For years now, residents of Boca Raton have raised their voices in opposition to the overdevelopment/building boom being experienced in Boca Raton. This relentless assault on Boca’s quality of life is being driven by a small group of commensurate business insiders who enjoy an embedded collusion with a cooperative City Council and a receptive City Administration.
Some of these insiders have been heard to say that today’s overdevelopment is a direct result of plans put in place decades ago. Be that as it may, the resident’s voice has received little recognition by the elected officials and even less discernible effort to modify and modulate these patently negative results. At best the elected officials give lip service to the resident while remaining in bed with the development community. The development community continually demonstrates its firm grasp on the elected and appointed officials; a fact often pointed out by BocaWatch and now firmly embedded in the resident’s conscience.
Well it appears that these commensurate insiders are not happy…..
BocaWatch has received an internal memo from within the law firm of Gray-Robinson; the leading law firm representing many of the overdevelopment, high density projects – projects that are the subject of resident complaints.
At this point, the reader should fast forward to the end of this article and read this internal memo for its context and content.
The memo identifies a plan of action to be taken against the residents, who are characterized as “extreme activists”; “dedicated to saying no to every chance Boca Raton has for economic stability and prosperity”; propounding the ‘chicken little’ argument that the sky is falling.
The ‘boy who cried wolf’ language contained is almost laughable if it weren’t so pathetic.
Can you believe these high powered insiders are threatened by the resident’s voice?
For them, it is perfectly acceptable when the residents play nicely in the sand box by ineffectively voicing objection at the public microphone for the allotted 5 minutes in a setting where the elected/appointed officials are present to listen but do not hear.
The fear seems to be in the recognition that the residents are becoming “increasingly organized”; a fear that the resident might actually be altering the business as usual pattern the insiders enjoy in Boca Raton. Moreover, they fear that this organized voice is now acquiring political influence; and the residents are beginning a “plan” to take over the Boca Raton City Council.
How insightful….The insiders are actually feeling threatened!
With that said, let’s take a look at the content of this memo….
It ends by calling for the assembly of local business leaders to meet over a 6 day period, September 9 thru 16 to discuss “our” (their) political action plans for the coming year. The memo is written over the names of Mark Guzzetta and Charlie Siemon.
As a bit of a reminder:
Mr. Guzzetta is the developer responsible for the Palmetto Promenade (aka Archstone) project on the north side of Palmetto Park Road, just west of N.E. 5th Ave; to wit: an apartment complex extending 900 linear feet, three football fields, with virtually no break and sparse ground floor retail, which is contrary to the Downtown Master Plan. He also led the charge with Mayor Haynie and others in Tallahassee to have state law changed so that we, the residents, no longer have the ability to conduct a ‘referendum’ vote opposing development orders approved by the City Council even though language exists in our city charter allowing for such a process.
Mr. Siemon is perhaps the leading overdevelopment proponent in Boca Raton and is responsible for much of the city’s enabling legislation for development. He is a leading authority in the area of land use and zoning law and his law firm, formerly Siemon and Larson, has almost single handedly altered development patterns throughout the city for decades. His influences within city hall and with the elected officials are legendary and his legal handiwork can be found in a myriad of patchwork ordinances developed for the purpose of advancing the overdevelopment results that are the subject of many resident complaints.
There is the notion that ‘organized residents’ may upset the status quo and is threatening. This sentiment is found throughout the uncovered memo. The memo actually contains mistruths both in politics and in results.
The major mistruth is that residents oppose “all” growth. This is demonstratively false. Residents have taken the position in favor of sustained, principled growth. For the most part, residents argue that growth should be limited to what is permitted in Ordinance 4035, an ordinance with a height limitation of 100 feet or approximately 9 stories.
There is no identifiable voice arguing for a “no” growth position. In fact, Mr. Guzzetta, at the recent workshop featuring Urban Design Associates’ evaluation of the Interim Design Guidelines and the Mark project, concurred with the residents by taking the public microphone to voice his support for height limits at 100 + 20 feet; to wit: exactly what is permitted under Ordinance 4035, the governing legislation used in his Archstone project.
Another mistruth is the notion that the ‘vision’ making Boca Raton special is “in danger” and that Boca Raton is headed for “economic collapse.” The telltale sentence on this subject is “They’ll (residents) stop our work, dead in its tracks, and destroy the value and equity in the work we’ve already achieved.
Who is this referring too?
“Our” work must mean his law firm’s hold on the overdevelopment process; a hold that has reaped and continues to reap the firm great financial rewards.
“Work that we’ve already achieved” must be referring to projects like Archstone, Via Mizner, the Mark, the Hyatt, Tower 155 with presumptively more to come; all projects contributing to the changing ‘vision’ of Boca Raton.
Politically, it would seem that these power brokers are concerned in preserving their grip on elected and appointed officials who buy into the need for the overdevelopment argument.
Residents, on the other hand, are more interested in preserving the quality of life that make Boca Raton what it is; not what it is not…another Fort Lauderdale.
BocaWatch will continue to monitor the organizing developments of this summoned group of “business leaders” and report on their activities and results.
In the near future, BocaWatch will publish a pictorial from the ground, air, and satellite to visually present the overdevelopment impacts of this inbred group of connected insiders, a group that think they can get away with anything inside the political process here in Boca Raton.
The residents think not…..
More on the City Council politics and this group’s influences on the political process in upcoming articles…..
Attached is internal memo noted above from development community against residents of Boca Raton…
Dear Friends:We all share a vision for a Boca Raton that combines economic energy and vibrancy, preserves our outstanding quality of life, and offers families young and old the chance to experience what makes Boca Raton so special. With strong economic growth, we can all share a Boca Raton with responsive, world-class police and firefighters, A+ schools, parks and preservation space, and shopping and amenities.That vision is in danger today.A growing number of extreme activists in our community want to stop Boca families and small businesses from achieving success. They’re dedicated to saying no to every chance Boca Raton has for economic stability and prosperity by blocking any kind development. They’re not opposed to “bad” growth…they’re opposed to all growth.It isn’t just our businesses and careers at stake; their vision for Boca Raton will lead to an economic collapse. They’ll stop our work, dead in its tracks, and destroy the value and equity in the work we’ve already achieved.If they were just a few people complaining on the Internet it would be one thing. But it’s not. They’re increasingly organized, and they’re beginning their plan to take over the Boca Raton City Council.Last election, we stood together, pooled our resources, and fought back. We backed candidates who share our vision of a prosperous Boca Raton. Now, it’s time for us to get in the fight again. We need to help the people who help us, and hold the people who would destroy Boca’s economy – and our businesses – accountable.We know that when we’re unified, nothing can stop us. The alternative is a local government that is dedicated to following the anti-growth and anti-business views of a few local extremists. It’s time for action, and we’re contacting local leaders in the business community like you because we must take action before the other side gains too much momentum.Many of the people we elected last time are under tremendous political pressure from these naysayers and the opponents of local business. It’s important we show them that when they have our back, we have theirs…and when they feel like the outside pressure from special interests is too much, that we remind them we’ve been in their corner when the going was tough.We’re assembling a group of local business leaders to meet on September 9th, 10th; 14th, 15th and 16th, 17th to discuss our political action plans for the coming year. We hope you can join us. (Meeting details TBD)Sincerely,Mark GuzzettaCharlie Siemon