Tuesday, February 25, 2014

OMG! This is WAY beyond irrational.

In a recent email Mayor Jean Robb says she still pushing to eliminate our beach building codes Charter Section.  That is way beyond irrational.

The residents of the Deerfield Beach wanted to make sure that building codes covering beach development could not be changed again to benefit whatever developer was funding whatever commissioners were on the dais’ reelection bank accounts or lining their pockets, so they voted in favor of the referendum putting the codes in the City Charter (which is in effect the City Constitution); the voters were smart folks who knew exactly what they were doing and why. To say otherwise, as Jean Robb has, is insulting to the voters.

In order to change or eliminate a charter provision it must go to the voters.  The City Charter cannot be changed by the commissioners. 

An ordinance, on the other hand, can be changed by a vote of a majority of the commission in two meetings.  (Before the codes were voted into the Charter this was done.  The beach building codes were eliminated by a past commission in favor of a builder, “say it ain’t so”, but it WAS.)

Mayor Robb, who is still attempting to get rid of Charter section 11.01 in spite of the many residents who stood up at the commission meeting to say NO, NO, NO, says there would be a new ordinance enacted.  She says that the 55 foot height limit would not be changed.  Well, maybe this commission wouldn’t change it, but we have had many a commission that would. And I am not willing to trust future politicians. This important a thing just shouldn’t be that easy.

Yes, the Mayor wants an ORDINANCE, not a charter section, and from the lessons of the past, you know what that means.  Quicker than a politician says yes to a campaign donation the developers would come looking for multi-story massive buildings, wall to wall lot coverage and whatever else they could finagle to make as much money as possible.

One such developer who did propose a tall building has since told me that he is glad we have the codes and in fact, he likes our low rise village type beach so much he is planning on moving here.  He admitted he was wrong and was glad he was not allowed to do his project.  One in a million yes, but the truth will out.

So do we want to trade our charter protection for an ordinance?

Ordinance, shmordinance, two meetings and it’s GONE! 

The Mayor says that we have problems at the beach that could be fixed if those pesky building codes were just eliminated.  She has no solution, just a pie-in-the-sky hope, I suppose, that all rehab houses and sober houses will go away if the land owners could build big expensive buildings.  My guess is that we would have some big expensive rehab and sober facilities, and good-by to our family friendly beach.

Tell us in detail what “problems” you see Mayor. What are they, how can what you propose “fix” them.   Let’s hear from the people who want these changes.  Is it more than one person who made a bad investment who is clamoring for change?  I think not.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see what would happen to the traffic and access to the beach if this proposal goes through. 

From Tom Connick:
There is no valid logic to the Mayor's position to rescind Charter Provision 11.01.  Let me address some of inherent flaws in the Mayor's arguments:

1.  Mayor's claim that 11.01 must be eliminated so a "new ordinance" can be introduced.  My comment: If the Mayor thinks she has better ideas, she should publicly announce them.  With the Mayor's failure to announce specific changes and instead engage in generalities that undisclosed changes will be better than what currently exists, it is reasonable to conclude that the Mayor does not have a better idea than the current 11.01.

2.  Mayor says that rescinding 11.01 would give the Commission the opportunity to address her undisclosed imagined problems concerning the beach that would be remedied if 11.01 were rescinded.  My comment:  the Mayor's fallacious thoughts in this area are closely related to her fallacious thoughts in #1 above - there is nothing stopping the Mayor from addressing whatever the Mayor wants to address.  But, having said that, the fact is that Deerfield Beach citizens want protection of the beach from overdevelopment and the increased congestion and more difficult access that comes with it.

3.  Mayor insults voters by saying that she doesn't think any voters read Charter Amendment - in other words, the voters did not know what they were voting for.  My comment:  the voters knew exactly what they were voting for - a tool to at least assist in the protection of the beach from overdevelopment and the traffic congestion and more difficult access it causes to get to the beach.  It is absurd for the Mayor to insult the voters when the vote now is not the way the Mayor now likes (by the way, my recollection was that the Mayor liked the Charter Amendment in 2002).

4.  Mayor negatively comments on  the ballot language approving 11.01.  My comment:  the City Attorney approved the language on the ballot as being legally appropriate.  And, I will add that my legal opinion is that the language was legally appropriate.  There is no reason for the Mayor to indirectly insult the City Attorney by implying that something was wrong with the ballot language.

