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What does the term “resident friendly” mean in politics? You may have heard politicians using the term in Boca Raton, especially the candidates that have been associated with BocaWatch. When I took on the role of Editor here I noticed the term being used a lot and not just in this publication. I asked some of the contributors to define the term for me. Eric Sevell provided this definition:
Putting the needs of *all* your residents before political expediency. Governing not only for the present but also for the future.
I liked that definition because it aligned with what I had read in BocaWatch thus far. It was as good of a working definition as any. However, all residents don’t have the same needs and all residents don’t define what’s “friendly” to them in the same way.
The term “resident” means a person who lives in a location, who calls a location their home. Technically it means someone who is paying rent for the occupation of a dwelling or occupying a location that they own. The term “residential” refers to a zoning classification that allows homes and doesn’t allow commercial or industrial occupancy.
Typically in business or government being “friendly” to some thing means you want to encourage more of a thing. For example if a local government wanted to encourage more development then they’d declare themselves to be “development friendly”. If a town wanted more people to use bikes they’d be “bike friendly”. In general being friendly to something means you’re actively trying to encourage more of it.
- Does being “resident friendly” mean we want to encourage more residents?
- Does it mean we want more areas zoned “residential”?
Let’s imagine for example a small town that’s in the middle of a national park that has few residents. All of a sudden there’s potential for the economic growth that wasn’t there before. There’s one problem: people are needed to take the tourist service jobs and park jobs. In order to make it easier for people to work and live there the town’s local government decides to add some residential zones and encourage more residents to relocate there. That’s an example of an extreme resident-friendly stance.
Here on BocaWatch resident friendly wasn’t being used to mean “bring on more residents”. If you read the articles that residents have contributed here you’ll instead realize that the term is used to mean “concerned with the quality of life of residents” or simply “quality of life concerned”.
Does Being Resident Friendly Mean Being Business Unfriendly?
Does “resident friendly” mean being anti-business? Different people answer this in different ways. What if you’re a resident who’s trying to run a business or a resident who wants good job opportunities? Having industry in your town would be “resident friendly” to you, right?
Some other people might not want factories and warehouses built on vacant land, especially in their back yards. In that case those people’s use of the term “resident friendly” might not be the same as people who are more in to putting a new factory or commercial park in their town. Even if the factory meant that future residents would have more job opportunities the residents that block the factory from being built would call their actions “resident friendly”.
To some people “resident friendly” meant building a restaurant at the Wildflower site. They see the blocking of it as highly resident unfriendly. To others “resident friendly” meant preventing the City from building a restaurant there. Even with this one issue it’s not completely black and white – the community has a spectrum of opinions about it. There’s no one stance you can take on it and be friendly to everyone’s opinions.
In this upcoming August election for Mayor and Seat A on City Council you might hear candidates saying they’re the “resident friendly” candidate. Do they mean they’re into zoning denser residential zones or do they mean they’re concerned with quality of life for we, the residents who are already here? Do they mean they want to stimulate Boca’s businesses or do they mean they want to make Boca a quieter place? Could resident friendly even mean less space for residents and more space for Nature?
Don’t just accept the “resident friendly” label as a one-size-fits-all brand. Make sure your candidate’s stance is the friendly one to your quality of life.
Jason, I enjoyed your break-down of the term “resident friendly.” We all need more illustrative explanation of political terms. You helped. My one question is about your ending sentence. Do we really want an individual to support the best for the individual or the best for common good? Hopefully, most of the time they are one and the same but sometimes not. Maybe you could explain why the greater good should prevail.
Thank you for your writings. Anything that educates is helpful.
