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The historical content of the Galt Mile Community Association’s Web Site is catalogued and chronicled in these archives. This content is comprised of articles and anecdotes that are no longer current, but may be useful from a historical perspective. The categories are chronological. Scrolling down delves deeper into the past. If you encounter any difficulty locating a particular story, report, or graphic, feel free to Contact us with your dilemma and assistance will be forthcoming.

Please Note - Many of the links included in these articles from the past are no longer active.


The Bad Blood at BSO

Enter: Sheriff Scott Israel

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel
January 7, 2013 - Galt Mile residents have a cloudy relationship with the Broward Sheriff. Every year, we send untold $millions in assessed revenues to Broward County, half of which is funneled to the
Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO). Since our public safety needs are wholly addressed by the City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department, funded by our municipal taxes, much of our supersized County contribution subsidizes BSO operations in 13 of Broward’s 31 cities. Although we derive an indirect benefit from the Sheriff’s protection of shared infrastructure at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades, our money pays for BSO police and fire services in Pompano, Deerfield, Dania, Oakland Park and other Broward municipalities.

Former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti
The Broward Sheriff’s Office is an Oligarchy, an agency where every scrap of power resides with the Sheriff. As such, it was generally assumed that the agency’s integrity depended on the Sheriff’s character. In the past decade, BSO has struggled to shed its reputation as an ethical sewer. Five years ago, Al Lamberti promised to restore confidence in the agency’s integrity. Last November, newly elected Sheriff Scott Israel made the same promise. In recent years, it has come to light that the problems plaguing BSO have less to do with the Sheriff than the political culture that drives the institution. Whether Israel can overcome BSO’s pathological susceptibility to corruption remains to be seen. Here’s the playing field.

Disgraced Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne
After working as a prosecutor in the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, Ken Jenne was elected to the Broward Board of County Commissioners in 1976. Starting in 1978, he spent 10 years in the Florida Senate representing District 32. Beginning in 1990, he spent another 8 years in the Senate representing constituents in District 29. When Broward Sheriff Ron Cochran lost his battle with cancer in 1997, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed a fellow Democrat – State Senator Ken Jenne – to run the state’s largest Sheriff's Office. Jenne survived three elections while expanding the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) into the nation’s largest fully accredited sheriff’s department before succumbing to an epidemic for which Broward has become infamous. When a Federal corruption investigation uncovered $80,000 in hidden vendor’s payments funneled by Jenne through two secretaries, he resigned and quickly cut a plea deal with prosecutors to dodge a looming grand jury indictment for money laundering. Pleading guilty to less serious charges – three counts of tax evasion and one count of mail fraud conspiracy – bought Jenne a year and a day in federal prison and left BSO without a rudder.

Former Governer Charlie Crist and Former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti
Former Governor Charlie Crist filled the vacancy on October 26, 2007 with fellow Republican Al Lamberti, who first joined the Broward County Sheriff's Office as a Detention Deputy in 1977 and carefully tip-toed his way up through the ranks in a Democratic County known to Tallahassee Republicans as “The Killing Fields”. During the 2008 Presidential Election, he narrowly kept his job when 50,000 Broward voters skipped voting in the Sheriff's race, diluting the benefit of Obama’s then powerful coattails for his Democrat opponent - just enough to leave Scott Israel short by a paper thin 15,375 vote margin (less than 1%).

Former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti and Felon Attorney Scott Rothstein
Israel, a 25-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department who retired as Captain before spending 5 years as the North Bay Village Police Chief, was not an empathic “nice guy” political candidate. Many of his closest friends don’t like him. Aware that he could never survive an election bid framed as a popularity contest, his 2012 challenge to Lamberti would have to be a mudfest. From the outset, Israel tied jailbird Scott Rothstein to Lamberti’s tail, focusing on the felon attorney’s cozy ties to Lamberti and his leadership team. He also painted Lamberti as a capricious spendthrift, burning taxpayer dollars on personal agendas.

Mystery Actress on YouTube
No stranger to mudslinging, Lamberti cast Israel as a philandering adulterer and a corrupt cop. In a mysterious YouTube video, an unidentified young woman claimed to have aborted Israel’s prospective progeny following a sordid affair. Incredibly, Susan Israel made a “counter-video” defending her husband's fidelity and released a statement in which she called the woman a “whore”. Anyone who claims that character or decency played a deciding role in how they voted is either lying or settling unfinished business with their inner child.

Former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti in 2009 Budget Face-Off with Broward County Commission
Israel won for two reasons. Obviously, the overwhelming 2 to 1 majority that registered Democrats hold over Republicans in Broward County would provide an almost insurmountable advantage to anyone other than an axe murdering pederast. Ironically, Israel made a futile attempt to exploit the partisan advantage when he strategically morphed into a Democrat shortly before the 2008 race. Lamberti also considered changing his party affiliation after 2008. When engaged in a 2009 face-off with the all-Democrat County Commission over their demands that he eviscerate his then $720 million budget to help head off service cuts or a tax increase, his threat to place the decision in the Republican Governor’s hands induced a Commission retreat. Since switching parties would have relieved him of his Tallahassee “nuclear option”, he stayed put.

Democratic Primary Sheriff Candidate Louis Granteed
Given his own political baggage and Lamberti’s incumbency, Israel avoided repeating his 2008 mistake of relying on less than credible Democrat credentials to deliver a victory. Israel’s campaign treasury, which was substantially less endowed than Lamberti’s, was virtually emptied during a tough primary win against Louis Granteed. Instead, Israel was put over the top by the unconventional tactics of outside interests whose actions lent weight to the old chestnut “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger
Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger and Lamberti have long been political foes. In 2010, when Gunzburger was in a tough fight with former State Senator Steve Geller for her District 6 Commission seat, Lamberti launched a corruption investigation into her late husband’s sweetheart contracts to supply outdoor furnishings in County Parks, citing conflict violations alleged to have transpired more than a decade earlier. Having watched Lamberti deepen the stress lines across his mother’s face, her son Ron sharpened his teeth on tax cheats while working for Property Appraiser and family friend Lori Parrish. Gunzburger wove his mother’s abuse into a description of his political objectives, explaining, “The bogus investigation of Mom, which was purely something he trumped up... to hurt her during her campaign showed me such an abuse of power and an arrogance that it motivated me to say we need a change at BSO.” Gunzburger had blood in his eyes. He wanted his pound of flesh.

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Israel Campaign Manager Amy Rose
Former Richard Nixon political operative and dirty tricks Guru Roger Stone
Proponent to the notion that “revenge is a dish best served cold,” while awaiting the next Sheriff’s race, Junior Gunzburger did some political networking. Reaching out to others alienated by Lamberti, he bonded with former Sheriff Ken Jenne - who Lamberti dethroned - and former Richard Nixon political operative and dirty tricks Guru Roger Stone. Leaving the Property Appraiser’s office to devote full time to deposing Lamberti, Ron Gunzburger teamed with Israel’s Campaign Manager Amy Rose - trained in flesh eating by Broward Judgemaker Barbara Miller - and assembled a brigade of disaffected deputies who had been abused, reduced in rank, humiliated or fired by Lamberti.

Israel’s campaign strategist and architect of the negative attacks Ron Gunzburger named General Counsel
Drawing on this near bottomless source of rumored infractions, ethical missteps and implied culpability, Gunzburger loosed his cauldron of damning anecdotes into the land of blogs, where potential penalties for campaign finance violations are trumped by First Amendment protections. Admittedly spinning numerous anonymous attack pieces, after cooking the tripe, Gunzburger would email it to blogs that scrambled Lamberti like an egg. These seemingly puerile albeit vicious tidbits weren’t the work of some disenfranchised adolescent playing with his iPod, but carefully scripted torpedoes that repeatedly hit their mark. Gunzburger explains “When you have no money, you have to do guerilla tactics. The hyperbole sometimes was a little colorful, but the substance I think was correct.” Since neither cost nor value are factors when sending emails to an online blog, Gunzburger’s hijinks flew below the electioneering regulatory radar.

Click to Scott Israel Web Page Israel promised that there would be no post-election political bloodbath among BSO’s more than 6300 employees. However, the standard teambuilding fallout that accompanies any new administration began one week before Christmas. On December 18th, Israel sent 28 emails to high-ranking BSO employees, stating “Note, if you are still employed by BSO on January 8, 2013, you will receive formal written notice during that day setting forth that your employment with the agency is terminated.” By replacing Lamberti’s insiders with his own top staffers, Israel could reward those in the trenches with spots on the payroll. The next day (December 19), he issued a press release naming the new BSO Command Staff Leadership. Among them are key members of his election campaign team, former colleagues scavenged from the upper ranks of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD) and BSO deputies who were demoted, abused or canned by Lamberti for reasons that were - at least in part - political.

Chief of Staff Lisa (and Angelo) Castillo
The chief strategist of Israel’s campaign and architect of the negative attacks against Lamberti, Ron Gunzburger, will replace Judith Levine as BSO’s new general counsel. Campaign Manager Amy Rose will draw a paycheck for lobbying responsibilities in the BSO’s governmental relations unit. Longtime Galt Mile residents will recall former District 4 County Commissioner Jim Scott and his aide Lisa Yagid-Castillo (who was previously Legislative Assistant to former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and married to Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo). When Scott lost his seat to Ken Keechl, Castillo landed a job with Broward lobbyist and political meat grinder Judy Stern. While with Stern, she worked on Israel’s failed 2008 campaign. Castillo will be Israel’s chief of staff. Although the Sheriff-elect hasn’t as yet defined a job title for him, husband Angelo will also land a high-ranking administrative post.

2008 Campaign Manager Judy Stern and Candidate Scott Israel
Filling the position of Israel’s Executive Assistant will be Mary Jo Mastrodonato, who worked in the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for 11 years before following Israel to the North Bay Village Police Department where she served as his assistant. After swapping out Lamberti’s nepots with his own, Israel still needed to hire some key law enforcement staffers. After all, it is the Sheriff’s Office.

Former Miami Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling
On May 27, 2010, when Miami Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling was arrested for domestic battery after hitting his pregnant girlfriend, director of Miami Dolphins security Stuart Weinstein called BSO Commander Alvin Pollock to inquire about Merling’s release status from the Main Jail. For more than 10 years, Pollock moonlighted for the Dolphin’s Security Detail. When Merling was released, Pollock waited until he was off duty before picking him up at the Jail and driving him to the Dolphins training camp in Davie, a stone’s throw from Pollock’s home.

Broward County Courthouse Complex
Verging on apoplexy, Lamberti dedicated a press conference to humiliating Pollock for driving the Dolphin player in a County vehicle. Despite a 35-year clean record, Pollock was stripped of his badge, gun, and squad car and reassigned to car wash duty in the fleet division while Lamberti launched an investigation. After the probe, Pollock was removed as commander in charge of the Broward County Courthouse complex and reassigned as a road patrol watch commander on the midnight shift. He was also given a 15-day suspension without pay, prohibited from working any off-duty details and banned from working or volunteering for the Miami Dolphins. Since he’d administered discrete wrist slaps to officers who committed far more egregious infractions than driving someone while off-duty, Lamberti’s histrionics veiled an underlying political motive.

Alvin Pollock Promoted by Former Sheriff Ken Jenne
Predecessor Ken Jenne – long viewed by Lamberti as a political threat despite his public disgrace and incarceration – originally promoted Pollock to Commander in charge of the Courthouse, a position that had since earned him substantial credibility with Judges and attorneys in the Courthouse community. Since Israel had already announced his intention to take another run at BSO, Lamberti exploited an opportunity to neuter Pollock of the influence that accompanied his position. Jailhouse Politics 101.

Former Executive Officer Lt. David Benjamin
What goes around comes around. Israel promoted Pollock to Colonel in charge of the BSO Department of Law Enforcement. One of the many deputies fired by Lamberti for supporting Israel in 2008, Russell Di Perna, will return to BSO once recertified. Prior to being pink-slipped, when Di Perna met with Lamberti’s Executive Officer Lt. David Benjamin after the 2008 election, Benjamin named several deputies who supported Israel and said, “They had cushy positions, they shouldn’t have gotten involved in the campaign, and now they’re going to lose their cushy positions.” Homing in on Di Perna, Benjamin admonished, “You made it personal, and now you’re going to suffer the consequences.” Di Perna got the boot.

Scott Rothstein and Undersheriff Tom Wheeler
In addition to aggressively purging BSO personnel perceived by Lamberti as a threat, Benjamin and Undersheriff Tom Wheeler were full partners in the Sheriff’s less wholesome relationships. On Dec. 22, 2008, Lamberti wrote a letter to felon attorney Scott Rothstein on official BSO letterhead stating “If I may be of any assistance to you whatsoever, either professionally or personally, please feel free to call upon me.” In response, Rothstein paid Benjamin, who also headed BSO Internal Affairs, $50,000 for BSO services and ongoing preferential treatment. Rothstein regularly used BSO patrol cars to transport large amounts of cash to and from clients as BSO personnel often provided security for the crooked lawyer’s cash transactions. Rothstein also invested $30,000 in DWB Consulting, a Sunrise corporation Benjamin created in 2004. When his Ponzi empire began imploding, Benjamin drove Scott Rothstein and a duffle bag stuffed with several $million to his getaway plane at Executive Airport before escaping to Morocco; where he could negotiate surrender terms with Federal authorities. Apparently, they included a sting to serve Benjamin’s head on a platter for acting as a bag man. When the story broke, Lamberti quietly shifted Benjamin to youth services in countywide operations with his $106,000 annual salary intact.

Fire Chief Anthony Stravino
Among the Christmas casualties at BSO was top staff at the Fire Division, including Fire Chief and Executive Director Neal de Jesus, fire marshal and Division Chief Robert Arrighetti, and Division Chief John Holgerson, who was in charge of fire and rescue training. De Jesus is being replaced by Margate Fire Chief Anthony Stravino, who had previously served as Fire Chief in Deerfield Beach and Longwood. Stravino and Israel were childhood friends while growing up in Long Island.

Robert Pusins - Executive Director of Community Outreach
Israel tried to recruit Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley, who decided to stay with the City. Israel had better luck with FLPD Captain Jack Dale, who will head BSO Professional Standards Department, and FLPD Assistant Chief Steve Kinsey, who will run the BSO Department of Investigations. Retired FLPD Major Robert Pusins, who addressed the GMCA Advisory Board several times prior to entering the private sector as a law enforcement consultant and expert witness, will become the BSO Executive Director of Community Outreach.

Journalist Elgin Jones
At some point, Israel hopes that Pusins will be joined at Community Outreach by Elgin Jones, a reporter whose coverage of Lamberti was singularly scathing. A former City of Fort Lauderdale engineering inspector and union leader, after prevailing in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city, Jones reinvented himself as a journalist, ultimately becoming a leading muckraker for the South Florida Times. Since he and Israel had worked together during their respective tenures with the City, Lamberti has long been one of Jones’ favorite dartboards.

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
As exclaimed by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, 1849 editor of Le Figaro in Paris, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Lamberti’s drones have been replaced by Israel’s drones. As long as the officials charged with protecting the lives of Broward citizens are selected primarily for their political predilections instead of their Law Enforcement or Fire-Rescue credentials, the nation’s largest Sheriff’s Office will remain a behavioral slop sink. The truth is we have no business electing a Sheriff. Like any skilled professional, a Sheriff should be hired for his or her specialized capabilities, much like a Civil Engineer hired to run a municipal Public Works Department or a specialist in governmental finances is hired as a Director of Management and Budget. Fort Lauderdale residents are fortunate. Instead of BSO, their public safety is managed by a skilled and committed Police Chief. Frank Adderley is accountable to City Manager Lee Feldman, whose training and experience enable him to accurately measure FLPD’s effectiveness, shield Adderley from politics and insure the adequacy of his resources. In turn, both Feldman and Adderley answer to a a non-partisan City Commission that includes a former Police Chief.

Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman
Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley
In contrast, the Broward Sheriff’s Office persists in a vacuum. During his term as Broward Sheriff, one man will unilaterally decide how to spend the $700 million annually allocated to BSO, who will populate BSO’s 6,300-employee roll, which vendors get lucrative contracts, what the public is and is not told – all while tailoring the limits of his own mandate to evolving circumstances. When evidence of wrongdoing is inadvertently exposed, he will investigate himself. BSO exists outside the checks and balances that ethically anchor most governmental entities. The Broward Sheriff is not answerable to the Broward County Commission. As a Constitutional Officer, he or she is only accountable to the Governor and Broward voters, who are largely clueless about what goes on inside BSO.

Click to Broward Sheriff's Office Web Page Every four years, voters are expected to choose a Sheriff - a task for which they are woefully ill equipped. As demonstrated by both campaign teams in the recent election, voters who don’t party line their ballots select a Sheriff based on the ability to dodge or shed mud. The only reliable guidance otherwise available to voters heralds from the fallout of Federal or State investigations or the dwindling number of investigative reporters who still have a media voice. Competence and character rarely enter the equation. We’d do as well by flipping a coin.

As long as the Broward Sheriff remains a partisan Constitutional Officer, the culture at BSO will focus on politics, with reelection as its Holy Grail and public safety relegated to an afterthought. For every scandal, purge or rip-off uncovered by some media muckraker or governmental investigator, twenty will pass unnoticed. Until the people of Broward County demand a non-partisan appointed Sheriff, BSO will remain a self-governing fiefdom answerable to no one – not the most productive environment for an agency wherein everyone is strapped.

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Commissioner Bruce Roberts

Beach Fix|| Parker App || Lien Amnesty

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
January 24, 2013 - After opening with evidence of the City’s improving economic outlook, Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ January 2013 newsletter jumps to Beach Renourishment, summarizing progress of the City - County - State (FDOT) short term A1A recovery plan before concluding with a confirmation that resonates with every Galt Mile resident - exclaiming “that we are on schedule for the long overdue Phase II beach renourishment project, which is now set to start in November/December 2013.” He then describes a lien amnesty program that will incentivize the rehabilitation of homes long frozen in disrepair by upside down mortgages and enable the sale of abandoned properties currently buried in code violations. A follow-up on State-wide efforts to criminalize the ever-changing chemistry of designer drugs bespeaks Attorney General Pam Bondi’s December 11, 2012 emergency rule outlawing 22 new synthetic variants. Dwarfed by these well publicized, high profile updates is a less noteworthy item about a service to help drivers find parking spaces in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Actually, the nascent technology that enables this service could change the way cities worldwide operate in the immediate future.

Click Here to Streetline website Based in Foster City, California, a tech company called Streetline grabbed one of the top spots in the $25 billion smart parking market by successfully delivering an industry-leading comprehensive and scalable parking solution. Anchored by the company’s home grown sensor technology, it developed and patented its smart parking platform – called Parker – which detects the presence of a car in a parking space through an interred network of ultra-low power wireless sensors. Here’s how it works.

Streetline Sensor Embedded in Street
Having evolved from research into “smart dust” conducted at Berkeley, networks of small, cheap, low-powered sensors that are buried in the street can run for more than five years on two AA batteries. Upon detecting a disturbance in the magnetic field from a large hunk of metal (like a car), the new data jumps from sensor to sensor en route to a gateway (a small box set on a street lamp or traffic signal). Traveling via the local mobile-phone network or municipal Wi-Fi, the data speeds off to a central database (and any device installed with the Parker App). It won’t be long before some 14-year old Geek’s new tech start-up adapts the technology to monitor other toggled elements in the City’s infrastructure, such as water mains, street lamps, sewer drains, traffic flows, etc.

Click Here to IBM Traffic Study When the collected data is transmitted to an end-user’s smart phone, PDA, tablet, laptop or a dashboard computer fitted with the free Parker application, drivers receive a real-time, location-based map pinpointing the area’s available parking spaces. By delivering a live, accurate picture of the location and pricing of open parking spaces across a city, airport, university, transit system or privately owned facility (parking lot or garage), it enables drivers to head directly for the available space that best serves their objective, saving time, reducing stress and eliminating the cost of randomly driving up and down neighborhood streets. Released on September 8, 2011, an IBM study conducted in 20 major international cities demonstrates that 30 to 45% of their urban traffic is a by-product of parking activity. By abating a huge source of unnecessary traffic, Parker significantly relieves its attendant carbon footprint.

Click Here to PayByPhone website Having resolved the problem of enabling drivers in a client jurisdiction to interactively communicate with individual parking spaces, Streetline sought partners experienced with online and telephone payment transactions. The software from two such providers, PayByPhone and Parkmobile, has been incorporated into the Parker App. A subsidiary of Paypoint, PayByPhone (formerly Verrus) operates across North America and Europe in over 180 cities and Parkmobile is deployed in 350 cities around the world. While each claims to be the leading provider of mobile payments in the parking industry, the City of Fort Lauderdale has selected PayByPhone as its service provider. When integrated with PayByPhone’s payment options, the Parker software also provides drivers with information about parking session time limits, pricing, which types of payment are accepted and other features.

Click Here to The Internet of Things website Streetline’s Parker platform is already operating in 30 different cities and universities across the U.S. and it just launched internationally, with deployments in Braunschweig, Germany, and Birmingham, U.K. After five years of tweaking its sensor technology, the company evolved. Instead of remaining a one-trick pony wholly preoccupied withn a single technical aspect of the traffic puzzle, it expanded its focus to creating a fully functional parking platform. What Streetline CEO Zia Yusuf refers to as controlling the Internet of things, the company’s new objective is to create “smart cities” by enabling a jurisdiction and its citizen end-users to interactively communicate with every variable element in the City’s infrastructure.

Click Here to Cisco - Streetline Partnership As demonstrated with PayByPhone, Streetline plans to enhance functionality and fast-track expansion by partnering with players able to complement its platform. In late 2012, they partnered with Cisco in San Mateo and San Carlos, California, to pilot the wireless delivery of its data through Cisco’s municipal Wi-Fi networks. Other big players that partnered with the company are IBM, Siemens and Xerox-owned ACS (formerly Affiliated Computer Services).

IBM's Jim Corgel recognizes Streeline CEO Zia Yusuf and CTO Mark Noworolski as 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year
Since the Parker App resolves a problem that afflicts cities worldwide, its raw potential has attracted a bevy of high-end investment angels. After winning the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals in 2010 and being named IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year, Streetline was vested with $15 million in Series B funding from an investment coalition led by Fontinalis Partners (founded by Ford Motor’s Executive Chairman William Ford) and included Sutter Hill Ventures in Palo Alto and Menlo Park-based RockPort Capital Partners.

Click Here to Citi - Streetline Financing The company’s recent U.S. deployments span California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Oregon, Virginia and Washington, DC. Privately held by the startup Geeks who developed its core technology, Streetline didn’t have the deep pockets required to finance an initial outlay for cash-strapped client municipalities that lack the political cover to shoulder the investment. To preserve the momentum of Streetline’s explosive expansion, Citi’s municipal finance group equipped the company with the resources to offer set-up financing, providing Streetline with a $25 million credit facility.

Click Here to True Ventures - Streetline Financing The Company is red hot. In a third round of financing on January 10, 2013, Streetline privately raised $25 million in Series C funding. Led by early entry investment icon True Ventures, new investors Qualcomm Ventures and Citi joined past backers Sutter Hill, RockPort and Fontinalis and fleshed out the Company’s coffers in preparation for the next round of expansion.

Parker shows location of $2 per hour meters Parker shows location of $5 parking lot While the platform’s benefit to drivers is self-evident, it is also an enormous asset to cities starved for reliable data about parking utilization. A real-time handle on where and when drivers need or use parking will enable municipalities to effectively tailor public transit schedules, accurately budget system investments, generate street maintenance schedules that don’t interfere with traffic and measure demand for the planned number and location of parking spaces. By dynamically adapting rates to demand, it can also unlock the Holy Grail of pricing on-street parking (i.e. spaces can be priced based on their real-time block to block availability). Networking the entire city will produce added benefits. Fire-Rescue will know beforehand which hydrants are blocked by vehicles and traffic patrol can similarly preview illegally blocked pedestrian crosswalks. By comparison, the $multi-million studies historically commissioned by municipalities to guide traffic policy might as well have been generated by Ouija Boards.

Parker Search Sorter OOPs!!! On November 12, 2012, Streetline launched Florida’s first Parker App in the City of Fort Lauderdale, enabling residents and seasonal visitors to facilitate their search for parking in the downtown neighborhood. In preparation, transmitters were installed at 87 street parking spaces between Broward Boulevard and Las Olas Boulevard from Andrews Avenue east to Southeast Fifth Avenue. The Fort Lauderdale pilot project serviced areas that include the Main Library, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and the local campuses of Florida Atlantic University and Broward College. If Fort Lauderdale follows the lead of Streetline’s other clients, the city’s entire parking inventory will soon be included in the platform.

The Power of Parker
In addition to searching by area, the fleshed out version will allow users to search by parking type (i.e. metered space, garage/lot, ADA accessible, or electric vehicle charging stations). A hands-free adaptation will provide an audible queue when parking is nearby. To promote safety, functions like setting a “feed the meter” timer, locating your parked car, or transacting an online payment, are only available once the vehicle is parked. Since sensors affixed to the front gate of a garage or parking lot can track its inventory of available spaces, virtually every public parking venue will be accessible to Parker. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for newly released Apps to suffer from some bugs. The good news – IBM appears devoted to Streetline’s success. IBM knows how to kill bugs.

Click Here to True Ventures - Streetline Financing Although admittedly intrigued by the expansion prospects of a startup that ameliorates parking dilemmas worldwide, IBM, Citibank and Qualcomm have all proclaimed another motive for ground flooring Streetline’s expansion – the company’s ostensible commitment to a smart cities concept called the “Internet of Things”. In what appears to be an example of life imitating art, some ten relatively successful tech outfits recently formed the Internet of Things Consortium. While sounding like some tired Woodstock era Zeitgeist to drown the planet in a Zen soup, it’s actually a business plan.

Most people use the internet to interact in a social or business context; the “Internet of Things” explores communicating with every element of our infrastructure, which entails installing devices that provide us with real-time data relative to their purpose as well as feedback about their operational sufficiency. Fueled by enlightened self-interest; we get to exert unprecedented control over our environment while these corporate behemoths get to sell, service or finance the limitless hardware and software required to actualize this objective. For example, in addition to the chipsets in every computer, cell phone, digital watch, microwave oven and other “smart” appliances and machines, the “Internet of Things” anticipates implanting low-power wireless devices in every pipe, brick and beam in our buildings and along our streets. Raw data is continuously pumped into a collecting site called a cloud, from which it can be extracted, analyzed and applied as required. Intoxicated by their prospective entry into a $15 trillion market, these colossal conglomerates are shoveling venture capital into startups with any viable business model for vesting infrastructure with IQ. For those of you who regret having missed out on the Pet Rock or Hula Hoop, redemption may be at hand! Read on... – [editor]

From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
I hope everyone was able to spend time with family, friends and loved ones during the recent holiday season. We also wish you a happy and healthy New Year for 2013! We are looking forward to another great year for Fort Lauderdale and the opportunity to work with you.

Click To City of Fort Lauderdale WAVE Streetcar After five years of difficult economic times, we believe we are witnessing Fort Lauderdale coming out of the recession. During those tough years, your Commission developed sound fiscal policies and directed their implementation to reduce spending, hold the line on taxes, and yet maintain vital City services. Now we see the local unemployment rate continue to decline; tourism has increased for the last thirty consecutive months; City infrastructure improvements have been undertaken along our Beach, Sistrunk Boulevard, Executive Airport and Downtown; County infrastructure improvements are progressing at Port Everglades and at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport; infrastructure enhancements are planned to support multimodal transportation initiatives such as the FEC Railway fast track from Orlando to Miami with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, the FEC commuter line connecting the East Coast downtowns from Jupiter to Miami, and our own Downtown WAVE. All of this activity has spurred private investment for redevelopment. Lastly, the residential market is on the upswing.

Galt Mile Residents Pack Beach Community Center
Beach Renourishment: : I know everyone is aware of the damage Hurricane Sandy and subsequent high tides caused to our beach. As serious as that damage was, and not to diminish the impacts all the way through the Galt Mile, it is important to keep in perspective that the most severe damage was limited to a four-block stretch. Furthermore, I believe we finally have the opportunity to turn a negative into a long-term sustainable outcome. On December 10th, the City of Fort Lauderdale hosted a community meeting to present what had transpired, the current situation and potential solutions. After hearing from experts from several agencies, the forum was opened to public participation. Almost 300 attended the meeting and anyone who wished to speak was given that opportunity. Future concerns and recommendations were expressed. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided that the City Manager’s office would remain open to collecting new ideas, which would be evaluated for implementation. Indeed, it was a very good meeting with a positive outcome:

  • The working agency relationships developed during the emergency are continuing as we move through short, medium and long term remedies.

  • A public consensus for a three lane greenway seemed to be a common thread.

  • Ongoing public participation in problem resolution.

Click To December 13 MPO Minutes At the December 13th Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting, the funds were approved for the long-term greenway project. All of the voting MPO municipalities and County Commissioners understand the gravity of the situation and its potential regional impacts. There was overwhelming support for funding the $8.3 million project. A contract for the work has been awarded and it is anticipated that the actual installation of the steel sheets will occur in mid February. In the meantime, pre-drilling will take place during the week from 7 a.m. to 7 p. m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The long-term sustainability plan is more complex and it offers many potential technical solutions. This is where we have a great opportunity and must work with you and all of our agency partners to succeed. Please keep in mind that we are on schedule for the long overdue Phase II beach renourishment project, which is now set to start in November/December 2013. Working around turtle season, the project will take two years and will include Pompano, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Fort Lauderdale to Sebastian Street.

Click To Lien Amnesty Program web page Lien Amnesty Program: At the October 16, 2012 Commission Meeting, a resolution was passed initiating a Code Enforcement Lien Amnesty Program that allows the City, for a limited period of time, to settle Code Enforcement Liens on real property for less than face value. It will also provide the City with a mechanism to clear many old and cumbersome liens from the books, which will give new and existing property owners the incentive to bring old, existing violations into compliance. In addition, this program could stimulate the sale of many abandoned properties that may have previously been thought to be unmarketable due to these encumbrances. Existing homeowners who are in foreclosure but still occupying these properties will be able to obtain clear title and renegotiate their mortgage with their lender. The resolution states that in order to qualify or participate in this program the following conditions must be met: all properties owned by the applicant must be free of any code violations as evidenced by a completed inspection; all repeat violators will not be able to participate in the program until all properties in violation are in full compliance; all direct City costs, and any liens including lot cleaning charges, board up charges, demolition charges, civil penalties, condemnation and legal fees, shall be paid in full prior to the expiration of the Amnesty Program. Also, reductions will be offered at the following rates: residential and non-residential properties: 15% of the total amount owned on fines/liens, not to exceed 5% of the Just Market Value as determined by the BC Property Appraiser’s Office for 2012. Many existing code violations will require extensive and often costly work, which may require the expertise of architects and contractors, resulting in the need to obtain and close out necessary building permits. This may result in the need for an extended amnesty program period. Public outreach to our neighbors and the real estate and banking communities will be necessary as staff also prepares for a successful roll out of the program. If you would like the full content of this resolution, please contact my office and we can email it to you.

Click To Parker web site Lauderdale Now Has Downtown Parking App: Need help finding a parking spot in and around downtown Ft. Lauderdale? Now there’s an app for that. The City is now using technology from Streetline to let drivers know where and when parking spots open up. Sensors embedded in the pavement detect when spaces are available. “Parker,” a free smart phone app, provides the location and general availability of spaces through the use of web-enabled devices such as smart phones, PCs and tablets. Once parked, drivers can use the app to pay for parking via PayByPhone, set a timer to track how much time is remaining on the meter, or access walking directions to help find their parking space when they need to return to their vehicle. The system is currently set up near the Florida Atlantic University and Broward College campuses. In addition to detecting spots with “Parker,” drivers will be able to toggle between availability and price, including real-time updates as prices are changed or updated. There is also the option to enter an address within “Parker” and view parking options nearest to that destination. To download the free “Parker” app, please visit “Parker” is available as a free download on iTunes and the Android Market.

Herbal Incense - Fake Weed
OUTLAWING ADDITIONAL SYNTHETIC DRUGS – A follow-up to the drug problem in Florida: Attorney General Pam Bondi (Tallahassee) filed an emergency rule outlawing 22 new synthetic drugs, commonly called “bath salts,” “K2” or “Spice.” Attorney General Bondi was joined by law enforcement officers and a health practitioner as she announced the emergency rule designating new synthetic drugs as Schedule I of controlled substances, making it a third-degree felony for an individual to “sell, manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver" these drugs. Synthetic drugs can cause psychotic episodes, hallucinations, seizures, paranoia, tremors, and more. “Synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to thousands of emergency department visits across the country, and a majority of those visits are by patients ages 12-29,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. She also stated that she was very grateful to our law enforcement partners and the health care community for their continued dedication to protecting Florida’s youth from these horrible drugs. FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey also commented that these dangerous drugs are widely available in smoke shops, truck stops and convenience stores, and through the Internet. Retailers who stock these products have two options: surrender their inventory or face enforcement action. Attorney General Bondi will work with the Florida Legislature during the 2013 legislative session to ban these 22 additional drugs permanently.

Did You Know?

  • The most common code violations are the illegal parking of inoperable vehicles and failure to clean up junk and rubbish.

  • Any structural repairs, new fences, most plumbing and electrical work, driveway installations, and even removal of certain trees, can require a permit from the City. Please call (954) 828-5191 for more information.

  • The City can eliminate unsafe buildings or structures through demolition under the Florida Building Code.

  • Click To Code Case Tracker The City can board up vacant buildings that are open at the doors and windows after the required legal notification is made to the owner.

  • The City can clean and clear vacant lots after the required legal notification is made to the owner.

  • The City performs routine fire inspections.

  • You can search for code violations and track code cases online by going to

Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
Office Contact: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule. If you would like to be on our email list to receive information, notifications or general information, please email us and you will be added.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Click to Community Association Institute, Southeast Florida Chapter web site

CAI-SEFL 2013 Day of Education and Trade Expo

Please join us for this free event featuring speakers recognized Statewide and over 100 exhibitors demonstrating goods and services for community associations.

Click to Community Association Institute, Southeast Florida Chapter web site Make your voice heard just weeks before the opening of the 2013 Florida Legislative Session! Learn about the proposed changes and ask your local legislators, Florida House member George R. Moraitis, Jr., District 93 and Florida Senate member Maria Sachs, District 34 along with Travis Moore - CAI Lobbyist and a representative from the Florida Department of Condominiums your questions.

FREE Board Members Certification Course! Two (2), one (1)-hour CEU courses for Licensed Property Managers, including the impact of Social Media and Association Insurance! And the LEGAL UPDATE COURSE!

Click to Signature Grand web site
The Date: Saturday, January 26, 2013
The Time: 8:30 a.m. through 4:00 p.m.
The Place: Signature Grand
6900 State Road 84, Davie, FL 33317

The Day's Agenda

  • 8:30 – 10:30 am - Free - Board Member Certification Class (presented by Kaye Bender Rembaum, P.L.)
  • 8:30 – 9:30 am - Social Media Marketing (Presented by Virtual Fundamentals) - FREE Class for Manager Members (1 credit)
  • 9:30 – 10:30 am - Association Insurance Update (Presented by Scarr Insurance Group) - FREE Class for Manager Members (1 credit)
  • 9:30 – 3:30 pm - TRADE SHOW FLOOR OPEN - Features over 100 products & services!
  • 12 Noon - Lunch
  • 12:15 – 1:30 pm - KEYNOTE PANEL - Discuss legislation pending in 2013 with Representative George Moraitis, Senator Maria Sachs, Lobbyist Travis Moore - a Panel of Experts!
  • 2:00 – 3:00 pm - Raffle Drawings
  • 3:00 – 5:00 pm - 2013 Legal Update (presented by Mirza Basulto & Robbins, LLP) - Overview of the laws passed during the 2012 Legislative Session & Preview of Bills Filed for Consideration in 2013 (2 credits).

Cost of Continuing Education Credits is free for members - $50.00/CEU for non-members (Lunch Included in Registration Fee). For Lunch only - $20.

For further information, please contact Jill Prioetti, CED, at 954-816-0661 or click here to the CAI Trade Show web page. Door prizes and giveaways all day long – Win a $500 Cash Prize or an iPAD! Admission and Event Parking are Free.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
The County’s Key to the Capitol

LaMarca’s Annual Wish List Delivery

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
February 8, 2013 - Prior to the March 5 opening of the 2013 legislative session, jurisdictions will equip their Legislative Delegations with a list of local legislative priorities. Matching the strengths of each member to the Delegation’s assorted objectives, members of the local cadre will meet with key lawmakers and bureaucrats in the State Capitol in hopes of actualizing the legislative elements of their collective agenda.

Representative George Moraitis
Broward voters shaped the County’s statewide reputation as a bastion of Democratic politics. The 2010 decennial redistricting process provided Broward County with 19 State lawmakers. Many of the County’s five Senate members and fourteen House members serve in Districts that also contain voters in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Collier Counties. Except for Miami-Dade Representative
Carlos Trujillo, whose District 105 constituency includes a tiny snippet of Miramar with a handful of Broward residents, Broward’s sole Statehouse Republican is District 93’s (formerly District 91) Representative George Moraitis.

Ellyn Bogdanoff and Maria Sachs
Former Republican Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff's 2012 Election Day loss to Democrat Maria Sachs in Senate District 34, the only reconfigured Senate venue in the state that pitted incumbents (with smaller and larger prior constituencies) against one another (a concession to quell Florida Supreme Court ire about improperly drawn Senate Districts all over the State), left Broward with no Republicans in the Florida Senate.

Click to Broward Legislative Delegation Web Page Here’s the math. 26 of the Senate’s 40 members (65%) are Republicans. Republicans also hold 76 of the 120 seats (63%) in the Statehouse. A Republican inhabits the Governor’s mansion. Although the 2012 election cycle deprived them of a 68% veto-proof majority, Republicans will decide the fate of every bill filed in 2013. While Senator Eleanor Sobel (D - Hollywood) and Representative Jim Waldman (D - Coconut Creek) will lead the Broward Legislative Delegation, the fate of their local legislative objectives will functionally depend on Representative George Moraitis (R - Fort Lauderdale).

Given the County’s Democrat voting plurality, it’s no surprise that Republican Tallahassee refers to Broward County as “The Killing Fields”. Of the County’s nine governing Commissioners, eight are Democrats. As the sole Republican on the Broward Board of County Commissioners, Chip LaMarca’s stock goes up every January, when he is tagged to carry Broward’s wish list to the State Capitol.

Click to 2013 Broward Legislative Program Web Page On January 8, 2013, to provide “legislative direction to the County’s staff and contract lobbying team for 2013 state legislative activities,” the Broward Board of County Commissioners approved a 2013 State Legislative Program proposed by the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards (OIAPS). The 29-page legislative libretto features a buffet of proposals with widely varying impacts, including an embarrassingly rich selection of concessions to paper-thin local special interests (regulatory requirements for competitive eating contests, standardized parasailing guidelines, etc.). The Chinese menu of options enables Commissioners to pick and choose those issues that resonate with District constituents, whether or not haunted by the potentially catastrophic consequences of hot-dog eating marathons.

Commissioner Chip LaMarca Addresses Galt Mile Audience at Beach Community Center
In his 2013 pre-session Newsletter, LaMarca reviews some of those issues he extracted from the Legislative Program to broker in Tallahassee. His support for Beach Renourishment augers to a campaign promise to District 4 constituents that he has since repeatedly reconfirmed to the GMCA Presidents Council and Advisory Board. One month before the County approved its 2013 State Legislative Program – at a December 10, 2012 Town Hall meeting convened to address the storm surge damage to A1A and the beach – LaMarca told more than 300 local residents at the Beach Community Center that loosening renourishment funds in Tallahassee would provide the least expensive and most effective protection for $billions of upland property and thousands of lives. In addition to pressing the state for a $20,810,000 County-requested appropriation to facilitate the Segment II renourishment, Broward wants documentary stamp revenues dedicated to beach erosion programs and sand bypass projects restored to previous levels and shielded from budget-balancing raids.

Click to Port Everglades Web Site His 2013 selection of Port Everglades, a centerpiece in his 2012 Tallahassee wish list, comes as no surprise. A staunch advocate of stoking the County’s economic engines, LaMarca has stumped tirelessly to insure that Port Everglades is equipped to compete with ports on the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts – by an immutable 2015 deadline.

Click to Panama Canal Web Site The Panama Canal Authority is managing a $5.25 billion expansion project that will double the annual volume of cargo through the century-old 51-mile shortcut connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A new third lane under construction will accommodate vessels that are 25% longer, 50% wider and with a deeper draft than the largest ships currently navigating the canal (known as Panamax). When the Panama Canal is reconfigured to cradle supersized transports, tankers and cruise ships (referred to as “post-Panamax”) in about two years, plummeting shipping costs will significantly pump up international patterns of commerce.

Post Panamax MSC Fabiola
By providing faster and cheaper shipping of goods between the United States and Asia, it will allow American farmers and manufacturers to better compete with South American and European counterparts, including providers that currently benefit from cheap labor and primitive, low-maintenance infrastructure. However, before the United States can actualize this trade advantage, U.S. ports in the Gulf and along the east coast must first deepen their harbors and expand their cargo handling facilities if they hope to compete.

Port Everglades
In preparation for the projected 2015 completion of the canal’s expansion, Port Everglades is racing with ports in Miami, Savannah, New Orleans, Norfolk, Baltimore, Houston, Brownsville, Charleston, and the Port of South Louisiana – tonnage king of U.S. Gulf and East Coast ports – to adapt their infrastructure for post Panamax shipping. The construction required in each competing port will generate thousands of local jobs. The municipal winners of this marathon effort will realize a significant boost to the local economy, huge local and statewide tax windfalls, and a palpable drop in unemployment.

Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF)
A study of the Port’s competitive shortcomings by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers added a three-part construction strategy to the Port Everglades Master Plan. The Southport Turning Notch Expansion will lengthen the existing deepwater turn-around area for cargo ships from 900 feet to 2,400 feet. Secondly, the Port’s channel must be widened and deepened to manage the larger ships with heavier loads that will soon transit the Panama Canal. Lastly, instead of hauling containers to and from off-port rail terminals, building an on-site Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) will enable the seamless transfer of international containers between ship and rail. Like economically motivated public officials in every competing port city, LaMarca is intently focused on aggressively moving the three projects to completion. The ICTF is scheduled to open in 2014 while the Turning Notch and widening and deepening projects are targeted for 2017.

Beach Community Center
Given the plethora of narrowly beneficial and borderline inane objectives available in the Legislative Program, LaMarca’s selection of Early Voting Site Expansion and Texting While Driving are both laudable and locally relevant. If successful in his attempt to expand early voting site options, Galt Mile residents will be able to vote early at the Beach Community Center instead of being forced to travel north to Pompano Beach City Hall, west to Wilton Manors City Hall or south to either the Artserve or Main Libraries in Fort Lauderdale.

Deterring people from Texting While Driving is a no-brainer, as even hands-free adaptations will not compensate for driver distractions that statistically invite disaster. Multitasking is not a skill best exercised while steering two tons of accelerating steel. Florida is one of only four states (i.e. South Carolina, South Dakota, Montana) with no restrictions on cell phone use or texting while driving – even for school bus drivers.

Former Statehouse Speaker Dean Cannon
Click to  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Texting Alert Citing the 3000 deaths due to driver distracted accidents in 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a December 13, 2011 alert directing all states to enact restrictions on the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving. House Speaker Dean Cannon (whose campaign contributors included AT&T and T-Mobile) announced that he would not tolerate “government regulating private behavior” and systematically dispatched such bills filed during the 2012 session. One popular bill, HB 299, was kidnapped in the Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee and held through Sine Die, ostensibly because it infringed on personal freedom. When asked why they would protect such a dangerous activity, the hostage-takers flipped the script and suddenly took refuge in constitutional equanimity, complaining that it unfairly singled out “Texting While Driving” for criminalization while ignoring comparable distractions such as using a cell phone.

