Mizner 200: Approve or Not to Approve? That is the Critical Question!

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To paraphrase Gershwin: “Summertime, and the politics ain’t easy”.

Boca Raton’s City Council faces some very important votes in the coming months.  First among these is the controversial decision on whether to approve the massive Mizner 200 project, or to ask for further modifications to meet the concerns of its neighbors.  And there will be important votes on other very large projects to follow, such as the proposed redevelopment of our Midtown.

As someone who has been working hard at this for the past four years, it seems a good time to step back, take a deep breath, and think about the political process that is driving Boca’s future– not only Boca, but hundreds of other communities like it across our nation.  These are places that are both attractive and attracting:  beautiful spots for retirees or job seekers to relocate, and extremely desirable places for developers to earn profits by ensuring that housing and lodging demand meets supply.  It’s not just Boca.  Talk to people in Naples, or Delray, or Boynton, or Jupiter, or Aspen or Scottsdale.  Development is a torrid topic.  But why have these development decisions become so difficult and contentious?

Perhaps it’s because when the paid advocates, consultants and lobbyists have finished their work, the root of the problem is that we are talking at each other and not to each other.  Ours is an adversarial system, based on law, which encourages scoring points against one’s opponent, coming up with the killer argument, burying one’s adversary with a slurry of negative ads, or (in the bad old days) just having a politician or three in your pocket.  Taking Mizner 200 as an example, we are told that on the one side we have the greedy NIMBY nimbus and, on the other, the greedy developers who assert their right to do whatever they wish with the property they own.

All sides are playing to their strengths.  Opponents of the current design of Mizner 200 have organized a petition campaign to demonstrate public concern about the project and its impact on our already overcrowded Downtown. If you agree, you can sign up at BocaBeautiful.org or click on the Say “No” to Mizner 200 ad in BocaWatch.  Supporters of the project have engaged high-powered public relations and legal talent.  If you think that Mizner 200 is a great idea, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

What about a less adversarial approach?  Again, using Mizner 200 as an example, what about the interested parties– the developer, those who live in the neighboring properties and those who are concerned about traffic and congestion in Boca– sitting down and working out a common solution?  The fact that this has not happened in the case of Mizner 200—and don’t believe those who tell you that it has– is no excuse for why it shouldn’t happen.

What a perfect opportunity for our City Council to sit, Solomon-like, when they meet to discuss this in July and say to all concerned:  “Go away and work this out to the betterment of Boca.”  Seems like common sense.  Seems like a potential win-win.  Seems like a smart approach to a growing civic and political problem.

The outcome may not be Versailles, but there is a good chance that it could be an intelligent compromise that everybody can live with.  And one that could beneficially influence future development decisions in Boca Raton.

John C. Gore
President
BocaBeautiful.org

 

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John, President of BocaBeautiful.org is a 13-year Boca resident and lives in Downtown Boca. He is also Chairman and CEO of Political Solutions International LLC, a consulting firm which advises a wide range of clients on government relations organization, competence, issue management and strategy. Prior to his chairing Political Solutions International, Mr. Gore served from 1996-2002 as Group Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, for the British Petroleum Company in London. In that capacity Mr. Gore was responsible for BP’s government and public affairs activities in over 70 countries. He is a 1970 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and attended Georgetown University Law School. He is married to the former Antonia Stepovich of Fairbanks, Alaska. His outside interests include golf, creative writing, and the arts.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The architect for Mizner 200, George Garcia and project attorney Bonnie Miskel have proven themselves to be problem solvers. These two worked with residents wanting to share their points of view regarding One Ocean Palm, a project being submitted for the corner of A-1-A and Palmetto Park Road. Residents met with the property owner and developer, Ramon Llorenz, a number of times and “worked out a meaningful solution accepted by all”.

    Likewise, Mr. Gore and those wishing to be heard with respect to Mizner 200, must have the opportunity to work out a solution. Listening to both points of view makes for COMMUNITY thus reaffirming the concept – WE ALL COUNT. If there are impasses, issues can be brought to the City Council for resolution.

    Now we need the same willingness on the part of local developers to engage residents. The “locals” have traditionally been in it for themselves. Yea, harsh words, but it’s the reality today, look at Midtown. We need a change to our City Charter insisting anyone wishing to build in this City work with the community first so each is recognized and made to listen to their soon to be neighbors. Look at recent lawsuits the City has lost and those in the works, such grievances need not happen. Currently the City does not have a mechanism to force a meeting of the minds and foster potential resolutions before projects reach City departments. Resolutions prior to submission of projects is much less expensive for the City and people will learn to come together via a process. This will only happen with a needed change to our City Charter.

  2. Pitiful….The council members do not live in that location so they do not care what is REALLY going to take place.
    It does not effect them, except (MAYBE Andrea) personally. They will let this pass…and with time…they will pass..and the town will be stuck with a HUGE rotten egg. PEOPLE do not let this happen. There is absolutely NO benefit in OVER CROWDING.

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