Maybe even sometimes the “greater good” isn’t what a good neighbor needs to consider. Maybe sometimes instead of the “greater good” a neighbor has to apply instead “The Golden Rule”. For example, say everyone in Boca really really wants White Castle to open up a location here, or they want Krispy Kreme back. If the proposed location for the fast food venue is adjacent to a residential community where it’s going to negatively impact their quality of life I’d hope that residents would apply the Golden Rule as opposed to voting for the poor residents to have to endure the new venue’s traffic. I would hope that residents on the opposite side of the city have sympathy for issues that might negatively impact others more than it would benefit them.
The WildFlower is a good example of this. Even if the majority of voters wanted to dine waterside there frequently I’d hope that they’d consider the impact of putting a restaurant there to the nearby residents and to the boat traffic that might be affected by it. It requires someone to project themselves outside their individual priorities and consider what’s important to those most impacted, not just ask “what do I want?” It requires considering “if the shoe were on the other foot would I want my neighbors doing this to me?”
AMEN! Use of “The Golden Rule” has been lost within the city leadership for many years and needs to be returned as a primary consideration when making decisions.
There are other ways of saying “resident friendly,” for example “resident attuned” which means that as a politician you are supportive of what a majority of the residents in Boca want. But “resident friendly” is a warmer phrase and certainly captures the politics of Boca at the moment. It has become a catch phrase since Al Zucaro started using in in Boca Watch years ago. But in this election we must make sure that it does not become a cllche. Woe be it to the candidate who claims to be resident-friendly but is in the pocket of special interests and puts their agenda ahead of Boca’s residents. And what have a vocal majority of Boca residents been clamoring for? Managed growth, where infrastructure required by increased population density is in place BEFORE the houses, condos and offices are. With common sense, we can grow Boca gracefully.
When you speak of the Wildflower as an example could you please explain who it would have affected in a negative way. It is in a commercial area in the downtown area with a restaurant being across the street so who really would have affected in a negative way thank you for explaining this
I’m going to try to take a stab at this one. It’s not that a restaurant would have necessarily been problematic, but that some residents thought the waterfront property could be used for something much more. Put another way, it’s not that the restaurant would have caused harm, but that among other options it arguably did not produce the greatest good. I support the current decisions regarding Wildflower for two main reasons. First, the original restaurant deal was NOT a triple net lease like people keep falsely claiming. For the city, the deal was ok at best. Second, *although it will take some time* the Wildflower site is going to be developed into an amazing multiuse park/dining/entertainment spot that offers soooo much more than a single restaurant could have. The city is working closely with EDSA and the 2020 Vision to see this through. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the second highest priority item on the city’s agenda. All that said, because some people wanted to build a restaurant and all they *currently* see is empty concrete, they are rightfully upset. But there IS a major project underway there. To return to your original question/request, though, I would have personally seen the restaurant as a mistake because although quicker and more convenient to build, it would have been at the much bigger expense of the Wildflower park project currently underway. In my opinion, the latter will offer much more for a far greater audience, which gets right back to my statement about “governing not only for the present but also for the future” in the article above.
I was waiting for someone else to answer before I did. I liked the food truck court concept, something more flexible and multi-use that could be used for festivals or for boat parking too. Having the City pick a chain brand restaurant for the location seemed a little weird especially when you see who stepped up supporting the concept, people who were so unoriginal they had to plagiarize from dumb ol’ me. Something more original and iconic, more unique like Boca, would be worthy IMHO. Not a chain. And frankly I can’t think of any worthy candidates, so let’s make it more Darwinian: food trucks. Thanks for asking.
I must admit I totally missed that a generic chain brand was suggested… I cringe to ask which one(s) it was. I can tell you as a member of the 2020 crew that one of the things I suggested was *some* type of formal system to ensure that we end up with something like you described. If we go the inquisition route, I argued that point values should be assigned to certain businesses based on agreed upon parameters. So, for example, is the business committed to diverse hiring? Then, +1. Is the business environmentally friendly? Then, +1, etc. If a more democratic route is taken, we could select down to a certain number of businesses and then have residents vote them against one another like an NBA finals playoff bracket. Just some thoughts.