Senator Nancy Detert
Representative Irv Slosberg
Even with Cannon now term-limited out of office, lawmakers are treading lightly when drafting restrictions for the 2013 session. Senate Bill 52 by Senator Nancy Detert, R-Venice, would make texting while driving a secondary non-criminal infraction, meaning motorists could be ticketed only if pulled over for another reason. Violators would pay a $30 fine – unless they were checking a map or the weather (one of several exemptions). Representative Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, filed House Bill 61, which precludes anyone under 18 from using a cellphone while driving. The state’s seat belt law is named for his daughter, Dori, who was killed in a 1996 collision on Boca Raton’s Palmetto Park Road at the age of 14.

The teeth in Senate Bill 74 by Senator Maria Sachs are somewhat sharper, as texting or using a cell phone would be a primary offense eliciting a $100 fine for committing a non-moving violation. Detert’s Bill restricts texting, Slosberg’s bill is limited to kids while Sachs’ bill prohibits any non-hands-free cell phone use. Since Florida is also one of seven states that prohibits jurisdictions from enacting local distracted driving laws, it’s not surprising that LaMarca feels it’s time to get one of these on the books. Read on for the Commissioner’s 2013 Tallahassee agenda... – [editor]


Tallahassee Bound

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
As you may know we are fast approaching the beginning of a new Legislative Session in Tallahassee, which means I will be traveling to Tallahassee on your behalf to advocate for many of the issues the Board of County Commissioners has identified in our 2013 State Legislative Program. Last year I reported to you on my activities in Tallahassee, which included presenting during the opening week of the Legislative Session in a panel discussion before the House Community and Military Affairs Subcommittee. The presentation, "Local Government Economic Development Tools: Creating Jobs and Growing Our Economy," focused on the County’s collaboration with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. I was also pleased to meet with Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, members of both the House and Senate Leadership, and the members of our Broward Legislative Delegation to discuss beach renourishment funding, as well as funding for Port Everglades.

Click to 'Local Government Economic Development Tools: Creating Jobs and Growing Our Economy' presentation My priorities for the 2013 Legislative Session have changed little – our beaches continue to be a critical part of our travel and tourism industry, generating jobs and revenues; they continue to remain our first line of defense against hurricanes and storm surge threats to life and property (as we all know too well with the recent damage to A1A and the beach in Fort Lauderdale; additionally, the damage at both the Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach Piers’). The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates that more than one-third of Florida’s 787 miles of beaches are in a state of critical erosion. With that said the Board has identified our support for a $20.8 million state appropriation request submitted by Broward County to support mitigation construction, sand and monitoring of the Segment II Beach Renourishment Project as a federally-reimbursable project.

Click to Turning Notch Info Additionally, as one of South Florida’s leading economic powerhouses, Port Everglades is the gateway for international trade and cruise vacations. Already the second busiest cruise port in the world, Port Everglades is also one of the nation’s leading container ports and south Florida’s main seaport for receiving petroleum products including gasoline, jet fuel, and alternative fuels. The total economic activity at Port Everglades is approximately $15.3 billion. Port Everglades, including 11,400 people who work for companies that provide direct services, impact more than 160,000 Florida jobs – these jobs generate $532 million in state and local taxes. The Board is supporting a $34.5 million appropriation request for funds for preliminary engineering, design, permitting and construction for projects associated with the Southport Turning Notch which will create 2,227 temporary construction jobs, 5,529 new regional permanent jobs, and $252.2 million in local and state revenue.

Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes
Likewise, I have also identified two additional priorities that I plan to advocate for on your behalf: Early Voting Site Expansion, and Texting While Driving. For those of use that live in eastern Broward County from county line to county line, there were very few to no early voting sites located near our homes or places of business. I worked very closely with the staff in the Supervisor of Elections Office to identify many different possible locations, however, due to state statutes; Dr. Snipes is limited in the type of locations she can use. The Board at my urging is supporting legislation amending state law to allow Supervisors of Elections to designate municipal community centers as early voting sites in addition to the current locations (city halls, SOE branch offices, and public library facilities).

It is documented that texting while driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year; 330,000 injuries per year; 11 teen deaths every day; nearly 25% of all car accidents; and, makes you 23 times more likely to crash; and sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded. For all of these reasons the Board is supporting legislation prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle manually typing in a wireless communications device.

These are just a few of the items I will be advocating for on your behalf in Tallahassee, as always each Commissioner identifies his/her own priorities and focuses on those issues, and together we work to advocate on behalf of all of Broward County. You can view the County’s 2013 State Legislative Program in its entirety on our website by visiting and searching under the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs page.

I never lose sight of what is important. That is you the residents of our beautiful district. If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 954.357.7004 or by email at You can also stay updated by viewing our website, as well as signup to receive email updates from us.

As always, it is an honor to serve you.

Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4

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Marketing Blabble

Click to Galt Mile Wine and Food Festival website February 25, 2013 - Grab your significant other, your best friend or the whole gang and spend the most spectacular Saturday a Culinary Enthusiast can imagine along the most famous beach front condo strips in Florida. Please your palate, step into your stride and mingle among the best chefs in South Florida at the Inaugural Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 from 4 PM to 8 PM.

With the cool Atlantic Ocean waters as the backdrop, this intimate festival will give you a unique up-close and personal experience of tasting dishes from South Florida’s Top Chefs as well learning from the masters themselves during their live cooking demonstrations.

Stroll down the chef’s tables, feel the balmy breeze and savor the excitement as the sun sets and the evening ascends while listening to the live music in the background. Exotic wines and culinary feasts will embrace you in sensory delight.

You will enjoy over 40 fine artisan wines, craft beers & spirits and distinctive food pairings, live cooking demonstrations, wine pairing explanations and cultural revelations abound as you meet and mingle with some of the most brilliant sommeliers and extraordinarily talented chefs.

Be sure to stop by the Retail Bazaar & Market Place where you can purchase a variety of unique products that are the perfect way to take this memorable evening home with you.

The Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival brings you face-to-face with those who have made their lives -- their craft. This is the time for you to dine, drink fine wine and experience A Seaside Affair! – a perfect way to spend your Saturday!

Urban Gypsy Band

Urban Gypsy Band members guitarist Islay Rodriguez, sax player and floutist John Michalak and drummer Michael Rivero
Urban Gypsy Band is a cutting edge South Florida based Flamenco Jazz Fusion group which performs a style that combines the fire and romance of Flamenco and the sophistication of Contemporary Jazz, driven by exotic and urban rhythms from around the world. The group regularly performs at the top venues and resorts throughout the region, and is consistently recognized for their unique sound, which combines the smooth sounds of the Acoustic Guitar, Saxophone and Flute, with energetic and exotic grooves.

Click to Urban Gypsy Band website Urban Gypsy guitarist, Islay Rodriguez, has been performing throughout South Florida since age 16, and he plays with a refinement and passionate style not often encountered. John Michalak, the group’s Grammy Nominated saxophonist and flautist, has a unique style which is borne out of the vast variety of genres he has performed throughout his career, from Blues to Rock, Reggae, Jazz- traditional, contemporary and Latin, and everything in between. John has performed around the world with some of the biggest stars in music, including Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, KC and The Sunshine Band, Julio Iglesias, Carlos Santana, Patti LaBelle, and Jon Secada. The group’s drummer, Michael Rivero, has performed at major events throughout South Florida for the past 20 years, and has opened for world renowned artist such as Carlos Santana, Jon Secada, and Keith Urban. Michael is a versatile and passionate musician who brings excitement and positive energy to every Urban Gypsy performance.

South Florida’s Top Chefs!

Click to Monk’s Wine & Liquor Cave website An impressive lineup of Wine, Beer & Spirits purveyors, headed by our local Monk’s Wine & Liquor Cave, will provide the perfect complement for each masterpiece shaped in live cooking demonstrations by a litany of top chefs from local restaurants.

Chef Steven Acosta at da Campo Osteria in the Il Lugano Hotel
Among the Chefs creating consumable art are Executive Chef Steven Acosta of da Campo Osteria in the IL Lugano Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Lenore Nolan Ryan of Lenore Nolan Ryan Cooking School & Catering in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Culinary Director Evandro Caregnato of Texas de Brazil in Fort Lauderdale, Martin Barrett of quintessential “Irish Pub” Sly Fox on the Galt Mile, Executive Chef Mai Ponrathorn (formerly of the Miami Beach hot spot Nobu) of Tokyo Blue at the Ocean Manor Resort on Galt Ocean Mile, Click to da Campo Osteria website fares from the Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar at The Ocean Manor Beach Resort, owner Hilary Saporta of online dessert Mecca A Flair For Fudge, “Pastry Goddess” Erika DiBattista and Executive Chef Bill Bruening of the Sunfish Grill on Oakland Park Boulevard, Chef Juan of The Hungry Cuban in Deerfield Beach, Crepeteria adds a touch of American flair to classic French cuisine on Oakland Park Boulevard while The Whole Enchilada adds new meaning to Fresh Mexican Grill in Fort Lauderdale.

Chef Mai Ponrathorn at Tokyo Blue in the Ocean Manor Hotel
Also working culinary magic at the event is South Florida’s landmark Shooters Waterfront Cafe USA on the Intracoastal Waterway, renowned Godiva Chocolatier of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale hot spot Blue Martini, offerings from the Chart House on the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale, Frankie and Johnny’s Italian Restaurant on Oakland Park Boulevard, Executive Chef Dane Iacangelo of caterer Potions in Motion, Click to Tokyo Blue website Chef Marco Vico of Cafe Vico Ristorante in Fort Lauderdale, themed desserts proprietor Andrea from Icing on the Cake, Ceviche by the Sea on Oakland Park Boulevard, Joe’s Crab Shack in Fort Lauderdale, Good 2 Go fruit and nut bars and Michele’s on Oakland Park Boulevard. Every day, more culinary magicians are added to the growing list of participating chefs.

What’s the Point?

Each of the participating chefs and dining establishments enjoys a reputation for culinary excellence. From their kitchens, they provide thousands of diners with menu-selected fare or unlisted specials that are intermittently available depending on fate or whimsy. However, each of these artists specializes in signature dishes with which they have become identified. To sample these extraordinary offerings, restaurant patrons would have to visit each establishment and order the iconic fare. Discovering why these creations have become widely acclaimed dining experiences would take months and cost a fortune. At the Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival, participants can achieve this in a few hours - and for a pittance. Strolling from one station to the next, you can enjoy the culinary masterpieces unveiled by each of the best chefs in town.

Click to Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival Site Maps
Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival Site (Click Graphic for More Maps)

An Added Benefit

Click to Florida Scenic Highways web site
A1A Near Coral Ridge Towers Complex
As you have probably observed, State Road A1A (i.e. the Ocean Highway) is undergoing a major renovation along the Galt Mile, , including bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, traffic safety upgrades, new hardscape features and narrowing of the thoroughfare from 6 to 4 lanes. In addition to structurally inoculating the severely deteriorated stretch of A1A against the weekend and late night drag races that plagued the route for decades, the plan foresees a host of improvements commensurate with its recent designation as an official Florida Scenic Highway. FDOT plans to realize the changes in two consecutive projects.

Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin design options
While the major structural changes are currently underway, the aesthetic embellishments are planned for the follow-up project scheduled for 2015. Projected enhancements will include an expanded 24-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of A1A with a 10-foot pedestrian merchant zone and a 14-foot pedestrian area, a 10-foot bicycle zone, including on-street parking, street trees, landscaping in the median islands and a double row of trees defining the pedestrian area.

Click to Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. A1A corridor study When the plans are finalized, FDOT will butt heads with the City of Fort Lauderdale over project funding. Neighborhood association officials will work with the City to maximize improvements distilled from a series of plans drafted over the past few years. However, some of the improvements are characterized as optional, municipal spin for “Get up the scratch!”

In 1996, Galt Ocean Drive and the surrounding area was transformed from a bleak, sand-blown strip into an elegant beachfront boulevard when a $3.5 million Galt Mile Improvement Project conceived and spearheaded by Galt activist Earl Lifshey was approved and financed by residents living on the block. Although only residents from two of the four Coral Ridge Towers cooperatives and our three northernmost association members live directly on A1A (CRT East, CRT South, Plaza East, Fountainhead, Caribe), all 28 Galt Association members have a stake in elevating A1A into a world-class thoroughfare.

We can either cough up the resources required to implement enhancements declined by the City, or explore funding alternatives. To that end, the Galt Mile Community Association arrived at an understanding with the promoter and sponsors of the Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival. If well attended, an annual festival stands to become a signature community event. If the event proves successful, in addition to fueling interest in the Galt Mile, a modest percent of the income will be dedicated to a firewalled community improvement fund. When FDOT or the City classify key project elements as “optional”, despite approving them in adjacent neighborhoods, the dedicated funds can be allocated at the discretion of the Advisory Board. Galt Mile residents won’t be forced to choose between a second tier improvement or none at all.

Click to buy Discount Ticket First, the event must be successful. If enough people buy tickets and attend the event, it will be repeated again next year, triggering the opportunity to subsidize neighborhood improvements that will substantially increase the value of every home on the Galt Mile.

SO – Buy a ticket. Enjoy the soft seaside winds wafting off the Atlantic and all the other syrupy trappings of paradise punch-listed by the promoter. Let tasty tidbits titillate your palate and as you drink your way to a late Saturday buzz. Most of all, revel in the prospect that you may have added a healthy footnote to the value of your home!!!

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From Oblivion to “In the Pink” in 3 Years!

Patience Rock in Tallahassee
March 5, 2013 - Having survived an up-close view of the Abyss, the Sun Trolley’s Galt Mile Route has come roaring back from the brink of oblivion. In May of 2007, then Governor Charlie Crist, Senate President Ken Pruitt and House Speaker (now Senator) Marco Rubio shared a podium in the Capitol’s fourth floor after the 60-day legislative session failed to provide Floridians with a promised tax cut. As choreographed for their staged sound bite, an ovoid grey rock inscribed with the word “Patience” was passed from one to the other, as each in turn swore to drop taxes like a rock in the upcoming June special session.

Click to City of Fort Lauderdale No Panhandling Web Page Notwithstanding this eerie gashouse intro, the resulting $31.6 billion tax reform package forced local governments to muzzle deeply inbred tax and spend habits fueled by annual property tax windfalls that were suddenly eviscerated by the recession. Mandated by law to roll back their impending FY 2008 property tax assessments to FY 2006 levels, local governments were also forced to cut taxes by another 3% to 9%, contingent on their taxing proclivities over the prior 5 years and measured against a statewide average. In short, those cities and counties that most burdened their taxpayers were charged with providing commensurately greater relief.

Click to Broward County Transit Community Bus Service web page Click to Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association web page After decades of burning through tax revenues at light speed, Broward Commissioners were suddenly confronted with a statutory obligation to slice $100 million from the County’s $billion 2008 spending plan. In an unprecedented turf protection marathon, each Commissioner fought to cut appropriations for services and/or improvements in neighboring districts while fiercely defending their own pork projects. When the dust settled, along with libraries housed in structures not owned by the County, any local bus venues wherein utilization didn’t justify continued operation were marked for extinction. Fort Lauderdale’s community bus service – the Sun Trolley – is a project jointly sponsored by the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association (DFLTMA) and Broward County Transit (BCT). Among the bus lines on the block was the Sun Trolley’s Galt Mile route.

Former Sun Trolley Executive Director Les Hollingsworth
In fact, Fort Lauderdale’s entire community bus service suffered near-terminal neglect when entrusted to former Sun Trolley Executive Director Les Hollingsworth, who spent a good deal more time solidifying his own future that that of the community bus service. When invited to address neighborhood associations and civic groups, Hollingsworth would outline a half-baked marketing strategy followed by assurances that working together would somehow salvage their besieged bus routes. Evidently, glad-handing at rubber chicken dinners tested the limits of his management skills.

Click Termination Letter to Enlarge
Although the Galt Mile Route met the County’s contractual survival standard of 7.1 riders per hour, and despite promising neighborhood association officials that he would rescue the Galt Mile route, on October 10, 2008, Hollingsworth submitted a surreptitiously drafted termination notice condoning its demise! When the GMCA revealed Hollingsworth’s betrayal, a phalanx of angry residents who attended the October 21, 2008 City Commission meeting convinced Commissioners to abort the termination. By the time that the DFLTMA Board realized that their Sun Trolley Executive Director’s management vision was 99% vapor (and that he was sending out resumes), the entire enterprise was facing insolvency.

Click Abort Termination to Enlarge
When Hollingsworth was finally issued walking papers, DFLTMA Executive Director Chris Wren stepped in as the Sun Trolley’s Interim Director. Wren futilely pleaded with local merchants to support underutilized routes throughout the City. Having watched Hollingsworth burn through meager agency resources to promote a series of botched screwball marketing “experiments”, the vendors were understandably unwilling to invest in a program with untested leadership and a horrific track record. Later, these vendors would regret not having accepted Wren’s invitation.

Interim Sun Trolley Executive Director Chris Wren
Within months of Hollingsworth’s long-overdue dismissal, District 1 Commissioner Bruce Roberts and Wren met with GMCA officials Pio Ieraci and Eric Berkowitz to discuss last rites for the Galt Mile route. Ieraci, Berkowitz and Roberts convinced Wren to issue a temporary reprieve, and agreed to broker a series of meetings devoted to cultivating a long-neglected revenue source. The concept was simple. Instead of carrying vacationers from Port Everglades and beachfront hotels to the usual blood-letting tourist traps, by tailoring the service to accommodate the shopping needs of local residents, it would not only boost ridership, but jump-start business for vendors stung by the economic downturn.

Sun Trolley Managing Director Patricia Zeiler
On September 15, 2009, the City signed a 3-year County contract with two one-year extensions to operate the Sun Trolley. Guided by constituent input aggressively solicited by new Sun Trolley Managing Director Patricia Zeiler, Wren restructured the Sun Trolley to better connect shoppers, patients and other consumers with customer-hungry vendors and service providers. Since adding Holy Cross Hospital to the Galt Mile route, elderly or disabled neighborhood residents who “walk the pool” every morning hop the Trolley to their regular afternoon Physical Therapy session at the Hospital. Extending the Galt Ocean Mile route south to the Galleria provided local residents with cheap and easy transportation to a world-class shopping venue and brought desperately needed new business to Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Dillards and scores of smaller stores trying to rebuild a faltering customer base.

Click to Galleria web page
Wren connected Galt Ocean Mile, Las Olas Beaches and Convention Connection Sun Trolley Routes
Since the southernmost link in the Galt Mile route – a stretch of Sunrise Boulevard from A1A to the Galleria – is also the northernmost link in the Las Olas Beaches/Convention Connection route, seamlessly connecting these two existing routes enabled Galt Mile shoppers to also access the Harbor Shops, stores on Las Olas Boulevard and a host of other shopping destinations. As an ancillary benefit, this new connectivity boosted recreational utilization as well, as an increasing number of Galt Mile and North Beach (the Palms, etc.) condo dwellers realized that a Trolley ride to the Fort Lauderdale beach area, Bahia Mar, Port Everglades, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Convention Center, the Museum of Art or the Las Olas Riverfront was fast, cheap and free of parking headaches. Despite the strained economy, burgeoning ridership incentivized further expansion as the DFLTMA chalked up a home run.

Click to Harbor Shops website On January 18, 2012, Broward County Transit (BCT) Capital Planning Manager Barney McCoy notified the County’s 18 local partner municipalities about the availability of additional funds for the Community Bus Service program. BCT funds its share of the program by tapping revenues from the County’s 2000 Local Option Gas Tax, for which each participating municipality serves as a “pass-through” agency to its local bus operator. In short, funds allocated to each municipality are in turn budgeted to its Community Bus Service. When several municipalities either reduced service hours or discontinued fully funded routes, the unused resources held by the County were made available to the other municipalities. Four of BCT’s 18 partner municipalities dug into the cookie jar, including Fort Lauderdale.

Click to Galt Mile Sun Trolley Route Nearing the end of its three-year pact, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners wanted to insure the Sun Trolley’s fiscal viability before their planned consideration of signing the first one-year contract extension (from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013) at the June 5th City Commission meeting. To help DFLTMA snag resources for planned service expansions, in February 2012, Fort Lauderdale City staff responded to McCoy’s invitation by submitting funding applications for an additional $92,109 on behalf of the Sun Trolley.

Of the additional $92,109 subsequently approved by BCT for the remainder of FY 2011-12, $2,484 would offset a Las Olas Beach route deficit, $27,945 would fund an additional trolley run for the Convention Connection route and a whopping $61,680 was earmarked to provide the increasingly popular Galt Ocean Mile route with new Saturday and Sunday service. Unfortunately, the $61,680 was inadequate to fully fund the Galt route’s planned weekend service.

Click to Federal Transit Administration To remedy the shortfall, City staffers drafted an amendment to the Interlocal Agreement (ILA) that extends the contract between the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County. The Amendment housed a request for an incremental allocation of $19,918.08. Since no additional Gas Tax monies were available for the balance of fiscal year 2012, and city bean counters were cloistering reserves as a cushion against 2013 budget blowback, the only source of revenues was a non-transferable Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant dedicated to the Convention Connection bus route. Although Federal regulations intractably bind FTA revenue disbursements to the route for which they were approved, when Wren interconnected the Galt Mile and Convention Connection routes, he serendipitously obliterated the funding obstacle. Since the Federal dollars could legally be used to plug the deficit anticipated by the Galt Mile route’s weekend expansion, it remained on Zeiler’s “to do” list.

New Sun Trolley Routes Connects Galt to Downtown Shops
With cadres of commuting regulars congregating on the bus to lunch on Las Olas after shopping in Galleria, utilization rates soon outpaced projections. Flourishing under the aggressive leadership of Wren and Zeiler, monthly ridership reached an unprecedented 32,000 in December, 2012. In addition to attracting waves of frugal shoppers, the service has thinned the number of vehicles clogging city streets (and comparably cut the City’s carbon footprint). In one program sponsored by the Sun Trolley, parking spaces are reserved in centralized venues like Broward Government Center and the County Courthouse for carpooling commuters who then hop the Trolley to work. In January, Sun Trolley Executive Director Patricia Zeiler observed “Currently, Sun Trolley serves as an alternative to driving a car for over 7,000 passengers per month.”

Click to Bags To Go Web Page Click to Fort Lauderdale Excursion Web Page On January 2, Zeiler expanded the Beach Link Route to a 7-day service. Running between the Harbor Shops (on the 17th Street Causeway) and the Galleria Mall (at Sunrise Boulevard and the Intracoastal Waterway) with an option to cruise Las Olas Boulevard and Himmarshee Street, patrons can catch rides every 30 minutes from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM for 50¢/ride or $2 for unlimited daily jaunts. Two weeks later she launched Fort Lauderdale Excursion, a new airport transportation and baggage storage service that enables tourists to sock away their luggage in Bags To Go before using the Sun Trolley ($19.95/person) and/or Water Taxi ($29.95/person) for unlimited rides throughout the City until they return to the airport, grab the bags and fly off. It sure beats spending a 14-hour layover drifting in and out of semi-coma in the airport lounge.

Wren and Zeiler have also turned the page on the Sun Trolley’s stunted commercial appeal. Newly awakened to its positive impact on business, instead of having to sweet-talk merchants into supporting the bus service, local vendors are actively competing for destination status on a Sun Trolley route. Many are willing to help finance the required expansion.

Broward Health Imperial Point CEO Alice Taylor
Zeiler also never forgot how extending the Galt Mile route to Holy Cross Hospital mutually benefitted the Sun Trolley and the Medical Center. On January 20, a $20,000 contribution enabled Zeiler to further extend the Galt Mile route to Broward Health Imperial Point Medical Center. Commenting on the expansion, Zeiler said “We are so pleased to have Broward Health Imperial Point Hospital join our route destinations. The Galt Link Route continuously ranks as one of Sun Trolley’s most popular routes amongst Broward County residents and we are confident that adding Broward Health Imperial Point will only serve to increase ridership.”

Click to City of Fort Lauderdale No Panhandling Web Page Keenly aware of the stiff competition among healthcare service providers, Broward Health Imperial Point CEO Alice Taylor added “Diagnostic services such as CT, MRI, ultrasound, X-ray and digital mammography are now just a trolley ride away for residents of Galt Ocean Mile. The partnership also means increased access to dozens of physicians in various specialties whose offices are located on the hospital’s campus.” Galt Mile residents who walk the pool every morning are delighted.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
Pressing the County’s Agenda

Connecting and Collecting in the Federal and State Capitols

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
April 8, 2013 - Between the winter and spring holiday seasons, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca keeps his boots strapped as he shuttles between our national and state capitols. The sole Republican on the Broward Board of County Commissioners, he is uniquely qualified to open doors in Republican Tallahassee. Armed with the Broward Commission’s
29-page legislative agenda, on March 13th and 14th, LaMarca joined the Broward Legislative Delegation in their annual Broward Days promotion of County interests in the State Capitol. After pressing the County wish list in Tallahassee, LaMarca headed to Washington D.C. to shake the Federal money tree.

Advanced Global Network CEO Eve-Iris Wittmann
LaMarca is one of three Team Leaders of the Broward Days’ International Business and Trade Committee, along with Asian Pacific Development Corp. CEO Randy Avon and Advanced Global Network CEO Eve-Iris Wittmann. Stacked with corporate heavyweights and high profile public officials, the committee also includes Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, former Mayor Jim Naugle, Port Everglades Director Steven Cernak and Florida CFO Jeff Atwater. The panel’s Tallahassee agenda is dominated by a hunt for resources to enhance Port Everglades’ competitive infrastructure.

Asian Pacific Development Corp CEO Randy Avon
By vehemently supporting the preservation of tools used by local governments to seed economic development, LaMarca has become annually embroiled in a home rule controversy with State lawmakers. As described in the County Legislative Program, he defended the ongoing need for a local business tax (LBT). Originally authorized by the legislature in 1995 as the occupational license tax and dedicated primarily to subsidizing public safety and economic development, the Florida Statutes provide for counties (s. 205.032, F.S.) and municipalities (s. 205.042, F.S.) to levy local business taxes.

Statehouse Representative Marlene O'Toole
Each year, lawmakers catering to constituencies rife with anti-tax zealots file bills to repeal or unnecessarily encumber this statutory revenue option. In 2012, Statehouse Representative Marlene O'Toole (R - The Villages) introduced House Bills 1063 and 4025 as Republican Lake County Senator Alan Hays filed Senate Bill 760, legislation designed to kill the LBT and saddle statewide city and county budgets with a $156.4 million revenue shortfall, as calculated by the Legislature’s Revenue Estimating Conference.

Lake County Senator Alan Hays
In counties and municipalities where the local business tax is a funding source for debt repayment, its loss would negatively impact the municipal bond market and result in downgraded credit ratings, sharply increasing the debt. Although the LBT “business” contribution is capped at $150 per year, in Broward County LBT revenues administered by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance (Alliance) and the Office of Economic & Small Business Development (OESBD) assisted more than 700 targeted industry companies directly create 8,668 jobs, of which 5,447 were retained.

Martin County Business Development Board Director Crystal Stiles
Although identified as an unfunded mandate in each bill’s legislative staff analyses (triggering the Constitutionally required approval by two-thirds of the membership in each house), O’Toole and Hays never addressed the adverse fiscal impacts from the anticipated budget shortfalls. Since taxes, debt, fees and public services are balanced in a zero sum economic arena, the resulting budget gaps would force an increase in local millage rates, passing the fiscal burden to property owners. When LaMarca and Martin County Business Development Board Director Crystal Stiles brought focus to the legislation’s implicit defects – stifling job creation while shifting a tax burden from businesses to homeowners - vetting committees consigned the bills to death on the calendar.

Click to 2013 Broward Legislative Program Web Page In pursuing beach renourishment funding in Tallahassee and Washington D.C., LaMarca was fulfilling a commitment to constituents while dunning a County debtor. Although it was completed six years ago, our deadbeat Federal government still hasn’t fully reimbursed Broward County for its shared obligation in the $44 million Segment III renourishment of south county beaches. The State has typically contributed 25% of the costs for Broward’s projects that are eligible for Federal reimbursement (which historically equates to 50% to 60% of total project cost), with the remainder falling to local governments. The Segment III final funding formula tagged the Federal share at $26 million, the State picked up $10.1 million, while $8.4 million was coughed up locally. In Washington, LaMarca asked Broward Congressional Representatives to help recover the remaining $12 million Federal delinquency. While in Tallahassee, LaMarca applied for a $20,810,000 federally reimbursable appropriation to help offset the impending $40 million Segment II project cost.

Last year, LaMarca succeeded in lining up a partial reimbursement by diverting renourishment resources unused by the coastal communities for which they were originally allocated. Unfortunately, the funds were commandeered and reappropriated to address emergencies in other jurisdictions. At the April 1st President Council meeting in The Commodore, after acknowledging that current Federal political and economic policies bode diminished future Federal contributions, LaMarca assured neighborhood officials that funding would not be an obstacle to the impending Segment II renourishment along the Galt Mile, as FDOT and Broward County have already budgeted sufficient resources to complete the long-awaited beach fix.

The Woodstock era title of his spring newsletter speaks to the relief afforded LaMarca by the Holiday layovers in Broward County that helped pace his high pressure commutes between two of the planet’s most mind-numbing behavioral slop sinks. For a firsthand account of his progress in furtherance of the County agenda, read on... – [editor]


Springtime in Paradise!

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
I hope that you had a wonderful Passover or Easter! This is a time filled with the many blessings of renewal and rebirth. I am deeply grateful for all the goodness in my life and for the privilege of serving the people of our county.

Click to Broward Days Tallahassee Schedule Web Page As I write this I am traveling on your behalf as residents of Broward County between Washington D.C. and Tallahassee. I have spent my time in Washington D.C. meeting with our Congressional Delegation regarding funding and permitting for our projects at Port Everglades and beach renourishment. I am happy to report that these meetings were productive and I look forward to continuing this dialogue.

Click to 'Local Government Economic Development Tools: Creating Jobs and Growing Our Economy' presentation Additionally, I have been in Tallahassee for Broward Days at the Capitol, meeting with our Legislative leaders on topics of funding and permitting for Port Everglades projects and beach renourishment. I also spent a good deal of time advocating for our economic development issues. As I reported to you last year I testified before the House Community and Military Affairs Subcommittee. The presentation, "Local Government Economic Development Tools: Creating Jobs and Growing Our Economy," focused on the County’s collaboration with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. The committee was taking up this issue again, focused on eliminating valuable tools for economic development which we use to create new targeted industry jobs, attract new companies to the county and serve local companies with retention and expansion efforts. We were successful in getting the committee to agree to not repeal this tool last year, but it is back on the table again this year. I am committed to working with the Committee Chairman, Representative Workman from Brevard County to make sure we are successful again this year.

Committee Chair Representative Ritch Workman
As part of my meetings in Tallahassee I have learned that there is a very good possibility we will receive a portion of Hurricane Sandy dollars to help address our beach renourishment. These funds will be in addition to the money the county already has committed to the project. As you know we are moving forward with the project as a federally reimbursable project, yet Broward County would be required to front that portion of the cost - this equates to 50 percent of the total cost of the $40 million project. The additional funds would go a long way to sustain and replenish funding for future county renourishment projects.

Fort Lauderdale Citizen of the Year - Betty Shelley
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the Fort Lauderdale Citizen of the Year – Betty Shelley. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor, and to say that it is long overdue. Betty serves as President of the Imperial Point Homeowners Association, and works tirelessly for the residents of northeast Fort Lauderdale. Betty, on behalf of Broward County, I would like to congratulate you for this tremendous honor!

I never lose sight of what is important. That is you the residents of our beautiful district. If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 954.357.7004 or by email at You can also stay updated by viewing our website, as well as signup to receive email updates from us.

Happy Spring to all and as always, it is an honor to serve you.

Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4

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Commissioner Bruce Roberts

BMPO || Beach Parking || Survey

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
April 25, 2013 - In his early Spring Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts applauds the City’s Public Works personnel in the Utilities Bureau for winning repeat accolades from the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA), describes how to leverage $6 into a year of free beach area parking, delivers access to a statistical snapshot of last year’s first half condo sales and residential rental activity, and links us to feedback distilled from a December 2012 online Neighborhood Survey that may add perspective to the City’s visioning objectives. An opening article comprising nearly half the newsletter looks at past and planned projects approved by the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

Click to Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Established in 1977 by the Florida Legislature, the Broward MPO manages urban transportation planning and directs the expenditure of federal and state funds. Highway fuel tax dollars we send to Washington DC are dumped into the Federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and granted back to local MPOs through the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Tallahassee bound fuel taxes and license / title / registration fees are deposited into the State Transportation Trust Fund (STTF) and passed to BMPO through the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Since taxes that discourage consumption – like excise taxes on fuel or fuel use – are presumed to diminish with time, MPO agendas annually stress a hunt for stable funding. Project revenues are also sourced from local option fuel taxes, public - private partnerships and innovative financing techniques, including the assessment of tolls, creative value capture financing, and value pricing.

Click to BMPO Long Range Transportation Plan MPO boards and committees embark on an exhaustive vetting process before determining which municipal, County and regional transportation infrastructure projects are worthy of inception, preservation, enhancement or expansion pursuant to a long-range transportation plan minimally framed with a 20 year outlook. Along with fellow City Commissioner Romney Rogers, Roberts represents the City of Fort Lauderdale on the Broward MPO Board of Directors.

Click to Broward MPO Commitment 2040 On January 3, 2013, Broward MPO Executive Director Greg Stuart emailed a message to stakeholders summarizing transportation challenges tackled by BMPO in 2012, itemizing their funding sources and naming their respective jurisdictional beneficiaries. Stuart also glimpsed his expectations for 2013, when the current 2035 planning horizon is extended by five years – which the BMPO is marketing as Commitment 2040.

Broward MPO Executive Director Gregory Stuart
Stuart’s list offers a collective benefit greater than the sum of its parts. Taken together, the promising projects demonstrate a connectivity that enhances the value of each component enterprise. For instance, while serving as the main station for the Wave Streetcar system, the Sun Trolley, Broward County Transit (BCT) and FEC’s regional All Aboard Florida service, Fort Lauderdale’s Mobility Hub will also anchor the Central Broward East-West Transit System. As a BMPO board member privy to Stuart’s email, Roberts opted to include the Executive Director’s informal insider perspective in his newsletter (see below – “Broward Metropolitan Transportation Organization”).

Galt Mile - A1A design options
Following a comprehensive assessment of need, anticipated benefits, economic and environmental impact, the BMPO breathes life into a successfully competitive project or program that productively moves people or freight. The Galt Mile spent 39 years as a spectator community before finally deriving a direct benefit from BMPO’s mandate, attributable - in large part - to Roberts’ efforts. After simmering on the back burner for a decade, long-planned improvements to the severely deteriorated Galt Mile section of A1A were recently completed.

Our Commissioner’s participation on the BMPO board will yield another neighborhood benefit in 2015, when MPO approves a second round of FDOT-managed construction along the same thoroughfare. The current lane reduction, traffic safety and hardscape upgrades provide a structural substrate for planned aesthetic and quality of life enhancements to the Galt Mile’s reconfigured slice of Ocean Highway. Given their newfound personal stake in the agency’s approval proclivities, Roberts’ BMPO update is both timely and relevant to Galt Mile residents. Until the project is placed on the agency’s 2015 agenda, the GMCA will monitor our MPO’s activities. Trust... but verify – read on... – [editor]

From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
Broward Metropolitan Transportation Organization (MPO): As most of you know, I serve on this board along with representatives from every municipality in Broward County, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Broward County School Board, and four Broward County Commissioners. Nineteen are voting members; Fort Lauderdale is the only city with two votes. Click to BMPO Long Range Transportation Plan The MPO is responsible for transportation planning and has developed a strategy through 2035; the MPO also allocates and directs the funding to develop these plans. The Federal Government and the State of Florida (FDOT) are the funding sources. The Broward MPO works with the public, planning organizations, government agencies, elected officials and community groups to develop transportation plans. The Broward MPO’s vision is to transform transportation in Broward County to achieve optimum mobility with emphasis on mass transit, while promoting economic vitality, protecting the environment and enhancing quality of life. The mission is to influence the expenditure of federal and state funds to provide a regional transportation system that ensures the safe and efficient mobility of people and goods, optimize transit opportunities and enhance our community’s environmental and economic well-being. In 2012, the MPO continued to forge new partnerships with non-traditional transportation partners, achieving success with the nationally recognized Complete Streets program. We have funded more bicycle, pedestrian, greenway and transit (The Wave streetcar) projects today than at any time in the MPO’s 39-year history! The following is just a summary of the many achievements over the past year.

  • 2012 Achievements:

    • Click to BMPO Complete Streets program The Board funded a series of pedestrian and bicycle projects that will be constructed by our partners at FDOT. These pedestrian and bicycle projects provide direct access to our transit corridors and Mobility Hubs and are the implementation of our Complete Streets program.

    • Working with our partners at FDOT and BCT, we expanded existing express bus operations and established new express bus operations connecting many of our western Municipalities to Tri-Rail, Downtown Miami, Downtown Fort Lauderdale and the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport at Dania Beach.

    • Click to Wave Streetcar System We began the planning and engineering for our first fully funded Mobility Hub in downtown Fort Lauderdale partnering with the City of Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority and FDOT. This Mobility Hub will serve as the main station area for the funded Wave Streetcar System, the Sun Trolley, BCT and the near-term FEC regional passenger service, All Aboard Florida.

    • We have started the planning for the $1.5M Alternatives Analysis (AA) for the full length of University Drive, partnering regionally with Miami-Dade MPO, Miami-Dade Transit, Broward County Transit, the South Florida Regional Transit Authority, FDOT (Districts IV and VI) and the Municipalities along the corridor.

    • Click to Central Broward East-West Transit System The Board authorized funding The Wave Streetcar system after receiving a $18M grant from the Federal Transit Administration and $35M from FDOT in Tallahassee. The Board recognized that the Wave streetcar will be the first phase of the Central Broward East-West Transit System, which can be expanded to operate across the entire Broward Region. Our funding approval is the turning point in creating new transportation choices for the Broward Region.

    • We received an additional $3.5M for planning efforts that will help expand transit planning, operations and maintenance for the Broward Region.

    • Click to Palm Beach MPO Working with the Palm Beach, Martin, St Lucie and Indian River MPOs, we ensured that MPO attributable funds can be used for landscaping projects associated with transportation improvements. And through the same partnership, created the criteria for major landscaping projects funded by FDOT, so that the landscaping can make a bold statement (creating a sense of place) while promoting economic development.

    • We have increased our funding to rail and port projects by $30M from $201M in FY 11/12 to $231M in FY 12/13.

    • We have increased our overall annual transportation funding for FY 12/13 from $651M to just over $1B, with the addition of the I-75 managed lanes project.

  • Listed below are just a few of our expectations in 2013 for a better transportation system for the Broward Region:

    • Click to Oakland Park Boulevard Transit Study We will begin the 2040 update to the Long Range Transportation Plan, to be known as Commitment 2040. Each Board Member will have the opportunity to actively participate in the plan’s update as well as assist the implementation of our public outreach efforts, via our local cable television stations and on local radio! We will expand our conversation with residents and the business community to gain a better understanding as to which transportation projects they want to advance and what mechanisms they would approve to operate and maintain them.

    • Click to Miami MPO We will begin the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which is the combination of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach MPOs’ 2040 Long Range Plans with a completely regional perspective.

    • We will complete the Regional Freight Plan that will complement freight and goods movement in the region by placing projects in the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan.

    • We will identify funding mechanisms available for all planned transit projects, from the local passenger rail on the FEC to the East-West and beyond.

    • Click to Miami MPO The Board will select the locally preferred alternatives for several projects including local passenger service on the FEC, Oakland Park Boulevard Study and University Drive Study.

    • We will apply for transportation planning grants furthering our relationships with Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration that focus on transportation, economic development, land use and environmental adaptation.

    • We will begin to redraft the interlocal agreement for the MPO, which is required every decade, establish new transportation district boundaries and make other changes necessary to make our MPO one of the best MPOs in the Nation.

Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA) Awards Fort Lauderdale Public Works personnel in the Utilities Bureau for Water Distribution
City of Fort Lauderdale Wins 2012 FSAWWA Division 5 Water Distribution System Award: The City of Fort Lauderdale Utilities Bureau was recently named the winner of the 2012 Division 5 Water Distribution System Award by the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA). The City was selected from among other statewide public and private utilities for the stellar performance, operation, and maintenance of its water distribution system. This is Fort Lauderdale’s second consecutive win, and the third time in four years the City has been selected as the winner of this award. The City of Fort Lauderdale distribution and collection system delivers approximately 15 billion gallons of potable water to our residential and commercial accounts. City utility professionals manage and maintain 788 miles of water mains, 475 miles of sewer mains, 119 miles of force mains, and 204 lift stations located throughout the City. Click to Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA) FSAWWA committee members with years of professional and municipal work experience judged the City’s system based on information provided in seven categories: water quality, operations records, maintenance, professionalism, safety, emergency preparedness, and cross connection/control program. The committee also reviewed extensive supporting documentation included with the application, including public outreach efforts, 24-hour customer service capabilities, and special events offered by the Utilities Bureau.

Click to Resident Beach Parking Permit web page Resident Beach Parking Permit: Frequent beachgoers will enjoy the value of free parking and easier access to the beach. City residents will be able to park free at North Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park (formerly South Beach), and the North Birch/Intracoastal E-Lot with the annual purchase of a Resident Beach Parking Permit for $6. City residents can apply for a Resident Beach Parking Permit online or in-person at Transportation and Mobility, 290 NE 3rd Avenue. Weekday hours are 7:45 am to 4:00 pm. Extended hours on Thursday are 7:45 am to 5:30 pm. Permits cost $6 for one year (there is an additional $6 fee if you would like the permit mailed to you). Call 954-828-3700 for more information. NOTE: Proof of City residency is required. Required documents include a valid twelve month residential lease or proof of ownership of a homesteaded property within the incorporated city limits of the City of Fort Lauderdale, a current vehicle registration, a current driver's license, and a current utility bill (within the past 30 days). Acceptable utility bills are water, electric or cable. The name and address on all four documents must be the same. For payment online, we accept Visa or Mastercard only. The expired Resident Beach Parking Permit must be returned to the Parking Services office in order to purchase a replacement permit online or in the office. Web Page:

Click to Downtown Demographic Report Downtown Demographic Report: Interested in learning more about current residential, population and commercial statistics for downtown Fort Lauderdale? Check out the new 1st and 2nd Quarter 2012 Residential and Commercial Statistics. Go to

Things to Remember:

  • NEVER leave personal items in your car – it is an open invitation for a thief.

  • ALWAYS call the police if your car or home has been broken into – even if nothing has been taken. This helps them keep track of what is happening in your area. (954-828-5700)

  • CALL Code if you notice blight in your neighborhood, as well as your City. (954-828-5207)

  • INFORM your neighbors when you will be away so they can keep an eye on your place. You can also let the police know and they will do drive-bys.

  • KEEP your pet on a leash, and PICK-UP any mess they leave behind. Your neighbors don’t like walking in it!

  • BE COURTEOUS of your neighbor by keeping noise levels low and barking dogs quiet – just to name a few!

Click to 2012 Neighbor Survey 2012 Neighborhood Survey: At a very recent commission meeting, we discussed the results of this survey, which is online at the City’s website. The random survey was conducted by an independent firm and measured neighbor satisfaction with City services and quality of life. The results, broken down by district and neighborhood, will be used for our strategic planning and the implementation of our 2035 Community Vision. The highlights include:

  • The City is a great place to visit (89%), is a place for play and leisure (85%), and a place to live (83%).