5.  Mayor strongly implies that 55 feet height increase in buildings was never a possibility going back to when the Mayor was on Planning and Zoning.  My comment: the Mayor's comments are simply not true.  I was on a Committee that was appointed to review the issues concerning the beach, and developer Mike O'Leary stated at one of the meetings that he had a plan for a 10 story hotel in the old bank building location on the "S" curve.  The illusion created to justify increased heights is allowing increased height and floor area ratio for illusory alleged benefits the developer provides.  Without the provisions of 11.01 being in the City Charter (the City Charter is the City's Constitution), a City Commission could change those minimal protections from overdevelopment with just 2 public readings.  With these minimal protections being in the City Charter, the public has a right to vote before these minimal protections can be changed.

In closing, the Mayor continues to push for undisclosed changes when there is no public support for these mythical undisclosed changes.  11.01 was the result of citizens gathering signatures to put 11.01 on the ballot and the citizens then voting overwhelmingly in favor of 11.01 (75%).  If there is a strong public desire to rescind 11.01, then the Mayor can head the gathering of signatures to put this on the ballot.  But, the public does not want 11.01 rescinded, so the Mayor does not appear interested in leading an unsuccessful effort in gathering signatures.

 The power of the benefit of Charter Amendment 11.01 staying in place is overwhelming versus the desire of the Mayor to rescind it. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Three Responses to Mayor Jean Robb's Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:
This letter is in comment to the Mayor’s Letter to the Editor that appeared in last week’s Observer (February 6, 2014).

Respectfully, it is bad public policy for the Mayor to suggest rescinding Section 11.01 of the City Charter, which was overwhelmingly approved by 75% of the votes in 2002. 

That Charter Amendment was partially helpful in preventing excessive development in the Beach area.  These protections are still favored by the citizens.

If the Mayor has a better idea to protect the Beach from excessive development, traffic congestion and other matters, she should:

1.            state her specific proposed changes instead of speaking or writing in non-specific generalities,

2.            prepare a Referendum on her specific proposed changes, and

3.            gather sufficient signatures to put her specific proposed changes on the ballot for the voters.  
My impression as to why the Mayor has not publicly stated her specific proposed changes is that she does not have any ideas to improve Section 11.01 of the Charter, or she knows that her proposals would be considered either very unpopular with the public or not legally viable. 
Tom Connick

To the Editor:
Deerfield Beach Mayor Robb wants to do away with the codes that protect the beach from overdevelopment; codes that were overwhelmingly voted in by the residents.

She seems to think that allowing larger development on the beach will eliminate drug rehab and “sober” houses, in her words, in last week’s Observer: “what is being proliferated in the beach area today” on the barrier island.  These establishments are a protected use according to the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

Blaming the current code for this is beyond absurd.  The argument that property owners are being forced into selling their properties to the rehab folks just doesn’t hold water.  No one can be forced to sell or rent to someone if they don’t want to.

Mayor Robb wants the commission to “step up and create its own new ordinance to deal with the changes in the beach area”.  She doesn’t say what she wants in the ordinances.

She may have forgotten, but the City Attorney, and the commission, put in place all the legal restrictions they could in regard to group homes.

Allowing codes that would allow higher and wider development on the beach goes against everything the residents of Deerfield Beach want. As witness the 75% vote count in favor of the referendum on building codes.

Beach property owners are able to build 55’ tall buildings, which should be enough for anyone to make a big profit in 2014 as well as in 2002. 

Far from threatening development on the beach, Charter Section11.01 is protecting what we have and allowing rational building, as witness the new hotel on the beach front, which is built to code.
Bett Willett

To the Editor:
 It is outrageous that Deerfield Beach Mayor Jean Robb wants to eliminate or change the building codes for the beach area.

The Original Save Our Beach walked throughout the city and gathered over 9000 signed petitions to put two referenda on the November 2002 ballot.

These referenda were to protect the beach area from over-development.  The residents overwhelmingly approved both referenda with more than 21,000 votes.  

There has never been an outcry from residents to overturn either of these referenda. The Public Vote was 75% in favor of the referenda protecting against beach over-development.

If anyone wants to destroy the protection of the beach area and change our city charter for whatever reason, they should hit the streets and try to gather signatures to place referenda on the November 2014 ballot.  See if voters are in favor of making the codes looser.

 They will find that the residents of Deerfield Beach do not want the codes changed.  They will find that public sentiment is very strong to protect the beach from massive development.  They will find that the traffic, parking and room on the beach for blankets and chairs cannot support more development than is already approved.
Marge Hilton