Boca Raton Mayoral Campaign Literature Fact Check

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On Monday, June 25, 2018 we received Scott Singer’s campaign literature in the mail and decided to perform a check of the three prominent assertions in the brochure. That is, school overcrowding, overdevelopment and traffic congestion. These three issues are important to Boca Raton voters.

Our fact checking follows the PolitiFact scoring system, i.e., there are six possible scores assigned to each assertion and they range from “True” to “Pants on Fire.”

Before we get into a discussion of the three assertions in the brochure, it is useful to establish an analysis framework. Scott Singer first became a member of Boca Raton’s City Council in April, 2014; over four years ago. Our analysis of the three assertions, therefore, spans the last four years.

The scoring and discussion of each point follows.

School overcrowding

The assertion “Championed New Public School for Boca” is a distraction from the full extent of the Boca Raton school overcrowding problem. The City Council was alerted to the issue in 2015 by longtime resident Jack McWalter, but he was told that it was not the City Council’s problem. He persisted in highlighting the growing problem and in February, 2018 Chris Scarpa, another resident, spoke to City Council on the critical overcrowding problem at Boca Raton High School. Mr. Scarpa was also told by the mayor that it was not the City Council’s problem and the other City Council members sat silent, with the exception of Council Member O’Rourke.

The following table shows the current occupancy situation with public schools in the City of Boca Raton.

School Grades Enrollment Capacity Occupancy %
Addison Mizner Elementary K-5 869 996 87%
Boca Raton Elementary K-5 424 401 106%
Calusa Elementary K-5 1126 1034 109%[2]
Del Prado Elementary K-5 945 929 102%
J.C. Mitchell Elementary K-5 997 1032 97%
Verde Elementary K-5 1082 926 117%
Boca Raton Community Middle  6-8 1584 1417 112%
Don Estridge High Tech Middle  6-8 1264 1254 101%
Omni Middle  6-8 1401 1396 100%
Boca Raton Community High  9-12 3562 2928 122%
Spanish River Community High  9-12 2401 2259 106%

Notes:

  1. Source – School District of Palm Beach County –  February FTE Enrollment Report SY2017-18 (FY2018) – February 9, 2018
  2. Calusa capacity includes 198 seats in modular buildings

Genuine leaders do not try to take credit for partial solutions. Instead, they exert leadership to implement a vision and prevent problems like school overcrowding from occurring. In addition to a new elementary school, which is forecasted to be available in August 2020, the school district is implementing measures to try to address existing capacity issues in Boca Raton schools.

Overdevelopment

The assertion “Record of opposing overdevelopment” is not backed-up by any facts. The following table shows that Scott Singer voted to approve 21 multi-family residential developments and to not approve a density increase to a previously approved development. This information was obtained from the Boca Raton city clerk’s voting database and spans the interval from April 8, 2014 until May 8, 2018.

Vote Date Dwelling Units Yes Vote* No Vote* Development Name
6/10/2014 370 X 900 Broken Sound
8/12/2014 76 X Boca Highlands
9/9/2014 75 X Spanish River Highlands
1/26/2015 170 X Tower 155
1/27/2015 282 X 6700 North Congress
1/27/2015 398 X Fairway Commons
8/10/2015 25 X 327 Royal Palm
10/27/2015 8 X Pine Circle Villas
10/27/2015 8 X Floresta Grove
11/24/2105 409 X University Village Density Increase
12/7/2015 104 X Via Mizner + 164 Rm Hotel
12/8/2015 1 X 2500 North Ocean
1/11/2016 8 X Oceanside Townhomes
11/22/2016 180 X 5500 Broken Sound
1/10/2017 55 X Boca Villas
4/19/2017 322 X Boca Colonnade
8/21/2017 193 X 375 Royal Palm
8/21/2017 384 X Mizner 200
10/24/2017 70 X 1 S. Ocean
12/12/2017 284 X 5201 Congress
2/26/2018 48 X 475 Royal Palm
2/27/2018 19 X Yamato Villas
Total 3,489

*by Scott Singer

Many would argue that overdevelopment was already occurring in 2014 when Scott Singer joined the City Council and that when the above developments come on-line the problem will be made much worse.