  • Satisfaction with City services received high marks for police and fire (75%), quality of parks and recreation programs and facilities (75%), and public landscaping (69%).

  • Least satisfied areas of concern were with the City as a place to raise and educate children (49%), and overall traffic flow (39%).

There is so much more detail and interesting information that I really encourage you to view the survey on line.

Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
Don’t Forget:: I will come to your HOA meeting, along with staff, to address any issues/concerns that you may have, as well as give you an update on what is happening in your City..

Office Contact: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email:

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Commissioner Bruce Roberts

Save-A-Tree|| E911 || Homestead Cop

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
May 17, 2013 - In his May 2013 Newsletter, Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts applauds a National Softball Association of the Deaf (NSAD) decision to hold their 2014 tournament in Mills Pond Park, promotes a program that adds trees to the City canopy by utilizing online services, extolls a new Sun Trolley service that caters to tourists on a layover, discloses the financial fruits of adding a fraud-busting Fort Lauderdale Detective to the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office, portrays the Broward B-cycle Program as an environmental success story and offers a list of important upcoming events.

Broward to Fund 911 Dispatch

Emergency 911 Dispatch Operator
However, Roberts’ leads off with kudos for a County decision to assume responsibility for funding a unified Emergency 911 Service, ending an extended war of nerves between Broward County and its 31 municipalities. A decade after 80% of Broward’s voters mandated a countywide consolidation of emergency dispatch services in 2002, public officials from the county and its municipalities finally acknowledged that doing so would shave precious minutes from the response time to emergencies wherein the difference between life and death is often measured in seconds. It would also eliminate the delays and dropped calls that result from interstation transfers, enhance responder safety, evolve a uniform set of performance metrics, enable all Broward residents to equally benefit from ever-improving technology and guarantee county-wide closest unit response.

Click Here to 2010 Feasibility Analysis web page The plan seeks to replace 11 flimsy “Public Safety Access points” (i.e. local dispatch centers or PSAPs) with three “category-5 hardened”, demographically centralized “flee to” sites in Pembroke Pines, Sunrise and Coconut Creek; each fitted with sufficient communication capabilities, multiple power sources and data back-ups to either share the load or unilaterally manage the entire county. A 2010 Feasibility Analysis anticipates annual savings of roughly $7.7 million from a 20% reduction in telecommunications personnel, the elimination of administrative and support redundancies and the reduced cost of maintaining 3 integrated dispatch sites instead of 11.

Click Here to 2010 Feasibility Analysis web page As cities and towns were incorporated throughout Broward County, the Broward Sheriff’s Office sought to bolster its shrinking jurisdiction by marketing a Chinese Menu of Public Safety services, including emergency dispatch for municipal Police and/or Fire-Rescue Departments. Since the cost of delivering these services would be picked up by all Broward taxpayers, the Sheriff also elected to quietly barter services with various jurisdictions, like a 1991 arrangement with Hallandale Beach to provide dispatch services in exchange for certain radio frequencies.

Click To Broward Sheriff's Office website These disparate pricing formulas and sub-rosa cross subsidies ultimately yielded 8 self-funded municipal 911 programs. Of the 23 Cities that contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) for police dispatch services, 17 also use BSO for fire dispatch. Some cities are being invoiced for these services; others receive them “on the cuff.” As a result, Homeowners in some jurisdictions are double-taxed to provide others with a free ride. For Instance, while taxpayers in Fort Lauderdale and Pembroke Pines fund their contracted dispatch services in their city taxes, their county taxes are used to absorb the cost of BSO dispatch services for cities like Pompano, Lauderhill and Davie.

When these sleazy funding practices and pricing policies came to light, Fort Lauderdale, Plantation and Pembroke Pines - whose taxpayers pay for their own services while incrementally subsidizing services for neighboring cities - insisted that the County pick up the tab for their dispatch services as well. Led by Fort Lauderdale, municipalities seeking an equitable funding policy threatened to abandon any County plan and commenced legal actions preliminary to full blown litigation with the County.

Commissioner Sue Gunzburger
It worked. Since the program costs and projected tax burden had already been defined in the 2010 feasibility study, the conflict solely inured to whether the tax should be levied by the County, the cities or some combination. During February and March County Commission meetings, the County Board entertained a 60% - 40% shared funding formula with county municipalities. At the May 7 County Commission meeting, Commissioner Sue Gunzbuger said “I’m not willing to risk people’s lives in another year,” and dropped her opposition to a dispatch program wholly funded by the county, enabling a subsequent 5 - 4 vote for the County to fully underwrite a $42.6 million consolidated project. Under a County plan to increase the millage rate by .17 mils, the projected $20.3 million incremental contribution by Broward taxpayers will add $21 to the tax bill for a homesteaded property with an average taxable value of $121,000.

County Commissioners LaMarca, Ritter, Ryan and Mayor Jacobs, who opposed the plan, complained that participating municipalities refused to pledge that the savings would be passed through to taxpayers. Instead, officials from various participating municipalities indicated that funding overages would help plug projected deficits in their respective municipal budgets.

Plantation Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic
County Administrator Bertha Henry
Coral Springs and Plantation have notified the county of their intention to decline participation in the new program and rely on their independent dispatch infrastructure. Since Plantation’s Fire Department heavily impacts who will occupy City Council seats, if County Administrator Bertha Henry protects jobs in Plantation’s Fire fiefdom and convincingly deifies Plantation Fire Chief E. Laney Stearns, Plantation Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic may relent and participate.

Vesting the County with sole responsibility for funding the project provides participating municipalities with two benefits. In addition to transferring millage pressure – and its attendant political headaches – from municipal budgets to the County budget, the protocol will insulate municipal taxpayers from decades of BSO-engineered patronage abuses, including surreptitious subsidies for noncontributing municipalities. As an added benefit, City and County officials won’t have to explain that our tax dollars were being used by both sides to slug out the issue in court. For the Vice Mayor’s Update, Read on... – [editor]

From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

Click To Broward County Board Meeting Minutes for 911 Vote
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
UPDATE ON CONSOLIDATED COMMUNICATIONS IMPLEMENTATION (COUNTY-WIDE 911): It appears as if we have finally implemented this invaluable public safety communications system. A crucial vote took place at the May 7th Broward County Commission meeting approving this system by a 5-4 vote. The County Commission decided to fund the first year by reallocating $18.7 million from the Broward Sheriff’s Office budget to pay for part of the countywide system and increase homeowner’s property taxes to raise $20.3 million. The remaining $4 million will paid for through one-time general fund revenues. The direct impact for Fort Lauderdale is an annual savings of approximately $8 million and, in the long term, a more effective and sustainable system. Only two cities — Coral Springs and Plantation — have opted out of the consolidated emergency system.

Click To National Softball Association of the Deaf (NSAD) web page NATIONAL SOFTBALL ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF NATIONAL TOURNAMENT – MILLS POND PARK: The National Softball Association of the Deaf (NSAD) national softball tournament has once again selected Mills Pond Park as their site for 2014. The tournament, which was last held at Mills Pond in 2009, is made up of a minimum of 18 teams in men’s, women’s and coed divisions. The tournament will be held in August, exact dates to be determined. NSAD was incorporated to promote and protect the mutual interests of all members of NSAD, and to provide a social outlet for deaf softball participants and their friends. NSAD was established to develop participation in the sport of softball under regional and national organizations active in athletic competition and in recreational events by deaf persons as well as promote and maintain the mutual interest of deaf people in the United States of America in creditable and sportsmanlike participation in athletic competition and recreational events in the softball sport. The City is excited to once again host this unique tournament.

Click Here to Fort Lauderdale Save-A-Tree Web Page SAVE A TREE, PLANT A TREE: BUILD A CANOPY. GO PAPER-FREE!: This program is an innovative program that merges environmental protection and resource savings by offering free trees to Ft. Lauderdale customers who switch to a paper-free utility billing process. It promotes and encourages sustainability through paper-free services that save energy and natural resources; it increases the City’s tree canopy to cool shade and beautifies homes, neighborhoods, paths, parks and roads; it is a fiscally responsible alternative that helps “green” Ft. Lauderdale while reducing expenses. All you need to do is sign up for automatic Bill Payment and/or E-billing, and then pick up your free tree – or two trees if you sign up for both services. Types of trees available are Live Oak, Pigeon Plum, and Jamaica Caper. Please go to the attached link for tree pickup schedule ( or call 954.828.5150.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Excursion Web Page SUN TROLLEY PROVIDES CONVENIENT MOBILITY FOR FT. LAUDERDALE TOURISTS: March marked the 39th consecutive month of increased tourism in Fort Lauderdale. Ft. Lauderdale's Wave n' Ride Sun Trolley system serves as the transportation component for the Ft. Lauderdale excursion package, which began mid-January. The Sun Trolley has seen a huge increase in airport passenger ridership over the past months topping 200 passengers daily. Your Commissioner recognized an opportunity to provide a free shuttle service for tourists who have cruise ship layovers at Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. Click to Bags To Go Web Page Patricia Zeiler, the Sun Trolley’s Executive Director, developed a plan that partnered with Bags To Go which allows tourists to leave their bags safely at the airport, while they explore Ft. Lauderdale. The Sun Trolley runs to and from the airport regularly Saturday and Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The airport trollies pick passengers up and drop them off at the Ft. Lauderdale Historical Society on SW 2nd Street leaving them in walking distance to Las Olas Boulevard, Las Olas Riverfront, Himarshee Street and the Riverwalk. Of course, these visitors are also advised on how to take advantage of the trollies’ other seven routes, connecting Downtown, the Convention Center, the Beach, the Galleria Shopping Center and the Galt Mile. Passengers simply flag the driver anywhere along the route to board. Once aboard, the fare is 50¢ for one trip or $2 for all day, hop-on-hop-off service. The Sun Trolley Tracker, a new mobile app for Android and iPhone users, provides real time location of all trollies. To download printable route maps, the mobile app or to learn more visit or call (954) 761-3543. In addition to the excursion route, this community bus service now has a ridership of 400,000 on all routes.

Click Here to Fort Lauderdale 2013 Budget COOPERATIVE EFFORT WITH BROWARD COUNTY PROPERTY APPRAISER’S OFFICE UPDATE (Homestead Fraud): In March 2012, Ft. Lauderdale Police Department Detective Anthony Windes was assigned to work with the Budget Advisory Board’s Office for the purpose of investigating tax fraud matters relating to properties located in the City. Since the start of the program, Detective Windes’ work has resulted in the collection of over $1,600,000 in back taxes, of which approximately $336,000 was returned to the City. Additionally, approximately $28,875,000 in value has been restored to the tax roll. Next year that will generate $118,945 in new revenue for the City (based upon a tax rate of 4.1193 mils and 2012 value). This program would not be possible except for the cooperation of BC Property Appraiser Lori Parrish and her office!

Beachfront Broward B-cycle Dock
UPDATE ON THE BROWARD B-CYCLE SHARING PROGRAM (2012 ANNUAL REPORT): This healthy and environmentally positive program, which was launched in December 2011, now has stations in Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Hallandale, Dania Beach and Lauderdale-by-the Sea. The City is responsible for a total of 11,239 check-outs in the first year of operation, representing 47% of the total usage for Broward County. Of the 11 City stations, the most utilized stations continue to be Sebastian Lot, Willingham Park and Earl Lifshey Park. In the first quarter of 2013, B-cycle launched two new stations in the City. Station 12 is located at Sunrise Boulevard and SR A1A, and Station 13 is located on SE 17th Street at the Convention Center. Broward B-cycle continues its dynamic marketing approach via print and social media, and has also participated in various community City-sponsored events. Some interesting statistics: 24,190 total trips; 15,573 casual users; 421 annual members; 90,626 miles biked; 3.4 million calories burned; 984 pounds of fat burned and 570 Facebook followers!


Office Contact: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Bogus Website or Bogus Alert?

May 30, 2013 - On May 8, 2013, the City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department issued a Press Release entitled Bogus Website Victimizes Community. A website called FindSportsNow, which claims to be “the first and only centralized location for sports and recreational listings in the United States,” explains as its mission “to connect you to the leagues, teams, clubs, pickup-games and classes that interest you most.” Posted by Detective DeAnna Greenlaw in the Public Information Office, the Press Release is as Follows:


Press Release


Click To Fort Laudedale Police Department Website
Detective DeAnna Greenlaw
Detective DeAnna Greenlaw
Public Information Office
(954) 828-5464
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is investigating a possible fraudulent website that is offering registrations for some City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation activities and classes.

Personnel at the City’s Parks and Recreation Department were notified of the website by members in the community. Victims logged onto the site, registered for a program, and later contacted City officials when they failed to receive follow up information. Detectives have learned that the victims’ financial and personal information may have been compromised after mistakenly using this website.

The Police Department would like to warn the public of this fraudulent website (

Click To City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department Anyone interested in participating in a program, offered by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, is encouraged to visit for more information.

Anyone who may have used this website to register for an activity or class, or has further information is urged to contact Detective Michael Berndt at 954-828-5513.


Click To Find Sports Now Website The website claims to be 100% free of charge, and invites users to “make use of all services and features. No trials. No demos. No strings attached.” However, in its appeal to the event sponsors, it offers online registration as an enticement to “attract more participants for your activities!” Summarizing their online registration protocols, they explain “Once activated, the public will be able to sign up for your activities through FindSportsNow! We will collect all the funds for you and transfer them to you bi-weekly. You have full control over the registration process and can turn registration on and off for each of your listings at any time. You can use this as your primary online registration system or in addition to your current online registration platform.”

Click To Fort Laudedale Parks and Recreation Department Website The Parks and Recreation Department neither agreed to participate on the website nor signed up for the company’s optional online registration. Like most internet scams, data harvesting was automated by website software. After selecting a class or event offered by the Parks Department, end-user victims are forwarded to a web page that elicits personally identifying information, including credit card numbers. They are then directed to pay a $2 processing fee for each transaction. The Findsportsnow website claims that this registration information is then passed to the host agency. It wasn’t.

FindSportsNow Website Owner Jesse Forrest
Fort Lauderdale area victims are not alone. On April 25, The City of Boulder issued a News Release stating “The City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department was notified by the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) that there is a possible fraudulent website offering registration for some Boulder Parks and Recreation activities and classes., is believed to be posting city programs and offering registration through their site, however, the city has no business relationship or agreements with this entity.”

Mirroring how local residents were scammed in Fort Lauderdale, registrants for City programs were bilked of credit card numbers used to pay fees as well as other personal information. Refuting company claims that the data was harvested on behalf of event hosts, the warning stated “THIS has NOT been the case in three instances we are aware of! Several of our CPRA Agencies have been notified by customers that they had registered through this website, only to find out they had been scammed.” Other Colorado cities that fielded complaints from victimized residents and subsequently issued warnings are Pueblo on May 3 and Greeley on April 18.

York Detective Tom Cryan
On May 7, a fraud warning was posted by the York Police Department in Maine. York Detective Sgt. Tom Cryan said the phone number listed in contact information goes to a Google voice answering service. No one at the number listed on the website could be reached. On May 3, a similar warning was circulated in the City of Portland, Maine.

Sun Sentinel reporter Ihosvani Rodriguez
Sun Sentinel reporter Ihosvani Rodriguez had better luck than the York cops. When contacted by Rodriguez, website owner Jesse Forrest claimed ignorance about the Fort Lauderdale abuses while acknowledging the controversy in Boulder. A Fort Lauderdale native, after graduating from Florida State University with a BS in Computer Science, Forrest moved to California in 2006 where he worked as a software engineer for Northrop Grumman. He founded Find Sports Now in 2007 and Joimo - a Southern California and South Florida sports registration site - in 2008. He joined a gaming monetization startup called Sometrics in 2011 - which was acquired by American Express in 2012.

Broward New Times Managing Editor Deirdra Funcheon
On May 10, Broward New Times Managing Editor Deirdra Funcheon said Forrest explained that one Fort Lauderdale complainant “misunderstood the process.” He also lamented the subsequent flood of account cancellations. Forrest’s claim to have since “cleared up the misunderstanding with Detective Michael Berndt” has not been confirmed by the FLPD Detective. Identity Theft, a $multi-billion worldwide criminal enterprise, is fueled by the deceptive harvesting of personal data. Forrest hasn’t explained why the account holder’s personal information, which is supposed to be forwarded to the event host, was never sent – seriously clouding his credibility. On May 25, 2013, the fraud alerts in every jurisdiction, including Fort Lauderdale, were still active.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
Transportation Hubs and Tourism Stoke Broward’s Economy

Port Everglades, the International Airport & Healthy Beaches = Jobs

Old Blue Eyes
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
June 8, 2013 - Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca opens his late May 2013 Newsletter for District 4 constituents by shaping an “Old Blue Eyes” seasonal classic into a metaphor for Broward’s recovering economy. Not only are Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport gateways for growing tourism revenues that flood into Broward “from across the sea”, their development as economic engines has deflated the ominous
2010 10.1% unemployment rate to a much less intimidating 5.7% by March of 2013.

Click to 2013 Broward Legislative Program Web Page When the Broward Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards (OIAPS) released their 29-page 2013 State Legislative Program on January 8, 2013, Broward Commissioners lined up behind issues that appealed to them personally or politically. Among LaMarca’s priorities were enhancements to Broward’s economic infrastructure. Along with competitive improvements to transportation hubs like the Port and the Airport, LaMarca stepped up to spearhead Beach Renourishment, an issue that has long resonated with Galt Mile residents.

Click to Take 5 and Stay Alive Broward Web Page LaMarca’s decision to support legislative proposals that deter texting while driving – an activity that the CDC blames for 3,331 deaths in 2011 – was rewarded when Venice Senator Nancy Detert’s Senate Bill 52 was signed into law on May 28. Beginning on October 1, 2013, texting while driving becomes a secondary non-criminal infraction, meaning motorists could be ticketed ($30 fine - $60 for second offense) only if pulled over for some other reason. Since the powerful Tallahassee Communications Lobby had succeeded in marooning every Florida anti-texting bill on the calendar until now – it’s a credible start.

Post Panamax MSC Fabiola
In addition to churning out thousands of badly needed jobs, the Port projects reviewed in LaMarca’s newsletter are also key to harvesting a reasonable share of the Post-Panamax Golden Goose. The largest vessels currently able to navigate the Panama Canal are up to 965 feet long and 106 feet wide, a configuration called “Panamax”. Within two years, a $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal will allow Post-Panamax ships that are 25% longer and 50% wider – including enormous container ships from Asia and the Pacific – to use U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast ports. Since faster and cheaper shipping of goods between the East Coast and Asia will enable American farmers and manufacturers to better compete with South American and European counterparts, the economic cascade will guarantee participating seaports tax revenue windfalls and thousands of new jobs.

Click to 'U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization: Preparing for Post-Panamax Vessels' Report In June of 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted a report to Congress – U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization: Preparing for Post-Panamax Vessels – which examined options for future modernization of U.S. ports and inland waterways. Major General Michael J. Walsh, the Corps’ deputy commanding general for Civil Works and Emergency Operations, summarized the economic stakes: “Post-Panamax vessels today make up 16 percent of the world’s container fleet but account for 45 percent of the fleet’s capacity. Those numbers are projected to grow significantly over the next 20 years.” The report concludes that by 2030, Post-Panamax vessels will comprise 62 percent of the world’s container fleet capacity. The Panama Canal Authority has estimated that five or six operational ports on the U.S. East Coast could handle the resulting explosion of cheaper goods.

Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF)
After evaluating Port Everglades’ competitive shortcomings, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers added a three-part construction strategy to the port’s Master Plan. The Southport Turning Notch Expansion will lengthen the existing deepwater turn-around area for cargo ships from 900 feet to 2,400 feet. Secondly, instead of hauling containers to and from off-port rail terminals, building an on-site Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) will enable the seamless transfer of international containers between ship and rail. Lastly, the Port’s 42-foot deep channel must be widened and dredged to 50 feet to manage the larger ships with heavier loads that will soon transit the Panama Canal.

Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Surplus
Other East Coast and Gulf port cities preparing for the expansion include Savannah GA, Miami FL, New York NY, Norfolk VA, Baltimore MD, Jacksonville FL and Houston TX. Every competitor in this race is dogged by two problems. The first is a regulatory maze that can only be circumvented by raw political muscle in Washington. Secondly, seaports have spent years struggling with foot-dragging federal bureaucrats and congressional gridlock over access to funds for dredging projects. Specifically, roughly $7 billion squirrelled away and collecting dust in a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

Click to 'Water Resources Development Act If and when the House of Representatives passes the Water Resources Development Act – approved by the Senate on May 15, 2013 – dredging funds would become available for port projects. Last July, the Obama Administration issued a Presidential Executive Order to expedite the permitting and review process for five major port projects in Jacksonville, Miami, Savannah, New York, and Charleston; exempting these favored sites from the regulatory rat race. Other competing ports must painfully navigate the regulatory labyrinth and cough up local resources.

Port of Miami Tunnel Project
In President Obama’s State of the Union address, he stressed the importance of building public – private partnerships to stoke the economy. When Obama visited Miami in March, he touted a $1.1 billion Miami port tunnel project financed by such a public - private partnership built around federal dollars (other participants include the state, regional banks and insider Master of the Universe private financiers) that will link the Port of Miami to the MacArthur Causeway and I-395 (i.e. the interstate thruway system). Governor Rick Scott also staked $77 million towards Miami’s $180 million project to dredge the port to Post-Panamax depth. While Port Everglades is further along in its preparations, Miami is the closest American port to the Canal Zone, Senator Marco Rubio’s hometown and Senator Bill Nelson’s birthplace. Earlier, Scott funneled $36 million to the Jacksonville Port Authority (AKA JAXPORT), the other Florida seaport gifted with a federal regulatory fast-track.

Click to Port Everglades Web Site Since 1997, Broward officials have been begging the Army Corps of Engineers to approve funding for deepening Port Everglades’ channel to better accommodate Post-Panamax vessels. As soon as port officials satisfy operational, environmental and/or financial reporting requirements, the Corps alters them, repeatedly blistering Broward’s competitive aspirations. Continually undermined by the Corps’ regulatory rain dance, the latest bureaucratic dredging impediment is over how a cost-effectiveness study should be conducted.

Port Director Steve Cernak
Understandably frustrated, Port Everglades Director Steven Cernak complained to Florida members of Congress “This is how Port Everglades was rewarded for playing by the rules for the past 16 years. The rules change, and we start all over again. Is it any wonder why the study is now more than 14 times the original cost estimates?”

Click to Turning Notch Info The only help made available to Port Everglades is a $13 million taste of the $288 million budgeted by the State Legislature for Florida seaports in the coming year. The Port’s Southport Turning Notch Expansion is one of 26 specific port projects for which dedicated State funds were appropriated. Although the Federal government and our illustrious Governor are treating Port Everglades like a red headed stepchild, LaMarca knows that if Port Everglades sticks to its Master Plan, it will share in the Post-Panamax windfall – by its own bootstraps.

L’Hermitage I resident Frances Konstance
Click to Restore A1A web page At the June 3 Galt Mile Presidents Council meeting, one of the neighborhood’s most outspoken Beach Renourishment proponents, Frances Konstance of L’Hermitage I, thanked LaMarca for keeping his promise to help actualize the long-delayed Segment II beach fix. After chewing up South Florida’s east coast, a serendipitous impact of Superstorm Sandy was a primer outlining how State, County and City officials should play together. The post-storm emergency repairs to A1A and the adjacent beach served as a test run for the Segment II renourishment, yielding a new sand source and improved staging techniques that could facilitate the planned expansion of Galt Mile beaches while capping costs.

Those of us who worked with him for years are going to miss Ryan Saunders. He added honor to a process ordinarily smothered by spin and always kept his word. Given the depth of his integrity, his transition to the Seminary should be seamless. For LaMarca’s take on the above issues, read on... – [editor]


The Summer Wind

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
As that classic song goes: “The summer wind came blowing in, from across the sea.” With the summer winds coming in, the kids getting out of school and our families planning vacations, we in District 4 are continuing to work for you. We continue to receive phone calls, emails and requests for information, and continue to monitor the major projects taking place in the heart of the district as well as at Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. A key factor in the continued steady decline in the rate of unemployment is the robust construction activity that is happening throughout Broward County. The newest unemployment number is 5.7%, which is lower than both the state and national rate.

Chip LaMarca Kicks Off Take 5 to Stay Alive Broward Campaign
With school breaking for the summer, more drivers will be on the roads. We recently proclaimed the month of May as Take 5 to Stay Alive – Don’t Text and Drive Month in Broward County. With the passage of Florida House and Senate Bills, it furthers enforces the notion that texting and sending e-mails while behind the wheel is a deadly practice that is responsible for numerous deaths each day nationwide. “Take 5 to Stay Alive” is a campaign that was created through the Regional EMS Council of which I am a member and is sponsored by the Board of County Commissioners and the Broward League of Cities.

Eller Drive Overpass Project
Construction and development rears production and growth. The Florida Department of Transportation’s Eller Drive Overpass project that leads you into Port Everglades at I-595 is expected to be completed in late summer 2014 just as the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway completes construction of an Intermodal Container Transfer Facility in Southport. A true public/private partnership that will change the way goods are transported out of Port Everglades. The Southport Turning Notch extension, which will add up to five new berths in Southport, is moving forward.

Port Everglades
Annually, the Port generates nearly $26 billion in business activity statewide, supports 11,700 jobs locally and over 200,000 statewide, and is responsible for producing $730 million in state and local taxes. We are also one of the few ports in the country with a trade surplus, totaling $3.6 billion in 2012. Port Everglades also drives international trade and tourism in Broward County through a robust cruise industry. With more than 3.7 million cruise passengers annually it is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, supporting almost 12,400 total cruise, airport and tourism related jobs. Port Everglades is truly a powerhouse cruise port.

Fifth Annual Economic Engine Report at the Broward County/Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center
For every 85 visitors to Broward County, one job is created. If you take into consideration the 12 million visitors in 2012, that’s a lot of jobs. Those same visitors spent roughly $10 million here. All economic indicators point to a banner year, with 39 consecutive months of continued growth. However, none of this would be possible without our greatest natural resource in Broward County - our beaches. The beach renourishment project is nearly fully permitted and we expect to begin putting sand on the beaches by the end of the year. We had great success with the emergency renourishment on Fort Lauderdale Beach and have been able to compile some best practices to use in our overall Segment II Project. As the emergency repairs resulting from the effects of Super Storm Sandy come to a close, we move into the long-term portions of the project-with the redesign of A1A. This project will be coordinated through the Florida Department of Transportation and the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Click to Broward Navy Days Fleet Week Web Page In continuing our mission to recognize those who have served, are serving, and will serve; last week we celebrated our time honored tradition of Fleet Week with Broward Navy Days. While there was no fleet to be revered, there were plenty of events to attend. On May 5th we recognized twelve Broward County appointments to the US Naval Academy’s class of 2017 and the Consul General of France presented the Legion of Honor Award to eleven United States Veterans of World War II who fought at Normandy. In addition to Fleet Week, we were honored to witness nearly 150 Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen enlist into our nation’s armed forces with Our Community Salutes on Saturday May 4th, an event that was hosted by Broward College.

Commission Aide Ryan Saunders
Lastly, please join me in saying goodbye to a dedicated employee and friend of District 4, Ryan Saunders. Ryan has made a decision to follow his calling to enter into the seminary to become a Catholic Priest. Ryan has been with me since my first day in this office and he will be greatly missed. I would also like to welcome our new addition to the office, Mr. Ryan Reiter. Ryan will serve as Commission Aide for my office and his role will be working in the office at the Governmental Center. We are very lucky to have Ryan’s experience and knowledge on the team, having served our Country in the United States Marine Corp and most recently for Workforce One, working to find employment for our returning veterans. You can contact Ryan at 954-357-7004 or by email at With the addition of Ryan, veterans now make up 66% of the District 4 Staff.

If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954.357.7004 or by email at You can also stay up to date by viewing our website, where you can sign up to receive email updates from our office.

As always, it is an honor to serve you.

Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4

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L’Hermitage I Entrance
June 21, 2013 - Over the years, current or former board members, property managers and engaged residents from every Galt Mile association have contributed to the neighborhood’s success. Occasionally, one association provides more than its fair share of civic sparkplugs. The four Galt Mile Advisory Board members from
L’Hermitage I have been chronic contributors to community causes. They made their bones during the Calypso crisis. Since then, L’Hermitage I President Diana Bergheim, Vice President Frances Konstance, Secretary Virginia “Jean” Miller and Property Manager Patricia Ivette Quintero have been on a roll.

Click to Calypso Project During a December 3, 2007, meeting of the Galt Mile Presidents Council, former City Commissioner Christine Teel referenced a mysterious project conceived to diversify delivery options for natural gas - ostensibly to protect local energy accessibility during or after catastrophic weather events.

L’Hermitage I President Diana Bergheim
Two years earlier, the French corporate goliath GDF Suez (Gaz de France Suez) was covertly licensed by Federal bureaucrats to install a deepwater port (AKA Calypso) across from the Galt Mile Beach wherein liquefied natural gas (LNG) would be transferred from specialized tankers, vaporized and pipelined to Port Everglades - en route to the highest bidder (belying corporate spin that it would flesh out local reserves). Enthusiasm for the project was additionally dimmed by its potential for obliterating the Fort Lauderdale coastline.

Frances Konstance and Jean Miller Protest Calypso
A 1977 Oxnard, California Environmental Impact Report determined that a LNG accident in which a full tanker’s contents were discharged would send an ignitable gaseous vapor cloud some 30 miles before dissipation defused the threat of ignitions. Since the energy content of a typical 125,000 cubic meter LNG tanker (small by today’s standards) is equivalent to seven-tenths of a megaton of TNT, or 55 Hiroshima bombs (as per a 1982 Lovins & Lovins Pentagon study entitled Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security), any miscalculation inherent in this erratic technology might have instantly transformed Fort Lauderdale into a Kuiper Belt object – not unlike Pluto.

Pat Quintero Protests Calypso
An onshore version of the projected Suez LNG facility incinerated one square mile of Cleveland in 1944, killing 131 and leaving 680 people homeless. In 1973, 40 Staten Island workers repairing an out-of-service LNG tank were incinerated when liquefied natural gas that had leaked through the tank liner into the surrounding soil and tank wall berm was ignited by a spark from one of the irons used during the repair. More recently, 27 people were killed and 72 injured when a 2004 explosive fireball ripped through a liquefied natural gas plant in the port city of Skikda, Algeria.

Former Governor Charlie Crist Zaps Calypso
Since the Presidents Council meeting at which Teel disclosed this imminent threat was hosted by L'Hermitage I, no one was surprised when it’s Manager and three Board members joined with neighborhood leaders to ultimately euthanize the planned floating beachfront gasworks. Despite the $130 million seeded by Energy Industry lobbyists to cultivate amenable Federal and State lawmakers and bureaucrats, on February 8, 2009, former Governor Charlie Crist traveled to the Galt Mile to announce his veto of the project - marking the first time in the United States that a federally approved LNG plant was beaten back by a local community. Empowered by having shared in this unique success, the L’Hermitage I leadership has since been at ground zero of every neighborhood struggle.

Galt Ocean Mile Library Demonstration
From 2007 through 2011, when the Galt Mile Library was repeatedly reduced to fodder for the Broward budget axe, the four stalwarts from L’Hermitage I helped collect thousands of signatures on “Save the Library” petitions, prompted their Board to enact one of the 17 supportive association and civic resolutions sent to the Broward Commission and helped organize demonstrations at the Galt Library and the Broward Government Center – while adorned in “Save the Library” tee shirts. Not surprisingly, the Galt Ocean Mile library’s doors are still open to grateful residents.

Frances Konstance fights for Beach Renourishment
The ladies from L’Hermitage I also fought vehemently to renourish our dwindling beach. Like every other Galt Mile resident, they became embittered by decades of disingenuous commitments spun by local politicians. Over the years, L’Hermitage I Vice President Frances Konstance evolved into an unofficial spokesperson for veteran Advisory Board members disgusted by the incessant delays.

Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca Updates Beach Renourishment
At the February 6, 2012 Presidents Council meeting in The Fountainhead, a flustered Konstance visibly steamed while listening to a beach renourishment update from Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca. LaMarca had been instrumental in providing critical political support for the project when Deputy Director Eric Myers of Broward’s Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department stepped up in 2011 and rescued the Segment II beach renourishment plan (which encompasses the Galt Mile beach) from oblivion. When LaMarca finished, Frances leaped to her feet and blasted the District 4 County Commissioner, exclaiming “For years politicians have been promising to fix our beach. Why should we believe you?” In response, LaMarca brought Myers to a meeting in The Galleon two months later, where the Broward Beach Administrator detailed the comprehensive County plan for the upcoming Galt Mile beach fix. As elements of the Segment II plan subsequently rolled out on schedule, LaMarca and his District Director John Newstreet dispelled residual longstanding doubts with monthly project progress reports to association officials.

Broward Beach Administrator Eric Myers
Presidents’ Council venues rotate subject to invitations from member associations. When the monthly meeting cycled back to L’Hermitage I on June 3, 2013, Frances Konstance stunned LaMarca by blending gratitude with an apology. Acknowledging that LaMarca had performed as promised, Konstance thanked the nonplussed commissioner for keeping his word. The impromptu accolade also dumbfounded attending officials from more than twenty member associations, and buoyed some diehard skeptics. After all, if Frances Konstance believed that the revived renourishment plan was genuine, and that LaMarca’s reports were on target, why shouldn’t they?

Click to Florida Community Association Journal website Having placed their substantial thumbprint on a boxcar of community & civic challenges for nearly a decade, these proven neighborhood assets recently demonstrated why they enjoy staunch support from friends and neighbors who comprise their constituencies in the L'Hermitage I Condominium Association.

Click to Galt Mile Wine and Food Festival website In 2009, iconic Florida law firm Becker & Poliakoff teamed with the Florida Community Association Journal and Pen Group Communications to create the Florida Communities of Excellence Awards, a statewide recognition program for Florida condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners associations. By promoting the accomplishments of participating association boards and property managers and documenting their success, the program identifies and embraces innovative solutions and best practices in maintaining and improving the quality of life for community association residents across the State.

Click to Florida Communities of Excellence Awards website The independently adjudicated awards are open to all Florida Community Associations (Condominium, HOA, and Cooperative). Judges are drawn from state, county and local government agencies (including law enforcement), association-savvy journalists, as well as companies and non-profit organizations (i.e. AARP, The League of Women Voters, Volunteer Florida, The Community Associations Institute, Citizens Crime Watch, etc.) that either specialize in key aspects of association operations or service association residents. There is no cost to submit an entry and communities may compete in multiple categories.

Separated by size into communities comprised of more or fewer than 400 residents, some 350 candidate associations (with more than 300,000 residents) vie for recognition in four areas (environmental, engagement, safety, financial) covering ten specific categories. The winners are chosen from three finalists in each of the 20 respective categories that then compete for recognition as “Community of the Year.”

Beginning in 2011, the program was expanded to include a Managers of Excellence award, recognizing professional community managers in those Florida associations that either received an award or had been finalists in two or more years.

L’Hermitage I wins award for Disaster Preparedness
Prompted by unit owners, L’Hermitage I opted to throw its hat in the ring and participate in the fifth annual Florida Communities of Excellence Awards. Board members Don Powell, Bob Bronfman, Ben Boodman and Saul Epstein joined Bergheim, Miller and Konstance – and Property Manager Pat Quintero – in approving a decision to compete in two categories - Safety & Security and Disaster Preparedness. Following a strident vetting process, award winners were announced at a Conference & Awards Gala attended by 400 candidates at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel on April 5, 2013. While achieving finalist status for Safety & Security, L’Hermitage I took all the marbles for Disaster Preparedness, winning the award for associations with less than 400 members.

Like most Galt Mile associations, L’Hermitage I developed a comprehensive storm response plan after being slammed by the serial hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Manager Pat Quintero also implemented comparable procedures for medical and Fire-Rescue emergencies. Exceeding the statutory requirements for Phase II firefighter service, Quintero explained “When they arrive, emergency service personnel are escorted by employees to pre-secured elevators and directly up to the distressed unit.”

When a Hurricane emergency is officially declared, Federal and State laws entitle association employees to hit the road. Quintero organized a team of unit owners and staffers who voluntarily remain on site and assist “at risk” residents after securing the premises. Employees who participate as “team members” are CERT trained and certified in CPR and first aid. The L’Hermitage complex entrance gate guardhouse is automatically alerted when assistance is en route, facilitating unimpeded access to the emergency by EMS, Fire-Rescue or the police.

Although many Galt Mile associations practice similar response protocols, these protective measures are unfortunately lacking in thousands of associations across the state. While insuring that balconies are cleared of potential projectiles is a standard pre-storm mandate for most Galt Mile Associations, Quintero has additionally implemented a notification system that reaches out to residents in each the association’s 238 units within 15 minutes. In short order, she can prioritize her oversight resources and guide her volunteers to those residents most in need of their assistance.

Pat Quintero (far right) and other Managers of Excellence
After nailing a first place finish in one of its two chosen categories and a top three spot in the other, L’Hermitage I knocked the ball out of the park, winning the statewide designation as Community of the Year, the program’s most coveted honorarium. The cherry on top went to Pat Quintero, one of four association Property Managers in the state distinguished by the judges as 2013 Managers of Excellence”.

The L’Hermitage I officials didn’t enter this competition for bragging rights or an ego boost. While Property Appraiser Lori Parrish recently announced that recovering property values are firming up the Broward housing market, associations must still successfully compete for homebuyers in order to stabilize budgets pressured by vacant or otherwise “noncontributing” units. By raising the association’s profile, the positive press generated by this achievement will enhance unit values, benefitting every L’Hermitage I resident. Since realtors understandably relish pitching “Community of the Year” properties, time will tell whether or not L’Hermitage I will face some of its neighbors in next year’s event. As for the rest of us, we could do worse than to live down the block.

L’Hermitage I Designated 'Community of the Year'

Click to Florida Communities of Excellence Awards website

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Property Appraiser Shares Good News with Galt Mile

Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Nance Parrish
June 30, 2013 - On June 20, 2013, Broward County Property Appraiser (BCPA) Lori Parrish sent two trusted officials from her office to address the Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) Advisory Board. Deputy Property Appraiser Bob Wolfe, a longtime friend to the Galt Mile who handles media relations for Parrish was joined by Condominium and Cooperative Division Coordinator Maureen Morrison. Since the Advisory Board represents homeowners who fall under her purview, Morrison initially took the floor.

Parrish Report Boosts Spirits

Bob Wolfe of Property Appraiser's Office
Three weeks earlier, Parrish released the 2013 Estimate of Taxable Values, a statistical compilation generated annually on June 1. Focusing on residential sales transactions that were closed between January 2, 2012 and January 1, 2013, the report lists the estimated gross taxable value of properties in each of Broward’s 31 municipalities, as well as certain neighborhoods, the County’s unincorporated area and tax districts component to the County’s assorted taxing authorities. More importantly, it compares the 2013 values to those of 2012, demonstrating the percentage change for each of the included jurisdictions.

Village of Lazy Lake
In short, it is invaluable as a market barometer for real estate in Broward County. After summarizing the data, Morrison announced that our housing market is bouncing back. With the exception of the unincorporated area and 28 homes in the Lilliputian community of Lazy Lake, 30 of Broward’s 31 municipalities booked a healthy increase in property values. Closer scrutiny of the 8.29% decline in the unincorporated area revealed that lower values for sizable tracts owned by Florida Power & Light dragged down a modest increase in residential property values.

With $60 million added to its $25 billion tax base, Fort Lauderdale values jumped 4.36%, juiced by long delayed new construction. In Broward County, a $603 million increase in property values pumped up the countywide tax roll to $132 billion, a 4.39% improvement over the previous year that prompted the Property Appraiser to describe current home value levels as “pre-recession”. Broward recaptured 75% of its 2008 $176 billion value, when the overinflated real estate bubble exploded, precipitating the recession. Fort Lauderdale realized 80% of its 2008 $32 billion pre-recession tax roll.

Click Here to Lauderdale Lakes Website While last year’s 2012 Estimate of Taxable Values also showed a net increase, the 1.24% improvement was distilled from a snake-bit mixed bag of 2011 municipal economic snapshots. Declines suffered by eight of the County’s cities (including Dania Beach and Tamarac) were marginally offset by modest gains in the other 23. More than one-quarter of Broward’s municipalities were flirting with abbreviated work weeks, roundhouse layoffs, massive service cutbacks and unplanned job furloughs while impoverished Lauderdale Lakes faced a $9 million debt to BSO for unpaid dispatch services, a $1.4 million budget shortfall, a $30 million long term marker, $2.5 million pilfered from its CRA account to keep the lights on and imminent receivership. In contrast, this year’s data portrays a 12 month storybook regional recovery.

To avoid the acrimony suffered by most government staffers in the tax business, Morrison issued a preemptive BCPA disclaimer, noting that assessments are not only based on the valuations crunched by the Property Appraiser, but also on tax rates unilaterally set by the County, its municipalities, and other statutory taxing authorities (i.e. School Board, Hospital District, Water Management District, Children’s Services, etc.). When queried about upcoming assessments, Morrison admonished “Until these rates are set in early August and finalized at Public Hearings in September, there’s no way of knowing how the data will translate into tax bills.” However, County and City officials have been floating clues alluding to modest millage hikes.

The Millage Mystery

District Director John Newstreet of Chip LaMarca's Office
For instance, after Broward County agreed to fund a long awaited consolidated countywide emergency dispatch service, settling an increasingly belligerent dispute with many of its major cities (including Fort Lauderdale), County Commissioners updated constituent municipalities in their respective Districts about the settlement’s financial impact. At the May 16 Galt Mile Advisory Board meeting, John Newstreet - District Director for County Commissioner Chip LaMarca - revealed plans to raise the County millage rate by .17 mils to offset an anticipated $20.3 million funding shortfall for the $42.6 million project. Newstreet said “About $21 will be added to the tax assessment for a homesteaded property with an average taxable value of $121,000.”

Mayor Jack Seiler and Commissioner Bruce Roberts
City officials have also been dropping breadcrumbs suggestive of an increase. At recent Advisory Board and Presidents Council meetings, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts repeatedly commented that despite a City Commission policy to immobilize the City’s Millage rate, a slight uptick may be necessary to address debt and fuel growth critical to the recovery. Citing the Property Appraiser’s June 1 valuation report as evidence of a recovering housing market, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler surmised that we may “see a little bit of a bounce back up” in our tax bills, while waxing optimistically “I think it'll be negligible.”

After 6 years of hot-footing their way through budget gauntlets strapped to a frozen millage rate while squeezing blood from nickels to make payroll, the prospect of once again collecting enough tax revenues to painlessly pay the bills has our local public officials floating on endorphins. They are dabbling with two options. If they stick to last year’s Millage rate, the higher valuations will increase tax bills and bring in more revenues. They are also trying to determine whether local taxpayers are adequately confident in the economy to additionally cushion the budget by nudging the Millage.

Housing Bounces Back

Click Here to Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors Morrison clarified that although valuations are harvested from last year's sales activity, City and County officials draw on more recent data when configuring millage rates. As reported in the Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald, median single family home prices in Broward rose 22% to $250,000 in May, as the market continued a dramatic reversal after six years of price declines that hit bottom in 2012. The May 2013 Broward median price for condos jumped 28.2%, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

Click Here to Greater Fort Lauderdale RealtorspAnother key market statistic is the estimated number of months it would take to deplete the entire housing inventory given current sales rates. Of particular interest to Galt Mile homeowners, this industry indicator is commonly used to determine whether we are in a buyers’ or sellers’ market. The standard benchmark for a balanced market (in which neither buyer nor seller enjoys the upper hand) is 5.5 months of inventory. Higher numbers (larger inventories) favor buyers while lower numbers (smaller inventories) favor sellers. In May 2013, Greater Realtors of Florida reported a 3.4 months’ supply of single family homes and a 4.3 months’ supply of condos, denoting a market wherein sellers squarely call the shots. After five years of buyers cherry-picking properties, the market transitioned in January of 2011; when the supply of single family homes and condos both shrunk to less than 5.5 months of inventory, passing control to sellers.

