Thanks to the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowners Association, more than 100 people were treated to the Mayor’s rendition of the State of the City…..By all accounts her presentation heralds Boca Raton in a most favorable light and, demands the recognition that there is a lot that is right with our city….
Ranked number 1 city in Florida and 11th in the nation, we, the residents, have a lot to be grateful for with our quality of life and sense of place.
General topics covered by her suggested that the economics of our city have changed over the last 4 years; that city finances have stabilized and staffing is expanding; that the bond rating is at a triple A rating; that the business community is growing with 8,000 new jobs created; that Boca Raton enjoys the highest assessed value of any city in Palm Beach County at $19 billion dollars; that of the county’s 44 corporate headquarters, 32 are in Boca Raton; and that this growth is expected to continue with 16 million square feet of office space available.
Mayor Haynie is a good politician….she presents well and has a good story to tell….Quoting Winston Churchill, “however beautiful, look at the results” and the results she presented must be graded as better than good…..
Outlining the city’s priorities and goals, we are told these are to have ‘great neighborhoods’ with a ‘vibrant downtown’ creating a ‘global community’…. Truly admirable goals….
Quoting from the Boca Raton News of 1959, the Mayor invoked the following proposition; to wit: “No city stands still. It must either progress or regress”.
However, the elephant in the room last week and over the last six months is the notion of how the city is to progress. Overdevelopment became a focus from the audience with resident voices challenging the current trend of ‘bigger is better’.
Well take solace….We the residents have actually received concession language from the Mayor’s remarks.
She unequivocally conceded that the experiment of the Mark under the Interim Design Guidelines and the Pattern Book has not resulted in what was thought to be achieved.
She assured the crowd that the council would be addressing this situation and indicated that new projects would be held up while corrections are made.
This must be seen as a ‘victory’ to the raised voices of the residents in our representative government…..Congratulations are in order to all those that have been fighting this fight for some time now.
A ‘victory’ was also seen in last week’s council meeting where the council did not advance the new proposal of the Elad Project at Mizner on the Green….that was a significant concession…..again congratulations…..
Another victory can be seen in the establishing of a ‘zoning in progress’ status for the B1 and R2 commercial zoning categories relating to the commercial district on Palmetto Park Road east of the intracoastal…..congratulations….
Finally, on the topic of annexation, the Mayor stated that she “…does not prescribe to bigger is better…”
How refreshing that would be if she and the rest of the council would adopt that proposition within the downtown by rejecting the IDG and Pattern Book and taking up the betterment of Ordinance 4035.
Progress does not have to equal increased height. Increased height is simply a gift to the land owner(s) and not necessarily in the best interest of Boca Raton’s global image and the residents’ vision.
Good article Al. Regarding your last comment “Progress does not have to equal increased height,” Santa Barbara CA is a good benchmark for Boca. They are a seaside community with a population of around 90,000 residents. The following was downloaded from the city’s Web site. “Although the City had a height ordinance limiting buildings in commercial zones to 60’ and 4 stories since 1930, the Council could and did grant variances to it. When the Council approved a two 9-story condo towers project in 1969 where Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens are now, they were sued and lost for violating their own ordinance. In 1972 City voters approved an amendment to the charter which states that “high buildings are inimical to the basic residential and historical character of the City” and which placed the height limits in the charter where the Council could not change them.” Santa Barbara is now a beautiful city that has managed growth and preserved its historic charm.