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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.