Constitutional Compost

House Speaker Dean Cannon
former Senate President Mike Haridopolos
Morrison turned her attention to several newly approved Constitutional Amendments that were a positive by-product of a moronic legislative vendetta. Since many Florida Legislators view constitutional dictums as personal playthings, former House Speaker Dean Cannon and former Senate President Mike Haridopolos became apoplectic when Florida voters passed Constitutional Amendments 5 and 6 in 2010 – which preclude lawmakers from “engineering” election outcomes by gerrymandering voting districts. Outraged by the prospect of ordinary citizens messing with legislative career paths by leveling long-twisted electoral playing fields, the legislative leaders dumped 11 proposed junk amendments into last November’s ballot.

Hoping that impatient voters would tick off “yes” or “no” based on little more than a deliberately misleading ballot title, he introduced proposals to make the Judiciary subservient to the Legislature, scotch the line separating Church and State, and reverse Constitutional privacy protections for every woman in the State of Florida, which he then blended with a series of overly generous although emotionally charged tax exemptions. At the October 18, 2012 GMCA Advisory Board meeting, BCPA Media honcho Bob Wolfe warned members that the proposed amendments were “deceptive” and the tax proposals shared one element, “They would force local governments to explode tax rates for property owners.” While handily rejecting asinine or blatantly partisan proposals and some arbitrarily generous tax gifts, voters approved several of the more reasonable targeted tax exemptions.

Morrison briefly summarized how these new Amendments affect property owners. Amendment 2 extended an existing exemption for combat-disabled seniors from Florida to all combat-disabled veterans, regardless of where they resided when entering the military. Amendment 9 entitles the surviving spouses of first responders who die in the line of duty (volunteer law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics) to the same total homestead property tax exemption currently available to surviving spouses of Florida military veterans who die from service-connected causes on active duty. A bit more of a stretch is Amendment 11, which authorizes cities and counties to grant full homestead property tax relief to low-income seniors who have lived in a home valued at up to $250,000 for at least 25 years. Since the relief is contingent on supermajority approval by both the City and County, it is unlikely to become effective until after 2014 - if ever.

Ludicrous Legislation

District 28 Senator Nancy Detert
Opening the floor to questions, Morrison and Wolfe were asked how the 2013 legislative session impacted tax exemptions. One Advisory Board member inquired about the fate of legislation he referred to as The Mercenary Snitch Bill. Filed by Sarasota Senator Nancy Detert, Senate Bill 182 provided for two vehicles conceived to deter abuse of Florida’s Homestead Exemption. The bill sought to cultivate whistleblowers by placing a bounty on Homestead cheats - either “double dippers” who claim homestead status for two or more properties in different jurisdictions by fraudulently characterizing each one as their primary residence or scofflaws who rent their homesteaded properties without a military active duty exemption or explicit approval from the Property Appraiser.

A second section of the bill required Condominium and Cooperative associations to annually submit to the County Property Appraiser by January 31st “A list of the units that were rented in the previous year rather than occupied by the owner.” While forcing associations to generate uncompensated work product, the bill failed to provide them with liability protection. For instance, if the Property Appraiser aggressively pursued the owner of a unit mistakenly identified by the association as having been rented, the association could face costly damages. Even if the information were accurate, since scofflaws at risk for sizable sums in back taxes, penalties, and interest are often predisposed to slug out a settlement in court, their mandated involvement would threaten to place associations at ground zero in a legal maelstrom they would otherwise observe from the sidelines.

Click to BCPA Homestead Fraud web page Although they would have liked to get rental lists from “associations turned snitch”, most Property Appraisers agreed that the whistleblower bounty was counterproductive. Since an ensuing flood of marginally credible “tips” would have to be individually investigated by the Appraiser’s office, several testifying Property Appraisers told the Senate Committee on Community Affairs that it would overwhelm their limited resources while producing few viable leads. Expressing familiarity with the bill, Bob Wolfe fielded the question, explaining that the bill failed. In fact, it never made it past the Community Affairs Committee, where it was marooned on the Calendar through Sine Die (the end of the session).

St. Augustine Senator John Thrasher
Another Advisory Board member asked about a bill that would enable any Florida resident to rent a homesteaded property for up to 30 days each year. Declaring that Homestead Exemptions were never meant to be applicable to rental properties, Wolfe disparaged Senate Bill 342 sponsored by Senator John Thrasher as a “bad joke”. He added that the short-term rental bill was approved because “Thrasher is a former Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and a close ally of Senate President Don Gaetz.”

St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth
Wolfe explained that the bill was a favor from Thrasher – who represents Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns Counties – to St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis Hollingsworth, a Thrasher supporter. Ponte Vedra Beach, south of Jacksonville in St. Johns County, is home to the headquarters of the PGA Tour and hosts The Players Championship. Golf enthusiasts, links groupies and media personnel who annually swarm the renowned TPC Sawgrass Golf Courses during The Players Championship and other PGA events need temporary room and board. Thrasher drafted the legislation because local homeowners who want to annually rent space to PGA golfers or paparazzi covering PGA events feared that St. Johns Property Appraiser Sharon Outland would shred their Homestead Exemptions. Seizing an opportunity to share some local media glow, Hollingsworth and Thrasher cooked up this turkey.

Click Here to The Players Championship Wolfe commented “The new law is virtually useless for the purposes that most owners – or tenants – lease a property, although the 30-day lease terms are perfect for siphoning a few bucks from the golf tournament.” While facilitating lucrative month-long rentals for a handful of St. Johns homeowners, enacting this local patronage project miffed Property Appraisers across the State, who agree with Wolfe that the geocentric measure solely benefits the sponsor’s upstate constituents.

Tangible Personal Property

An association official asked Morrison and Wolfe how residential personal property is treated when a unit is leased to a tenant. Wolfe explained how items that would be ordinarily be considered household goods by an owner living on the property - such as stoves, refrigerators and furniture - become taxable Tangible Personal Property (TPP) which must be reported each year. Even if the owner-landlord fails to file a tax return reflecting rental income, the Property Appraiser will assess tangible personal property by making a “best estimate” based on similar equipment and assets owned by other businesses that lease comparable properties. The assessment will also include a 25% penalty for non-filing, incentivizing owner-landlords to annually file a timely return.

Morrison added that owners who disagree with the assessed TPP value – or any other valuation listed on their TRIM notices - can provide additional information to the Property Appraiser demonstrating that the appraised value differs from the market value of the property. If still dissatisfied, property owners have 25 days from the August mailing date of the TRIM Notice to file a petition with the Broward County Value Adjustment Board (VAB). The actual deadline - which is always in mid-September of each year - is indicated on the TRIM notice.

Beach Community Center
Finally, Wolfe reminded the Advisory Board that the Property Appraiser sponsors monthly customer service outreach events for Galt Mile residents. BCPA staffers – including a Deputy Property Appraiser – will assist area residents with Homestead, Senior, and other exemption applications, as well as answer assessment questions in the Beach Community Center at 3351 NE 33rd Avenue from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM on the final Friday of each month.

BCPA Contact Info

  • To contact BCPA Condominium and Cooperative Division Supervisor Maureen Morrison, call 954-357-6832 or email her at

  • To contact exemption specialist and BCPA Media point man Bob Wolfe, call 954-357-6871 or email him at

  • For questions about scheduled outreach events, contact Nicoleta Jones at 954-357-5579 or send an email to

  • For Customer Service, call Assistant Property Appraiser Kim Cardone at 954-357-6830 or send her an email at

  • To rat out friends and neighbors, call BCPA fraud-buster Ron Cacciatore at 954-357-6900 or email him at

  • For the Big Cheese, call Lori Parrish at 954-357-6904 or send her an email at


Surprisingly, they will respond – even Parrish! Click Here to check through the BCPA website. Disabled? Have trouble walking? Call Customer Service Manager Kelly Brown at 954-357-6035 or email her at to arrange for a FREE Homebound Outreach visit by a bona fide Deputy Property Appraiser - in your home! That’s right. These guys deliver!!!

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Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts

Stewart || NextDoor || Sun Trolley

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
July 17, 2013 - In his July 2013 Newsletter, Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts bids farewell to former City Attorney Harry Stewart and former Fire Chief Jeff Justinak, reviews a budgetary debate about optionally raising the Fire Assessment Fee or the Millage Rate, relishes a high profile accolade won by the City, discloses an extension of the Lien Amnesty Program, looks at District I usage of the NextDoor online gossip swamp, recommends viewing an educational mass murder, and delivers favorable performance and utilization reports for the Sun Trolley and the Broward B-Cycle program.

Former City Attorney Harry Stewart
When the City’s highest paid employee retired, former City Attorney Harry Stewart left some big shoes to fill. Before departing, Stewart participated in a replacement process that yielded Cynthia Everett, a well-credentialed attorney with the academic and experiential stones to manage a job that’s not unlike playing dodge ball with hand grenades. Stewart is a study in contradiction. Notwithstanding the $382,000 he was paid in 2011 (salary and benefits), his skills and connections could have easily brought him many times that amount annually, without breaking a sweat. His decision to work for the City – and earlier for the County – can only be explained as a labor of love. Although Harry Stewart’s legal handiwork for the City impacted our lives for more than a decade, few people know anything about this legal icon (a cosmic imbalance that we soon plan to rectify).

Former Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Jeff Justinak
When former Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief James R. Eddy retired unexpectedly in 2009 after less than three years in the saddle, 25-year Fire-Rescue veteran Jeff Justinak was drafted as Acting Chief. One year later, after returning to his New Hampshire home, Eddy died from complications following surgery. On the last day of his tenure with the City, former City Manager George Gretsas handed Justinak the permanent job. Justinak was the first Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief who landed the top spot after rising through the department’s ranks.

City Manager Lee Feldman
After guiding the City through a whipsawed economy without raising the Millage Rate, the rebounding housing market has provided the City Commission with a glimpse of relief. Higher property values evidenced by Property Appraiser Lori Parrish’s 2013 Estimate of Taxable Values will modestly flesh out tax revenues without raising the tax rate. However, Commissioners are itching to address infrastructure improvements frozen since the recession forced local governments to gut wrench skeletal budgets. Having kept their 2009 campaign pledges to restrain the Millage throughout the recessionary downturn, Commissioners would have a tough time explaining a decision to raise the tax rate now. An alternative suggested in City Manager Lee Feldman’s proposed 2014 budget, raising the Fire Assessment Fee ($7.50 monthly increase - $90 annually) would similarly lighten the fiscal weight of these improvements - while enabling the City Commission to rack up another budget year without a rate increase - and bumping their commitment scorecard to 5 - 0 (7th year in total with an operating millage of 4.1193). Click To Vision 2035 website Technically, the fee increase will fully fund Fire Suppression Services, thereby relieving the General Fund of this expense and liberating $12.3 million to fund improvements. In explaining that Commissioners put the kibosh on a millage increase without deciding the Fire fee at their July 9th meeting, Roberts gives us a peek at the handwriting on the wall. Coughing up an additional $90 next year ($86.40 if paid by November) to adequately fund fixing streets & sidewalks, update wastewater collection & water distribution systems, while addressing a citywide backlog of corridor improvements is not a bad deal.

Click To NextDoor website In sensing Roberts’ delight about the District I neighborhoods that use the NextDoor social media venue to find lost pets, get advice about light-fingered baby sitters and borrow tools from one another, you may have noticed that the Galt Mile is a no-show. In asking neighbors what they think about this opportunity, several pointed out that Galt Mile residents get the same tips at the pool each morning – although spiced by nasty gossip and killer doses of mindless blather. When further inquiring about what unit owners would post in NextDoor, a Galt Mile resident who lives in one of our Lauderdale-by-the-Sea associations said he would out a neighbor who grows pot in his bedroom closet. A SouthPoint resident said she would rip a Board Member she hates and an Ocean Club owner queried, “Why would I go on a site where moochers are trying to borrow my stuff?” We may not be ready for this.

Click to Galt Mile Sun Trolley Route
Interim Sun Trolley Executive Director Chris Wren
Roberts is entitled to take pride in the Sun Trolley’s progress. When the Galt Mile route was on death row in 2009, the newly elected Roberts engineered a luncheon meeting with Galt Mile officials and Chris Wren, Executive Director of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association (DFLTMA), the 501(C) 3 non-profit corporate parent of the Sun Trolley. Over a rabbit-food salad, they hatched a rescue strategy. The local bus service would turn its focus to destination sites frequented by local residents. Instead of schlepping tourists to tourist traps, it would ferry shoppers to malls and patients to hospitals or rehab. To revive the comatose Galt Mile route, Wren began mapping a connection between the Galt and Galleria. Over the next few years, Wren and Sun Trolley sparkplug and Managing Director Pat Zeiler reconfigured system routes and enhanced connectivity. Instead of puerile marketing promos (i.e. getting married on the Sun Trolley?), they played to their strengths, connecting to Harbor Shops, extending the Galt route to Imperial Point Hospital, expanding the beach link (that serves the Barrier Island) to a seven day service and fashioning a visitor’s layover excursion that exploited a virtually bottomless new source of ridership. Click To TripAdvisor web page If not for Roberts, Wren and Zeiler, progress reports would still be earmarked by painful apologies instead of glowing consumer statistics. TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website with more than 100 million travel reviews and 200 million monthly visitors, ranks the Sun Trolley as Fort Lauderdale’s 3rd most popular attraction, after the Intracoastal Waterway and the Fort Lauderdale beach.

By the way, if you are partial to CSI, Law and Order, NCIS, Criminal Intent or other seedy crime dramas that cloak gratuitous violence with life lessons, you will enjoy the 5-minute “Active Shooter Event” recommended by Roberts. I was particularly intrigued by the malevolently disturbed shotgun-wielding bald “perp” that central casting adorned in a stereotypical black outfit and sunglasses. Give it the once over - since watching it may also save your life. For the skinny on these issues, read the Vice Mayor’s update... – [editor]

From The Desk of
Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts

New City Attorney Cynthis Everett
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
NEW CITY ATTORNEY HIRED: Since 2002, Harry Stewart has served the City of Fort Lauderdale as its City Attorney. After a brilliant legal career in both private and government practice, Harry has moved on. We wish him the best! In the meantime, the Commission selected Cynthia Everett to succeed Harry Stewart on July 11th. Commissioners agreed to have Mayor Jack Seiler negotiate a contract with Ms. Everett, currently in private practice and on contract with the Village of Pinecrest. Cynthia has also served as Opa-Locka's City Attorney, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Miami and an Assistant State Attorney in Miami. Ms. Everett and Assistant City Attorney Bob Dunckel were among five finalists forwarded to Commissioners by a search committee.

Interim Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Robert Hoecherl
INTERIM FIRE CHIEF: As you may already know, Fire Chief Jeff Justinak retired. Jeff dedicated 25 years to public safety in Fort Lauderdale. Under his leadership, our Fire-Rescue Department has become more professional. Effective July 13th, Robert Hoecherl, one of three Deputy Fire Chiefs, was appointed to the position of Interim Fire Chief for an indefinite period of time. This designation comes with all the responsibilities, authorities and emoluments of the Office of Fire Chief granted under the City’s Charter and Code and State Law. Robert has been with City for 26 years.

Click Here to Fort Lauderdale 2014 Budget Web Page BUDGET: At the July 9th Commission Meeting, the upcoming 2014 budget was discussed in the context of achieving the priorities established in the City’s Vision 2035, the Five-Year Strategic Plan, the Neighborhood Survey, and the Commission Annual Action Plan. In addition to the community, input was received from our Budget Advisory Board, which recognized the need for additional revenues for the City to enhance services and to maintain and improve infrastructure. The Board recommended maximizing the Fire Assessment Fee and raising the operating millage rate to 4.5 from the current 4.11. They further recommended that 90% of the revenues derived from the increased millage rate be designated to rebuild infrastructure; they estimated that over ten years, this would generate $195 million for this specific purpose. After our discussion, it was unanimously decided not to raise the millage rate, but leave open the option of maximizing the Fire Assessment Fee. The impact on residences would be a $7.50 per month increase in the fee. Ten year projections indicate that this would stabilize our budget, slightly increase reserves and provide for capital and infrastructure improvements. The 2014 budget proposal from the City Manager also creates a fund balance of $56.3 million or 20.5%, slightly increases General Fund operating expenditure from $272,675,963 to $274,441,421, and slightly decreases the all funds budget from $476,150,126 to $475,299,993. The next public hearings on the budget will be September 3rd and 12th.

Click to Top 10 Small American Cities of the Future Web Page FORT LAUDERDALE AMONG TOP 10 SMALL AMERICAN CITIES OF THE FUTURE: Fort Lauderdale has been ranked No. 7 for economic potential on a list of the Top 10 Small American Cities of the Future, according to fDi Magazine. The foreign direct investment magazine ranked cities by collecting data on economic potential, human resources, cost effectiveness, infrastructure, business friendliness and FDI strategy for 422 cities. The top 10 small cities of the future are: Sunnyvale, CA; Durham, N.C.; Irvine, CA; Chattanooga, TN; Stamford, CT; Guelph, ON; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Cary, N.C.; Ann Arbor, MI; Fremont, CA. As stated by Mayor Seiler, “This new ranking by fDi Magazine serves as an international recognition that the City of Fort Lauderdale is continuing to move forward on the right track. The City’s sound fiscal management, progressive economic development initiatives and long-term infrastructure investment strategies have created a high level of optimism that is triggering billions of dollars in private and public investment.”

Click To Lien Amnesty Program web page LIEN AMNESTY PROGRAM: The City’s Lien Amnesty Program has been extended through September 30th. Property owners are invited to take advantage of this special offer. Neighbors who bring their property into compliance can clear outstanding liens at a significantly reduce rate----some up to 85%! More information, including an application and fact sheet, can be obtained at, by sending an email to or by calling 954-828-5050.

Click To NextDoor web page NEXTDOOR MEDIA SOCIAL NETWORK UPDATE: In August of last year, the City became the first in Florida to launch Nextdoor, a free, private social networking website for neighborhoods. Since that date, Nextdoor has become an integral part of many of our neighborhoods’ communication networks. Currently we have 47 of our neighborhoods on Nextdoor with 1,486 of our neighbors using the website in their neighborhoods. Additionally, those 1,486 neighbors have posted 3,426 messages to each other on the website! In order to protect our neighbors’ privacy, we cannot see the content of these messages, but we are provided with general metrics from Nextdoor in order to track the effectiveness of the tool. Nextdoor creates private neighborhood sites off of our existing neighborhood boundaries and allows only those neighbors with addresses within the neighborhood to join. Neighbors are able to use the site to get to know their neighbors; share information about traffic, lost pets, crime and emergency preparedness; ask questions or get advice on babysitters, restaurants, carpet cleaners and more; sell, borrow and give away tools, furniture, bicycles and any other items; and receive and comment on important information from City officials. As a City we have been using Nextdoor to share information about upcoming events, new programs, traffic advisories and severe weather alerts. Nextdoor provides a platform to share exciting new developments citywide, as well as personalize neighborhood security concerns on a neighborhood level. District 1 participants include Bay Colony, Coral Ridge, Coral Ridge Country Club Estates, Coral Ridge Isles, Imperial Point, Lake Estates, Landings, Palm Aire Village East; South Twin Lakes (neighborhood in an unincorporated area); Sunrise Intracoastal and Twin Lakes North!

Click Here to Fort Lauderdale Police Department Active Shooter Event RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Event: I know we never want to think that this sort of thing could happen, but in the real world, and in light of all the shootings throughout the country, it is important. This instructional video demonstrates options on surviving an active shooter situation including escape routes, hiding spots, and fighting back as a last resort. It can be found on the City’s Police Web Page at One of our constituents requested we put this information in our newsletter – thank you for the suggestion!

Click to Fort Lauderdale Excursion Web Page TMA SUN TROLLEY AND B-CYCLE PERFORMANCE REPORT: The following is a mid-year ridership report for the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association (TMA) Sun Trolley service and the B-Cycle Bike Share program for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Through May 2013, the Sun Trolley has carried a system-wide total of 336,190 passengers, which is a 47% increase over this point last year. Click to Broward B-Cycle Web Page This increase was in part a result of adding the former Housing Authority (HACFL) routes, the increase in the Beach Link service from four days a week to seven days and the introduction of the Airport Excursion route, all beginning in January of this year. Based on current ridership, the Sun Trolley is projected to carry approximately 490,000 passengers for the 2012-13 fiscal year; a 45% increase. The City’s partnership with the B-Cycle Bike Share program has been a success since its start in mid-December 2011. For the nine months of FY12, there were 9,458 bike rentals, and for the first six months of FY12 there have been 6,164 bike rentals. There will be another report out after this service has been active for 2 years. These results show that the TMA Sun Trolley and the B-Cycle Bike Share program are a viable and necessary element to the Fort Lauderdale’s transportation network, providing the connectivity for our residents, workforce and visitors to the City.

Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
Office Contact: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Former City Attorney Harry Stewart
July 26, 2013 - In January of 2012, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler announced that City Attorney Harry Stewart was cashing in his chips. 400 highly paid employees were offered an Early Retirement Plan that would increase their pension payout by adding up to 32 months of “in” time to their pension calculations. Stewart is one of 131 staffers who snapped up the early retirement buyout offered by the city. The 72 year-old Stewart technically pulled the plug on March 16, 2012 - five months before a contract he signed in 2009 would expire. With a base pay of $255,403 enhanced with an $8,609 allowance, healthy pension contributions, a comprehensive health care package plus a $4,224 kicker aptly named “longevity pay”, Stewart annually snagged upwards of $370,000 ($382,000 in 2011).

New Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Cynthia Everett
Click to Village of Pinecrest web page To keep the City’s legal machinery humming until an executive level search process could yield a suitable replacement, Commissioners asked the City’s highest paid employee to continue managing Fort Lauderdale’s legal affairs on a month to month basis at Stewart’s current salary - albeit without benefits. Anticipating that the search would bear fruit by the end of 2012, Stewart agreed. Although functionally postponed, his official retirement triggered a $200,000 payout for accrued unused sick days and vacation time as well as an annual $93,361 pension income. On completion of a stringent vetting process during which Pinecrest Village City Attorney Cynthia Everett outpaced a field of legal hopefuls for his vacated position, Stewart’s eleven-year tenure with the City of Fort Lauderdale ended on July 11, 2013.

The Process

Civil Rights Attorney W. George Allen
Shortly after Stewart announced his retirement, the City Commission empaneled a Search Committee comprised of six well-known local attorneys and Stewart, who personally nominated the new board’s unanimously approved Chair and Vice-Chair at the first meeting. W. George Allen, the Civil Rights advocate whose 1963 lawsuit nuked entrenched segregation in Broward County’s public accommodations and public school system, was installed as Chair on June 15, 2012. Joining Allen as Vice Chair was Deerfield Beach City Attorney Andy Maurodis. To help lure candidates and then cull resumes deemed insufficient, the City retained executive search firm Bob Murray and Associates to serve as consultant.

Click to Bob Murray & Associates web page As months flew by, the Committee grew increasingly disappointed with the lack of impressive candidates among the 40 + responding applicants. At least in part, the reason for the perceived dearth of acceptable applicants was because the legal team lost sight of its mandated objective. Instead of seeking a qualified City Attorney, the Committee was looking for a replacement for Harry Stewart, arguably the most talented City Attorney in the State of Florida. They would have to adjust the bar – and their expectations. At their November 16, 2013 meeting, amid discussions about dumping eligibility constraints – such as a residency requirement – or sweetening the salary, Committee members and City Commissioners observing the process realized that Stewart’s anticipated departure by year’s end was a pipedream.

Bob Murray & Associates V.P. Renée Narloch
On February 15, 2013, Bob Murray & Associates Vice President Renée Narloch informed the Committee that despite having considered 15 additional prospects since the last meeting, she would only recommend eight as the best fit for the City, anticipating that the Committee would add some as well. Her 8-candidate list included two lawyers from Stewart’s staff, Fort Lauderdale assistant city attorneys Paul Bangel and Robert Dunckel. Hoping to adjourn the meeting with ten candidates, Committee Chair Allen urged the addition of Pinecrest Village City Attorney Cynthia Everett and Narloch touted Fort Myers Assistant City Attorney Mark Moriarty.

Miami Assistant City Attorney Rafael Suarez-Rivas
The Search Committee spent April 10 and 11 interviewing the ten recommended aspirants. Along with Everett and Moriarty, vying for the job was Port St. Lucie Senior Assistant City Attorney Pam Booker, Deputy Manatee County Attorney Rodney Wade, Assistant Polk County Attorney Phillip Sherwin, Miami Assistant City Attorney Rafael Suarez-Rivas (who formerly served as a city attorney in Miramar), and former San Antonio Assistant City Attorney Harlene Kennedy (now an associate attorney with Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske, a South Florida law firm that serves as City Attorney in 13 municipalities). Along with Stewart’s in-house staffers Bangel and Dunckel, rounding out the field was Deputy Broward County Attorney Noel Pfeffer.

Port St. Lucie Senior Assistant City Attorney Pam Booker
One week later, by asking each of the seven Committee members to select those applicants they would most like to see advance through the process, they narrowed the field to five candidates: Cynthia Everett, Mark Moriarty, Pam Booker and Stewart’s two current assistant city attorneys, Paul Bangel and Robert Dunckel. Although Cynthia A. Everett was the only candidate named by all seven Committee members, the voting was close, as Pam Booker received six votes, Dunckel five as Bangel and Moriarty each nailed four. Nonetheless, the handwriting was on the wall.

Fort Lauderdale Assistant City Attorney Robert Dunckel
In a split City Commission vote on May 13, Everett nosed out Dunckel for the job (Seiler, Roberts and DuBose backed Everett while Rogers and Trantalis favored Dunckel). On May 20, Seiler fired the first negotiating salvo with an opening offer of $175,000, a standard $390 monthly vehicle allowance, contributions to a 401a retirement plan of an amount equal to 9 percent of her salary, 15 annual vacation days, 12 sick days and a $500 annual wellness incentive. After a month of negotiations, the City Commission voted on June 18 to hire Everett at a starting salary of $193,000, the 9 percent of salary city contributions into her individual retirement plan, the usual complement of sick days / vacation days and $10,000 for moving expenses.

City Commissioner Dean Trantalis
Commissioner Dean Trantalis complained that the July 1 start date would box the city into paying Everett while her time was divided between taking the reins in Fort Lauderdale and closing up shop in Pinecrest. Everett diffused his concern by offering to take unpaid leave when off campus. One of the ten candidates who narrowly missed being included in the list of five finalists, Deputy Broward County Attorney Noel Pfeffer, may have reminded Stewart of when he interviewed for the same job eleven years earlier. Stewart also represented Broward County before coming to Fort Lauderdale. In fact, Pfeffer held Stewart’s former County job for a month while the Broward Commission decided who would permanently replace resigning Broward County Attorney Sue Delegal in 1989.

Harry Comes to Fort Lauderdale

Former Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Dennis E. Lyles
In 1987, the City of Fort Lauderdale hired Dennis Lyles as a part time City Attorney for $76,440 a year, medical insurance and a monthly expense allowance of $340. When legal issues crossed his desk, the City’s Risk Management Department and Lyles would assign the cases in house or to one of ten high-priced outside law firms specializing in labor law, environmental law, civil rights, eminent domain and/or other legal fields. By 1993, the $780,295 in fees collected for cases funneled by Lyles to his own firm made Billing, Cochran, Heath, Lyles & Mauro the single biggest beneficiary of this legal outsourcing. As a partner, Lyles shared in those fees.

Former Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle
When Lyles resigned in 2002, the City’s growing legal dilemmas convinced the City Commission that Fort Lauderdale would be better served by a full time City Attorney. Irked by a series of high profile case misfires, allegedly fumbled by Lyles or farmed out and bungled, former Mayor Jim Naugle led the growing criticism of costly legal missteps on Lyles’ watch. In 2002, one year before his fairy tale municipal budgets took the City to the brink of Bankruptcy; Floyd Johnson was Fort Lauderdale City Manager. Hired by the City in 1998, Johnson previously served as Broward County Administrator from 1982 to 1987.

Since Harry Stewart also served as the Broward County Attorney from 1976 through 1984, they worked together in Broward for several years before Stewart left to take a position as the Orange County Attorney. One year later, Stewart was hammered by a personal nightmare. His stepson, Ronald Eugene Stewart, was kidnapped by a Colombian drug cartel in 1985. Presumed dead until a witness reported spotting him, police surmised that the 24-year old Stewart had withheld $5 million in cocaine from the Colombians, prompting a relentless and brutal campaign to recover their lost drugs. Following Ronald Stewart’s disappearance, the enraged drug dealers threatened Harry Stewart and assaulted his parents. After weathering five years of personal turmoil, prosecutors finally dropped pending Felony charges against his stepson in 1990.

Tycoon H. Wayne Huizenga
BB&T Center - Home of the Florida Panthers
During his tenure as County Attorney, Stewart contributed heavily to structuring Broward’s impressive growth and its relationship with municipalities. He helped draft the Broward County Comprehensive Land Use Plan, an operational framework of legal boundaries between the County and its cities. As such, Stewart was intimately familiar with Fort Lauderdale issues, and quickly evolved working relationships with the City’s movers and shakers. Even during his stay in Orange County, Stewart remained engaged in Broward Politics. He helped business magnate Wayne Huizenga plan his National Car Rental Center (now the BB&T Center) in Sunrise as well as the Sunrise Fashion Mall. At various times, Stewart represented the City of Pompano Beach during a petition drive to amend the city’s charter, and represented Tamarac in an election dispute.

Former Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Tim Smith
Hoping to revive his working relationship with Johnson in Fort Lauderdale, Stewart was interviewed by the City Commission for the new full time post of City Attorney on July 21, 2002. Commissioners were delighted by the prospect of landing what former Commissioner Tim Smith called a legal big dog for a position burdened by endless legal dilemmas for relatively low pay. While responding to a litany of legal theoreticals posed by the vetting Commissioners, the City’s entanglement in numerous lawsuits prompted Tim Smith to ask Stewart “What philosophy do you live by when it comes to litigation; do you settle or do you fight for principle?”

Stewart answered “The worst and most expensive way to resolve any matter is through litigation,” and advocated the settlement of cases whenever possible. However, to demonstrate a preference for tailoring legal strategy to best realize the municipality’s objective, rather than some ideological imperative, Stewart offered an anecdote about a strategy he implemented while serving as Broward County Attorney. To reverse the County’s reputation as an easy mark for personal injury scammers, he instituted a policy against blindly settling “slip-and-fall” cases, contradicting a longstanding insurance industry practice of flipping nuisance claims “on the cheap.” After two years, the number of those cases dropped dramatically. Grifters with chronic inner ear deficiencies had to travel to Miami or Palm Beach before blithely bouncing off the sidewalk.

While seeking an attorney with the juice to put its legal house in order, the City Commission was also driven to reduce the City’s dependence on costly outside legal help. Their history of blending part-time in-house legal counsel with private sector contract attorneys annually drove legal expenses through the roof. In Fiscal Year 2001, in addition to paying part-timer Lyles’ $96,034 annual salary and $390 vehicle allowance while budgeting $2.1 million for a legal department with 10 full-time attorneys and 13 support personnel, the City paid $2.6 million for outside legal assistance (the equivalent of almost $3.5 million in 2013 dollars). When Stewart promised to limit their use to cases where they were absolutely necessary, the Commission heard enough.

Stewart was offered a four-year contract with a salary of $182,249, plus $539 a month car allowance. From day one, his vacation and longevity pay would be calculated as if he had already logged in 16 years with the city. He also received a term life insurance policy with a payout benefit based on three times his salary. Stewart started his new job on August 19, 2002.

The Long Retirement

Click To Broward County Board Meeting Minutes for 911 Vote Some residents have questioned the fiduciary wisdom of stretching Stewart’s tenure for almost a year and a half after he retired, characterizing him as a solid platinum placeholder and a waste of taxpayer dollars. During those 15 months, Stewart spearheaded a legal campaign by Fort Lauderdale and other Broward municipalities that forced the County to manage and finance a county-wide emergency dispatch system. While the $8 million projected annual savings will be shared by every Broward taxpayer, Fort Lauderdale residents enjoy an added benefit. A series of unsavory deals for dispatch services entered into by the Broward Sheriff's Office hit Fort Lauderdale taxpayers in the wallet twice each year. In addition to funding the City’s dispatch services with their City taxes, County taxes paid by Fort Lauderdale property owners were used to subsidize emergency 911 services for neighboring municipalities - like Pompano Beach.

Harry Stewart and City Manager Lee Feldman
Could they have done this without Stewart? For eight years, the County ignored a 2002 voter mandate to consolidate a patchwork of poorly connected dispatch resources into an efficient county-wide dispatch service. Broward municipalities that were double-taxed for dispatch services complained bitterly about the abuse, fueling an annual barrage of largely empty threats leveled at the County Board. City Manager Lee Feldman and Stewart finally presented the County with an immutable “line in the sand” – threatening to create an independent City controlled and financed dispatch service that would permanently deprive the County of future contributions to its own crazy quilt of emergency services while pursuing litigation with the County for restitution. Since one third of the County’s municipalities planned to follow Fort Lauderdale’s lead and Stewart’s insurrectional roadmap, the County Commission raised a white flag. On May 7, 2013, the County Board voted 5 - 4 to pick up the tab for a unified county-wide service, leveling the playing field for all of its municipalities.

Panhandlers Sacking Out in Stranahan Park
For those Fort Lauderdale residents more responsive to “quality of life” issues, within days of informing Jack Seiler of his intention to retire, City Commissioners beset by complaints about aggressive panhandlers who bed down in City Parks after dark asked Stewart to craft an ordinance forbidding solicitation in the downtown business area - duplicating the “no soliciting” zone that has shielded the beach since 1993.

Click to Florida Municipal Attorney’s Association Website Given the inherent First Amendment pitfalls, simply criminalizing requests for money would trigger the constitutional dogma that could judicially void the ordinance. While researching case law, Stewart harvested local anti-panhandling laws that repeatedly survived constitutional challenges, such as those prohibiting aggressive panhandling, or soliciting people at bank machines, in line at public transportation or at outdoor restaurants. To conceptually unify these widely divergent prohibited zones, no-panhandling status was also ascribed to areas where people are unable to avoid attempted solicitation, “like when you are on a bus,” explained Stewart. By stitching together this Chinese menu of constitutionally vetted prohibitions, Stewart tailored an ordinance that placed the City’s entire business district off limits to begging.

Click to Fort Lauderdale No Panhandling Ordinance No. C-12-10 To pass a First Amendment litmus test, each prohibition in Stewart’s regulatory Rubik’s Cube would have to be content neutral, narrowly tailored to some significant governmental interest and insure the availability of alternative channels of communication for those impacted by the new law. It also had to satisfy Commission objectives. At the April 17, 2012 Commission meeting, the first reading of Stewart’s ordinance earned a green light. At the May 1, 2012 second reading, it went into the books following unanimous approval by the City Commission. As provided in Ordinance No. C-12-10, the law became fully effective 15 days after approval, on May 16, 2012.

ACLU co-attorney Beverly Pohl
ACLU co-attorney Bruce Rogow
The significance of this legal gymnastic can’t be measured. When the City passed Resolution 93-143 on July 20, 1993, wherein Beach Rule 7.5(c) prohibited panhandling, begging and soliciting on the Fort Lauderdale beach and nearby sidewalks (the area within 150 feet of Atlantic Boulevard or Seabreeze Boulevard), nationally acclaimed ACLU heavyweights Bruce Rogow and Beverly Pohl unleashed a legal Tsunami against the prohibition that lasted for 6 years - until October 29, 1999, when the United States Supreme Court refused to hear an attempted ACLU appeal of a favorable decision rendered by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals four months earlier. When Stewart’s ordinance was enacted last year as Constitutional watchdogs predictably complained bitterly, their subsequent silence in court serves as a testament to the constitutional adequacy of Stewart’s handiwork.

Filling Stewart’s Shoes

While shepherding these major projects to successful conclusions during his final 15 months, Stewart addressed the scores of legal tripping hazards that fill every City Attorney’s daily calendar. He also guided the search committee to a seemingly soft landing, as Cynthia A. Everett appears to have the stones to fill Stewart’s shoes. While in private practice, she spent the past 14 years serving as Village Attorney in the Village of Pinecrest, a 7.5 square mile, 19,000-resident suburb of Miami located southwest of Coral Gables and north of Palmetto Bay.

Click To state attorney in Miami’s 11<sup>th</sup> judicial circuit Website Click To U.S. Attorney, Southern District Website After graduating from FSU (Florida State University) in 1978 with a major in government and earning a law degree at George Washington University Law School in 1982, Everett served as an assistant state attorney in Miami’s 11th judicial circuit, where she was tasked with running the felony division in 1987, prosecuting homicide and specially assigned criminal cases. In 1989, Everett moved from State to Federal level, joining the civil division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami, where she prosecuted fraud cases (no shortage in South Florida) and defended the government in civil lawsuits.

Click to Florida Municipal Attorney’s Association Website Click to City of Opa-Locka Website Turning to the private sector in 1995, Everett joined the Miami law firm of Williams & Associates. In 1997, she was appointed by the City of Opa-Locka as City Attorney. When the Pinecrest Village Council decided in 1999 to replace the Broward County firm of Josia, Goren, Cherof, Doody and Ezrol (now Goren, Cherof, Doody and Ezrol) with a Village Attorney more conversant with Miami issues, they snatched Everett from Opa-Locka.

Click to Cynthia Everett's Florida Bar Web Page Board certified by The Florida Bar in labor and employment law and a Florida Supreme Court certified civil and appellate mediator, Everett served on The Florida Bar Board of Governors, was a member of the Board of Governors special committee on Election Reform, is a past President of The Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association (FKA The Black Lawyers Association of Dade County), and is a member of the Florida Municipal Attorney’s Association.

She currently serves on the Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy Committee, and is a member of the Florida Bar’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, the General Practice Solo and Small Firm Section, the Labor and Employment Law Section and the City County and Local Government Law Section. Not too shabby!

A fair-minded city resident might agree that the City got its money’s worth from Stewart’s prolonged slide to home plate. Since taking control of the City’s legal armory, Stewart transformed a catch-as-catch-can department that hemorrhaged money into the most formidable City Attorney’s office in the State. Given the untold $millions he saved the City’s taxpayers every year since 2002, Fort Lauderdale owes Harry Stewart more than it could ever hope to repay. As for Ms. Everett, if some very smart lawyers on the City Attorney Search Committee are right, she will build on Stewart’s legacy... and keep our elected officials out of trouble!

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The City Decides to Act

City Manager Lee Feldman
August 19, 2013 - On October 30, 2012, City Manager Lee Feldman convened a round table meeting to examine the City’s Sea Turtle policies. Joining Feldman in City Hall - around a score of utility tables - were officials from the Galt Mile Community Association, the Central Beach Alliance and other beachfront neighborhoods, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts, Assistant City Manager Susanne Torriente (the City Manager’s liaison to Sustainable Development - parent agency to the building and code enforcement departments), Building Department chief Terry Burgess, Director Greg Brewton of Sustainable Development, Code Enforcement Manager Skip Margerum, Assistant City Attorney Carrie Sarver, Director Al Carbon from Public Works as well as a half dozen departmental and divisional support staffers. Problems stemming from the City’s 2003 Beach Lighting Ordinance and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) nest marking policies had soured neighborhoods, stigmatized tourism and devolved the City’s beaches into demilitarized zones.

King Size Turtle Nest on Fort Lauderdale Beach
For decades, thousands of visitors and resident beachgoers enjoyed sharing the beach with nest sites enveloped in 10-foot square protective zones. In 2012, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) made an insipid decision to expand each site by a factor of ten, exploding 100 square-foot nest sites to 1000 square feet. Coupled with an unanticipated 50% increase in nesting activity throughout the 9-month season, residents and vacationers in coastal communities across Florida complained bitterly about being functionally ousted from their beaches. After meeting with Galt Mile officials, former manager Lou Fisher of Broward County’s Sea Turtle program contacted FWC and elicited a revised ruling for future nest sites. Thanks to Fisher, nest sites were returned to an average 5-foot radius, allowing the beach to once again become a shared resource.

Fort Lauderdale at Night - A1A Ghost Town
While pleased about Fisher’s successful initiative, Fish and Wildlife directives fall outside the City’s purview. Officials at the October meeting were primarily focused on mitigating unintended consequences of the City’s poorly drafted 2003 Beach Lighting Ordinance. In addition to wreaking havoc on the City’s tourism industry, a policy that forced the entire beach area into darkness for 75% of the year was fatally crippling the beach neighborhood’s viability as an economic engine, imperiling drivers and pedestrians along A1A and opening serious security and safety breaches in beachfront residential communities.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler
In beachfront hotels, management personnel reported complaints by scores of visiting tourists that “fear of crossing the street” would preclude their return. Equally frightened local residents don’t have the option of not returning. As observed by Mayor Jack Seiler, “The problem is there's a safety issue down there. It’s gotten too dark. As much as I think every one of us has been very involved in trying to protect the sea turtles, you can't do that at the expense of human life. You’ve got traffic, pedestrian issues, cycling issues.” Since consequences of the ordinance that were marginalized when passed in 2003 have since mushroomed into significant threats, officials would have to reshape the ordinance to promote Sea Turtle survival without crippling the City or endangering its residents.

As the meeting progressed, it became clear that the public safety pitfalls were exacerbated by the City’s enigmatic enforcement policies. Representatives from the city’s beach neighborhoods complained about the cost of satisfying inconsistent and ever-changing enforcement protocols, regulatory conflicts between the beach lighting ordinance and building code-mandated lighting requirements for resident safety and security (on parking decks, public access areas, fire exits, etc.), enigmatic violations for reflected light (or cloudlight) and confusion over security lighting, whether insurer-required or in response to the increasing number of assaults on association residents and property launched from the beach.

Enforcement Dilemmas

Although the current ordinance was passed in 2003, enforcement was postponed until after the City recovered from the serial hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. In March of 2007, the first violation notices awoke perplexed neighborhoods to its existence. Following a late 2010 upheaval in the building department, one of the casualties of a turnover in the department’s administration was an agreement hammered out in 2007 between the Galt Mile neighborhood and the City. A balanced set of code enforcement protocols for beach lighting enabled the Galt Mile to achieve more than 90% compliance within the first two years of the agreement. Associations worked closely with Code officials to create a series of specific objectives en route to full compliance with the lighting ordinance.

Click to Info about TEDs Web Site After 2010, enforcement officials began waffling about infractions. The open two-way communication that facilitated compliance lapsed overnight. Code officers would issue violations for lighting plans approved as compliant one year earlier. Instead of working with associations to resolve possible violations, they made general suggestions, albeit with a caveat that following their suggestions would not assure compliance.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Sea Turtle Program - Click to Web Site Only after an association expended resources to implement the officer’s suggestion, student volunteers from NOVA University would assess corrected violations during evening patrols of the shoreline. NOVA students recruited by the Broward County Sea Turtle program - a licensee of Florida Fish and Wildlife - would note perceived lighting violations from an ATV traveling across the beach. Based on the few minutes they flew by each building at night, they would submit complaints to the City’s Code Enforcement Department. Included in their complaints were lights previously deemed compliant by a Code Officer, such as lamps fitted with motion detectors that toggle on and off automatically when a resident needs to safely navigate a walkway or a trespasser invades association property from the darkened beach.

Click to Nova Southeast University Oceanographic Institute Web Site To mitigate the perception that the City’s Code Enforcement Administration ceded their enforcement responsibilities to NOVA students, they provided a loophole. Any association that was actively working with a code enforcement officer would temporarily be spared a violation notice. As associations grew leery of funding code officer-recommended lighting solutions that were subsequently and systematically rejected, “working with a code officer” became spin for funneling scarce association resources into a black hole.

