Boca Raton’s Definition of Insanity…. OVER-development!

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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:  http://bocaraton.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=9&clip_id=1062&meta_id=73676

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

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Sugar in Politics….

    Remember the annual Lake O discharge debacle? That was brought to you by Florida Crystals, a part of Big Sugar, one of the most environmentally destructive practices in South Florida.

    If you are unfamiliar, more than 150 billion gallons of contaminated water from the sugar fields (Florida Crystals) are dumped into Lake Okeechobee, and each summer discharged to the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers – creating toxic green algae blooms. These blooms are known to devastate coastal estuaries, causing immediate death in marine life, spanning from the east and west coast of Florida. Good water quality is an essential component of healthy habitats…. Without healthy habitats there can’t be healthy fisheries.

    I am just wondering, why are local politicians (Mayor Haynie and Robert Weinroth) in Boca accepting campaign contributions from the ones responsible for devastating the environment inland and offshore?!

  2. I live just west of Boca Raton and I had no idea that your bright city government approved building 350 apartments in the old Winn Dixie space. How are they going to widen Camino Real to accommodate the increased traffic flow in the area? I can’t wait to see the backups at the Dixie light. Is the developer responsible for building a new access on Dixie Hwy? I could barely contain my laughter as I wrote that sentence! The city of Boca Raton makes all these stupid decisions but the city of Boca Raton does not live in vacuum. They are one of many cities in Palm Beach county. So, Boca Raton approves these developments which then affect people who don’t live in Boca proper but are still affected by the over development. Money talks and overrules common sense.

  3. An excellent summary of what ails our city. Council Members approve major new development projects without assuring FIRST that adequate infrastructure will be in place to handle the population increase. They are approving projects based on a plan that is over thirty years old and filled with faulty assumptions. They are loathe to do in-season traffic studies when all they have to do is drive around our congested streets to see how serious the problem is. We need to replace the developers’ puppet Robert Weinroth with a Council Member who is resident friendly in 2018.

  4. For much of the twentieth century developers together with the sugar industry have waged an undeclared war on the Everglades, draining and diverting it to provide more space for development and agriculture. By the nineteen-eighties, the water flow had been so diminished that the wading birds—white ibises, egrets, herons—that had once descended by the thousands to hunt fish, had all but disappeared (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/01/04/swamped-the-political-scene-dexter-filkins). By accepting campaign contributions from these rapists Haynie and Weinroth remind us once again that they are nothing more than cheap politicians.

  5. I live just west of the subject intersection. The traffic is already at a standstill from late in the afternoon and until early evening. Getting on either Camino Real or Dixie Highway from side streets during these hours is impossible and to wait for 2-3 traffic lights to change before crossing either street is common. The traffic is backed up west of SW 4th Avenue. Making either highway a one-way street will only make matters worse, not to mention a great inconvenience to all who reside near the intersections. Once again you can see the Council has lots its mind. How can the Council’s stupid mistakes be corrected?

    • Simple…Replace Councilmembers with ‘resident friendly’ people. The next opportunity is March ’18 to consider who will be the people’s representative, not a developer’s vote. Follow the campaign money trail….Al Zucaro

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