aftermath. For Planned Mobility to succeed for everyone, existing density rules should be strictly followed. At the end of the day this is nothing more than a financial gift to developers and landowners in the PM districts.

 

Part II

 July 23, 2015

 As if we couldn’t see this one coming.

Deputy Mayor Robert Weinroth will be introducing Ordinance 5312 at the next City Council meeting scheduled for July 28, 2015. The Ordinance is fairly straight forward: Mr. Weinroth is seeking a change to existing City Code by increasing the number of residential units in designated Planned Mobility Districts (PMD) from 2,500 units to 4,500 units. A whopping 80 percent increase in units.

The justification for this increase is questionable at best. According to a Memo from City Manager Leif Ahnell (see below) to City Council members the only support for the increase appears in the “Background” paragraph of the Memo. It states that a developer requested approval for 1,500 residential units but was denied due to the fact that 1,642 units had already been approved. The combined total exceeds the 2,500 maximum.

The existing Ordinance specifically states, “The multifamily residential units shall be available on a first come first served basis.” The existing Ordinance further states, “If, and at such time as 2,500 multifamily dwelling units have been authorized…no additional multifamily dwelling units shall be approved.”

The original PMD Ordinance was approved a mere two and a half years ago. What has changed to warrant such a dramatic increase in residential units? According to the Ordinance, the maximum of 2,500 units were put in place for multiple reasons including “to ensure multiple/mixed use land patterns…while respecting the existing character of adjacent land uses.”

The City has not yet experienced what the impact of 2,500 units will be and we are already entering a discussion to increase to 4,500 units? Where is the logic in that approach?

So what does this mean? It means…The Trojan Horse of Planned Mobility as a solution to traffic woes, under the circumstance of increased density, is no solution at all.

Give us a chance to see how this new idea works as planned and approved. Let’s add the mixed use and the transportation components before we start adding more density!  City Council members need to reject this egregious request to add density and additional traffic to our roadways. 


The introduction of this ordinance will be at the City Council meeting, Tuesday, July 28 at 6pm, City Hall.  If this of concern to you, contact your City Council now.  Contact info here.  The brief Memo and proposed Ordinance 5312 are available through this link.


 

4 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose we should see the various mixed uses come into existence (retail shops, banks, coffee, Rx store, new businesses, etc.), alongside the already approved residential, to test and measure the whole PM concept. In particular, we might want to see where the currently approved residential inhabitants work, and how they get to work. If, indeed, they get up in the morning and walk or ride their bikes to work, or walk to the nearest bus station to get to work, then PM may be viable. We would then have real data to study before we expand the concept. Otherwise, the PMD effectively becomes a rezoning of LIRP to Residential, which is contrary to the stated goals of PMD.

  2. Once again, George hits a homer. We must rally as a team to support our common effort. At this minute, we do not have a home field advantage as the umps and apposing teams owners have rigged the game against us. But, we have the force and will to take the field and capture the pennant for our team. No grounders, only base hits, home runs and a grand slam or two will see us through. Go Team!!!

  3. Increases of density of this proportion should not be granted without a referendum – the people will long live with the mess the developers create – they of course will be long gone.

  4. George’s article on PM is both timely and relevant to many recent conversations I have had with residents and concerned appointed officials.
    Comprehensive planning in Boca Raton is a thing of the past. Just look at the patchwork quilt of ordinances passed by the city council specifically to provide benefit to the developers and land owners.
    Planning has been replaced by the driving desire to overdevelop and to increase the tax base regardless of the impact on or the sentiment of the residents.
    There is nothing planned nor mobile in the PM ordinance. The planners are mere rubber stamps for what the administration and council want to have happen..
    It would be an interesting public records request to determine how much council and staff time has been spent with the property owner'(s) benefiting from this item.
    Even more distressing is that the ordinance is sponsored by Deputy Mayor Weinroth. Weinroth is nothing more than a shill for the developers. He ran on the basis of being a champion of the people but his action speak louder than words demonstrating that he could care less about the residents.
    Forget the pretty pictures he posts…For sure he is a social media maven but don’t be fooled….He is actually inside the Trojan horse…
    Cannot tell you how happy I am to hear the rumor that a grass root ‘recall’ petition is in the works….Excellent…..

    Al Zucaro

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