Nova Team Collects Data When association officials investigated this counterproductive “Catch-22” scenario, two frustrated code officers admitted that they lacked the authority to guide property owners seeking to comply with the City’s ordinance. Agreements they hashed out with homeowners or associations that were approved by supervisors were later abrogated by Code managers leery of political missteps. Instead, officers were told to suggest that the property owner contact Fish and Wildlife – a state agency - about correcting a City violation.

Changes in City Government Given its inherent ambiguities, depending on how an Enforcement Officer elects to interpret the current ordinance, virtually anything visible from the beach is arguably evidence of a violation. Meant to deter illumination of the beach, the ordinance prohibits either direct or reflected artificial light from reaching the beach. Since visibility requires light that emanates from or bounces off an object to register an impression on an observer’s eye (retina), anything visible to an observer on the beach is technically evidence that light is reaching the beach. When this unintended standard is applied, a property can only achieve compliance when an observer on the beach looks westward toward the City and sees a pitch black horizon. By creatively misinterpreting the ordinance, a Code officer with an “agenda” can penalize property owners for any artificial light, whether or not it illuminates the beach.

GMCA & Code Enforcement

Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts
While discussing enforcement dilemmas in beachfront neighborhoods at the October 30th meeting, Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts asked how these problems might be specifically resolved in the Galt Mile neighborhood. When he suggested a meeting with GMCA and Code Enforcement officials, GMCA President Pio Ieraci and Code Manager Skip Margerum agreed.

GMCA Officials Pio Ieraci & Eric Berkowitz
On November 27, Ieraci and GMCA Vice President Eric Berkowitz met with Margerum and his two senior Code officers assigned to beach lighting enforcement. At the outset, both sides agreed to revive an understanding critical to associations. If a violation involves a major fixture, such as a security or parking deck lamp, the officer would recommend an inexpensive shield to temporarily block light from reaching the beach. To achieve permanent compliance without unnecessarily burdening association budgets or creating a gauntlet of dangerous tripping hazards, when the fixture approached the end of its useful life and was budgeted for replacement, the association would incorporate a turtle-safe substitute into its new lighting plan.

Code Enforcement Supervisor Skip Margerum
Having agreed to reopen unfettered communication, the Department and the neighborhood association would otherwise work together to identify and cure violations. The discussion then turned to why the Code Department issues violations for lighting plans recommended by their own officers. Apologizing for any confusion, Margerum said that even if an association corrects the problem; due to how the ordinance is worded, it may technically remain in violation. Conceding that many of its provisions are unclear and open to interpretation, Margerum declared that he must enforce the ordinance as he understands it. He said that his officers would work with any association to find an acceptable and reasonable solution, adding that associations could always request guidance from Fish and Wildlife. In closing, Margerum announced that unless the City changes the law, we would just have to work together to make the best of it.

Shaping a New Law

Click to State Model Lighting Law - 62B-55, F.A.C. Convinced that the law should protect both people and turtles, Feldman closely scrutinized the Fort Lauderdale ordinance. In 1993, the state of Florida developed a model lighting ordinance (62B-55, F.A.C.) to guide local governments in creating turtle-safe lighting laws. Broward County adopted Chapter 39, Article IX, Sec 39-107 in 1989. Ten years later, Pompano Beach followed their lead (Title XV, Chapter 155, Section 155.139), Deerfield Beach in 2000 (Chapter 34, Article V, Sec 34-96), Hallandale Beach in 2001 (Ch. 6, Art. I, Sec 6-10), Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in 2002 - Chapter 30 Article V Division 2 Subdivision L Sec. 30-313 (o), Fort Lauderdale in 2003 (Chapter 6, Article III, Div. 2, Sec. 6-51), Hillsboro Beach in 2007 (Ord 232), and Hollywood in 2011 (Title IX, Chapter 108).

Click to Florida Marine Research Institute Technical Report The State template was based on research by FWS scientists. State environmentalists realized that every beachfront jurisdiction experiences a unique blend of economic, social, structural, environmental and political problems. Commercial beachfront neighborhoods face different structural lighting challenges than communities where high-rise buildings shield the beach from street lights. Cities also had to avoid inadvertently undermining the municipal economies that fuel their survival. Most importantly, municipalities had to guard against implementing provisions that placed city residents and/or visitors at risk.

Click to Florida Lighting Laws Map After examining the original state template, Feldman reviewed the Broward County Ordinance, variations enacted by other Broward municipalities and the local beach lighting laws of coastal communities throughout Florida. Most jurisdictions treated the State Template like a supermarket, selecting those provisions that best suited their needs. Some deployed all or most of the provisions while others chose one or two. Certain cities and counties dumped the State model and created their own homegrown regulations while others – like Miami-Dade – refused to pass a lighting law. Since most of Florida’s coastal cities and towns depend on their beach economy to survive, many performed an economic impact study to minimize unintended consequences.

FWC Approved Recessed Lamp
Fort Lauderdale was not among them. To prove their environmental commitment, 2003 City Commissioners aggressively expanded on the State model, randomly piling on additional regulations thought to enhance its effectiveness or enlist homeowner support. Unfortunately, the ill-defined hand waving additions created enforcement dogma. Commissioners mistakenly believed that Code Enforcement would compensate for safety and security pitfalls, inadvertently forcing the Department to walk a tightrope between conflicting enforcement objectives. The sycophantic mission statement was a poor substitute for clear enforcement protocols.

Click to Chen Moore & Associates Website The 2003 City Commission never anticipated the adverse impacts currently facing the City. In 2007, when FWC decided to stop relocating nests from well-lit “donor zones” to darkened recipient beaches, the City Commission unexpectedly came face to face with the untenable terms in an ordinance they foisted on residents. For example, canvas bags were temporarily fitted to city-owned acorn-style fixtures along the east side of A1A to shield the beach. Cobra-style lights owned by FDOT and FPL on the west side of the road were retrofitted with shielded fixtures. The City retained consultant Chen Moore & Associates to devise a compliant permanent fixture that was subsequently approved by FWC on October 15, 2008.

Former Broward Traffic Engineer Jihad El Eid took the Money
Click to Southeast Underground Utilities Corp. Website In 2011, the City gave Southeast Underground Utilities Corp. – a Davie company – $1.7 million to replace 110 acorn-style lamps along 2 miles of A1A with the FWC-approved recessed fixtures (The company was simultaneously being sued by Broward County for for defective work after padding a $4.4 million low-bid contract into a $21.3 million windfall. On February 13, 2013, owner and President Anthoneel Allen pled guilty to Federal charges for bribery, highway fraud, mail fraud, extortion under color of official right, tax fraud, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise fraud – for greasing former Broward Traffic Engineer Jihad El Eid and gaming the system to land dozens of State, County and local municipal contracts). Although FWC approved the interim shields for 150 FDOT and FPL owned lamps on the west side of A1A, they were extinguished throughout the nine-month 2012 nesting season, transforming the world-renowned Ocean Highway into a potential death trap.

Turtle-Safe Lamps Installed along A1A
Southeast Underground Utilities Corp. owner and President Anthoneel Allen Rips Off County
To protect residents and visitors, insure that drivers and pedestrians don’t wind up in the morgue, salvage threatened beachfront neighborhood economies and provide the Code Department with a less ambiguous set of enforcement guidelines, the City Commission would have to clean up the beach lighting ordinance. Having investigated how other coastal communities tempered the State model, Feldman decided to trim most of the whimsical text added by predecessors in City Hall. He also elicited input from Broward Sea Turtle Program Manager Lou Fisher and FWC Beach Lighting expert Karen Schanzle. To secure sea turtle survival without gutting public safety, the revised City Beach Lighting ordinance would adapt standards contained in the State Model to the City’s current needs.

Public Input

Turtle-Safe Light Trawling for public opinion on the City Website, Feldman posted a copy of the current ordinance, the State model and a redlined version that distinguishes the proposed changes. To collect additional feedback, the City scheduled town hall style meetings on June 10th at the Beach Community Center and on June 26th at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Yada Yada Yada Although organized to solicit public input about the proposed ordinance revision, those with radical views about sea turtle policies drooled over a perceived opportunity to vent. Residents and public officials who arrived at the Beach Community Center before the 6:30 PM kickoff expected an ideological prizefight pitting the life safety needs of city residents against the survival of a species. Attendees registered to speak upon entering the auditorium. Since a division that split the audience wasn’t where expected, conflict junkies were disappointed.

In Round One, members of sea turtle support groups lashed out at the City for embracing changes to the ordinance. One accused public officials of breaking Federal and State laws. Not to be “theatrically trumped” by her companion, another announced that they were “initiating environmental genocide.” An angry Coral Ridge resident retorted that insufficient lighting along A1A “is an invitation to disaster” for both drivers and neighborhood residents. A resident from the Birch Park Finger Streets exclaimed “I’m afraid to walk one block from my house to the beach at night, and so are all of my neighbors.”

Click to Florida Atlantic University Astronomical Observatory Blurring the agenda, an employee at the FAU astronomical observatory proceeded to make an evolutionary case against all artificial lighting. Insisting that we are a diurnal species ill-adapted to productive post-sundown behavior, he concluded that man-made lighting is anathema to human health (actually, the pineal gland produces cancer-fighting melatonin in the absence of blue wavelength light (500 nm) - whether from the sun or a light bulb). It was unclear how he planned to detoxify civilization from its dependence on electric lights.

Lauderdale Beach Attorney Steve Lange
While hardliners on either side dramatically embellished their two minutes with visions of holocaust, most speakers favored a reasonable solution. A beachfront merchant complained that after installing turtle friendly lighting recommended by a Code Officer, he received another warning. “I want to do the right thing, but turning neighborhoods into ghost towns isn’t the answer.” A Bermuda Riviera resident said “I have been an environmental activist all my life, and I agree that we need to turn down the beach lighting, but we must also protect people.” Lauderdale Beach Attorney Steve Lange commented “We want to balance sea turtle life with human life, but not at the expense of human life.” Another woman who said she regularly checks on nest sites agreed that both people and nesting beaches must be protected. “It will never be perfect, but with planning and education we can have both.”

Turtle-Safe Light
GMCA President Pio Ieraci
GMCA President Pio Ieraci told the audience “Every beach resident understands the need to preserve our endangered Sea Turtles.” Ieraci said that when kids vandalize turtle nests, they aren’t chased off by members of turtle support groups or the police, but by people living on the beach. Citing their contribution to the huge explosion in nest sites last year, Ieraci remarked “Although many of our residents bought their homes twenty or thirty years ago and live on fixed incomes, they’ve already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for new lighting plans to protect sea turtles.” Ieraci insisted “Like every other city resident and visiting tourist, they deserve to be safe and secure. There must be a balance.”

Learning from Our Mistakes

Broward Sea Turtle Program Architect Lou Fisher
By adapting or replacing selected lamps with turtle-safe fixtures, the revised beach lighting ordinance will allow the City to reasonably illuminate coastal roads and neighborhoods. During the meeting, City Commissioner Dean Trantalis and Sea Turtle Aficionado Lou Fisher discussed how to best illuminate A1A while District 1 Commissioner Bruce Roberts explained the proposed ordinance revisions to constituents.

Commissioners Bruce Roberts & Dean Trantalis
Commissioner Roberts assured residents that lamps are compliant under the new ordinance as long as the “point source of light” (bulb) and reflecting surfaces of a fixture are not visible from the beach. Unfortunately, other provisions in the ordinance appear to contradict this attempted clarification. In fact, unless they are addressed before the new law is finalized; every lamp in beach neighborhoods could be targeted for violation, whether or not it illuminates the beach.

While a step in the right direction, some of the new public safety standards apply exclusively to City properties; and not those of its citizens. As the City continues to collect input over the next month or two, homeowners in beachfront neighborhoods will have an opportunity to insure that reasonable enforcement protocols apply to their homes as well.

Yada Yada Yada For instance, the compliance glide path for an association’s major lighting fixtures – although agreed to by Code Enforcement – should be spelled out in the ordinance. The ordinance should also provide for security lighting – whether affixed to motion detectors and/or integrated into a home’s video surveillance protection. Additionally, some of the proposed provisions should be adequately clarified and/or better defined. For instance, a provision mandating costly upgrades to nearly a half million windows throughout the city (some more than a quarter mile from the beach) needs to be “better tailored” to its intended purpose. More to Come...

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Broward Board of County Commissioners
Bad Broward Ordinance
Ordinance Seeks to Strip Associations of Screening Rights

Executive Director Donna Berger of the Community Advocacy Network (CAN)
September 8, 2013 - On August 30, 2013, Executive Director
Donna Berger of the Community Advocacy Network (CAN) issued an alert to association officials. She was concerned about an ordinance under consideration by the Broward Board of County Commissioners, admonishing “This proposed ordinance may have far-reaching impact on all types of community associations in Broward County – and possibly the rest of the state if other counties follow Broward’s lead.” Berger explains that the proposed ordinance would affect an association’s authority under its governing documents to scrutinize proposed leasing and sales transactions and to issue an approval or denial in connection with same.

Click to Community Advocacy Network (CAN) Web Site Condominiums, Cooperatives and Homeowner Associations are empowered to create legal eligibility criteria and screening procedures to protect the association, its members and owners of units for sale or rent. As required by Federal and State law, once adopted, the procedures must be applied equally to every applicant. Each association can decide whether to embrace a policy that only reveals the outcome of the screening process or a policy that discloses details impacting the outcome. To diminish the prospect of legal repercussions by disappointed or opportunistic rejected applicants, most association attorneys believe it legally prudent to only report whether an application was accepted or denied. Others believe that total transparency offers the best protection against legal challenges. In any case, the association’s members - who must live with their decision - can choose the policy that best serves their interests - as long as it complies with State and Federal Laws.

County Commissioner Lois Wexler
When association representative(s) screen prospective buyers or tenants, current law mandates a response to the unit owner. Since the titleholder is not only an association member, but the only one in the process with an asset at stake, the unit owner appropriately serves as clearinghouse for information developed by the screening process. Whether given a simple yes or no answer about the applicant or specific reasons for a rejection, the unit owner decides what is conveyed to his or her applicant.

If Ordinance sponsors Broward Commissioners Dale V.C. Holness and Lois Wexler have their way, the following changes will become law (BTW – Lois Wexler was the County Commissioner who tried to close the Galt Library):

  • The Ordinance makes it unlawful for an association to deny an applicant for rent or purchase because of a discriminatory classification (already a Federal Law).

  • Requires the association to send written acknowledgement of its receipt of an application for purchase or rent within ten (10) days of receipt of the application.

  • If the application is not complete or is completed incorrectly, the information to correct this must be included in the acknowledgement.

  • Requires the association to approve or deny a completed application within forty-five (45) days of receipt of the application.

  • If the applicant is denied, it further requires the association to send written notice to the applicant setting forth the reasons for the denial.

County Commissioner Dale Holness
This is a bald-faced attempt to disenfranchise tens of thousands of association members. Reminiscent of the Condo Killer bills that floated through Tallahassee from 2004 to 2006, the County Board is attempting to usurp the right of Broward’s Condo, Co-op and HOA members to govern themselves.

The screening process is not work-a-day association housekeeping. Created to protect association members, their families, visitors and association employees from sociopaths, grifters, career criminals, deadbeats and other prospective neighbors with multi-page rap sheets, it is a critically important security protocol. A few years ago, a Galt Mile tenant threw a lamp through a window, raining shards of glass onto a swimming pool filled with children and threatened several employees before stabbing to death a musician working in a tavern across the street. Inadequately enforcing the process imperils everyone who lives, works or visits an association.

Click to Broward Association Ordinance It is also critical to the financial well-being of the unit’s owner and the association. Owners who place their units on the market cannot afford to consider tenants or buyers who are unable or unwilling to fulfill their obligations under a lease or contract. Neither can the association. Since it represents the final and only legal opportunity to protect the association and its members, the screening process exists solely for that purpose, not to benefit potential tenants or buyers.

Association Attorney Lisa Magill
The proposed ordinance would divest association members of their right to create the terms of their community’s screening process. Secondly, it elevates the rights of applicants above those of the association, its members and strangely enough, the owner of the unit - who is stripped of the right to decide what information is passed to applicants - as occurs under current law. Since applicants are already protected by Federal & State Law against denial due to a discriminatory classification, there is seemingly no public purpose for trampling the right of association homeowners to tailor the screening process to protect their interests - not those of applicants.

Virtually every association attorney has alerted clients about the County’s intention to play fast and loose with self-governance by quietly slipping this issue into a meeting agenda. Fortunately, Broward association members have an eleventh hour opportunity to fend off this assault on their rights. Association Attorney Lisa Magill of Becker & Poliakoff noted, “We believe many of you will find this proposal problematic for a number of reasons. A professionally managed for-profit rental complex will not be subject to this requirement. Why should community associations have burdens not placed upon other sellers or landlords in Broward County?”

The County Commission scheduled a public hearing Tuesday, September 10, 2013, at 2:00 pm in the Commission Chambers on the 4th Floor of the Governmental Center located at 115 S. Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL. If you can find the time to attend the public hearing, please join your neighbors to help preserve self-determination and home rule for associations - simply by showing up!!!

To help clarify the adverse legal impacts on associations, Robert L. Kaye, Esq., Managing member of well-known association law firm of Kaye Bender Rembaum, authored the following legal opinion.


Broward County Considering New Ordinance Which Negatively Affects Associations

By Robert L. Kaye, Esq.

Association Attorney Robert Kaye
The Board of County Commissioners for Broward County will be holding a public hearing on Tuesday, September 10, 2013, at 2:00 p.m., in Room 422 of the Governmental Center, to consider a proposal to revise Section 16 ½ and add a new Section 16 ½ – 35.6, purportedly regarding restrictions on discrimination in housing. This issue is of significant importance to community associations in Broward County and needs your attention.

Association Attorney Michael Bender
Under the proposal, condominium, homeowner and cooperative associations that undertake review and approval/disapproval of proposed sales and leases in Broward County will be required first to provide a written receipt of an application to the applicant within 10 days of its receipt. If the application is incomplete or completed incorrectly, the acknowledgment must specifically identify each item that needs to be completed or corrected. It further provides that within 45 days after receipt of a complete application, the association must either reject or approve the application and provide the applicant with a written notice of the decision. If the application is rejected, the written notice must state with specificity each reason for the rejection.

Broward Board of County Commissioners
It is the opinion of this Firm that this proposal is not in the best interest of community associations nor appropriate for the County Commission to be incorporating into the restrictions on discrimination within the County Ordinances. Additionally, it will impose on community associations burdens that are far greater than currently exists under present State and Federal laws. The legal standard in place currently is for all communication regarding proposed sales and leases to be through the current owner, not the applicant. Further, if a transaction is rejected, and the rejection complies with present Florida law, the notice of rejection is sent to the current owner. Most importantly is that specific reasons for the disapproval are to be kept confidential and a disapproval should only contain a statement that the applicant fails to qualify under the governing documents for the community.

The proposed Ordinance is creating requirements on associations that are well beyond the scope of anti-discrimination and are not needed in this regard. Associations already may not reject sales or leases for reasons that fall within protected classifications. It is the opinion of this Firm that the proposed Ordinance will add significant administrative burdens on community associations in Broward County and require the disclosure of information that is currently protected under State and Federal laws.

For any association within Broward County that has a review and approval process in place, it is recommended that you attend this Public Hearing, if possible, and voice your opposition to it being passed by the Commission. The more opposition that is heard by the Commissioners, the better the possibility that this faulty proposal does not pass.

Click to Kaye Bender Rembaum website

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Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts

Budget || SeaweedSoil || CRA Plans

Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts
September 15, 2013 - Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts kicks off his September 2013 Newsletter with some eleventh hour budgeteering in preparation for the spending plan's final September pit stops, explains how the City turns seaweed into soil, profiles the constituent calls fielded by his office, reviews the Community Redevelopment Agency's mission and current challenges, applauds City firefighters for replacing the stolen bike of double amputee Hector Picard (who races for charity), updates the project progress of three City infrastructure build-outs and check lists noteworthy upcoming municipal events.

Click to 2012 Neighbor Survey In focusing the opening entry of his September 2013 newsletter on Fast Forward Fort Lauderdale, Vision 2035, Five-Year Strategic Plan, Annual Action Plan, Neighborhood Survey and Town Hall Meetings, Roberts highlights a sea change in the City's fiscal roadmap. For the first time since our nation's lending institutions ignited a world-wide economic meltdown, City Officials are nearly giddy about pumping out a budget that invests in the City's future. To avoid the adverse public blowback that accompanies tax hikes, City Manager Lee Feldman's proposed spending plan offset the cost of infrastructure improvements by tweaking an uptick of the Fire Assessment fee. The $7.50 monthly increase for residences ($90 annually or $86.40 if paid by November) will fund Fire Suppression Services that would otherwise burden the General Fund. The $12.3 million in newly liberated revenues will pay for long-postponed citywide and neighborhood improvements.

Rotting Seaweed Between Ocean Summit and Ocean Club
FWC Marine Turtle Program Biological Administrator Dr. Robbin Trindell
When a 2012 environmental anomaly buried Florida beaches in unprecedented amounts of sargassum, beachfront communities spent the year locked in combat with Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) over the fate of rotting seaweed. Despite admitting that the decomposing vegetation generates toxic concentrations of bacteria and fungi, FWC big shot Robbin Trindell prohibited coastal communities from burying the potential health hazard since it might harm nested Sea Turtle eggs and deprive foraging seabirds of a food source. Since the bacterial proliferation from decomposing vegetation also poses a threat to people, officials in Broward and Palm Beach County beach neighborhoods ignored the questionable FWC mandate to leave the rotting mounds of seaweed in place. Delray Beach builds dunes with the seaweed and Boca Raton has an FDEP permit to bury their sargassum shoreward of the Sea Turtle nests. Coastal towns and cities where beach access points are primarily structured for pedestrian traffic manually blended the seaweed with the top layer of sand and quietly hoped that the State wouldn’t object. In Fort Lauderdale, where large thoroughfares abut the beach, the City trucked the 300% increase in seaweed to Snyder Park, where it was added daily to a world-class compost heap and transformed into high quality mulching soil. Pleased by the City's decision to turn lemons into lemonade, after recounting the project's outcome, Roberts concludes with a comment by City Parks Supervisor Mark Almy, “We use it, and it's free!”.

Anything Grows in Snyder Park's Supersoil
GMCA President Pio Ieraci, Chepo Vega, Parks Supervisors Brian Hopper and Mark Almy
While sifting the sand and loading the seaweed, Almy also said “It's really a handy operation - the Cadillac of cleaning options. People don't like the seaweed, it's dirty, it smells fishy. It looks like a bomb went off some days. Within a few hours the beach is back to normal.” When dumping the loaded trucks at the Park, Almy described the composted vegetation “Underneath, it's cooking pretty hot. It's so hot under there as it's decaying you could probably cook a turkey. This soil is so rich, and all the salinity is all leeched out.” For the past four years, Almy has also been working with Roberts and Advisory Board member Chepo Vega from Commodore Condominium to meticulously landscape the Galt Mile neighborhood, bracing and pruning trees, replanting thinning sidewalk beds and repairing corner monuments. At Almy's direction, City crews have finally fulfilled a long neglected City promise to maintain the Galt Mile in a “Disney-like manner” following the self-assessed Galt Mile Improvement Project.

Click To Don't Stop Living website On July 13, 2013, double amputee Hector Picard arrived at the Spokane, Washington home of Baby Jameson Davis. The 3X Ironman champion raised $32,000 during his 3200 mile endurance challenge across 13 states, enough to purchase prosthetic devices for the armless 1-year old. A Motivational Speaker, Picard campaigns tirelessly to reclaim the lives of disabled persons stereotypically bypassed by society because of outdated suppositions about their capabilities and limitations. For the Vice Mayor’s 2013 post-summer municipal update, read on... – [editor]

From The Desk of
Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
FY 2014 PROPOSED BUDGET/FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Although the information below is located on the City’s web page, I felt it was important to add to the newsletter in order to keep everyone informed of the process. I would also refer you to our previous newsletter which provided additional information and the basis for the 2014 budget: Fast Forward Fort Lauderdale: Vision 2035, Five-Year Strategic Plan, Annual Action Plan, Neighborhood Survey and Town Hall Meetings.

  1. What has the City done to reduce expenses in the last few years? The City has implemented numerous cost saving measures including reducing the workforce, re-organizing departments for efficiency, cutting discretionary spending, and deferring maintenance, vehicle replacements, and capital projects. The City has cut more than $83 million in expenses since FY 2008.

  2. How many positions have been eliminated? The City has eliminated 254 positions since FY 2007. We have reduced our workforce from 2,682 full-time equivalent positions (FTE) to our current level of 2,428 FTEs.

  3. Click Here to Fort Lauderdale 2014 Budget Web Page When was the last time the City increased property taxes? The proposed budget for FY 2014 keeps the City’s low property tax of 4.1193 unchanged. This will be the seventh consecutive fiscal year that our property tax rate has not increased. In fact, you would have to go back 27 years – to 1986 -- to find a time when Fort Lauderdale had a lower tax rate than 4.1193.

  4. How was the City impacted by the downturn in the economy? The economic downturn significantly impacted property tax revenue. The City received $129 million in property taxes in FY 2007 and will receive an estimated $93.9 million in FY 2013. Fort Lauderdale neighbors have paid $144 million less in property taxes since FY 2007. This decrease in revenue to the City was exacerbated by unfunded mandates and substantial decreases in intergovernmental revenues.

  5. When was the last time the City increased the Fire Assessment Fee? The City’s Fire Assessment Fee has not increased since 2008. Since then, fuel costs have escalated dramatically, the number of responses to emergencies has increased, and we have opened seven new fire stations! Our response times have also improved. Last year, Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue responded to more than 42,900 calls for service with an outstanding average first unit response time of four minutes and thirty-eight seconds.

  6. How have service levels to neighbors been impacted? Despite the significant reduction in the workforce and shrinking revenues, the City has preserved vital service levels for our neighbors and has continued to enhance quality of life through the acquisition of four (4) new parks, the opening of seven (7) new Fire-Rescue stations, and the implementation of new programs and events throughout the City. We are committed to maintaining the quality of life in Fort Lauderdale; our neighbors deserve it!

  7. With such a significant reduction in revenue, how have we managed to balance the budget in recent years? In order to keep taxes low during the most difficult economic times, while at the same time preserving service levels and maintaining quality of life, the City used a portion of its General Fund reserves to help balance past budgets. The FY 2014 Proposed Budget does not include the use of any reserves. It is a structurally balanced budget that will serve as the foundation for a fiscally sound and sustainable future.

  8. How can I provide input on the proposed budget? The City’s budget process is both transparent and inclusive. Public hearings on the FY 2014 Proposed Budget will take place on Tuesday, September 3rd and Thursday, September 12th at 6 pm in the Commission Chambers, located in City Hall at 100 N. Andrews Avenue. The Fire Assessment public hearing will take place as part of the September 12th meeting. We invite you to review the proposed budget on our website at and encourage you to attend the public hearings to provide input on the proposed budget.

Seaweed on Fort Lauderdale Beach
CITY TURNS SEAWEED INTO SAVINGS ON PLANTING SOIL: It may not be quite as lucrative as spinning straw into gold, but Fort Lauderdale, unique among South Florida coastal cities, has come upon a means of turning tons of seaweed into modest savings on soil. Every morning, city crews haul away an average of 5 to 6 tons of the ocean's cast off vegetation, ship it to Snyder Park, and add it to a huge compost pile. The decaying seaweed brews rich soil, which is harvested for use in city planting projects. We save about $180,000 annually in costs — about $500 a load — it formerly incurred to transport the seaweed to a county landfill. The City parks and recreation crews descend upon the beach like pre-dawn raiders attacking the previous day's assault of litter and seaweed. After turtle inspectors survey the beach during the March to October egg-laying season, teams on ATVs clear litter by hand. Then sand sifting machines rake the sand, clearing off the remaining trash. The seaweed is loaded by hopper into dump trucks, and then sent to the compost heap to transform itself into soil. Every three months, the City dedicates about 200 yards of soil to landscape projects. Plantings along State Road 84 and the entrance to The Landings on Federal Highway have benefited from the reclaimed soil. Fort Lauderdale is the only South Florida city that composts seaweed. Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Hollywood, for example, bury the biodegradable seaweed at the high water line. As City Parks Supervisor Mark Almy states – "We use it, and it's free!"

Clogged Drain in Fort Lauderdale CALLS MADE TO OUR OFFICE: We receive many calls during the day relating to different concerns our neighbors have throughout District 1. With all of the rain these past few months, the issue of clogged drains was dominant. Many times the calls are made late in the evening, early in the morning or on weekends when we are not in the office. We recommend that calls be made directly to 954-828-8000. Recordings made on this line are checked on an on-going basis 24/7 and logged in for service. Calls which pertain to police issues and not requiring a police response can be made to 954-828-5590 – Chief’s office; code complaints which include hedge height, foreclosed homes, stagnant pools, trash, unkempt yards, etc. can be reported to 954-828-5207; parking ticket questions can be handled at 954-828-3700; and lastly, 211 provides a myriad of services, referrals and advice for families needing assistance! We are always glad to help in any way we can, but because we are not here at certain times, we want you to have an option of going directly to the source. When in doubt – just call our office!

Click to Fort Lauderdale CRA Web Page VALUES OF COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY (CRA) AND THEIR MISSION: When a CRA is established, the community is invited to share its input and help create the redevelopment plan, or the blueprint for progress. This transparent and wholly public process includes a statutory requirement for the CRA to prioritize the timing of the projects in the plan. Before implementation, a CRA’s master plan must be adopted by the local city and/or county. They have been proven historically to provide distressed communities with a better economy through improved infrastructure, job opportunities and housing. Their mission is to make housing and urban areas safer for residents, to preserve and grow business and provide a sense of place for all who live there. Citizens benefit from the efforts of their local CRA and its ultimate goal to improve blighted conditions within the community. Redevelopment is a wise strategic investment, especially during tough economic times. Floridians should recognize that CRAs work in the communities’ best interests, creating unity and ensuring the overall vitality of the City. Fort Lauderdale has three CRA’s: The Beach Redevelopment (which sunsets in 2019); the Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Heights Redevelopment (which sunsets in 2025); and the newly created Central City Redevelopment.

Picard Holds Check from Fort Lauderdale Firefighters
FIREFIGHTERS HELP DOUBLE AMPUTEE GET NEW BIKE AFTER THEFT: This story was run in the Sun-Sentinel (on-line) a few months back, and though his trek is completed, it was so touching I thought I would share it with you. He is actually from District 1 which makes it even better! The City’s firefighters made a generous donation to a double amputee who cycles for charity after his bike was stolen in May. Hector Picard was presented a check to support his ride for charity. He lost both of his arms in a work accident years ago, but it hasn't slowed him down.
Picard Off to Washington
Next month he will travel 3,200 miles on a bicycle, from Florida to Washington, to raise money for 1-year-old Jameson Davis, who was born without hands or forearms. Picard said, "I just want to show him two things: I want to raise money for prosthetics they are having difficulty with. That and also show him that anything is possible." Picard suffered a small set back when his specially-equipped bicycle was stolen in May, but thanks to the generous donation from the firefighters, the tri-athlete and cyclist received a customized bike from Trek Bicycle Company. Fort Lauderdale firefighters who heard Picard's story donated more than $3,000 for his ride. "It's been a big progress, collecting the money, getting everything out there, and it has been a huge success for us. We are very happy," said Scott Bayne, who is part of the Fort Lauderdale Firefighter Professionals. Picard said the funds will help him change the little boy's life and show him anything is possible. "I can do anything, and the little boy is going to be able to do anything he wants, as well," said Picard. He began his bike ride on June 8 in Miami and will end the middle of July in Spokane, Washington.
Picard’s website is


  • Imperial Point Water Main
    Imperial Point Large Water Main Replacement Project (NE 56th St. between N. Andrews Ave and NE 15th Ave): Construction started in June and is expected to be completed in May 2014. This Community Investment Project is being implemented to improve water transmission in the City of Fort Lauderdale, as well as in the City of Oakland Park. Upon completion of the project, the roadway will be restored, which includes installing new asphalt and restriping the traffic lanes. Most of this current work will actually occur in the City of Oakland Park.

  • Sunrise Key Bridges
    Las Olas Isles and Sunrise Key Bridges Replacement Project: The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) awarded an $8 million design-build contract to MCM Corp. and Gannett Fleming to demolish and replace the low level bridges off Las Olas Boulevard to Royal Palm Drive, Nurmi Drive, Fiesta Way and Isle of Venice and the low level Sunrise Key Bridge off NE 6th Court in Fort Lauderdale. Design of the bridges is underway. The contractor anticipates working on two, non-adjacent bridges at a time. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2013. All five bridges are expected to be completed by late 2016. Also, utility lines that are on or near the bridges must be moved. Utility relocation is scheduled by the individual utility.

  • Federal Highway Resurfacing: The Florida Department of Transportation recently told the City of plans to resurface Federal Highway from Broward Boulevard to Northeast 17th Way. In addition to repaving, FDOT plans to make drainage and pedestrian improvements. The work should begin in October 2014. We should have more precise information later this year.

In the near future, we will bring you more updates on projects slated for North Ocean Boulevard between Oakland Park Boulevard and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, and the Middle River Bridge on East Sunrise Boulevard.


  • 9.12.13: 2nd Budget Public Hearing; 6p.m., Commission Chambers, City Hall

  • 9.16.13: Pre-Agenda Meeting, District 1, 6p.m., Imperial Point Hospital, South Entrance

  • 9.17.13: Commission Meetings (conference and regular)

  • 9.30.13: Pre-agenda Meeting at the Beach Community Center

  • Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
    10.1.13: Commission Meetings (conference and regular)

Office Contact: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
Picks up the Pace

Broward Commission Blasts Associations

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
September 23, 2013 - In his September 2013 message to constituents, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca seeks to honor the heroes of Patriot Day (changed in 2012 to the
National Day of Service and Remembrance) with a plan to provide disabled veterans with free transportation. The “Patriot Pass” he describes is remarkably similar to the Patriot Passport distributed by Miami-Dade Transit to honorably discharged veterans who are permanent residents of Miami-Dade and whose annual income is $22,000 or less. To evidence the County’s fiscal stability, LaMarca cites Broward’s unemployment rate, which remains below those of the State and Nation. He conveys the Commission’s intention to minimally maintain reserves at two months of general fund operating revenues or expenditures. Finally, our District 4 County Commissioner thanks Galt Mile residents for participating in an eerie public hearing during which the Commissioners approved a law intimating that ordinary people are morally ill-equipped to govern themselves.

Click to Miami Transport Passport Website
County Commissioner Lois Wexler
When Broward Commissioners Lois Wexler and Dale Holness quietly slipped an anti-association entry into the September 10, 2013 Broward Commission meeting agenda, association attorneys throughout Florida warned Condo, Co-op and HOA clients. Ostensibly, the Broward County Commission was considering an ordinance purported to insure that people applying for membership in a common interest community are not rejected by reason of a discriminatory classification. When Galt Mile residents learned that Commissioner Lois Wexler engineered the ordinance, many suspected that the measure was less about human rights than about passing a law that uniquely punished association residents. Lois Wexler spent the last four years trying to close the Galt Mile Library.

Click to Broward Association Ordinance To comply with the new Broward ordinance, within ten (10) days (changed to 15 when Commissioner Dale Holness mistakenly believed it would buy some points with angry association residents) of receiving an application for purchase or rent, an association must send the applicant written acknowledgement of its receipt. If the application is not complete or is completed incorrectly, the information to correct this must be included in the acknowledgement. It requires the association to approve or deny a completed application within forty-five (45) days of receipt of the application. If the applicant is denied, it further requires the association to send written notice to the applicant setting forth the reasons for the denial.

County Commissioner Dale Holness
Condominiums, Cooperatives and Homeowner Associations are empowered to create legal eligibility criteria and screening procedures to protect the association, its members and owners of units for sale or rent. Federal Law prohibits fashioning eligibility standards subject to race (color), religion, national origin, familial status, disability, and/or sex (includes pregnancy). The State of Florida precludes Marital Status as an eligibility consideration. Additional discriminatory classifications applicable in Broward County include Age (under 40), Sexual Orientation, Political Affiliation, Gender Identity/Expression, and Retaliation. As required by Federal, State and County law, once adopted, the procedures must be applied equally to every applicant.

Brian Krebs After Stabbing Incident
The screening process exists for one purpose, to protect association members, their families, visitors and association employees from sociopaths, grifters, career criminals, deadbeats and other prospective “neighbors” with fully indexed multi-page rap sheets. It is a critically important security protocol. A few years ago, a Galt Mile tenant threw a lamp through a window; raining shards of glass onto a swimming pool filled with children, and slammed a butcher knife into a wall while destroying his rented unit’s furnishings and fixtures. A few days after this rampage, he stabbed to death a musician working in Fishtales, a tavern across the street. This shocking wake-up call drove home that inadequately enforcing the process imperils everyone who lives, works or visits an association.

It is also indispensable to the financial well-being of the association and its members. Owners who place their units on the market cannot afford to consider tenants or buyers who are unable or unwilling to fulfill their obligations under a lease or contract. Neither can the association. Many associations are just now clawing their way back to solvency after weathering years of involuntarily subsidizing non-contributing units. Since it represents the final and only legal opportunity to protect the association and its members from dangerous security threats and costly financial missteps, the screening process exists solely for that purpose, not to benefit potential tenants, buyers or speculators – until now.

Prior to Broward’s new ordinance, the unit/parcel owner appropriately served as clearinghouse for information developed by the screening process, and decided what is conveyed to his or her applicants. Also, each association could decide whether to embrace a policy that only reveals the outcome of the screening process or a policy that discloses details impacting the outcome. To safeguard the confidentiality of sensitive personal information and diminish the prospect of legal repercussions by disappointed or opportunistic rejected applicants, most association attorneys believe it legally prudent to only report whether an application was accepted or denied. By reviewing a provided copy of the association’s eligibility requirements, applicants could easily extrapolate the exact reason for a denial (unless they were oblivious to their own credit rating or yellow sheet).

Click to Broward Human Rights Section Notwithstanding the advice of their association’s legal counsel, certain association boards believe that explicit transparency offers the best protection against legal challenges and opt to inform the applicant about the reasons for a denial. In any case, the association’s members - whose decision would prospectively impact future association legal exposure - could choose the policy that best served their interests - as long as it complied with Federal, State and local Laws. Federal law has long provided applicants with a legal venue for investigating or challenging a denial. So has the Broward County Human Rights Section. In fact, anyone can fill out and file a housing complaint on the Broward County website from any online computer or tablet.

The ordinance divests association members of their right to create the terms of their community’s screening process. Specifically, it elevates the rights of applicants above those of the association, its members and strangely enough, the owner of the unit for sale or rent - who is stripped of the right to decide what information is passed to applicants.

Broward Board of County Commissioners
At the Public Hearing, association officials queried Broward Commissioners about legal inconsistencies and inequitable provisions in the new law. One asked why the ordinance offers a 45-day response deadline when State Law requires a response within 30 days. Since applicants are already protected by Federal, State & County Laws against denial due to a discriminatory classification, several asked what public purpose is served by Broward’s new ordinance. Association Officials also asked why the Broward Board felt compelled to adopt a law that uniquely targeted associations, ignoring all other forms of homeownership.

Dozens of association members and officials testified against implementing the ordinance, asserting that it far exceeds its stated purpose of informing applicants about the reasons for a denial. Several association officials explained how their associations screen applicants within days of receiving an offer. They asked how the law’s purpose is served by forcing associations to send boilerplate acknowledgement receipts to applicants that are already approved.

Click to Century Village Website The President of a huge Century Village complex explained that hundreds of monthly applicants are scrupulously screened by association members who volunteer their time and effort to protect their home. He complained to Commissioners that the law would unfairly burden them with writing hundreds of “receipt acknowledgements” followed by dozens of explanations - instead of simply informing the owner of the unit about the screening results – in compliance with State and Federal Law. He accused the Commission of singling out associations for an unfunded mandate.

Broward County Commission Public Hearing
In addition to forcing association business offices to draft and mail hundreds of additional correspondences, if challenged by a disgruntled applicant, the only way that associations will be able to prove that they complied with the terms of the ordinance is by sending the required correspondences using certified mail – return receipt requested. As the law is currently structured, every Broward association will have to send every applicant between one and three pieces of certified mail - a written acknowledgement to every applicant of having received their application, another correspondence to fix incomplete or incorrect applications and a final correspondence - if needed - to an explain a denial. Broward associations that screen a modest two hundred applicants annually will be forced to additionally assess its homeowners between $1300 and $4000 for Certified postage (along with the administrative costs for drafting correspondences and maintaining records for a County bureaucracy). For large associations like Century Village, the financial blowback is closer to $30,000.

Broward County Mayor Kristen Jacobs
Attempting to refute the contention that the law discriminates against condos, co-ops and HOAs, Broward Mayor Kristen Jacobs said that the new Broward law applies to all forms of homeownership, not only associations. When Commissioners Tim Ryan and Marty Kiar pointed out that it doesn’t - and asked why it only applies to associations. It soon became clear that the Commissioners knew little about the ordinance they were passing and even less about its impact on tens of thousands Broward association members.

Broward County Commissioner Martin Kiar
Endeavoring to rehabilitate the Mayor’s inference that she hadn’t even read the ordinance, one of the proposed law’s two sponsors, Commissioner Dale Holness jumped in, proclaiming that any measures deterring discrimination are worthwhile. Without explaining why the law only targets associations, Holness added “The associations represented by those of you participating in today’s process are examples of Broward’s best.”

Wexler suddenly blurted, “I know all about condominiums!” Turning to Jacobs, she theatrically winced while commenting “I lived in a condominium for eight years, and I have no idea what they do with the hundreds of dollars they collect from each applicant.” As Jacobs nodded sympathetically, stunned association officials, realtors and attorneys in the audience went mute. Since State law has long mandated a maximum fee of $100 to process an application, Wexler’s outburst belied her claimed familiarity with condominiums while demonstrating an unprovoked disdain for association homeowners. Since $100 barely covers the cost of a professional background check (not the $29.95 internet special that occasionally reveals an unlisted cell number), it is often subsidized by associations to insure a fair and comprehensive eligibility assessment.

Association Attorney Lisa Magill
In a commentary about the inherent inequity, Association Attorney Lisa Magill of Becker & Poliakoff observed, “A professionally managed for-profit rental complex will not be subject to this requirement. Why should community associations have burdens not placed upon other sellers or landlords in Broward County?” Since the need for targeting associations was not established by statistical evidence amassed by the Broward County Human Rights Section or ratified at public hearings, some Commissioners appeared to grow increasingly concerned that they were about to pass a discriminatory law based only on its sponsors’ personal prejudices.

Broward County Commissioner Tim Ryan
Having previously served in the Florida Statehouse, Commissioners Tim Ryan and Marty Kiar were understandably leery of enacting a fellow lawmaker’s personal agenda. Uncomfortable with pre-emptively punishing a single class of homeowner, they began to ask questions. Commissioner Tim Ryan voiced concern about an ordinance that “places all the responsibility on associations and absolutely none on the applicant,” commenting that the applicant should at least have to request the information.

Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief
Kiar turned to Commissioner Barbara Sharief, exclaiming, “When you faced a similar situation recently, you brought the stakeholders together to insure that the outcome was fair. We have association representatives right here that Commissioner Holness characterized as Broward’s best. Why don’t we do the same thing? That way, we can create a law that everyone can live with.”

Kiar made a motion to postpone any action until the Commission could meet with association officials to solicit their input. Although Kiar, Ryan and LaMarca voted affirmatively, Wexler, Jacobs, Holness, Sharief and Gunzburger mechanically quashed the motion and ignoring association concerns, passed the ordinance by a vote of 6 to 1. LaMarca and Ritter were not present and Tim Ryan stood opposed to openly discriminating against associations and their members.

