This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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A house divided against itself cannot stand. It is high time for us to look at our divisions and realize that we are all diminished by the many “us vs. them” perpetuations which keep Boca from reaching its greatest potential. Division is not a functional approach to advance a city’s greatness. ONE BOCA – VISION 2030 is what I propose to help our city be the best it can be, so that our kids raise their kids where they were raised.
As I consistently seek the center of this city, I both intrigue and offend some constituents of all factions. I believe that for Boca to become a truly great city, we need to put the divisions aside and focus on what we have in common and what works. A few divisions that have been brought to my attention include: Developers v. Residents, The Chamber v. The DBA, and Boca Watch v. Boca Voice. How much iteration of “us against them” can a town like Boca sustain? Enough already! Look at issues. Respect other opinions. Envision what really works for Boca. We had a VISION 90 which either worked great or went completely off the rails, depending on your point of view. My ONE BOCA – VISION 2030 proposal is for your consideration.
I propose that leaders of the private sector segments engage in an ongoing, structured and facilitated dialogue which allows all to air their grievances; discover their common ground and share what they’d like Boca to be in 2030.
At the conclusion, a plan of action, with milestones and accountabilities built in for future elected officials to follow can be publicized and embraced. I believe that by looking forward, rather than backwards, we will likely discover that what we all want for Boca’s next generation is very similar.
All options should be on the table. If various parties can agree on what we want for our kids’ futures, and build accountability into a plan of action, then nobody’s sensibilities should be offended. Let’s look at what works and set aside the constraints of our past. Let’s create a unified vision. This would have to be facilitated by an outside urban planner, or a professional mediator, or clergy. It would need to be funded and would take time. Still, we must talk about what we need to talk about.
We, here in Boca Raton, have either grown beautifully, or way too fast, depending on your view. What is clear is that there is no vision for what is to come. We are a city that lives dollar by dollar, building by building, election cycle by election cycle, and one point of view against one point of view. ONE BOCA – VISION 2030 holds the promise, if done well, of a future which is created now out of what we have in common, and not what divides us.
Who is willing to step up, sit down, lay down the hostilities, and create a future? If we don’t, we’ll remain a city divided against itself. We may be able to stand, but we for sure won’t be Boca at its best.
Mr Liss brings forth what residents have tried in vain to accomplish for years – Work out our differences. Developers get their way because there is nothing requiring otherwise, there is nothing in it for them. Further, it happens with a City Staff and Council who crumble under developer pressure. Citizens continually speak before Council asking for a chance to communicate their position and are given 5 minutes. Developers spend hours with City Staff and Council members “one on one” – it’s their full time job. Citizens do not have the finances behind them to bring forth their collective position. This inequity can be fixed.
So, Mr. Liss “ESQ”, you want to do something?: Get development players to any table to work with residents in an honest manner, the residents will show up. I’ve seen it happen only once when Mayor Haynie suggested One Ocean Palm’s developer meet a neighborhood association willing to listen and work out a solution that works for both. That formula should be “codified” and that is something you, Mike Liss ESQ, can do. Write and proffer a proposed City Charter Amendment addressing the requirement. If communicating with residents is not made a requirement, it will not happen. The current procedures benefit the developer to the detriment of residents every time.
I will once again agree with Mr. Hendry particularly on Ocean Palm, the problem with division is that someone must be willing to effectuate a compromise. Further the political establishment must recognize what is best for the City long term, not count votes for the next election, and in some cases count political donations. Dialogue is key. I have yet to meet a resident who did not genuinely have the best interests in the City at heart, that being said residents need to have a seat at the table. My only concern is the fact that there are some residents that might oppose anything–maybe because no one listens to them. As a developer I have always agreed with the City staff when it came to doing roadway improvements and whatever else was required I have said this in public that every one of my projects were always unanimously approved, but some developers oppose doing anything for no reason at all. That’s in part due to the frustration in dealing with the City’s archaic P&Z rules and administration. My biggest concern is the City having to raise taxes and squandering opportunity. Developers & business interests in general can have a major role in giving back to the community they just have to be allowed to by the City. City staff should act as facilitators to community dialogue–not disinterested parties. Grouping in fiefdoms and “not allowing” City staff to talk to developers and residents with ideas is absurd. I have learned that its not what you say but how you say it. We need to come together to work together and share our knowledge for the better.
Let me be clear. All parties must be made to negotiate. The resident/developer negotiations should be made to transpire prior to an applicants project entering the the Planning Dept. If Crocket Partners wants to do Midtown they should be made to outline their plan before the public first, listen to the residents counter positions if there are any and make an attempt to resolve differences through negotiation. Neither party may get totally what they want.
It appears the effort on Midtown on the part of Crocker Partners is to write their own list of ordinances pertaining to the project and lobby the City to accept them leaving the residents out in the cold. Make the parties sit down and plan together. If there are impasses bring them to the fore and get boards or the Council to help sort it out. I think this is what Mr. Liss is suggesting.
As it has been and appears now – the HIRED GUNS will roll over the residents so developers can maximize their profits vs seizing the aspect of being a Community – BY WORKING TOGETHER TOWARD A MUTUALLY ACCEPTED PLAN. It’s about time we strive to make every development a win – win even if we have to force the issue via an addition to our Charter. They do it in other Cities, we should do it here.
Mr. Hendrey: No party can be forced to meaningfully negotiate. All parties must agree to work towards a middle, hence the need for a facilitator. And ongoing dialogue, not a one-time smackdown. Worked in Northern Ireland, let’s do it before our heated hyperbole turns into evil.
Mr. Gromann, all well-taken, but perhaps city staff, with much at stake and often caught in the middle, should have a seat at the table with a facilitator. City staff generally does not come and go with the elected officials.
I think my ear is about to explode… Please, please stop the complaining. I pay over $50,000 per year in property taxes. I am all into growth for Boca and building it up. I have no horse in the development game and I am just a resident. Anything to keep the taxes lower gets my vote. If Boca was similar to Delray, I would be delighted. Lively, active, fun… In fact, someone should speak up and grow the waterfront with a nice hotel or two. Right now if Boca closes a street for an event, its lame and filled with snowbirds. There is no active community or diversity in ages — its all seniors. Take a walk over to Delray and watch an active community.
Please stop the annoying complaining and playing amateur detective and just take a breath and relax. Let the developers make some money — bring taxes down for residents — and enjoy the sunshine. I only read this blog to continue to be amazed on how silly the entire discussion is around development. For the sake of sanity, people fought over a small 7-eleven on Palmetto which turned into a nothing burger. People are nuts. I’m all for its explosive growth. Ok, check, one vote against you.
Folks, your in Florida, enjoy and relax.
@ Pete Donaldson –
Great comment and completely agree with the hotel idea.
I have said this before but will say it again.
Meridian at One North Ocean should have been a hotel instead of that boring block of concrete that it is now. The only thing remotely cool on that building is the copper dome that is just starting to patina.
While i’m at it, whats up with the other corner being a boring office plaza.
You have this beautiful downtown flowing into A1A and the beach and all you could come up with was that?
That area is completely stagnant.