Traffic Congestion

The claim of “Smarter solutions to reduce traffic” is not backed up by results. In 1992 the City Council, under the leadership of Mayor Emil Danciu, adopted Ordinance 4035 which was designed to prevent traffic problems by requiring specified road and transportation improvements before downtown developments were approved. The following table using information from Ordinance 4035 shows the development thresholds.

Max Sq Ft Improvements
Allowed Required
1,000,000 9
1,500,000 4
2,000,000 3
2,200,000 1
3,000,000 4
4,000,000 1
4,500,000 2
4,900,000 1

 

The way to interpret this is that the maximum square feet of development cannot be exceeded until specified road and transportation improvements are completed. Some of the improvements are outside of the downtown. All of the improvements have been completed with the exception of improving the Camino/Dixie intersection, which is one of the four projects required to be completed to allow more than 3,000,000 square feet of development. The required improvement to that intersection was waived by Boca Raton’s Community Redevelopment Agency in January, 2015.

The current status of development in the downtown is that over 6,800,000 square feet has been developed or approved for development. Smart traffic management leadership would have extended the strategy of not approving any development until required road and transportation improvements were implemented.

In summary this article has examined three important claims from Scott Singer’s campaign literature. The claims are regarding Boca Raton school overcrowding, overdevelopment and traffic congestion. The claims about schools and traffic were found to be misleading as the total scope of the problems were not addressed or solved. The assertion “Record of opposing overdevelopment” is in no way supported by the facts.

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Jim Wood is a 25-year citizen of Boca Raton. Upon arriving in Boca from Arizona, Jim and his family had a house built in Broken Sound in the western section of the City. After the last of their three children left for college Jim and Trish downsized and relocated to east Boca, where they have lived for 18 years. His volunteering activities include serving eight years on an advisory board in the City. Jim is a computer engineer who advanced into executive positions with telecommunications companies Siemens and Lucent. He holds undergraduate degrees in mathematics and management, a master’s degree in computer engineering and an MBA. He is also a veteran who served four years on active duty with the United States Air Force. His interests include cycling (A1A), guitar (acoustic) and cooking (healthy comfort food). He is a member of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club and the FAU Alumni Association.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Jim the facts speak loud and clear for them selves. Thank you, to you and Jack for keeping our school overcrowding in the spotlight.This problem has to be resolved and the solution should not be rezoning Boca children out west.

  2. Thank you Jim Wood. As reported in the SunSentinal’s December 6, 2017 article titled – “Boca Debates new development, crowded schools”, Councilwoman Andrea L. O’Rourke made an important and sensible statement: “Until we figure out how we are going to address those issues, I have concern adding more students into the student roll. Period.”

    Note in the same article – Scott Singer said; “Are we saying we’ve reached the point where we can’t approve any more development?” He went on to say “Because, we do not control what the School Board is doing”. That was a “NOT MY JOB” moment for Mr. Singer.

    But it is his job to represent the taxpayers, the residents and keep an eye on THE EFFECTS OF HIS VOTES FOR VARIANCE GIVE AWAYS WITH INCREASED RESIDENT DENSITY. As shown. he has added over 3,000 residential units without asking “How are we doing in schools? He never thought of it. I assume that is because the developers continue to support his campaigns to the detriment of our schools and way of life.

  3. Nor should Boca Raton students be rezoned to Delray Schools. Boca Raton has a reputation for having excellent schools. If the city hopes to attract new business, fix the school problem.

  4. Jim, thanks for the analysis. One might add; The proof’s in the pudding. However, if you prefer the original proverb: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Residents are fed up with ‘eating’ out-of-scale and incompatible buildings to their surrounding neighborhoods, and most importantly, the unfairly and unnecessary granting of variances that allow this increased density, decreased parking, setback giveaways, bogus traffic studies, and poor planning in general.
    This Special Election gives us the opportunity to have a City Council which will do its’ best to put the brakes on unbridled development and exploitation of the residents quality of life; something that appears to have been ‘up for bid’ for far to long.
    Logically, what do we have to lose by trying putting the residents first, “resident friendly,” CITY council?
    Please watch Jack McWalter’s new video, “Resident Unfriendly” here at: BocaWatch.org

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