After the hearing, attendees learned that Wexler had slipped another section into the law just prior to the meeting, stating “If the condominium association, homeowners’ association, or cooperative association fails to comply with the provisions of Subsection 161/2-35.6 (a) and (b), the Human Rights Section may send a demand letter requesting that the condominium association, homeowners’ association, or cooperative association provide to the applicant and the Human Rights Section a written acknowledgement of application receipt, notice of approval or rejection of the application, and notice specifying each reason for the rejection (if applicable) within ten (10) days of the demand letter. The failure of the condominium association, homeowners’ association, or cooperative association to timely comply with this provision may be considered in determining whether reasonable cause exists to believe that the association’s decision or action was discriminatory.”

As observed by an attending association attorney, Wexler covertly greased an amendment encouraging the Human Rights Section to indict associations for discrimination “for approving applicants without first mailing them receipts for their applications.” Its small wonder why Federal prosecutors view the Broward County Board as one of the State’s most fertile sources of criminal ethics violations. - Present company excepted, Chip! Tune in next month for “The Witch Hunt”. For our County Commissioner's September update, read on... – [editor]


Back to Work!

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
Last month we got back into the swing of things with the first meeting since June when we broke for Summer Recess. A great deal was accomplished over the summer to help us complete another banner year at Broward County. With unemployment rates lower than the state and national rates, a seaport that makes us a relevant force in the global community, and with investments into county assets that draw tourism and create even more economic growth; Broward County is hard at work for you, and it is indeed working.

As we observe the anniversary of 9/11 this month, we are reminded once more of the lives that were lost on that dreadful day, and the heroic actions of so many to answer the call to duty. We recently passed a county resolution that will allow our disabled veterans free access to county parks starting October 1, 2013. It is a minimal cost for all that they have sacrificed and endured for a grateful nation. We will always look for new and creative ways to give back to those who gave so much. Since being elected, I have been developing a plan to incorporate a program called the “Patriot Pass” here in Broward County, which will assist military veterans in need with transportation by including various entities to create a more cost effective service.

Click to Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Web Page We are approaching that time of year where we plan the future use of your tax dollars. In a series of two budget hearings on the 10th and 24th of September, the Board of County Commissioners will discuss and vote on the Fiscal Year 2014 Broward County Budget. The County’s general fund reserves are in a healthy state and have received favorable ratings from multiple credit reporting agencies. In fact, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) has revised their Financial Management Assessment (FMA) from “good” to “strong” based on the county’s financial management practices. The common theme from all the reporting agencies is that local governments are strongly discouraged from utilizing one time funds, such as reserves, to fund recurring expenses such as personnel salaries and benefits for other constitutional officers in the county. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends that regardless of a county’s size, at a minimum, their reserves should maintain no less than two months of general fund operating revenues or general fund operating expenditures. The informal policy of the Board of County Commissioners has been to not expend funds from the reserves unless there is a dire emergency. This practice negates the need for short term borrowing during the first two months of the fiscal year before property taxes are received.

Click to FEMA Website Our responsible budgeting leaves us in a stable position to handle any and all situations we may face here in South Florida with the threat of disastrous hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. We’re still waiting on reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) related to Hurricane Wilma, and despite that we still thrive in the economic climate the rest of the nation is facing.

We owe it to the residents of Broward County to continue being responsible with county’s millage rates, even during an economic uptick. The real economic stimulus is when tax payers get to keep more of their hard earned money and spend it how it best suits their needs. This is what really helps to make Broward County a better place to live, work, play and raise a family.

I want to thank the residents of The Galt Mile in particular for attending the public hearing on September 10th in order to speak out against the so-called Human Rights Ordinance. I believe that this was an unnecessary government intrusion into your private lives as residents of our community who has chosen to live in a condominium instead of another type of residence. It is the very thing that I am fighting each day as your County Commissioner.

If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954.357.7004 or by email at You can also stay up to date by viewing our website, where you can sign up to receive email updates from our office.

As always, it is an honor to serve you.

Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4

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What's in the Proposed Beach Lighting Ordinance?

Moving Sea Turtle Nest
September 30, 2013 - When they passed the original Beach Lighting ordinance in 2003, City Commissioners never anticipated that its strict interpretation would cripple entire neighborhoods and endanger people’s lives. In their defense, when they passed the overambitious law, official State policy was to dig up turtle nests on heavily populated “donor” beaches and transplant the eggs in mostly barren “recipient” beaches. Understandably unconcerned about public safety issues on stretches of uninhabited beach, they aggressively enhanced the ordinance. When the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) revised its policy in 2006 to avoid nest molestation, the City was suddenly faced with the enigmatic terms of its own law.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Sea Turtle Program - Click to Web Site Commissioners optimistically assumed that the City’s Code Enforcement personnel would apply the ordinance constructively, and suppress poorly conceived provisions that marginalized public safety. Promising to protect people as well as sea turtles, Code Enforcement Officials repeatedly assured residents that the objective of the ordinance was improvement, not perfection. Unfortunately, this balanced approach wasn’t shared by certain stakeholders who view Fort Lauderdale residents as environmental impediments whose needs - and rights - are immaterial to their agenda.

Fort Lauderdale at Night - A1A Ghost Town
Pressured by FWC and radical members of Sea Turtle support groups to enforce the law as written, City officials blacked out entire neighborhoods and darkened State Road A1A. In the ensuing backlash, complaints poured in from coastal residents fearful of walking down their own block after dark, endangered drivers and pedestrians, angry tourists who vowed to never return, struggling merchants in faltering commercial beach neighborhoods and residents flustered by inconsistent and contradictory enforcement policies. As soap box demagogues on either side of this issue sniped at one another, City officials realized that the vast majority of City residents – including most responsible environmentalists – favored a beach lighting plan that protected both people and sea turtles. Since taking steps to protect people would actually violate the terms of the current law (a “first” for a city ordinance in the history of Fort Lauderdale), City Commissioners charged City Manager Lee Feldman with creating a vehicle for this expanded objective.

City Manager Lee Feldman
To mute speculation about the new law’s goals and the City’s commitment to Sea Turtle survival, Feldman decided to use the State’s model Beach Lighting Ordinance as its foundation – and then exempt the City from compliance on “City maintained public walkways.” Unfortunately, the State’s Model Beach Lighting Ordinance was never meant to be plugged into a municipal code without first being vetted for unintended adverse impacts and fitted with objective enforcement protocols.

For existing beachfront neighborhoods, the State environmentalists who drafted the model ordinance anticipated that it would be adapted to the civic, structural, political and public safety needs of affected communities in each jurisdiction. Instead of enacting a one-size-fits-all state law, they passed the responsibility for creating and enforcing a sea turtle survival strategy to local governments that are better positioned to insure that public safety is not compromised and the unavoidable unfunded mandate on beachfront homeowners is minimized. Since the State Model was designed by FWC scientists as a fluid set of guidelines and suggestions, to insure that local governments understood their role in this joint venture, they added 62B-55.004(d), which states “Local governments should develop a process for the consistent and effective enforcement of adopted guidelines.”

Click to Florida Lighting Laws Map In jurisdictions like Fort Lauderdale, the model would have to be amended to allow the City to protect its citizens, neighborhoods to protect their residents and homeowners to protect their families. Fort Lauderdale learned the hard way what happens if the raw language is approved without clear enforcement limits. Having exempted the City from compliance with lighting prohibitions that belabor public safety, Feldman requested input from residents to square the ordinance with their needs. Consider this an invitation to participate while you can still make a difference.

Over the past 6 years, in consultation with Code Enforcement Officers, homeowners in Galt Mile associations preemptively fitted hundreds of fixtures with shields; screens; motion detectors, bulbs recommended by the officers and approved by FWC; or turned off certain lamps at sundown during the nesting season. Hundreds of other lamps were replaced, funded in large part from the retirement savings of longtime residents – many on fixed incomes. Residents who annually share their homes with nesting Sea Turtles are among the staunchest advocates of their well-being and survival – long before it became politically fashionable. As first explained by Broward Sea Turtle icon Lou Fisher at a 2007 educational meeting convened by the neighborhood association, the objective was always to block light from illuminating the beach.

Broward Sea Turtle Program Architect Lou Fisher
In the past two years, certain associations were informed that lamps casting no direct or reflected light on the beach violated the ordinance because whatever they did illuminate – cars, people, landscaping, etc. – was visible from the beach. Since neither the light source of these lamps nor their reflecting surfaces were visible from the beach, this enigmatic interpretation of the ordinance would hold beachfront neighborhoods responsible for blacking out the City to an observer on the beach. Upon asking a Code Official about applying this standard, which isn’t in the current law, he answered “I interpret the ordinance as I understand it.” This kind of subjective enforcement has forced many associations to replace the same lamps 2 or 3 times. After approving the deck lighting plan of one Galt Mile association, a year later waffling Code Officials issued a violation for the lamps, and expressed an expectation that the lamps would be replaced again – casually flushing tens of $thousands in association funds expended to protect Sea Turtles while threatening unit owners with a second assessment. No worthwhile cause can afford to frivolously waste resources and any City law that arbitrarily abuses citizens is broken.

For beach neighborhoods and homeowners, the ordinance should provide clear and objective compliance protocols, never compromise safety and security and – since they are footing the bill for 95% of this project – be implemented in a manner that achieves its objective without unnecessarily pillaging family – or association – budgets. By addressing these concerns, the new law can mitigate much of the controversy surrounding this effort, and expedite compliance.

The following is a compilation of concerns expressed by Galt Mile and Lauderdale Beach residents who’ve read the proposed ordinance. With two exceptions (a Lauderdale Beach homeowner and a Galt Mile official), they support a balanced law that seeks improvement, not perfection. To help add perspective to each comment, the proposed ordinance is available for easy reference after the observations.

Click to Balancing Marine Turtle Protections with Life Safety Lighting website To promote the revised Ordinance, the City created a presentation entitled Balancing Marine Turtle Protections with Life Safety Lighting and posted it on the City of Fort Lauderdale website. The presentation cites four features drawn from the State Model that are addressed in the ordinance, 1) Point Source of Light, 2) Consistency between New Development and Existing Development Artificial Lighting Requirements, 3) Use of Dunes and Vegetation to Create Compliance and 4) Interior Artificial Lighting Requirements.

Sea Turtle Safe Bollard Lamps
In featuring “Point Source of Light” - provision (1)(a) in sections for both new and existing beach lighting - as a key element of the revised ordinance, City Officials offer homeowners and associations a clear and achievable compliance benchmark. In providing that Existing artificial light fixtures shall be repositioned, modified, or removed so that the point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach, the new ordinance seemingly eliminates speculative confusion about compliance standards. If the bulb or the fixture’s reflecting surface isn’t visible from the beach, the fixture is compliant - and not subject to a violation.

Provision (1)(b) requires that “Existing artificial light fixtures shall be repositioned, modified, or removed so that areas seaward of the frontal dune are not directly or indirectly illuminated.” Since the ordinance defines “Directly illuminated” as “illuminated as a result of glowing element(s), lamp(s), globe(s), or reflector(s) of an artificial light source which is visible to an observer on the beach,” this is consistent with provision (1)(a) and gives associations, businesses and homeowners an objective and measurable compliance standard.

After getting off to a good start, the proposed ordinance melts down. The ordinance defines Indirectly illuminated as “illuminated as a result of glowing element(s), lamp(s), globe(s), or reflector(s) of an artificial light source which is not visible to an observer on the beach.” That’s the actual language. Without additional clarification, any artificial light source which is NOT visible to an observer on the beach will be eligible for a violation. Since this includes every lamp on Planet Earth that doesn’t directly illuminate the beach, homeowners would be justified in wondering just how the this provision will be enforced, given the absence of any objective criteria.

The second plan element featured by City Officials is “Consistency between New Development and Existing Development Artificial Lighting Requirements.” For all its unanticipated pitfalls, the current ordinance recognizes that retrofitting a lighting plan is far more expensive and structurally difficult than designing one from scratch. As such, most of Florida’s local lighting laws productively differentiate lighting requirements for new and existing structures. Inexplicably, this distinction is tossed out in the proposed revision.

The new “uniform” requirements for existing lighting are listed in Section (2), which states “The following measures shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of existing exterior artificial lighting,” followed by a list of required adaptations. Although the list appears to be a series of available FWC options for correcting prospective lighting violations, it doesn’t limit the required changes to lamps illuminating the beach. As worded, it could apply to all exterior lighting. Since the City’s Beach Lighting ordinance should be limited to preventing lamps from illuminating the beach, a clarification is in order.

Sea Turtle Safe Bulbs - low wattage low-pressure sodium vapor lighting
Since professional deck lighting plans rarely feature off-the-shelf fixtures from Home Depot or K-Mart, many of the bulbs mandated by provision (2)(c) as replacements in existing fixtures simply do not exist (as any Code Officer will confirm). Provisions (2)(h) and (i) are particularly special, since they would require associations and homeowners to transform walkways, patios, swimming pools, parking decks and barbecue areas into planters. Since they were presumably drafted to some other purpose, such as a suggestion that might be taken instead of a mandate that must be taken, these measures should also be clarified.

Section (3) is anathematic. Although several jurisdictions have plunked it into their local adaptations of the State model, since it carries some serious legal and Constitutional baggage, it has only been enforced against rooms from which lamps directly illuminate the beach. As currently drafted, it anticipates forcing tens of thousands of Fort Lauderdale residents to coat some 400,000 windows that overlook the beach – some from a half mile away – at $15 - $20/sq. ft. or $270 - $360 a pop for simple casement windows, between $450 and $700 for glass doors or up to $3600 for large floor-to-ceiling sliders. Also, after spending between $6000 and $60,000 to install hurricane impact glass windows or doors in homes and/or offices – as strongly recommended by the State as well as every insurance carrier – film applied after installation can void manufacturer and/or installer warranties on the glass (although not on the frame). Since the Citizens Insurance campaign to dump policyholders has sharply limited windstorm coverage, the thousands of supplemental insurance policies and riders purchased by homeowners, businesses and associations to specifically cover costly storm-damaged impact glass windows and doors could also become confetti. Going forward, the City can easily remedy this issue by changing a tinting option in the permitting process into a tinting requirement for affected new windows.

Given the inherent implausibility of effectively enforcing this roughly $150 million unfunded mandate, Code Enforcement had already implemented two strategies that more realistically address the issue. In 2007, the City’s first Code Enforcement liaison to FWC, Al Lovingshimer, warned neighborhood officials about this dogmatic requirement. Explaining that it was designed as a suggested objective more appropriate to new development, Lovingshimer – and successor Mario Sotolongo – implemented alternative strategies based on education and cooperation.

On a case by case basis, Code Officials work with homeowners to minimize the impact of lights emanating from any room that egregiously illuminates the beach. To address the minimally productive larger objective, instead of exploring the Constitutional tar pit of dictating when thousands of people can turn on and off the lights in their own homes, or prosecute an unprecedented legal obligation to retroactively purchase hundreds of thousands of “window treatments”, they met with neighborhood associations to elicit the voluntary cooperation of member buildings.

Along the Galt Mile, as per the 2007 agreement with Code Enforcement, beachfront associations posted notices on association bulletin boards and websites that unit owners should turn off lights when leaving a room with a window overlooking the beach, thereby saving money and Marine Turtles. In many buildings, this is also conveyed to visitors and guests. To lead by example, the associations apply this to all interior common area lighting as well.

Having read some of the concerns expressed by your neighbors, it’s your turn to step to the plate. Following are the terms of the proposed ordinance. Since Galt Mile associations are primarily impacted by the section entitled, Standards for Existing Beachfront Lighting, read the handful of provisions. Don’t forget to see how the law defines key terms in Section 6-46. Members of associations planning an overall deck lighting replacement should also review Standards for New Beachfront Lighting. Keeping in mind that your objective is to frugally block illumination of the beach without compromising the safety and security of any resident, see if you can find provisions that need clarification or amending. Since beach residents will be obliged to fund and abide by its mandates once enacted, take a few minutes to look over the revised ordinance.

You might take another 60 seconds and send an email to with your questions, suggestions, concerns, recommendations and comments. If you hate computers, inform your association’s GMCA Advisory Board members (listed elsewhere in this newsletter) about your observations. In turn, they will be conveyed to City Commissioner Bruce Roberts, who can help us differentiate possible misconceptions about the new law from concerns that should be addressed. Two pedestrian closing comments: 1) There is strength in numbers and 2) speak now or forever hold your peace.

Proposed Beach Lighting Ordinance


Chapter 6 - ANIMALS



Sec. 6-45. - Purpose.

The purpose of this division is to reduce the impacts of artificial coastal lighting on threatened and endangered sea turtles that nest on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale by restricting artificial lighting that disorients turtles hatchlings, causing them to crawl toward land rather than toward the ocean. The restrictions and constraints of this division shall be effective within the incorporated areas of Fort Lauderdale and apply to any coastal lighting activity that has the potential to adversely impact sea turtles within city limits.

Sec. 6-46. - Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

Artificial light means the light emanating from any human-made device.

Beach means the zone of unconsolidated material that extends landward from the mean low-water line of the Atlantic Ocean, to the place where there is a marked change in material or physiographic form, or to the line of permanent vegetation, usually the effective limit of storm waves.

Beach Front Lighting means all artificial light visible from the sand that shall illuminate any area of the beach.

Coastal construction activities means any work or activity that is likely to have a material physical effect on existing coastal conditions or natural shore and inlet processes.

Cumulatively illuminated means illuminated by numerous artificial light sources that as a group illuminate any portion of the beach.

Directly illuminated means illuminated as a result of glowing element(s), lamp(s), globe(s), or reflector(s) of an artificial light source which is visible to an observer on the beach.

Dune means a mound or ridge of loose sediments, usually sand-sized, lying landward of the beach and deposited by any natural or artificial mechanism.

Filmed glass means window glass that has been covered with a film such that the material has a shading coefficient of forty-five (45) percent or less, adhesive as an integral part, and has performance claims that are supported by approved testing procedures and documentation.

Frontal dune means the first natural or man-made mound or bluff of sand which is located landward of the beach and which has sufficient vegetation, height, continuity and configuration to offer protective value.

Ground-level barrier means any vegetation, natural feature or artificial structure rising from the ground which prevents beachfront lighting from shining directly onto the beach-dune system.

Hatchling means any species of marine turtle, within or outside of a nest, that has recently hatched from an egg.

Indirectly illuminated means illuminated as a result of glowing element(s), lamp(s), globe(s), or reflector(s) of an artificial light source which is not visible to an observer on the beach.

Marine turtle means any marine-dwelling reptile of the families Cheloniidae or Dermochelyidae found in Florida waters or using the beach as nesting habitat, including the species: Caretta caretta (loggerhead), Chelonia mydas (green), Dermochelys coriacea (leatherback), Eretmochelys imbricate (hawksbill), and Lepidochelys kempi (Kemp’s ridley). For purposes of this rule, marine turtle is synonymous with sea turtle.

Nest means an area where marine turtle eggs have been naturally deposited or subsequently relocated.

Nesting season means the period from March 1 through October 31 of each year.

Nighttime means the time period between sunset and sunrise within incorporated Fort Lauderdale.

Person means individuals, firms, associations, joint ventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations.

Solar screens means screens that are fixed installations and permanently project shade over the entire glass area of the window. The screens must be installed on the outside of the glass and must have a shading coefficient of forty-five (45) percent or less and have performance claims supported by approved testing procedures and documentation.

Tinted glass means any glass treated to achieve an industry-approved, inside-to-outside light transmittance value of forty-five (45) percent or less. Such transmittance is limited to the visible spectrum (four hundred (400) to seven hundred (700) nanometers) and is measured as the percentage of light that is transmitted through the glass.

Sec. 6-47. - Prohibition of activities disruptive to marine turtles.

The following activities involving direct illumination of portions of the beach are prohibited on the beach at nighttime during the nesting season for the protection of nesting females, nests and hatchlings:

  1. The operation of all motorized vehicles, except emergency and enforcement vehicles or those permitted on the beach for marine turtle conservation, research or beach maintenance.
  2. The building of campfires or bonfires.

Sec. 6-48. - Standards for new Beachfront lighting.

In order to provide the highest level of protection for nesting marine turtles and their hatchlings, the following standards apply to artificial light sources on all new coastal construction:

  1. Existing artificial light fixtures shall be designed and positioned so that:

    1. The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach;
    2. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not directly or indirectly illuminated; and
    3. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not cumulatively illuminated.
  2. Exterior artificial light fixtures within direct line-of-sight of the beach are considered appropriately designed if;

    1. Completely shielded downlight only fixtures, or recessed fixtures having low wattage consistent with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requirements and non-reflective interior surfaces are used. Other fixtures that have appropriate shields, louvers or cut-off features may also be used if they are in compliance with the requirements of paragraphs (1)(a), (b), and (c) above; and
    2. All fixtures are mounted as low in elevation as possible through use of low-mounted wall fixtures, low bollards, and ground-level fixtures.
  3. Floodlights, up lights or spotlights for decorative and accent purposes that are directly visible from the beach, or indirectly or cumulatively illuminate the beach, shall not be used excepting City use on City maintained public walkways.

  4. Exterior lights used expressly for safety or security purposes shall be limited to the minimum number and configuration required to achieve their functioning role(s). The use of motion detector switches that keep lights off except when approached, and that switch lights on for the minimum duration possible are preferred.

  5. Only low intensity lighting shall be used in parking areas within line-of-sight of the beach. Such lighting shall be:

    1. Set on a base which raises the source of light no higher than 48 inches off the ground: and
    2. Positioned or shielded so that the light is cast downward and the source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach and does not directly or indirectly illuminate the beach.
  6. Parking areas and roadways, including any paved or unpaved areas upon which motorized vehicles will park or operate, shall be designed and located to prevent vehicular headlights from directly or indirectly illuminating the beach.

  7. Vehicular lighting, parking area lighting, and roadway lighting shall be shielded from the beach through the use of ground-level barriers. Ground-level barriers must not interfere with marine turtle nesting or hatchling emergence, or cause short or long-term damage to the beach/dune system.

  8. Tinted glass shall be installed on all windows and glass doors of single and multi-story structures within line-of-sight of the beach.

  9. Parking areas and structures shall be designed and located to prevent vehicular headlights from directly or indirectly illuminating the beach. Parking area and parking structure lighting shall be shielded from the beach through the use of shields that direct light away from the beach, and ground-level barriers designed in conformance to the CPTED principals. Such ground-level barriers shall not interfere with marine turtle nesting or hatchling emergence and shall not cause short or long-term damage to the beach/dune system. Entrances and exits to parking structures shall not face the ocean. Surfaces of parking areas shall not contain ground glass or other reflexive material.

  10. Use of appropriately shielded low pressure sodium vapor lamps and fixtures shall be preferred for high-intensity lighting applications such as lighting parking areas and roadways, providing security, and similar applications.

  11. No roof top advertising sign that is illuminated in any fashion shall be permitted.

  12. Temporary lighting of construction sites during the marine turtle nesting season shall be restricted to the minimum amount necessary and shall incorporate all of the standards of this section.

Sec. 6-49. - Standards for existing beachfront lighting.

In order to provide the highest level of protection for nesting marine turtles and their hatchlings, the following standards apply to existing artificial beachfront lighting sources:

  1. Existing artificial light fixtures shall be repositioned, modified, or removed so that:

    1. The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach;
    2. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not directly or indirectly illuminated; and
    3. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not cumulatively illuminated.
  2. The following measures shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of existing exterior artificial lighting:

    1. Reposition fixtures so that the point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is no longer visible from the beach;
    2. Replace fixtures having an exposed light source with fixtures containing recessed light sources or shields:
    3. Replace traditional light bulbs with bulbs consistent with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requirements;
    4. Replace non-directional fixtures with directional fixtures that point down and away from the beach;
    5. Replace fixtures having transparent or translucent coverings with fixtures having opaque shields covering an arc of at least 180 degrees and extending an appropriate distance below the bottom edge of the fixture on the seaward side so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach;
    6. Replace pole lamps with low-profile, low-level luminaries so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach;
    7. Replace incandescent, fluorescent, and high intensity lighting with the lowest wattage low pressure sodium vapor lighting possible for the specific application;
    8. Plant or improve vegetation buffers between the light source and the beach to screen light from the beach;
    9. Construct a ground level barrier to shield light sources from the beach. Ground-level barriers must not interfere with marine turtle nesting or hatchling emergence, or cause short-or long- term damage to the beach/dune system and must be approved by Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the City of Fort Lauderdale;
    10. Permanently remove or permanently disable any fixture which cannot be brought into compliance with the provisions of these standards.
  3. The following measures shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of interior light emanating from doors and windows within line-of-sight of the beach;

    1. Apply window tint or film that meets the standards for tinted glass;
    2. Rearrange lamps and other moveable fixtures away from windows;
    3. Use window treatments (e.g., blinds, curtains) to shield interior lights from the beach; and
    4. Turn off unnecessary lights

Sec. 6-50. - Penalty.

Violation of the provisions of this division or failure to comply with any of its requirements shall constitute an offense. When it has been determined that a violation has occurred, notice of the violation and an opportunity for a hearing shall be served on the person or persons responsible. Upon refusal, failure or neglect of the person or persons served with a notice of violation to cure the violation, and when the violator or the violator's representatives do not appear at the hearing granted pursuant to this Code or as otherwise provided by law, or when an order finding a violation is entered against the violator, the enforcing agency shall notify the violator, in writing, that an external lighting source causing the violation may be removed by the city within ten (10) business days thereafter, or that a fine may be assessed against the violator, with said fine to begin to be assessed within ten (10) business days thereafter, and to be continuously assessed until the conclusion of nesting season or until the violation is corrected. Costs associated with the removal by the city of external lighting sources causing violations shall be recovered from the person or persons causing the violation, and, if not recovered from the person or persons, shall be placed as a lien against the property and reimbursed to the city at time of sale of the property.

(Ord. No. C-03-9, § 1, 2-18-03 )


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Plaza South
October 7, 2013 - On June 28, 2013, Plaza South President
Andy Surdovel, who also serves on the Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) Board of Directors, contacted some of his peers in the neighborhood association. Under a City-issued permit, Plaza South was completing long-planned upgrades to its pool deck. When designing a deck lighting plan, their landscape architect selected fixtures featured as turtle-friendly on the Florida Fish and Wildlife website. A permit application submitted to the City was retuned unapproved with an enigmatic turtle graphic stamped on the document. Upon contacting the City to learn why the building department responded to their application with a marine hieroglyphic, the project engineer was told that since the project extends east of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL), it must also be approved by the State; specifically, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Plaza South President Andrew Surdovel
To protect Florida beaches from “imprudent construction”, the 1971 State Legislature enacted s. 161.053, Florida Statutes, creating a Coastal Construction Control Line to define coastal areas “within which special structural design consideration is required to insure protection of the beach-dune system, any proposed structure, and adjacent properties, rather than to define a seaward limit for upland structures.” In short, any permit application for construction that penetrates the CCCL triggers scrutiny of potential adverse impacts to the coastal ecosystem as a condition for approval. Many Galt Mile residents mistakenly perceive the CCCL as a mystical paradigm hovering somewhere over the beach like other reference elevation benchmarks (i.e. Mean High Water Line, etc.), it doesn’t. In fact, it runs right through the superstructure of many Galt Mile properties.

When an association seeks a building permit for onsite lighting improvements near the ocean, the State’s environmental interest is largely limited to insuring that the lighting plan doesn’t disrupt nesting turtle and hatchling behavior (i.e. the turtle glyph) by unnecessarily illuminating the adjacent beach. When Plaza South’s engineer, landscape architect and contractor admitted to being perplexed about how to proceed, Surdovel recalled a December 3 Presidents Council meeting that featured a presentation about turtle-safe lighting in Galt Mile associations.

City Commissioner Bruce Roberts
On December 3, 2012, the final Presidents Council meeting of 2012 was convened at the neighboring Plaza East Condominium. The agenda was dominated by two issues, the loss of 4 blocks of A1A (and the adjacent beach) to storm surge from Hurricane Sandy and a growing animosity over inconsistent and anathematic sea turtle policies. City Commissioner Bruce Roberts and City Manager Lee Feldman addressed a barrage of questions about long and short term plans to fix the mottled roadway and rebuild the eviscerated beach, outlining a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) plan more fully fleshed out a week later at a December 10 town hall meeting in the Beach Community Center.

Broward Sea Turtle Program Architect Lou Fisher
Before reviewing plans to reclaim A1A and the beach, City, County and State officials responded to neighborhood concerns about enormous turtle nest sites that each consumed roughly a thousand square feet of beach to cushion a 3-foot nest, erratic enforcement policies of a City Beach Lighting Ordinance and recent assaults on association properties launched from a dangerously darkened beach. Broward County Natural Resource Specialist III Lou Fisher, the now retired architect of Broward County’s Sea Turtle program, met with GMCA officials a month earlier to help quell growing frustration of residents and visitors over huge nest sites that cumulatively claimed up to 80% of the accessible beach area. After meeting with Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) officials in Tallahassee, Fisher announced that future nest site perimeters would be limited in size to a five foot radius, which would consume only one tenth of the area lost to the 30 - 35 foot diameter nest sites erected throughout the 2012 nesting season.

Code Enforcement Supervisor Skip Margerum
Following Fisher’s welcome news, attending Fort Lauderdale Code Enforcement officials fielded complaints about unbalanced and arbitrary City enforcement policies for beachfront lighting. Apologizing for any misunderstandings that may have resulted from poor communication between Code Officers and associations, Code Enforcement Manager Skip Margerum issued an invitation to contact Code Enforcement with future concerns about beachfront lighting, promising that any association working with an enforcement officer to achieve compliance would not be penalized. Notwithstanding requirements of the lighting ordinance, Margerum acknowledged that city policy – and that of his department - is to protect both people and turtles.

Environmental Specialist II Karen Schanzle with the Marine Turtle subsection of Imperiled Species Management at Florida FWC
When attendee questions took a technical turn, GMCA President Pio Ieraci introduced FWC wildlife lighting expert Karen Schanzle from the State’s West Palm Beach office. Drawing on her familiarity with marine turtle research conducted by renowned FWC scientists like Blair Witherington, Schanzle explained how poorly planned artificial lighting disrupts hatchling and nesting turtle survival behaviors. The highly illuminated horizon created when the ocean reflects moonlight enables hatchlings to locate the shoreline and nesting turtles to locate the beach. The cumulative impact of inland artificial light sends both hatchlings and nesting females in the wrong direction. Disoriented hatchlings that travel inland fall prey to dehydration, ghost crabs, sea birds or the P225/60R16 radials on your Acura. Following her presentation, Schanzle offered to evaluate any association’s beachfront lighting needs and make authoritative recommendations that balance the needs of sea turtles with those of association residents.

!BINGO! Surdovel called GMCA V.P. Eric Berkowitz, who helped organize the December 3rd presentations. On Wednesday, July 24, 2013, Berkowitz called Schanzle, who had since been promoted and relocated from West Palm Beach to FWC Headquarters in Tallahassee. Although currently responsible for lighting issues along the entire coast, Schanzle kept her promise - and assented to help tailor an acceptable Plaza South lighting plan. Since an FWC site inspection had been previously scheduled in Miami on the evening of August 1, Schanzle agreed to meet earlier that day in Plaza South to review Surdovel’s lighting issues.

Click to Bromley Cook website On August 1st at 3 p.m., Shanzle met with Surdovel, Bruce Bromley from the Fort Lauderdale Engineering firm Bromley Cook, Landscape Architect Michael Pirich, contractor Carlos Ramirez from Carousel Development & Restoration, Plaza South Board members Anthony Giardina, Maureen Zolubos, Gene Muia and Berkowitz, who lives down the block in Regency Tower. Although Bromley previously equipped Schanzle with a site plan and related documents, Surdovel and Bromley fully read Shanzle into the project, bringing her up to speed. When Surdovel assured her that only lamps “with the FWC good housekeeping seal of approval” (fixtures designated as turtle-friendly on the FWC website) were selected for the deck, Schanzle offered to verify whether the lamps were appropriate for their intended locations and review the other factors that impact the environmental adequacy of a lighting plan.

Click to Carousel Development & Restoration website Shanzle opened by explaining that light sources - such as bulbs and the reflecting surfaces of a fixture - should not be visible from the beach. Not only should they be shielded from the beach directly in front of the lamp, but also from either side. For instance, if an observer walks south along the beach to Galt Towers and looks back at a lamp on the Plaza South deck, the bulb should still not be visible. She told Surdovel that selecting directional lamps that point down and away from the beach will also trim the association electric bill. Since only about 20% of the light scattered in all directions by Globe lamps and Carriage lights productively illuminates the deck, those fixtures unnecessarily quintuple electrical costs. By efficiently dispensing light only to those areas that enhance safety and security, the association can meet its objective without endangering sea turtles, and save a bundle. Not coincidentally, determining whether a light source is visible from the beach is also central to the City’s proposed revision of its beach lighting ordinance.

Schanzle informed the group that low wattage low-pressure sodium vapor (LPS) lighting should be substituted for incandescent or fluorescent high intensity lamps whenever possible. Two light sources that appear very similar in color to humans - LPS lamps and ordinary “bug lights” - elicit dramatically different responses from sea turtles. Since most yellow bug lamps contain an ordinary white light source (which emits every spectral color) encased in a bulb with a yellow or red coating, the emanated long and short wavelengths mimic the effect on sea turtles of ordinary white incandescent bulbs. In contrast, low-pressure sodium vapor lamps emit pure single-wavelength (monochromatic) yellow light that seems to minimally impact hatchling and nesting turtle behavior. If yellow “bug lights” are planned replacements for ordinary white bulbs, incandescent versions should be 25 watts or less while compact fluorescent bulbs shouldn’t exceed 9 watts.

Click to Florida Marine Research Institute Technical Report
Both the color (wavelength) and relative brightness of light sources impact turtle behavior
When asked why FWC recommends yellow, red or amber lights near the beach, Schanzle explained that marine turtles demonstrate heightened sensitivity to the shorter wavelengths in the visible spectrum, such as those yielding green, blue and violet light. Since longer wavelengths of visible light (red, yellow, orange, etc.) are selectively blocked by seawater and unable to penetrate the upper layers of the ocean, over hundreds of millions of years sea turtles visually evolved in a habitat predominantly illuminated by short wavelength blue and violet light. As summarized in a dictum about Natural Selection made popular on tee shirts and bumper stickers, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Although the degree of sensitivity varies somewhat by species, sea turtles are relatively unresponsive to the longer wavelength colors of red or orange briefly encountered during rare instinct-driven sojourns to the ocean surface.

Schanzle described other light-related factors that adversely impact sea turtles. The relative attraction of marine turtles to different colors is also a function of brightness. Hatchlings can be attracted to even long wavelength red light at very high intensities. Notwithstanding the color of the light source, Schanzle recommended using the minimum wattage necessary for residents to safely navigate the area and discern security threats.

Plaza South Pool
To provide Schanzle with a first-hand perspective of the site plan, Surdovel adjourned the meeting to the pool deck. As per documentation distributed by Engineer Bruce Bromley, five of the six hatted pole lamps picked from the FWC website were planned for installation along the easternmost part of the deck, adjacent to the beach. Admonishing that the placement of lamps is just as important as the type of fixture, Schanzle noted that placing the lamps along the seawall would directly illuminate the beach and recommended a directional fixture more appropriate to that location. Agreeing with her assessment, Surdovel told Schanzle “We want to do this the right way. We would rather follow your guidance and insure that this is done properly than revisit this issue annually. That’s why we called you.”

Pole Lamp - Good for Street - No Good for Pool Deck
Schanzle explained why pole lamps are generally problematic, even when shielded. As pole lamps rise above grade, an ever-increasing circle of light cast downward is scattered exponentially (relative to the distance between the light source and the deck). If installed to close to the seawall, the scatter would unavoidably encroach on the beach. Reminding Surdovel that a plan objective is to direct light to those areas that provide the greatest safety and security dividend, Schanzle recommended lamps that rise no more than 42 inches above grade and direct light to the deck. When Surdovel mentioned installing bollard fixtures, Schanzle characterized them as a much better choice.

Mindful of potential liability, Bromley asked Schanzle how he should enhance resident safety. Schanzle declined offering any suggestions, clarifying that she can only authoritatively advocate on behalf of the State’s environmental lighting guidelines. Landscape Architect Pirich interjected that the only other regulations governing lighting plans for a privately owned pool area are in the health code, which wouldn’t cure Bromley’s concerns. Absent a defining State law or local ordinance, the association or its engineer can consult with the association’s insurance carrier, which has a dog in that fight.

On concluding this segment of his meeting agenda, Surdovel confirmed that he would implement each of Schanzle’s recommendations. He asked Schanzle if she would follow through with FDEP and the City about advancing the project. Since Schanzle was heading to her scheduled site inspection in Miami, she said that she would get back to him next week, after returning to her office in Tallahassee.

FDEP Environmental Manager Fritz Wettstein
Click to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Web Site After reaching out to FDEP and the City, Schanzle contacted Surdovel on August 8th and suggested that he contact FDEP directly to explain the project. During the August 1st meeting, Schanzle intimated that the deck lighting issues are unlikely to draw FDEP concern. She was on the money. Following a discussion of the plan with Bromley, FDEP Environmental Manager Fritz Wettstein concluded that the scope of work didn’t necessitate a CCCL Permit. With FDEP pulling out of the loop, Surdovel and Company next had to send Schanzle a plan that actualized their August 1st understanding.

Click to FWC Turtle Lighting Web Page Click to FWC Turtle Lighting Certification Guidelines Web Page When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Armed with Schanzle’s prescribed lighting criteria, Surdovel revisited the FWC website to trawl for agency-approved fixtures. Several times each year, FWC invites lighting manufacturers to request Wildlife Lighting Certification for products that meet agency guidelines. Nine different classes of fixtures and bulbs must satisfy additional criteria for approval specific to Sea Turtles. Most participating lighting manufacturers flush one or two fixtures or bulbs through the certification process, just enough to win agency kudos for their corporate commitment to the environment. Since the demand for these fixtures was thin when the program began, they were rarely the beneficiaries of mass production techniques that enable manufacturers to generate a quality product at a reasonable cost. As such, many of the FWC approved lighting products featured the structural integrity of Pez dispensers. Others appeared to be patterned after prizes in a Cracker Jacks box. More recently, the quality of some products improved when manufacturers realized that they could pass the agency acid test by making minor adjustments to their production line fixtures – such as changing the wattage, type and color of lighting elements.

Click to Stonelight Website
Stonelight Cordoba Bollard Specs
The pricing for these devices underscores their vendors’ well developed sense of the ridiculous. Fixtures suffering from flimsy construction and cartoon-like aesthetics carry stratospheric price tags. Except for a handful of industry staples, wildlife-certified lamps on the FWC website – as well as their manufacturers – are constantly being rotated or replaced. Surdovel got lucky. In the weed field of spindly metal and plastic bollards was a company that specialized in concrete fixtures, perfect for withstanding a saline oceanfront environment in a hurricane zone. After selecting eighteen 8-inch round 42-inch tall Cordoba style concrete bollards made by Naples manufacturer Stonelight, and nineteen solid brass step lights from SPJ Lighting in South El Monte, California, Engineer Bruce Bromley’s firm drew up the new specifications (as required in rule subparagraphs 62B-33.008(3)(i)1., through 3., F.A.C.) on September 12 and sent them to Shanzle the next day.

On Monday, September 23, Schanzle emailed Surdovel and Bromley, stating “The attached documents meet the intentions of the FWC recommendations and will be recommended for approval to Ft. Lauderdale Building Department.” A delighted Surdovel forwarded Schanzle’s email to the neighborhood association with a one-word message – “Finally!”

Click to Stonelight Website
SPJ Steplight
Plaza South is the first Galt Mile association forced to navigate both State and City permit mazes to realize a deck lighting plan. Until now, this regulatory minefield was reserved for construction projects that physically breached the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL), such as maintenance repairs to outfall pipes, installing onsite gravity wells (with ocean outlets), dune building or repairs to a beach egress. Although light doesn’t physically threaten the beach-dune system (originally a pre-requisite to enforcing the CCCL Statute), State regulations governing Coastal Marine habitat include lighting parameters, enabling environmental regulators to stretch the statute’s scope and include lighting projects proximal to the CCCL. The CCCL program was subsequently redefined to additionally safeguard public beach access, native salt resistant dune vegetation and Marine Turtles. As a result, new beachfront lighting plans that abut the CCCL on association property will trigger State involvement – and necessitate multiple permits.

Galt Mile Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL)
Over the next decade, virtually every one of Plaza South’s neighbors will replace its beachside lighting. Since the CCCL penetrates the superstructures of oceanfront Galt Mile associations, when they apply for a City permit to replace beachfront lighting elements that succumb to erosion and/or age, association officials shouldn’t be surprised when the Building Department’s response cover page features a Sea Turtle glyph.

Hopefully, City building officials and State environmental bureaucrats will have ironed out a mutually agreeable procedural primer for associations facing this daunting double gauntlet. If not, they can still call their Plaza South neighbor who already walked the walk. On September 25th, Surdovel said “We hope to have the new lighting installed on our pool deck by mid-October, before our snowbirds return for the holiday season.” Plaza South homeowners owe Surdovel a debt of gratitude. Although thrown into a regulatory Cuisinart, by patiently keeping his eyes on the prize, the low-key Plaza South President engineered an aesthetically pleasing fully compliant lighting plan that should serve as a template for beachfront associations over the next decade. For dessert, within roughly four years, the savings on electricity will have turned the bollards into a gift from FP&L. Not too shabby!

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Surf Fishing on the Galt Mile Beach
October 24, 2013 - As twilight descended on the Galt Mile beach last June, against the silhouette of a beach chair amid four poles rising from the sand, a darkened figure darted right and left, as if guarding the small patch of beach against the rising ocean. The 67-year old amateur angler lives two buildings south of his “lucky” casting spot. The former New Jersey native looks to hook tarpon or jacks in the Spring and snook throughout the Summer. “I used to tie strings from the lines to my fingers because half my time here is spent dozing in the beach chair.”

The Guy in Anglin's Bait Shop
Farther south, a kid named Stuart was fishing with two poles. During regular visits to his aunt’s Galt Mile condo, he also aspires to bag snook. Considered an excellent food fish, the average length 2-foot snook is also prized as a game fish for its great fighting spirit. Alternatively called the sergeant fish or robalo, the recreational harvest of snook opens on September 1. From December 1 through the end of February and May 1 through August 31, Fort Lauderdale surf fishing enthusiasts angling for snook practice “Catch and Release” protocols. Why doesn’t Stuart go to Anglin’s Pier, where $7 buys access to 24 hours of non-stop fishing? “Because the guy in the bait shack is a jerk,” says Stuart, “He treats people like crap.” Simple - but elegant.

Large Snook Caught on Galt Mile Beach
A few years ago, an 18th floor resident of Regency Tower would scarf down dinner, pack three poles and a bait bag into a canvas carry-all and head to the elevator. The newly remarried middle-aged business consultant set up his fishing gear between Play del Mar and Regency Tower several evenings each week. As Wiley anxiously awaited a telltale tug on one of his three lines, balconies on Regency Tower and Playa del Mar filled with intrigued residents. “It’s like a deep relaxation exercise,” said one of his Regency tower neighbors, “Lying on a chaise lounge while watching this guy fish puts me right to sleep.” Every so often, Wiley would awaken his intermittently nodding audience with a victorious “Yee-Haa,” after pulling some unidentifiable prize from the ocean. By the time he moved out, a legacy shaped by decades of residency was overshadowed by the therapeutic value of his surf fishing antics.

Edgewater Arms' AnneMarie Adams
At the October 17, 2013 meeting of Galt Mile Advisory Board, Edgewater Arms representative AnneMarie Adams surprised her peers. Out of the blue, she asked if fishing was allowed on the Galt Mile beach. Failing to explain why, AnneMarie was disturbed when an acquaintance informed her that fishing on the beach (A.K.A. surf fishing) was not permitted. Following an uneasy silence, members began discussing the drawbacks of fishing where people swim.

Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts
Citing the presence of sharks along the Atlantic coast, one member suggested that plying the area with bait seemed a tad antisocial. Following a brief debate about whether fishing on the beach was regulated by a City or County ordinance, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts agreed to run it by the City Attorney. In response, Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Cynthia Everett sent this section from Chapter 8 in the City of Fort Lauderdale Municipal Code to GMCA President Pio Ieraci, who shot off an email to members the next day.


On the Galt Mile Beach

GMCA President Pio Ieraci
“Pursuant to a request made at the GMCA Advisory Board meeting held yesterday, please see pertinent information below.”

Best Regards,
Pio R. Ieraci, CIPS, LCAM
GMCA, President


New Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Cynthia Everett
We have this ordinance:

Sec. 8-75. Fishing.

It shall be unlawful for any person to fish or surf cast from any part of the public beach between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on any day except as follows:

  • (1) Fishing and surf casting shall be allowed on the sandy part of the public beach located between N.E. 18th Street and N.E. 23rd Street, during any hours other than 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays.

  • (2) Persons engaged in fishing or surf casting as provided herein shall have the affirmative duty to avoid contact with swimmers.

  • (3) Nothing herein shall authorize any person to launch a vessel from any part of the public beach for purposes of engaging in fishing or surf casting.

  • (4) The city manager or designee may temporarily restrict fishing or surf casting on any part of the public beach to accommodate an outdoor event or in a declared emergency.

If there is a particular situation that needs addressing, please let me know.

Cynthia A. Everett | City Attorney
City of Fort Lauderdale | City Attorney’s Office
100 North Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
T: 954.828.5037 | F: 954.828.5915 | E:


In contrast, the Ocean Rescue section on the City of Fort Lauderdale website features a page entitled Beach Rules and Regulations. Among the enumerated rules is:

7.4 The following beach regulations are intended to reduce safety hazards which may cause injury to beach patrons:

  • 7.4(b) Fishing or netting of fish is limited to the hours of 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. when on the beach and must be conducted in a safe manner. All debris, bait, fish line and hooks, and other fishing equipment or tackle must be removed from the beach after fishing has been conducted.

    Exception: Surf fishing is limited to the hours of 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. in the area between NE 18 Street to NE 23 Street only.


Since the Rule is inconsistent with the Ordinance, enforcement could prove sticky. For instance, if you get nailed for fishing anywhere from N.E. 18th Street to N.E. 23rd Street between 8 AM and 9 AM, and are charged with violating Beach Rule 7.4(b), your attorney can explain that you were in compliance with Chapter 8, Section 8-75(1), and buy you a walk. God Bless the Venice of America.

Large Nets Violate County Law
Florida Fishing License
With due respect to our new City Attorney, neither the ordinance nor the beach rule seems to address fishing on the Galt Mile beach. County law (Ch. 13, Sections 13-3 & 13-5) prohibits injuring fish with dynamite, lyddite, gunpowder, cartridge, cannon cracker or any other explosive or using nets more than seven (7) feet in length “in the salt waters of Broward County for the purpose of taking or catching fish.” While the County frowns on nuking marine life, and the City of Fort Lauderdale doesn’t appear to have a dog in this fight, the State of Florida does.

Click To Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Website Click To Florida saltwater fishing license Website Unless they belong to an exempted group – as defined by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Florida Residents and Visitors need a Florida saltwater fishing license or a free resident recreational saltwater shoreline fishing license to fish on the Galt Mile beach. Topping the list of exempted groups are Florida residents age 65 or older, who only need to flash a Florida Driver License or Identification Card to prove residency and age. Eligible seniors may obtain, at no cost, complimentary hunting and fishing certificates from the county tax collector’s office, although it isn’t necessary. This makes surf fishing a non-regulatory event for a majority of Galt Mile homeowners. Youngsters under the age of 16 also don’t need a fishing license, although they must abide by all other fishing regulations such as gear type, bag and size limits. Like seniors, they may be asked to provide proof of age and residency.

Click To Florida Department of Children and Families Website Florida residents certified as totally and permanently disabled can fish with a Florida Resident Disabled Person Hunting and Fishing License. Resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces who aren’t stationed in Florida, yet are home on leave for 30 days or less, need only show their orders to fish the beach. Residents don’t need a license if determined eligible for the food stamp, temporary cash assistance, or Medicaid Program by the Department of Children and Families External Website (DCF). However, they must carry proof of identification and a benefit issuance or program identification card issued by DCF or the Agency for Health Care Administration External Website.

Click To Florida Department of Children and Families Website Residents fishing with live or natural bait, using poles or lines that aren’t equipped with a line-retrieval mechanism, and are fishing for noncommercial purposes in their home county are exempt, as are residents with a valid saltwater products license. Finally, anyone can fish on the beach during Free Saltwater Fishing Days (in 2013 - June 1, September 1, October 12 and November 30; in 2014 and beyond - the First Saturdays and Sundays in June and September as well as the Saturday following Thanksgiving).

Anglin's Pier
In short, most Galt Mile residents already meet the regulatory qualifications to surf fish on the Galt Mile beach. However, unless they want to test case the extent to which the City Ordinance legally defines a beach as “Public,” following the common sense time constraints that preclude fishing and swimming at the same time in the same place is a no-brainer (swim by day, fish in the evening). By the way, fishing for recreational purposes from Anglin’s Pier is covered by their Pier Saltwater Fishing License, similar to the Vessel Saltwater Fishing License carried by boats that conduct outings for vacationing Bassmaster wannabes. That’s the skinny, AnneMarie!

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Dumping Sand
New Beach Construction Plan
November 2, 2013 - In May of 2007, former Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins issued a report that 1) announced the conclusion of the 18-month Segment III Monitoring period, 2) summarized the financial status of the completed South County Segment III beach renourishment, and 3) announced an erosion control study in support of the Port Everglades sand bypass.

The Search for Sand

Former Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins
Buried in the report was the
seemingly innocuous statement, “The County will be investigating the use of sand from other locations, including locations outside of the United States, for future nourishment of Segment II.” Responding to a frenzied email from the neighborhood association asking whether he was spinning another delay for the Segment II project, Higgins wrote “We are close to executing an amendment with our consultants to undertake several tasks in preparation for resuming the Segment II engineering/design/permitting. One important task is to find sand.”

Click to Final Environtal Impact Statement Website Although Broward reserves were heavily depleted by past projects, every scrap of relevant documentation, from the Final Environmental Impact Statement to the plan approved by the State, targets the waters off Deerfield Beach as a sand “borrow site” adequate for both Segment III and Segment II renourishments. Why scavenge for sand in other locations? Was Higgins overreacting? KABOOM – The other shoe dropped!

Sand Borrow Sites He answered “Borrow area No. 1, which has enough material with which to construct Segment II, now has a higher percentage of rock in it after removing sand for Segment III. We’ll need to investigate that. We’ll also look for additional sand offshore, but I’m not confident that we’ll find any significant new deposits. Accordingly, we will also be looking for more remote sources of domestic sand (e.g. offshore central FL and in the Gulf of Mexico) and for non-domestic sand, with emphasis on Bahamian aragonite. When we find the sand we’re going to use, if it’s different from the sand we had proposed to use in our previous plans, we will have to do some re-engineering of the project and redo some of the permitting.”

Click to Coastal Planning and Engineering, Inc. (CPE) Glass Sand report As decades of delays engineered by radical pseudo-environmentalists exponentially skyrocketed project costs, 2004 and 2005 serial hurricanes claimed huge incremental sections of beach from the county’s vulnerable coast - fueling the need for additional sand. The shortage was real. Higgins began investigating alternative sources of sand for use in Segment II, including the possible utilization of recycled “glass sand” since glass and sand are both composed primarily of silicon dioxide. The County hired Coastal Planning and Engineering, Inc. (CPE) to compile a report about the advantages and disadvantages of artificial sand.

Search for Sand includes the Ortona Mine, Tom's Hill, Canaveral Shoals, the Bahamas, etc
On November 13, 2008, the Broward County Commission meeting agenda included this update, “A sand search is being conducted to discover new sources of beach-compatible sand for placement onto Broward County beaches, including those of the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and the City of Pompano Beach. These beaches comprise Segment II of the Broward County Shore Protection Project. The search for sand will include not only the seafloor offshore of Broward County, but also areas offshore of other Florida counties and areas outside of US waters. In addition to finding new sand sources for Segment II, the County will reevaluate the Segment II project in the context of current economic and environmental conditions, and will propose a project appropriate to those updated conditions. Finally, a high-resolution study is being undertaken to ascertain whether erosion control structures can be employed along the County’s shoreline to reduce the rates of erosion and help sustain our beach nourishment projects.”

80 - 85% of the beach sand lost to tidal erosion occurs at inlets - such as Port Everglades and Hillsboro. By capturing sand that would otherwise be sucked into the lagoon or washed out to sea where the coast “breaks”, and transferring it from the north to south side of the inlet, a sand bypass reinstates the natural southerly migration of sand down the coast - to Hollywood, Hallandale, Dania - and ultimately, Miami.

The Battle for Broward Sand

Hollywood Hotels WANT More Sand
In the preceding months, hoteliers, politicians and realtors in Hollywood, Hallandale and Dania repeatedly met privately with Higgins, insisting that he redeploy the sand planned for Segment II to “shore up” faltering South County beaches renourished two years earlier - at least until a Port Everglades sand bypass could diminish the sand lost to tidal erosion. Denying that the Segment II sand was under siege and that Hollywood is not looking to make a sand grab, South Broward politicians asserted that “hot spots” in Hollywood and Hallandale Beach could be addressed with “Sands of Opportunity” pending installation of a sand bypass. Of course, there were no “Sands of Opportunity.” Any sand used to address erosion-based shortages in Segment III would have to be hijacked from Segment II.

Click to Fort Lauderdale No Bypass Resolution Galt Mile officials and Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners were livid. On January 6, 2009, an outraged City Commission approved City Resolution No. 09-11, withdrawing City approval to build a Port Everglades sand bypass until the Segment II project was completed. The City posted a page on its web site entitled Help Save Fort Lauderdale Beach, which provided the email addresses of the County Commissioners and stated “The Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners need your help to make sure that Fort Lauderdale is not pushed to the back of the line. Let Broward County know that you oppose the proposed Port Everglades Sand Bypass Project and that you want them to implement the Segment II Beach Renourishment Project as promised.”

FDEP Secretary Michael W. Sole
After decades of slugging his way through scores of scientific and regulatory bear traps, Higgins was caught in political quicksand. When asked by Galt Mile officials about the Segment II project, officials in Higgins’ Biological Resources Division responded with nondescript delays throughout 2008 and 2009. Concerned about the lack of progress, the Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) contacted Michael Sole, who served as Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Secretary under former Governor Charlie Crist. Sole informed GMCA President Pio Ieraci that Broward Beach officials hadn’t responded to Departmental inquiries for more than a year. While the two agencies were locked in this dilatory two-step, the Federal and State permits authorizing the project expired. Broward County dropped the ball.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Click to Web Site Prior to proceeding with the Segment II beach fix, Broward beach officials would first have to repeat the environmental testing required for a new federal permit. Since Michael Sole worked with Higgins as a Marine Biologist in Broward County before his appointment to FDEP, he was conversant with the project’s scientific and engineering parameters. While a painful repetition of the federal permit process was unavoidable, Sole granted Higgins a 5-year State permit extension through June 4, 2014, saving his former Broward colleague months of bureaucratic tedium. The extension proved to be a parting gift. A year later, Sole stepped down as FDEP Secretary after overseeing the State’s response to the Deepwater Horizon fiasco and accepted an offer from Florida Power & Light to serve as Vice President of their Governmental Affairs Department.

Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry
BROWARD Administrator
Hoping to quell the simmering animosity between its northern and southern coastal municipalities, Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry sent a beach renourishment update to former Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas on May 27, 2010. She concluded her summary of beach project issues with a pipe dream cloaked in a political olive branch “Broward County-conducted beach construction in Segment II is targeted for November of 2011, pending completion of the engineering/design and permitting processes in a timely fashion.” Shortly afterwards, Beach Administrator Higgins announced that he would retire in 2011. He could no longer stomach being treated like a bureaucratic piñata. Although he would continue as a consultant, his duties would be assumed by Deputy Director Eric Myers of Broward’s Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department. Myers was Higgins’ boss. In contrast with Higgins, Myers couches an impressive understanding of the underlying science in a bottomless inventory of country parables.

Enter Eric Myers

Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department Deputy Director Eric Myers
On February 3, 2011, Myers asked Galt Mile officials to help reboot the dormant beach project. At subsequent meetings with the City of Fort Lauderdale and association officials, Myers presented an updated plan to repair disappearing north county beaches. Having re-engaged the primary stakeholders, Myers initiated an accelerated permitting process and eliminated many of the plan’s regulatory roadblocks by revising the sand source. By purchasing perfectly matched sand from inland mines instead of dredging scarce and less compatible offshore sediment, Myers allayed regulatory concerns about reef damage and heightened levels of turbidity.

Post Sandy Fort Lauderdale Beach Fill
As Federal and State beach renourishment resources waned, the initial financing burden for salvaging and/or stabilizing shrinking beaches would fall to local jurisdictions. For the past several years, Broward County has been desperately trying to cash in past due renourishment markers from Tallahassee and Washington.

Florida Continental Shelf
When Hurricane Sandy dismantled several blocks of State Road A1A and the adjacent beach, it became obvious that a reliable and financially reasonable sand source was critical to future renourishments, whether to rehabilitate an entire coastal system or to repair “hot spots” prone to accelerated erosion. As observed by FDEP’s late Lonnie Ryder “Beaches are the backbone of tourism in the state of Florida. As your beaches go, so goes your economy.” The future health of Broward’s beaches - and its beach-based economy - will depend on the cost of getting compatible sand to the beach and fitting inlets with the beach erosion architecture that will help keep it there.

Click to Florida Shelf System The underlying problem is geography. Sand snatched from the seabed adjacent to an eroded beach is the safest, most convenient and least expensive alternative. Where the ocean floor plummets past the continental shelf, the seabed is too deep to frugally harvest sand. As the continental shelf passes south of Palm Beach, it narrows to a thin band, leaving Broward and Miami-Dade Counties with significantly smaller “borrow areas” than their neighbors to the north. To avoid damage to some of the state’s few active reef systems, Broward “borrow sites” are further limited to north county waters, near Deerfield Beach.

After decades of repeated renourishments, Miami-Dade is about to exhaust its offshore sand supply in February, when the last granules will go to repair a beach in the affluent village of Bal Harbour. Broward isn’t much better off, as its few remaining “borrow sites” are miniscule and their proximity to delicate reef systems makes them difficult to dredge. “Here we have coral reef systems that constrict the areas where we can go to retrieve sand,” said Tom Martin, a senior coastal engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Treasure Coast Sand - Regionalization

Director Mark Thomasson of Florida’s Division of Water Resource Management
In considering sand sources for a Miami-Dade Federal Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the FDEP explored sites in federal designated waters off Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach and Broward counties in addition to deep water sites off Miami-Dade. Encouraging news about huge sand deposits along the Treasure Coast prompted Director Mark Thomasson of Florida’s Division of Water Resource Management to comment “I would characterize it as a source of sand that meets our needs in the foreseeable future.”

Click to Southeast Florida Sediment Assessment and Needs Determination (SAND) study Given the catastrophic consequences threatened by the impending loss of Miami-Dade and Broward beaches - as protection for people and property against storm damage and their local and Statewide value as economic engines, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) conducted the Southeast Florida Sediment Assessment and Needs Determination (SAND) study. The SAND study’s primary purpose was to calculate the volume of sand needed to continually renourish all beaches in St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties for a time frame of 50 years (2012 - 2062) and measure the volume of offshore sand available to these 5 counties. Prepared in partnership with the State, the Corps and the 5 participating Counties, a draft report completed in November 2012 was subsequently vetted by the FDEP.

Click to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers The FDEP retained Boca Raton-based Coastal Planning and Engineering, Inc. (CPE) to perform a technical review of both the Sediment Assessment and Needs Determination portions of the SAND study. On May 31, 2013, a memorandum of record summarized how criteria imposed by FDEP on the draft SAND study reduced the USACE’s initially estimated volume of available sediment by approximately 26% - or 100 million cubic yards (Mcy). The final SAND study concluded that “174,101,870 cubic yards of sediment are needed to support placement of planned, full-sized beach nourishment projects through 2062. With contingencies and confidence levels applied, it was found that 280,037,956 cubic yards exist offshore of Southeast Florida that meet the criteria for this study established for sand placement on Florida beaches. Therefore, currently known sediment resources for St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami–Dade Counties exceed sediment needs by 100,000,000 cubic yards.” The actual residual excess is stated as 105,936,086 cubic yards.

Click to Florida Shelf System In short, after examining the Treasure Coast sand deposits along the adjacent seabed and in federal waters past the three nautical mile State limit, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the FDEP concluded that St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties have enough offshore sand reserves to address every renourishment project from Miami Beach to Port St. Lucie for at least 50 years, with more than 100 million cubic yards to spare. To immunize the study against accusations of massaging the data to benefit recipient counties, the Needs Determination was fitted with a 55% contingency cushion (30% - sand dropped in borrow area; 15% - other dredging losses; 10% - future performance impacts i.e. sea-level rise). Like a gift that keeps on giving, the memorandum also noted “This volume estimate will increase as potential and unverified sediment sources identified in the study area are further developed.”

Sun-Sentinel's Washington bureau chief William E. Gibson
In a recent Sun-Sentinel article, Washington-based Tribune reporter William E. Gibson sought to place the enormous volume of Treasure Coast sand into perspective by pointing out “Broward County’s eight major beach restoration projects since the 1970s have used about 10 million cubic yards of sand.” While the study verified available sediment volumes upwards of 280 million cubic yards, if the “contingency” criteria were stripped from the findings, the amount of available sand jumps to 475,392,915 cubic yards (475 million cubic yards) - upping the amount of sand left over after 50 years of renourishments to 300 million cubic yards. YIKES!

Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department Deputy Director Eric Myers and Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins
The study advocates the creation of a regional approach to managing sand resources. Steve Higgins and Eric Myers have always maintained that since the health of renourished beach segments depends on the stability of adjacent segments to the north and south, the Broward Shore Preservation Project is only sustainable if addressed in its entirety. Since this holds true for the entire coast, the sustainability of all renourishment projects would be more effectively managed on a regional basis. To achieve this, Federal and State authorities must mitigate the “Sandbox” mentality that permeates coastal counties.

Click to Miami-Dade’s Department of Environmental Resources Management Web Site With the survival of critical coastal infrastructure in Broward and Miami-Dade at stake, implementing a regional authority has become a State and Federal imperative. “If we get hit by a large storm, unlike in the past where we knew we had resources right off our coast, those simply don’t exist now,” said Stephen Blair, chief of restoration and enhancement in Miami-Dade’s Department of Environmental Resources Management. “That vulnerability is very real.” The study additionally asserts that after a Regional Sediment Management Plan was created for all of the included sand sources, the FDEP and the US Department of Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management could draft a lease agreement for the sediment sources that fall under Federal jurisdiction.

Former Senate President Ken Pruitt
Many Public Officials in St. Lucie and Martin Counties view attempts to regionalize coastal management as a veil for aggressive “panhandling” by neighbors with designs on their reserves. They are understandably leery about providing unfettered access to their coastal bonanza. Attempts by Miami to purloin their offshore sand in 2006 were met with such local rage that they were dropped, especially after former Senate President Ken Pruitt characterized it as almost a criminal act, and starred in television commercials exclaiming “We will fight to the death to make sure you don’t take one grain of sand.”

Since the reserves being considered are in State and Federal Waters, jurisdictions that plan to use them must first elicit approval of the same State and Federal agencies that support the creation of a regional plan. Whether in Miami-Dade, St. Lucie or Martin Counties, beach projects must pass muster with FDEP and the Corps. As such, disgruntled county officials are reluctantly exploring a process in which stakeholders, counties, and the State and Federal agencies allocate sand resources on a regional level.

St. Lucie County Commissioner Frannie Hutchinson
Since calculating the adequacy of an exhaustible resource begs the question “how much is enough,” petulant officials in donor counties hope to drown the process in dogma. For instance, St. Lucie County Commissioner Frannie Hutchinson asked, “What happens in 50 years when all that sand is gone? Where are we supposed to go then? I told them to take their sand shovels and sand buckets and go home and come up with a better plan.”

Palm Beach County Environmental Program Supervisor Leanne Welch
Despite objections by angry Treasure Coast public officials, Federal and State authorities are seeking to hammer out an agreement that the five South Florida Counties can live with. Since Miami and Broward are clearly the beneficiaries, officials in St. Lucie and Martin Counties are driven by enlightened self-interest to subvert the process or at least minimize its impact. With impressive reserves of its own, Palm Beach’s participation in this negotiation is largely a function of its location, as it buffers the donor and recipient members of this 5-county coastal block. According to Palm Beach Environmental Program Supervisor Leanne Welch, “We have enough near-shore sand for the next 30 or 40 years.”

The Corps hosted public hearings in each of the 5 counties this past August. As participants entered the Martin County meeting, they filed past a lime-green neon poster board inscribed with the message “No! You may not have our sand! Do not destroy our beaches too!” The bad blood wasn’t lost on Eric Myers “The locals didn’t take too kindly to us South Florida folks coming up there to try to steal their sand.”

Until the regulatory approval process is formulated, and a regional agreement is reached, Treasure Coast sand will not be available to Miami-Dade or any other planned renourishment projects. Corps Officials are hoping to begin dredging for the Miami project by December 2015. Unless the process bears fruit, jurisdictions will have to rely on other sand sources.

Sand from Inland Mines

Trucking Sand to Beach Staging Areas
Although structurally and aesthetically ideal - and a regulatory no-brainer, sand trucked in from inland mines is expensive. Even if conducted with military precision, moving 20,000 truckloads of sand through local communities to coastal distribution sites could prove a strategic nightmare. Broward beach boss Eric Myers is currently planning such a campaign for our long delayed $45 million Segment II renourishment. 750,000 cubic yards of sand will be trucked from three upstate mines to beachfront staging areas in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, the Galt Mile and Lauderdale Beach. Since local residents have been passionately fighting to realize this beach fix for decades, it is likely that the trucks will be met with more cheers than complaints.

Glass Sand

Variable sea urchin, Lytechinus variegates, on a recycled glass cullet substrate
While recycling beer bottles into sand may soon kill two environmental birds with one stone, the converted glass must first be approved as an adequate replacement for Broward beach sand. Initially proposed as a fill for small beach gaps, glass cullet is undergoing regulatory testing. Given the excellent results to date, Broward Mayor Kristen Jacobs is seeking to revive a stalled $1.5 million plan to complete the final phase of a county environmental study. In 2008, a $1,447,000 Broward plan to dump 3,000 tons of recycled glass on a Hollywood Beach was waxed by budget cuts.

Glass sand tested on beach
Since there is no local facility capable of recycling glass into sand, production costs are unclear. Myers noted, “It’s environmentally feasible, you have to make it economically feasible.” If determined cost effective, Broward’s entry in this new industry could flourish, given the built-in South Florida customer base. Among the project’s ardent supporters, Mayor Jacobs said, “If we could generate our own sand, it would be fantastic.” However, fellow Commissioner Tim Ryan is skeptical, “My sense of it is, if it was economically feasible, currently there would be some private entity that would have stepped in and would have acquired some site to convert this glass into glass sand.”

Bahamian Aragonite

Ocean Cay, Bahamas Aragonite Mining
Bahamian sand, while convenient, plentiful, aesthetically pleasing and relatively inexpensive, may as well be on Mars. Under United States law, the Army Corps of Engineers must be convinced that domestic sand is not available for economic or environmental reasons before it can authorize the use of foreign sand. Bahamian sand is a good fit for Broward beaches. If the grain size of imported sand is too fine, it can easily be washed away. Because Bahamian aragonite sand contains more shell fragments, it’s coarser, and stacks into a steeper slope on the beach, which slows tidal erosion. Sand from other Caribbean or Gulf sources like the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Mexico lacks the appeal of nearby Bahamian aragonite, given the exorbitant cost of transporting the sediment a much greater distance.

In July of 2007, Miami-Dade asked the federal government for permission to buy cheaper foreign sand from the Bahamas. After denying the request because Miami's application failed to state whether or not domestic sand was available for purchase, the Army Corp. of Engineers added that if the county’s report were revised and resubmitted with proof that no domestic sand is available, the request would be reconsidered. If the Treasure Coast counties thwart State and Federal attempts to regionalize sand management, it will provide the Corps with evidence of no suitable domestic source, enabling access to Bahamian aragonite for approved federal projects in sand-challenged counties. It would provide Miami-Dade and Broward with a viable alternative to buying sand from inland mines or sun bathing on empty Heinekens.

Treasure Coast SAND Stats

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Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts

Economy || RoadKill || Housing

Cinderella Developer Takes a Federal Haymaker

Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts
November 11, 2013 - In his November 2013 Newsletter, Northwest Gardens is one of the City’s Housing and Community Development projects deemed noteworthy by Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts. Dubbing the piece “Housing Authority/Carlisle Development”, Roberts identifies the City Agency and a private developer who teamed to reverse the fortunes of City residents in neighborhoods infamous for chronic decay. In a related newsletter item, Roberts observes how this public/private partnership yielded energy-efficient, opulent properties that were repeatedly recognized as sustainable, socially responsible, healthy and prosperous environments; and would have been otherwise unavailable to impoverished local residents. Unlike most Cinderella stories, the ending of this one is cloudy – at best.

Former Carlisle CEO Lloyd J. Boggio
Click to  Carlisle Development Group Founded in 1997 by retired CEO Lloyd J. Boggio (a real estate veteran appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to Florida’s Affordable Housing Study Commission) and Miami attorney Bruce Greer (President of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s board of trustees), Carlisle Development Group is the largest affordable housing developer in Florida and the third largest in the United States. With more than 80 projects valued at $1.4 billion, Carlisle’s portfolio of assets includes LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design - a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings, developers, projects, etc.), mixed-use, transit-oriented, urban infill, historic rehabilitation, as well as mixed-income and market-rate housing developments. In 2004, Greer’s son Matthew (whose mother Evelyn was the first Mayor of Pinecrest and a former Miami-Dade School Board member) joined the development company and rose to CEO four years later, replacing Boggio.

Carlisle CEO Matthew Greer
Over the next four years, he snagged unprecedented recognition for housing thousands of impoverished families, the chronically unemployed, the disabled, the working poor and low income seniors, some caring for several generations of dependents. South Florida’s preeminent affordable-housing developer pleasantly surprised Housing Authority bureaucrats, skeptical civic leaders in long-neglected neighborhoods and grateful Public Officials, who relish high profile ribbon cuttings to open architecturally opulent, full-featured housing projects on burned out blocks. Although based in Miami, Carlisle marked territories across the country, including Fort Lauderdale’s most distressed community.

Northwest Gardens Phase III
The Northwest Neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale is mired in the region’s highest unemployment and poverty rates. It’s ground zero for the highest juvenile crime rate in the State of Florida. Rates of HIV/AIDS infection among its teenagers rival the highest in the nation. It’s also the part of town that revs Matthew Greer’s metabolism. The project described by our City Commissioner - Northwest Gardens II (128 units) and IV (128 units) are the final two segments of a 4-part effort to transmogrify 14 blighted blocks for locals who couldn’t afford market-rate rents in South Florida - or elsewhere.

Click to Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale (HACFL) Partnering with the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale (HACFL), Greer’s Carlisle Development Group also transformed four other properties in the Northwest Neighborhood, including Dixie Court Apartments (I-III), Dr. Kennedy Homes, Sailboat Bend Apartments and Sunnyreach Acres. $200 million in focused financing added more than 1,100 affordable housing units to the community and salted more than 600 jobs into the local economy.

Click to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Ratings The 143-unit first phase of Northwest Gardens (71 newly built and 72 rehabbed) targeted grandparents raising their grandchildren while earning less than 30 percent and 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) in this impoverished neighborhood. Financing for the $24 million first phase came from a Bank of America Merrill Lynch loan, HOME, Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program funds and the straw that stirs the drink in Carlisle’s developments, the Tax Credit Exchange Program. As phase one was completed in early 2012, phase 3, which lodges larger families in townhomes, soon followed. Northwest Gardens’ first two phases won an array of green building awards, and were designated as the first LEED for Homes (Multifamily) Gold-certified community in Florida. They also comprised the first LEED for Neighborhood Development-certified community in Florida, and fifth in the U.S.

Click to Zyscovich Architects Web Site Designed by South Florida-based Zyscovich Architects and built by Carlisle’s Fort Lauderdale contractor Michael Runyan of BJ&K Construction Services, the units feature energy-efficient fixtures, dual-flush toilets, highly efficient HVAC systems, newly added elevators, ceiling fans, dishwashers, microwave ovens, ceramic tile flooring, impact-resistant glass and window treatments. The development offers solar lights, clubhouses, fitness centers, library/computer rooms, playgrounds, community rooms, laundry facilities, on-site leasing/management offices and pervious concrete covers the parking lot, enabling precipitation to be drained into Florida’s aquifer instead of burdening the storm drains.

Click to BJ&K Construction Services Residents socialize while growing their own food in community gardens. The master plan for the neighborhood is one of only three LEED for Neighborhood Development communities registered in the state. Ten percent of the apartments in Phases II and IV will be designated for residents at 25 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) of $62,600. Ninety percent of the dwellings will be designated for residents at 60 percent or less of AMI. Many of the residents will be seniors and children.

HACFL Executive Director Tam English
Hugo Ottolenghi, former real estate editor of the Daily Business Review
Affordable Housing experts agree that Carlisle’s success is driven by the firm’s financial gymnastics. Hugo Ottolenghi, former real estate editor of the Daily Business Review, observed “Companies like Carlisle have found their niche because they have the expertise to accumulate the funding to build. This is what they do best.” Fort Lauderdale housing authority executive director Tam English notes how Carlisle adapted to a nationwide trend by housing authorities to replace public housing with low-income units that can use other types of government subsidies, such as Section 8 vouchers. English said “Housing authorities don’t get sufficient funding from HUD for building maintenance.” Since voucher recipients can choose where they want to use them, they steer clear of deteriorating properties, forcing Affordable Housing developers to create competitively full-featured homes at a price point affordable to the people who will live there. Among the most complex in the development business, funding formulas for affordable housing blend federal and county money; conventional loans; the company’s own capital and Carlisle’s Holy Grail - tax credits awarded for projects that are environmentally certified or located near transit hubs.

Click to HUD Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) The tax-credit program was approved by Congress as part of the 1986 Tax Reform Act (Internal Revenue Code Section 42) to spur the development of affordable housing. According to HUD, “The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today.” It is a windfall for banks, venture capital firms, individual real estate investors and overexposed trust fund babies. In contrast with simple deductions, they can deduct the credits dollar-for-dollar from their actual tax obligations - and over many years. Typically capped at 9 percent of the project’s construction costs, the IRS grants tax credits to the developer, who sells the credits to investors. The influx of investment capital empowers the developer to limit debt, which provides for lower rents.

Click to Florida Housing Finance Corp After reviewing tax-credit applications on a project-by-project basis, the Florida Housing Finance Corp. doles them out under strict IRS guidelines. Based on Florida’s population, the state agency will allocate $43 million in tax credits this year. Director Kevin Tatreau of the agency’s multifamily development programs said that the desirability of affordable housing units skyrocketed over the past decade as incomes failed to keep pace with rising housing costs. Since the state receives proposals from affordable-housing developers seeking credits amounting to seven times Florida’s allocation, the tax-credit program has become fiercely competitive.

US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wilfredo Ferrer
Ironically, the tax credits that fueled Carlisle’s Cinderella expansion may also precipitate its demise. After quitting in late 2011, two senior executives who worked under Greer ran to the U.S. attorney’s office with allegations of fraud. Suspected of padding construction costs of rental apartments to jack up entitlements for government-issued tax credits, Carlisle then split the resulting unlawful profits with Fort Lauderdale contractor BJ&K and possibly others, according to sources in the Internal Revenue Service and FBI.

Fort Lauderdale contractor Michael K. Runyan
To prove that Greer and Boggio worked in cahoots with Fort Lauderdale building contractor Michael K. Runyan to rip off tax credits, Miami prosecutors empaneled a federal grand jury. A subpoena issued in January in connection with “an official criminal investigation of a suspected federal offense,” names Carlisle and its development entities, along with the three businessmen. It demands access to loan documents and other records for two of Carlisle’s rental projects built by Runyan’s BJ&K Construction Services in the low-income Little Haiti and Allapattah neighborhoods. The high-rise apartment projects, Villa Patricia and Amber Garden, were partially financed with multimillion-dollar, low-interest loans from the city and Miami-Dade County governments.

Click to HUD Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) According to the Florida Housing Finance Corp., whenever a developer delivers a project below cost, the company must notify the state and return the extra tax credits initially approved by the agency. Federal prosecutors allege that Runyan’s BJ&K construction company collaborated with the Carlisle executives to complete numerous affordable-housing projects below the costs reported by Carlisle to the Florida Housing Finance Corp., skewing the agency’s allocation of tax credits. Instead of returning the bilked credits to taxpayers, Carlisle and the contractor split the illicit booty. The subpoena was the tip of the iceberg. Federal investigators uncovered evidence suggesting that Carlisle swindled the U.S. government out of millions of dollars in tax subsidies used to finance more than a dozen rental projects in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Click to Regions Bank When it rains, it pours. Amid the Federal probe, Regions Bank filed a lawsuit earlier this year to recover $5.1 million from Miami-based The Carlisle Group Inc., corporate predecessor to Carlisle Development Group, naming as defendants Carlisle founder Bruce Greer, retired CEO and founder Lloyd J. Boggio and former executive Luis Gonzalez. The bank’s lawsuit is over a $6.5 million line of credit issued by Region’s predecessor Guildford Capital to help secure housing revenue bonds at Heron Pond Apartments in Lehigh Acres. On April 1, Senior U.S. District Judge James L. King denied Carlisle’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit and set a September 8, 2014 trial date.

Former Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler
Last month, the Miami Herald revealed that within months of her sudden resignation in late 2005, Carlisle hired longtime Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler as a consultant, and paid her newly formed company, Eclectic Business Solutions, a total of $170,000 between 2006 and 2007. Still a paid consultant for Carlisle, Carey-Shuler told the Miami Herald that she has “no recollection” of receiving any money from Carlisle back then, let alone what she might have done for the developer. “It’s been so long ago. I don’t remember at this point,” remarked the 73-year-old former commissioner. During her three decades on the County Board, Carey-Shuler represented a district that included the Miami communities of Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown, the Upper Eastside, Allapattah and Wynwood, along with the village of Miami Shores – neighborhoods where Carlisle systematically landed Affordable Housing projects.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson
If they register with the County, Miami-Dade law allows former commissioners to work as a lobbyist two years after leaving office. More than seven years after she was hired by Carlisle, Carey-Shuler still hasn’t registered with the county as a lobbyist for the developer. Her hand-picked successor on the Miami-Dade Commission, Audrey Edmonson, admitted discussing Carlisle’s projects with Carey-Shuler in recent years. Edmonson, whose district includes Amber Garden, Villa Patricia and several other Carlisle projects, denied any “Quid Pro Quo” for having received more than $19,800 in campaign contributions since 2006 – including $11,000 in last year’s successful reelection struggle.

Despite the likelihood of indictments and convictions down the road, many South Florida politicians are hoping that Carlisle survives whatever shellacking prosecutors have in store for the Affordable Housing icon. Unlike the high profile Ponzi schemers, paid for public officials and other slime balls the Feds caught fondling the cookie jar, these crooks actually produced something worthwhile. In 2012, the City of Fort Lauderdale honored Northwest Gardens I and III as Project of the Year. After all, whether or not pathologically predisposed to pilfering taxpayer funds, these Bozos pump out award-winning Affordable Housing like nobody’s business. For the Vice Mayor’s November 2013 municipal update, read on... – [editor]

From The Desk of
Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

  • Economic Development:

    • Uptown Business Group: The Uptown Business Group, which was fostered by City staff and myself, has continued to gain momentum. We now have 40 – 50 regular participants from Fort Lauderdale-based companies, developers, major employers and educational institutions. Topics being discussed include “How to Create a Business Improvement District” and land use and planning issues. The focus of this leadership group is to recruit, retain and expand business in the Cypress Creek/Executive Airport community, while creating a more friendly business neighborhood with safer pedestrian access. Future multi-modal transportation plans will enhance this effort. Just recently, the City was awarded a grant to fund two years of operations for trolley service to accommodate employees in this area.

    • Las Olas Marina
      Marine Industry Update: The City Commission and Marine Advisory Board conducted a workshop, which was held on May 13, 2013. City staff created a status report recommending issues that will require more attention. The discussions are addressing subjects such as the redevelopment and expansion of the Las Olas Marina. Staff, including Marine Facilities, recently held a follow-up meeting with Barry Flanagan (Chairman of the Marine Advisory Board) and Christy Hebert (President of the Marine Industries of South Florida) to discuss implementing the recommendations. A Marine Industry Summit in early 2014 may become the forum to continue these discussions.

  • Housing and Community Development:

    • Northwest Gardens II and IV redevelopment projects
      Housing Authority/Carlisle Development: The Northwest Gardens II (128 units) and IV (128 units) projects are new apartment developments being constructed in the Durrs and Home Beautiful neighborhoods just north of the Sistrunk corridor between NW 10 TERR, NW 8th St., NW 7th St., and NW 14th Ave. In total, the Northwest Gardens II and IV redevelopment projects will create 266 additional 1-5 bedrooms units, with an overall capital investment of more than $57M. After these projects are completed, the Housing Authority of Fort Lauderdale will have reconstructed and renovated 935 affordable multi-family housing units.

    • Click to Fort Lauderdale CRA Web Page NPF (Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Heights) CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) Plan Amendments: The NPF CRA Advisory Board and City staff proposed amendments to the NPF CRA budget to fund three new projects in the Community Redevelopment Plan. The City Commission recently approved these initiatives, which are Community Policing Innovation Program, a Wireless Surveillance Camera System and the development of a Public Wi-Fi system.

  • Central Beach Redevelopment and Beach Business Improvement District:

    • Food and Beverage Service on the Beach: The goal of the program is to improve the experience of tourists and visitors to the beach by providing food and beverage service on the sand. Staff is working on an ordinance and service program that will regulate this activity. A draft ordinance will be presented to the City Commission for review and approval at a City Commission Conference Meeting in the near future.

Click to Family Vacation Critic 10 Best Cities Web Page FORT LAUDERDALE NAMED A TOP CITY FOR FAMILIES VIA GOOD MORNING AMERICA: We are proud to share the news that Fort Lauderdale has been named one of the top 10 cities for families as reported by Good Morning America. Family Vacation Critic, an online family travel planning guide, recently released its list of top 10 urban destinations based on a survey of its readers, with New York City leading the pack. The Big Apple was closely followed by Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Honolulu, San Antonio, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego and Boston. Here is the link to the full article:

Click to Fort Lauderdale Deceased Animal Information Web Page DECEASED ANIMAL PICK-UP: On October 1, 2013, Broward County announced that they would no longer provide a service of removing deceased animals from roadways. Instead, residents who want to report a deceased animal on a public roadway should contact the City’s 24-hour Customer Service Hotline at 954-828-8000. The Customer Service Operator will take the information from the resident regarding the deceased animal’s location and the resident’s contact information. They will then contact the City’s contracted vendor and relay the information regarding the report of the deceased animal to the vendor. City staff has contacted the county to advise of our new procedure and ask them to relay this to our residents who contact them. All information regarding this is posted on the City’s website. You can also complete an online form.

Click to MicroPaver Pavement Management System Web Page CITY-WIDE PAVEMENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: The City of Fort Lauderdale Public Works Department is currently implementing a citywide Pavement Management System. The new system will enable us to maintain an electronic database detailing the condition and needs of the streets and roadways under our supervision. As part of the program, the City will assess each road it maintains and assign a numerical score based on its current condition. The scores will enable us to prioritize which roads are in most need of repairs and maintenance and deploy our resources accordingly. The inspection phase of the program has been completed and staff is currently finalizing a report that is scheduled to be presented to the City Commission in November. Pending approval by the City Commission, the pavement restoration and repair work is expected to begin in early 2014.

Click to South Florida Chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Web Page FORT LAUDERDALE WINS TOP HONOR FROM SOUTH FLORIDA CHAPTER OF THE U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL: The City of Fort Lauderdale was recently named "Most Outstanding Green Government" by the South Florida Chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The City received the designation at the annual USGBC GalaVerde Awards, South Florida's premiere LEEDership and Green Awards Program. The Most Outstanding Green Government award recognizes a local government that implements progressive initiatives and demonstrates an overall commitment to sustainability. Proactive initiatives highlighted in Fort Lauderdale's entry reflect the City's community-wide effort to engage employees and neighbors and encourage them to identify and apply practices to create a more sustainable community. Specific initiatives include: the creation of a Sustainability Advisory Board; the adoption of a citywide Sustainability Action Plan; the Smart Watts program to educate neighbors about techniques and benefits of reducing energy consumption; the Green Your Routine volunteer initiative that offers financial incentives to promote recycling throughout City neighborhoods; and the Go Solar campaign to encourage increased use of solar panels to create jobs and stimulate our economy. "As a City, we recognize the importance of integrating environmentally sound practices into every aspect of our organization," said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler. Click to Click to South Florida Chapter of the United States Green Building Council Gala Verde 2013 "This commitment is reflected in our recently adopted citywide Vision Plan, which identifies sustainable development as a top priority. We are confident that our long-term investment in sustainable solutions will pay dividends by making Fort Lauderdale a stronger, more resilient and adaptable City, while enhancing our quality of life today and for future generations. It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for our leadership efforts in this area, and we look forward to continuing to do our part to advance sustainability at the local, state and national levels." The mission of the South Florida Chapter of the USGBC is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, to enable a sustainable, socially responsible, healthy and prosperous environment in which people can live, work, learn and play. The South Florida Chapter of USGBC hosts the annual GalaVerde awards to celebrate and honor exceptional programs that further the creation of a more sustainable South Florida. In addition to the City's "Most Outstanding Green Government" Award, the South Florida Chapter of USGBC recognized several other outstanding projects in Fort Lauderdale with GalaVerde awards. The City would like to congratulate the following award winners:

  • Click to South Florida Chapter of the United States Green Building Council LEEDs Winners at Gala Verde 2013 Most Outstanding LEED Project (Private) - Pine Crest Central Chiller Plant

  • Most Outstanding LEED for Schools Project - Pine Crest Preparatory School Lower Classroom Building

  • Most Outstanding LEED Neighborhood Development Project - Northwest Gardens

  • Most Outstanding LEED for Homes/Multi-Family Project - Northwest Gardens Ill

  • Most Outstanding LEED for Homes/Mid-Rise Project - Dr. Kennedy Homes

Click to Fort Lauderdale Hazardous Waste Information HAZARDOUS WASTE: This City service, which was provided under the Interlocal Agreement with the County, expired on 9/30/2013. With a $400,000 annual price tag, Fort Lauderdale chose not to renew the agreement with the County. The City is currently finalizing plans to form a consortium with other municipalities and develop a less costly disposal alternative. The City apologizes for not having a transitional service in place. If you have additional questions, please contact Customer Service directly at or for more time sensitive issues, Customer Service can be reached by calling (954) 828-8000 twenty-four hours a day.

Click to Fort Lauderdale See the Light Web Page REPORT STREETLIGHT OUTAGES: Fort Lauderdale’s new See the Light campaign encourages residents to report streetlight outages. Before, residents would have had to figure out who owned the streetlight and contact that agency directly, whether it was the city, county or FPL. The new system will help serve our neighbors better by offering one centralized location to report all streetlight outages. That number is 954-828-8000.


  • November 11, 28, 29 AND December 25: CITY HALL WILL BE CLOSED DUE TO HOLIDAYS

  • November 4 & 18 Pre-agenda Meetings: NO meeting on 11/4; Imperial Point Hospital, South Entrance on the 18th; 6pm

  • November 5 & 19: Commission Meetings (conference and regular)

  • December 2 & 16 Pre -agenda Meetings: : 12/2 - Beach Community Center; 12/16 - Imperial Point Hospital, South Entrance; 6pm

  • Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
    December 3 & 17: Commission Meetings (conference and regular)

Office Contact: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

EMAIL LIST: If you would like to be on our email list so that you receive information pertaining to the City – especially District 1 (i.e. news releases, meeting notices, events), please let Robbi know and she will add you.

I WOULD LIKE TO WISH EVERYONE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING: .... As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
WRDA; Bus Pass for Vets; County Workshops

New Water Bill Frees Resources for Port Everglades

Click to  2014 Business Development Workshop Series Web Page
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
November 20, 2013 - Along with promoting beach renourishment, salvaging the Galt Mile Library and lobbying projects that enhance Broward’s competitive infrastructure, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca has passionately advocated on behalf of Port Everglades. While announcing a follow-up series of “how to” workshops for vendors stalking county business and celebrating approval of his pilot program to provide a free bus pass to eligible veterans, LaMarca’s November 2013 constituent update applauds Congress for throwing Port Everglades the key to its future as a regional economic powerhouse.

Click to 'Water Resources Development Act After 17 years of bumping up against foot-dragging Federal bureaucrats, Congressional gridlock and play for pay politicians while waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers to pop the clutch on deepening Port Everglades, Port officials were recently handed an early holiday gift by Congress. On October 23, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives convincingly slam dunked the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRDA) by a vote of 417-3, setting the stage for appointment of a conference committee to mitigate differences between the Senate and House versions of the legislation. The bill will authorize Broward County to fund the groundwork necessary to widen and deepen Port Everglades while awaiting federal reimbursement contingent on future Congressional approval.

Post Panamax MSC Fabiola
Beginning in 1997, Broward officials have been begging the Army Corps of Engineers to approve funding for deepening Port Everglades’ channel to accommodate the anticipated explosion of Post-Panamax vessels from Asia and the Pacific when the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015. Post-Panamax ships that are 25% longer, 50% wider and have a deeper draft than the largest vessels currently able to navigate the canal - a configuration called “Panamax” - will rebalance the worldwide economy by significantly lowering hemispheric transportation costs.

Click to Port Everglades Web Site Since faster and cheaper shipping of goods between the East Coast and Asia will enable American farmers and manufacturers to better compete with South American and European counterparts, the economic cascade will guarantee Post-Panamax adapted Gulf and East Coast seaports tax revenue windfalls and thousands of new jobs. The Panama Canal Authority has estimated that five or six operational ports on the U.S. East Coast could handle the resulting tornado of cheaper goods, triggering frenzied construction by East Coast seaports competing for a piece of the Post-Panamax Golden Goose.

Port Director Steve Cernak
For years, whenever Port Everglades officials satisfied operational, environmental and/or financial reporting requirements, the Corps altered them, burying Port officials in a seemingly endless regulatory rat race. Understandably frustrated, Port Everglades Director Steven Cernak complained to Florida members of Congress last March “This is how Port Everglades was rewarded for playing by the rules for the past 16 years. The rules change, and we start all over again. Is it any wonder why the study is now more than 14 times the original cost estimates?”

Click to  Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Navigational Improvements to the Port Everglades Harbor On June 28, 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finally released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for “Navigational Improvements to the Port Everglades Harbor,” the inexplicably elusive regulatory prerequisite for hosting Post-Panamax ships. The project will ultimately deepen Port Everglades’ channel from 42 feet to 48 feet (plus two feet of allowable overdepth for a total of 50 feet). Widening the channel entrance will allow entering and departing ships to safely pass cargo and cruise ships docked along the Intracoastal Waterway inside the Port. The cost of the expansion project is estimated at $313 million, which will be paid for through a combination of federal funds, port user fees and – if fate smiles – state funds. As with expansion of the Southport Turning Notch and completion of the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, not one cent will be drained from the necks of taxpayers.

Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Surplus
Until last month, the federal resources needed to catalyze the improvements were on deep lockdown. For more than seven years, Congress has been unable to pass legislation authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program, which constructs critical navigation and water infrastructure projects across the nation. Specifically, enacting the WRDA will provide long-awaited access to roughly $7 billion squirrelled away and collecting dust in a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. As long as Congressional savants appointed to the WRDA Conference Committee don’t succumb to the popular Washington whimsy of stewing gridlock while speaking “in tongues”, funding the Corps’ newly cited competitive improvements to the Port will insure its future as a regional economic powerhouse.

Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca Thanks Broward Public Officials and Civic Leaders for lobbying WRDA
Port Everglades is one of the world’s busiest cruise ports, one of the nation’s leading container ports and South Florida’s main gateway for an international litany of critical commodities, fossil and alternative fuels, and consumer goods. A self-supporting Enterprise Fund of Broward County government, the Port Everglades Department featured operating revenues of approximately $143 million in Fiscal Year 2012. Fueling annual economic activity currently valued at roughly $26 billion, Port Everglades generates more than 201,000 Florida jobs.

While meeting with lawmakers during the 2013 Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Washington DC Summit, Commissioner LaMarca commented “What we’re looking at today is 2,197 acres of pure Port power. The push is on in Broward County. Our delegation, business representatives, and lobbyists drove home the message that we need to move this project forward to create jobs and prepare Port Everglades for the future. It was a collaborative effort focusing on what’s best for Broward County, the region and South Florida and together we got the job done.” On balance, LaMarca’s exuberance was justified. For LaMarca’s November 2013 message, read on... – [editor]


November 2013 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Current Events

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
The United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 3080, The Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA), which authorized Broward County to prefund the preliminary activities necessary to deepen and widen Port Everglades with federal reimbursement. Our Members of Congress; Lois Frankel, Mario Diaz Balart, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, and Frederica Wilson were among the nation’s lawmakers pushing for passage of the amended WRRDA bill.

(Left to Right:) Broward Commissioners Sue Gunzburger, Tim Ryan, Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, Commissioner Chip LaMarca. (In back:) Port Everglades CEO Steve Cernak, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance CEO Bob Swindell
In Tallahassee, Governor Scott urged the State Legislature to approve a $14.7 million investment for Port Everglades in a parallel effort to make Florida competitive worldwide and to also create more Florida jobs. The Port Everglades expansion is expected to create over 7,000 direct jobs and more than 135,000 jobs around the State of Florida.

At the November 12th county commission meeting, I was honored to present and pass the V.E.T. Pass, a 6 month pilot program to provide Veterans in need with a free BCT Bus Pass. This is a project that I have been working on for nearly my entire time in office and I am always pleased to pass meaningful policy that gives back to those who gave so much to our country.

Coming This Month

Click to  2014 Business Development Workshop Series Web Page The Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development (OESBD) will begin the new year by launching a 2014 Business Development Workshop Series, an update to the annual 12-part “How to Do Business with Broward County” series. These events are designed to expound on accessing opportunities with county government procurement and contracts. To better accommodate busy schedules, the workshops will be held at varying time and locations every month on Thursdays and Saturdays throughout the county. For additional information, contact OESBD at 954-357-6400 or visit

My main goal is to help you foster your American Dream. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954.357.7004 or by email at You can also stay up to date by viewing our website, where you can sign up to receive email updates from our office.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.

Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4

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Click to October 8, 2013 Meeting Notice
Beach Community Center
December 8, 2013 - On October 8, 2013, the City of Fort Lauderdale convened a Town Hall style meeting at the Beach Community Center to discuss a seven-year old promise to local residents. Diana Alarcon of the Transportation & Mobility Department presented a plan to reconfigure the newly narrowed A1A between Flamingo Avenue and Oakland Park Boulevard into a Greenway – as envisioned by City planners. Since 2006, City and State (FDOT) bureaucrats have been pledging to transform the Galt Mile’s blighted A1A “speedway” into an opulent beach boulevard that safely juggles vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles while appealing to visitors and local residents. When neighborhood residents voted to approve their preferred design option in 2009, recessionary pressures compelled planners to split the venture into two less financially intimidating projects. An initial component that was completed in February, 2013, reduced the number of traffic lanes and modernized roadway infrastructure in preparation for a second project meant to “fine tune” traffic control and enhance the route’s appearance.

Unfortunately, the plan described by Alarcon bore little resemblance to the design option selected by neighborhood residents. When City traffic planners altered the design outcome, scores of angry complaints from Galt Mile residents and merchants flooded the neighborhood association. Since the revisions threatened to strangle the neighborhood, unless planners made some critical course corrections before they began mixing concrete, the fast-growing acrimony would explode.

Greenway Prehistory

Infamous Galt Mile Triangle
While features in the A1A Greenway are the conceptual progeny of planning efforts initiated in 2006, the project’s underlying rationale was hatched several years earlier. In 2003, when the neighborhood association complained bitterly about their local stretch of A1A devolving on weekends and evenings into a drag strip, traffic checkpoints ordered by then Police Chief Bruce Roberts intermittently slowed the nightly racing by hot rods and Harleys. In 2004, former GMCA President Robert Rozema asked former Mayor Jim Naugle to look into the sky high accident rate at the intersection of Galt Ocean Drive and A1A one block north of Oakland Park Boulevard; a block known as the Galt Mile’s “Bermuda Triangle” and ground zero for several major accidents every year and near weekly fender benders.

Former City Manager George Gretsas and former Commissioner Christine Teel
At an April 7, 2005 Town Hall style meeting at the Beach Community Center, after personally fielding scores of dangerous driving and noise complaints (and hundreds more submitted in writing), former Commissioner Christine Teel and former City Manager George Gretsas asked then Chief of Police Bruce G. Roberts to formulate a Traffic Enforcement Action Plan aimed at stopping the chronic traffic and noise abuses along A1A.

Former Police Chief Bruce Roberts
At a subsequent meeting of the neighborhood association’s Advisory Board, Chief Roberts announced, “This action plan was devised in response to numerous citizen complaints concerning unlawful driving practices. There has been a noticeable increase in this activity and local residents and vehicular traffic has been negatively affected. The goal of this high visibility enforcement was to aid in the reduction of crime, reduce unlawful speeding, reduce excessive noise created by unlawful equipment installed on vehicles, educate offenders who are committing violations and to improve the quality of life for residents.” Although infractions abated during the following six month period in which 1,361 traffic citations were written by 25 participating Officers and 6 Police Service Aides, they ramped up again when police resources were ultimately “reallocated”.

Heading South on A1A
A municipal engineer was also assigned to explore the locally infamous Galt Triangle, where the southern end of Galt Ocean Drive empties into A1A (North Ocean Boulevard). Inexplicably, drivers heading south on A1A tend to run the traffic light one block north of Oakland Park Boulevard, precipitating repeated collisions with vehicles entering from Galt Ocean Drive and pedestrians crossing A1A. Vehicles turning onto A1A from nearby intersecting side streets also treated pedestrians like pinballs. Community leaders and City officials offered various theories for the light being ignored and the dangerous turns. Some blamed a poorly placed traffic signal or confusing signage while others surmised that anxious drivers heading south on A1A might be preoccupied with the traffic light at the busy Oakland Park Boulevard intersection and inadvertently overlook the preceding light and/or street signs a few blocks north.

Former District 1 Police Commander Mary Negrey
While failing to definitively diagnose the enigmatic accident zone or effectively curb the traffic abuses, these preventive actions occasionally shed light on contributing factors. Former Police District 1 Commander Major Mary Negrey (later promoted to Assistant Chief and now manages communications for Seminole casino operations) told the Advisory Board in 2006 that until the City Commission stiffened some toothless traffic regulations, A1A would remain a vehicular demilitarized zone.

Greenway Born

GMCA President Pio Ieraci and Vice President Eric Berkowitz
In 2007, the Florida Department of Transportation was finally preparing to rehabilitate State Road A1A from Flamingo Avenue to Oakland Park Boulevard. Engineering Consultants bidding on the lucrative project were charged with improving upon a scope of work that would bring the thoroughfare into compliance with State and local regulations, address traffic safety issues and reflect the neighborhood’s character. To address the third objective, City officials recommended that aspiring applicants elicit feedback from the Galt Mile Community Association.

Click to Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. A1A corridor study At a September 2008 meeting with Mike Sherman from H.W. Lochner, an engineering consulting company competing for the FDOT contract, GMCA President Pio Ieraci and Vice President Eric Berkowitz reviewed the project and imposed a community context on relevant safety and public nuisance issues (noise). While the discussion helped identify traffic and pedestrian hot spots, it additionally sought to insure that the outcome was aesthetically consistent with the surrounding neighborhood. One month later - after the City awarded the FDOT engineering consulting contract to GBF Engineering - GMCA officials met with Michael Melendez, the bid winner’s engineering consultant. Melendez, a 7-year FDOT designer before joining GBF in 2003, explained that an A1A corridor study conducted by project planners had already begun evolving solutions to the widespread dangerous and illegal driving practices and the nerve-wracking noise pollution.

Click to Kimley-Horn and Associates web site To measure how a reduction from six to four traffic lanes would impact traffic volumes and service levels on State Road A1A from Oakland Park Boulevard to the northern City limit, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Broward County MPO had commissioned Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. to perform a Lane Reduction Feasibility Study on September 5, 2007. While confirming that a four lane A1A could easily manage current and future throughput without burdening adjacent or alternate routes (like Galt Ocean Drive), a subsequent study summary concluded that a lane reduction would curb speeding and reduce the number and seriousness of collisions.

Click to Lane Reduction Feasibility Study More than a year after the Kimley-Horn study, on December 16, 2008, the City hired urban planners Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin (since absorbed by Los Angeles-based AECOM) to prepare conceptual design options that illustrated the roadway segment, pedestrian hardscape treatment, site furnishings and landscaping based upon six and four-lane scenarios. The options included four variations ranging from restriping the existing roadway and carving out bike lanes, to relocating existing curbs, expanding sidewalks and accommodating new bike lanes, on-street parking and street trees.

Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin design options
To present the new concepts and elicit local input, the City hosted a 6 PM public meeting on May 7, 2009 at the Beach Community Center and provided the design options on the City’s website along with an interactive opportunity to comment. In a referendum conducted by the City, Galt Milers voted overwhelmingly to support an option that offered an expanded 24-foot wide sidewalk on the east side of A1A with a 10-foot pedestrian merchant zone and a 14-foot pedestrian area, a 10-foot bicycle zone, including on-street parking, street trees, landscaping in the median islands and a double row of trees defining the pedestrian area.

Click to Read Letter from Former FDOT Secretary Stephanie C. Kopelousos
Reducing A1A to 4 lanes served to structurally inoculate the roadway against street races wherein competing vehicles require dedicated lanes. Parsing out bike lanes relieved a perceived need by bicycle enthusiasts to illegally vie with pedestrians for sidewalk space one block east on Galt Ocean Drive or risk being pancaked on A1A by a gardener’s pickup barreling at 85 MPH. Following an extended debate over project impacts, community & City leaders, local vendors and project planners coalesced around the 4-lane option. With a credible plan in the works to clean up a segment of A1A reminiscent of a concrete blood blister, on July 20, 2009, former FDOT Secretary Stephanie C. Kopelouso notified Broward County that its 32 miles of A1A had been designated as a Florida Scenic Highway.

Click to Metropolitan Planning Organization websiteAlthough willing to approve the beautifully designed preferred option, its $8.7 million price tag spooked FDOT. On November 3, 2009, the City Commission authorized staff to forward it (with cost-cutting revisions) to the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (BMPO) for inclusion in a list of projects which are considered annually for funding. Now envisioned as the first of two projects that would morph the dilapidated speedway into a high end thoroughfare, Melendez and City staff pared down this initial plan into a 4-lane skeleton with buffered bike lanes and peppered with targeted safety and landscaping modifications.

FDOT Project Engineer Michael Melendez
On January 12, 2010, GMCA officials met with FDOT Project Manager Jim Hughes and Project Engineer Michael Melendez to insure that the plan would serve as a stepping stone to elevating the Galt Mile stretch of A1A to a level of excellence worthy of its Scenic Highway designation. Although Lauderdale-by-the-Sea had successfully worked with FDOT to develop their slice of A1A into a beautiful transportation corridor, A1A’s reputation as the “Ocean Highway” – a tailored picture postcard beachfront boulevard – was most exquisitely exemplified by the stretch approaching and adjacent to the Fort Lauderdale beach.

Click to Florida Scenic Highways web site The sordid road connecting the two was a dilapidated, dreary, dangerous speedway marred by patched and unpatched potholes, extensive spiderweb cracks and scattered browning vegetation. One block east of A1A, the parallel Galt Ocean Drive is adorned with a luxurious package of aesthetic amenities such as pavered crosswalks, pink aggregate sidewalks, interred utilities, landscaping uplights and decorative lamps. Contrasting the Galt Mile neighborhood’s blighted stretch of A1A with surrounding well-appointed thoroughfares to the east, north and south served to dramatically emphasize its shared impediments with a squalid airport perimeter strip.

Click to Florida Department of Transportation On August 18, 2010, Melendez and Hughes convened another public meeting at the Beach Community Center to better explain how the plan would address longstanding community concerns while improving the route. While staunchly in favor of curbing speeders, local residents repeatedly affirmed that they didn’t want to trade in a race track for a permanent traffic plug. Addressing the prospect of overkill, Project Engineer Melendez remarked “This is not a typical project. You usually don’t have many opportunities to reduce the number of road lanes. You can see where people speed up because of the open corridor. One of the benefits will be to slow down traffic, not to the point where it obstructs traffic, but to allow more pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk and bring more exposure to businesses along A1A.” Pleased with a planned 6-foot bike lane unique to the neighborhood, FDOT Project Manager Jim Hughes added “There’s a lot of bicycle traffic in the area with no bike lanes, so I think the bike lanes will be a big addition.” When repeatedly asked about community-endorsed amenities stripped from the plan to whittle overhead, the FDOT bureaucrats guaranteed their reappearance in the next stage of this two-part transformation.

Click to Weekley Asphalt Paving, Inc The modified design plans were completed in the spring of 2011 and bid packages were sent to contractors the following autumn. On October 7, 2011, the job was snagged by Weekley Asphalt Paving, Inc. The Pembroke Pines contractor appointed Jorge Perez to supervise construction. Not surprisingly, their initial winning bid of $1,728,489.86 was subsequently sweetened by almost $400,000. Welcome to the Venice of America!

Phase I – A 4 Lane Structural Skeleton

Construction Coordinator Sara J. Duffoo - Senior Project Engineer at Target Engineering Group, Inc
On May 3, 2012, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) hosted a Construction Open House at the Beach Community Center to review the $2.1 million FDOT plan to resurface State Road A1A (SR A1A) from Flamingo Avenue to Oakland Park Boulevard. Melendez and construction coordinator Sara J. Duffoo (Senior Project Engineer at Target Engineering Group, Inc.) assured local residents and merchants that the structural changes to A1A wouldn’t impair traffic on surrounding roads. After 6 years of tweaking, Financial Project Number 423000-1-52-01 (the preferred identifier for FDOT projects) was finalized and fitted with a May 7, 2012 start date.

Information Specialist Miranda Iglesias
As the improvements were actualized over the next seven months, FDOT’s project information specialist Miranda Iglesias kept GMCA officials up to speed with regular progress updates. The six lanes of North Ocean Boulevard that served as a raceway through the Galt Mile neighborhood were reduced to four lanes abutting new curbs and gutters and bookended with bike lanes.

Click to Florida Department of Transportation Intersections within project limits also received a makeover. ADA compliant curb ramps were installed and left turn lanes extended. Signalized intersections at NE 32nd Street, NE 34th Street, NE 36th Street, NE 41st Street and Flamingo Avenue were adorned with new Mast Arm Assemblies and vested with video detection capability, further dampening the strip’s attraction to weekend & post-midnight speed demons who view traffic signals as course markers.

Along with remapping the layout at intersections, new stripes and traffic lines delimited the lane reduction and isolated the new bike lanes (in lieu of a physical barrier). New signage marks the entire route. As per an FDOT contract provision limiting funds available for landscaping enhancements to 4% of the overall contract amount, medians modified from NE 32nd Street to Flamingo Avenue were sparingly vegetated.

Phase II – Green Light for Greenway

Although it took more than 6 years, Melendez and City staffers made good on their promise to begin transforming the neighborhood’s primary thoroughfare. Nevertheless, to actualize the second stage in our lifetime, the neighborhood association had to begin convincing Broward MPO to line up stage two funding shortly after the initial project’s February, 2013 completion date. After all, other than the pittance expended to maintain the Galt Mile Library (despite thrice thwarted attempts by the County Board to close the doors), our neighborhood has been fiscally goose-egged by the County for three decades. As one of Broward’s most fertile tax dollar districts, the Galt Mile was overdue.

Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts
Broward MPO is the hand on the funding faucet for Transportation infrastructure in the County. Without an allocation from BMPO, Greenway projects remain locked in a dream state. Fortunately, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts is the 2nd Vice Chair on the Broward MPO Board. He also serves on the Governance Committee, Chairs the Evaluation Committee and serves as 2nd Vice Chair of the Executive Committee. After helping breathe life into the decisive second stage of the “A1A Greenway Project”, Roberts notified a surprised and grateful Advisory Board that 7 years of lobbying and planning was about to pay off. Although initially projected to cost $12 million, an almost $13 million variation was ultimately approved by Broward MPO.

Already intimately familiar with the design elements of the project that neighborhood residents voted to endorse in 2009, few neighborhood officials – or residents – attended the October 8, 2013 public meeting convened to explain the planned changes. At the subsequent October 17 Advisory Board meeting, members learned that the project described by meeting host Diana Alarcon differed substantially from the plan vetted and overwhelmingly approved by neighborhood residents.

What Went Wrong?

In short, the plan she described was riddled with disastrous repercussions. In addition to skyrocketing traffic volume on Galt Ocean Drive, Galt Mile residents would be forced to drive 1 or 2 miles in order to park their cars in the public lots directly across the street. Galt Ocean Drive residents would only be able to exit the block at the northern and southern ends of the street, which would be perpetually clogged by the significantly increased traffic. The plan also deprived local vendors of access to critical street traffic.

The initial objective to slow traffic on A1A admittedly challenged traffic planners. To help insure a favorable outcome, planners actively sought open two-way discourse with residents, merchants and neighborhood officials throughout Phase I. When Phase I ended, so did the communication; an enigmatic departure from the City’s high profile policy of soliciting local input prior to every aspect of community development. Instead, after whipping up variations on the selected design, second stage planners anticipated revealing them at a public meeting. While cloistered, they squared out bear traps that would artfully induce traffic jams, maroon merchants and turn Galt Ocean Drive into a well-appointed activity wheel. Although planners may have viewed the October 8 meeting as a standard stage in the development process, stunned attendees prepared for battle.

Since project details for the A1A Greenway were also posted on the City of Fort Lauderdale website, scores of angry local residents contacted the Galt Mile association to ask why the City was punishing the neighborhood with a plan that created more problems than it cured. In addition to complaining bitterly that the project would force them out of business, stunned local merchants observed that no new enterprise will risk opening in a location that deterred access to critical street traffic. The following is a partial summary of the planned changes that sparked the intense local blowback.

Rube Goldberg on the Galt

Click to A1A Greenway Plan First, the anathematic plan changed 35th and 36th Streets into one-way, single lane streets that force traffic east towards Galt Ocean Drive. Absent those two egresses, residents would have to exit the block by driving to the northern or southern end of Galt Ocean Drive, where the road intersects with A1A. The plan created two single lane service roads that would route vehicles past the businesses along the east side of A1A before feeding them onto 35th or 36th Street and then to Galt Ocean Drive. These service roads span the block from the south intersection of Galt Ocean Drive and A1A to 35th Street and the block from 35th Street to 36th Street, and are separated from A1A by a median; thereby restoring a third lane which was removed in Phase I to slow traffic.

Click to A1A Greenway Plan Drivers seeking to enter either of the two consecutive A1A service roads can only do so at the southernmost beginning of each block. Once on the service road, they must drive past the angled parking in front of the businesses before being respectively funneled onto the one-way 35th or 36th Street to Galt Ocean Drive.

Click to A1A Greenway Plan Since the businesses can only be accessed from the service road, by the time a driver heading north on A1A notices a business or restaurant he or she would like to patronize, it’s too late, as the driver will have already passed the service road entrance. To return to the missed entrance, a driver on A1A must now turn right to Galt Ocean Drive, drive south along the length of Galt Ocean Drive to its southern intersection with A1A, turn right on A1A and enter the correct A1A service road. Since few drivers will know about this Rube Goldberg “second bite at the apple”, the vast majority of potential customers would simply keep driving, and patronize some other restaurant or shop. Those that did circle back to A1A through Galt Ocean Drive would significantly add to the street’s traffic, and explode an already sizable intersection backup at the exits to A1A.

One-Way to Galt Ocean Drive Galt Ocean Drive residents who want to patronize the stores (or the Library) south of 36th Street and park in the public lots across the street from their homes would have to drive to the southern intersection with A1A, turn right onto A1A and enter the appropriate service road to 35th or 36th Street and head east on either of those two one-way roads to the lot entrance.

As an unintended consequence, buses on Galt Ocean Drive that currently turn on 36th Street to A1A and service Coral Ridge Towers residents who live across the street would either be rerouted to the street’s southern intersection with A1A or bus service along Galt Ocean Drive would be discontinued.

Click to A1A Greenway Plan The plan also made critical changes to A1A north of Galt Ocean Drive, including the creation of a controversial roundabout (traffic circle) at Flamingo Avenue, through which traffic would be funneled from all directions. As this stretch of A1A is rarely abused by speeders, to achieve this pointless objective, it will gobble a chunk of Plaza East’s streetfront property – and every other property that borders the roundabout.

Communication vs. Controversy

Presidents Council Meeting at Playa del Sol
At the November 21st Advisory Board meeting, association officials and Commissioner Roberts discussed how the plan’s most egregious consequences might be avoided with certain minor adjustments. Prior to the December 2nd Presidents Council meeting in Playa del Sol, Roberts agreed to set a meeting with association officials and traffic planners. If successful, the problems would become manageable. If, however, the City was hell bent on crippling an entire neighborhood, Galt Mile officials prepared to warn neighborhood residents about the project’s dysfunctional contrecoup.

While it wasn’t a precursor to Armageddon, this mutated outcome wasn’t what we bargained for. Given the long, arduous process to design, fund and build an improved “Ocean Highway” through the Galt Mile neighborhood, association officials – as well as Commissioner Roberts –would prefer to “tweak” the project’s flaws rather than trash years of planning and a $13 million appropriation.

Alarcon to the Rescue!

Transportation & Mobility Director Diana Alarcon
On December 5 at 2:30 PM, GMCA officials Pio Ieraci, Eric Berkowitz and Fred Nesbitt converged on City Hall, where Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts scheduled the meeting with traffic planners. Accompanying Transportation & Mobility Director Diana Alarcon was Jim Hughes, an FDOT Project Manager who spent years developing the project, and Atkins North America Transportation Manager Dominic Novello. Representing the concerns of local merchants, owner Dominic Santarelli of Nick’s Italian Restaurant arrived early – along with his landlords.

One-Way to Galt Ocean Drive After enumerating their concerns, GMCA officials informed Project Gurus that dropping plans to change 35th Street and 36th Street into single-lane one-way thoroughfares would mitigate a majority of the anticipated problems on Galt Ocean Drive. If two-way connectivity for these two key side streets was salvaged, it would cancel the need for drivers to circle the block to access shops across the street and on A1A – eliminating incremental traffic that would otherwise burden Galt Ocean Drive. Galt Mile residents could continue directly accessing parking lots across the street and bus routes servicing Galt Mile and Coral Ridge Towers residents would no longer be threatened. Merchants would preserve unfettered access for local customers and new street trade.

Which Way? Alarcon retorted, “We heard these same concerns at the October 8th meeting in the Community Center. We took them seriously. After the meeting, we redesigned the project, restoring 35th and 36th Streets as two-way roads.” Delighted association officials peppered Alarcon with a series of directional flow scenarios, confirming that drivers heading north or south on A1A or Galt Ocean Drive could turn into either connective side street. Alarcon pointed out that although several planned angled parking spaces along the side streets would be lost, the benefits to residents and merchants justified the minor sacrifice.

Owner Dominic Santarelli of Nick’s Italian Restaurant
Elated by the news, a jubilant Santarelli queried Alarcon about access to customer parking along A1A and in the public lots along Galt Ocean Drive. While assuring him that it would be preserved, the City traffic boss added that since the storefront angled parking would be shielded from A1A by the service road (which she referred to as “an access road”), pulling out from these spots “will be far less dangerous than backing directly into A1A.”

One-Way to Galt Ocean Drive Satisfied that his misgivings about the project, and those of other local merchants, had been mitigated, a grateful Santarelli thanked the planners before departing. Discussion then turned to the rotary planned at Flamingo Avenue. Rotaries (AKA Roundabouts or Traffic Circles) have successfully enhanced countless intersections throughout Europe and South America. Although motorists have seemingly acclimated to larger traffic circles across the U.S., drivers confronted by smaller variations often succumb to trepidation and tend to hesitate before entering the rotary – occasionally in the wrong direction. As such, they often become traffic plugs.

FDOT Project Manager Jim Hughes
Admonishing that Broward MPO officials perceived the rotary as an elegant enhancement that would naturally regulate traffic, Jim Hughes warned “They avidly supported its incorporation into the A1A Greenway.” Despite lamenting “I like the rotary and I believe that local drivers would also like it once they got used to it,” Roberts observed that since constituents were overwhelmingly opposed, “It may have to go.” Moreover, Hughes explained that subsequent traffic studies didn’t support its anticipated throughput benefits. Ieraci added that Plaza East residents would resent losing a slice of their streetfront to help flesh out the rotary.

Atkins North America Transportation Manager Dominic Novello
Consulting with Hughes and Novello, Alarcon conceded that its liabilities may outweigh its assets – and agreed to take a hard look at the rotary. When Berkowitz asked if support for the rotary by public officials in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea would complicate their decision, Alarcon said “This is Fort Lauderdale, and our obligation is to Fort Lauderdale residents, not our neighbors in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.” When he asked if Broward MPO officials might pressure the City into installing the rotary, Roberts remarked. “I may be able to help with that.” Roberts applauded the planners for reacting quickly to quash local fears about the planned changes. NOTE: Despite offending the artistic sensitivities of its supporters, the rotary was scrapped shortly after the meeting!

Click to December 11, 2013 Meeting Notice Since project planners effectively addressed the concerns of local residents and merchants, Galt Mile officials informed Roberts that they could again support the A1A Greenway project. Alarcon and neighborhood officials agreed to work together to insure that the project delivers on its 6-year promise. As the meeting adjourned and the GMCA visitors thanked Alarcon, she brought up another obstacle facing the project. Notwithstanding neighborhood wishes, a few stakeholders were actively opposing any improvements to A1A, albeit their objections were enigmatically unrelated to any specific change.

Alarcon said she intended to announce the new changes at a planned December 11 public meeting from 6 to 8 PM in the Community Center. While notifying member associations that the project’s adverse impacts had been expunged, Ieraci would also urge residents to attend the public meeting and express support for the corrected plan, prospectively encouraging holdouts to consider larger community interests. Of course, if they’re only fishing for “special considerations”, their neighbors - or customers - are likely to frown on efforts to bang the project budget for contributions to an early retirement fund.

Click To Top of Page

If you are new to the neighborhood, counted 62 or 65 candles on your last birthday cake, plan to relocate or recently returned from summering in Kabul, Baghdad or Basra, reading this can bulk up your wallet. How will downsizing your empty nest and locking up that sweet little beachfront condo inflame your tax bill? Do you want to rent your Galt Mile property without flushing your Homestead protection? Since taxes can cause hiatus hernias, stuttering, chronic diaphoresis, migraines, baldness and other stress-related afflictions, the following missive also promotes good health.

As amended in 2008, the Florida Constitution (VIII)(6), provides legal Florida residents with a Homestead Exemption on their homes, condominiums, co-op apartments, and certain mobile home lots - if they qualify. Capped at $50,000, this tax-saving exemption is applicable to the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of an owner/occupied residence. While the first $25,000 applies to all property taxes, the second $25,000 does NOT offset taxes assessed by the Broward County School Board, a historically corrupt taxing authority that’s a favorite target for Federal and State prosecutors. Even so, Broward County property owners shielded by the Homestead Exemption in 2013 saved from $640 to $1,152 (depending upon their respective municipal millage rates). A Homestead Exemption added benefit, the “Save Our Homes” tax cap, enabled the average Broward homesteaded homeowner in 2013 to blot out another $743 in taxes. As property values spring back, this residency sweetener is likely to ripen.

You are entitled to a Homestead Exemption if, as of January 1st, you have made the property your permanent home or the permanent home of a person who is legally or naturally dependent on you. Each year, your permanent residence is determined by where you live on January 1st. As defined in Florida Statute § 196.012(17), “‘Permanent residence’ means that place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he or she has the intention of returning. A person may have only one permanent residence at a time; and, once a permanent residence is established in a foreign state or country, it is presumed to continue until the person shows that a change has occurred.”

The regular filing period for a 2014 homestead exemption is March 2, 2013 to March 3, 2014. For those of us who sleep through this soft deadline, Section 196.011(8), Florida Statutes provides a second bite at the apple by allowing the Property Appraiser to extend the filing deadline to September 17, 2014 for applicants who demonstrate that extenuating circumstances precluded their timely applications for the 2014 exemption (Parrish will accept “OOPs, I forgot!”). However, once that “hard” late filing deadline closes, no further exemption applications can be accepted for the year, regardless of any sob story for missing the late filing deadline.

When filing an application you must bring the items listed below, dated prior to January 1, 2014. To claim 100% coverage, all owners occupying the property as Tenants in Common (i.e., proportional share co-owners) must file in person on jointly held property. In the case of a husband/wife (“Tenants by the Entirety”) or Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (“JTRS”), any one owner may qualify for 100% coverage – although it is highly advisable for all eligible owner-occupants to file. If you are married and the Deed has different last names for a husband and wife, a marriage certificate must be presented if the deed does not indicate the two co-owners are “husband and wife.”

Proof of Ownership: In general, the recorded Deed or Co-op Proprietary Lease must be held in the name(s) of the individuals applying for Homestead. You do not need to bring a copy of the deed or co-op lease if the document has already been recorded in the Official Records of Broward County. IF THE PROPERTY IS HELD IN A TRUST, EITHER A NOTARIZED CERTIFICATE OF TRUST OR A COMPLETE COPY OF THE TRUST AGREEMENT IS REQUIRED. Note: Parrish recommends using the simple Certificate of Trust form instead of submitting the entire trust for review, as it better protects the privacy of your estate planning and other financial matters.

Proof of Permanent Florida Residence (preferably dated prior to January 1, 2014). Acceptable forms of proof are as follows:

  • FOR ALL APPLICANTS: Florida Driver’s License (“Valid Only in Florida” driver license is not acceptable) or Florida Identification Card (for non-drivers only) is required IN ADDITION TO ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
  • FOR NON-US CITIZENS: In addition to the items listed above, you must have proof of permanent residency, resident immigrant status (such as a “Green Card”), asylum/parolee status (or some other PRUCOL status) or proof that you are the parent of a US-born minor child (US Citizen) who shares your residence.

Note: it is generally against the law for a Florida resident to drive in Florida with an out-of-state license or tag if he/she claims Homestead Exemption (Sections 320.37 and 322.08 of the Florida Statutes).

PRUCOL is an acronym for “Permanent Residence (in the United States) Under Color of Law.” Leeched from the 1978 case “Holley vs. Lavine” in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that casually evolved into doctrine for determining local or State benefits eligibility, PRUCOL applies to individuals who are neither U.S. citizens nor aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e. lawful temporary residents, refugees, political parolees, asylum grantees, deferred deportation, etc.). Essentially, it includes aliens living in the U.S. with the knowledge and permission (express or implied) of the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and whose departure that agency does not contemplate enforcing.

Click to USCIS Web Site Following the September 11, 2001 tragedy, Immigration and Naturalization service (INS) operations were transferred from the Justice Department to the Department of Homeland Security. Upon dissolution of the INS on March 1, 2003, immigration service functions were imparted to the newly formed USCIS.

Pursuant to Rule 12D-7.007(3), Florida Administrative Code, anyone residing in the U.S. under what is considered a “temporary” visa (E-, F-, H-, J-, L-, M-, N-, O-, P-, TC- or R-class visa) is INELIGIBLE for a Homestead Exemption. Similarly, anyone here under “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) is also ineligible. This is true under Florida law no matter how long you have owned your home and lived/worked in Florida – and regardless of how many times you are legally able to renew your visa.

The Florida Department of Revenue application form (DR-501) requests the following information for all owners living on the premises and filing (if applicable).

  • Current employers of all owners
  • Date of each owner’s last Florida permanent residency
  • Date of each owner’s previous residency outside Florida and date terminated
  • Date of occupancy for each property owner
  • Social security numbers of all owners filing, including the Social Security numbers of any married spouses – even if not filing or named in the Deed (as per Section 196.011(1)(b), F.S.) – are required
  • Florida Voters Registration number (U.S. citizen) or Immigration number (if not U.S. citizen)
  • Florida Drivers License, Florida I.D. and/or Vehicle Tag numbers (if applicable)
  • Percentage of Ownership
  • Declaration of Domicile w/residency date
  • Current employers of all owners
  • School Location of Dependent Children
  • Bank Statement and Checking Account Mailing Address
  • Addresses listed on last I.R.S. income tax returns

Florida Statute 196.011(9) (a) requires the owner to notify the Property Appraiser whenever the use of the property or the status or condition of the owner(s) changes so as to change the exempt status of the property. If the status of the property or the owner(s) alters Homestead eligibility, the law requires notification of the Property Appraiser’s office by March 1st. Failure to so notify the property appraiser exposes the property owner to 10 years of retroactive tax indebtedness plus 15 percent interest per annum and a penalty of 50 percent of the taxes fraudulently exempted. If Mr. Slippery moves to a subsequently purchased Florida property, the local Property Appraiser will record a notice of lien in the county or counties wherein the deadbeat’s new property or properties are located.

Click to New York’s S.T.A.R. exemption If you (or your married spouse) have a Homestead Exemption in any other county, state or country (or an equivalent permanent residency-based exemption or tax credit, such as New York’s “S.T.A.R.” exemption) on another property you also currently own, you will not be eligible for a homestead in Broward until you surrender the exemption in that other jurisdiction.

The Homestead Exemption does not transfer from property to property. If you had this exemption last year on another property and moved, you must file a new application for your new residence. Notify the Property Appraiser to cancel the exemptions on your former home. Property purchased during last year may show qualified exemptions of the seller. The sellers’ exemptions will not carry over to this year; you must apply for your own exemptions! Note: An adult child who inherits a home from a deceased parent does not inherit the Homestead.

Florida’s Portability law allows property owners to transfer their Save Our Homes benefit earned on a previous Homestead property to their new Homestead property. If you are applying for a new Homestead Exemption AND you held a Homestead exemption on a previous property within the last 2 tax-years anywhere in Florida, you should also submit a Portability application with your Homestead application. Again – although portability benefits are transferable, the Homestead Exemption prerequisite for the “Save Our Homes” tax cap is not. You must apply for a new Homestead Exemption to be eligible for portability benefits.

In times of inflating property values, Florida’s 1992 “Save Our Homes” (SOH) Constitutional Amendment caps annually assessed valuations of Homesteaded properties by the lesser of 3% or the percentage increase of the consumer price index (CPI). However, when property values decline, a homestead recapture provision (Section 193.155, F.S. and 12D-8.0062, Florida Administrative Code) causes taxable values to annually rise by 3% (or the percentage change in the CPI - if less) until the assessed value finally equals the market value. As a result, even when their property values drop, certain taxpayers face modestly increased tax bills. Since the provision drives taxpayers crazy and yields minimal revenues, Property Appraisers, Tax Collectors and taxpayers favor mothballing this Constitutional crabapple.

Click to Florida Constitution After decades of gerrymandering election districts to benefit whatever party currently ruled the roost, the November 2010 voter-approved redistricting reforms delivered by Ballot Amendments 5 and 6 finally precluded Legislative and Congressional incumbents from preselecting who could vote in the districts where they planned to run, forcing them to leave election outcomes to voters – a novel concept for Florida politicians. Outraged by a process that allowed ordinary voters to mess with their career paths by leveling long-twisted playing fields, vengeful Republican legislative leaders sought to give the arrogant public a taste of its own medicine. Overnight, a truckload of junk amendments were nested in the November 2012 ballot.

Government and Media Relations Deputy Bob Wolfe of the Property Appraiser’s Office
At the October 18, 2012 GMCA Advisory Board meeting, Government and Media Relations Deputy Bob Wolfe of the Property Appraiser’s Office warned neighborhood officials that these amendments cloaked poison pills designed to explode the tax impact on Homesteaded property owners. Anticipating that few voters would actually read the skewed Ballot Language, sponsors fitted them with deliberately misleading Ballot Titles. To further blur their actual impact, tricky lawmakers peppered several reasonable provisions into amendments otherwise booby-trapped with outrageous partisan privileges and huge tax increases. Although marketed by Republican lawmakers as a vehicle that would enable the legislature to eliminate the Save our Homes recapture rule – an objective long-supported by taxpayers and Property Appraisers alike – also buried in Constitutional Amendment 4 was a $1.7 billion tax hike for Homesteaded property owners. When voters wisely rejected 8 of the 11 largely screwball amendments – including the ridiculously expensive Amendment 4 – the unpopular recapture rule survived another year.

Three reasonable amendments approved by the 2012 Florida electorate all affect property owners. Amendment 2 extended an existing exemption for combat-disabled seniors from Florida to all combat-disabled veterans, regardless of where they resided upon entering the military. Amendment 9 entitles the surviving spouses of first responders who die in the line of duty (volunteer law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics) to the same total homestead property tax exemption currently available to surviving spouses of Florida military veterans who die from service-related causes while on active duty. Amendment 11 authorizes cities and counties to grant full homestead property tax relief to low-income seniors who lived in a home valued at up to $250,000 for at least 25 years. Since the relief is contingent on supermajority approval by both the City and County boards, its anticipated cost to local governments of $27.8 million over 3 years is not likely to hit in the immediate future.

The amount of the homestead exemption granted to an owner residing on a particular property is applied against the amount of that person’s interest in the property. For example, assuming a property valued at $40,000, with the residing owner’s interest in the property being $20,000, only $20,000 of the homestead exemption can be applied to that property. If there are multiple owners, all as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, the owner living at property filing receives the full $25,000 exemption.

“Can I still receive a Homestead Exemption if I rent my property?” It depends on the local Property Appraiser. Florida Statute § 196.061 historically provided “The rental of an entire dwelling previously claimed to be a homestead for tax purposes shall constitute the abandonment of said dwelling as a homestead, and said abandonment shall continue until such dwelling is physically occupied by the owner thereof. However, such abandonment of such homestead after January 1 of any year shall not affect the homestead exemption for tax purposes for that particular year so long as this provision is not used for 2 consecutive years.”

Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Nance Parrish
Since Florida’s Constitution determines if a property is a “Permanent Residence” by its status on January 1st, what happens before or after that bellwether date is technically irrelevant. As provided for in the above exception, if a lease begins after January 1st and terminates by December 31st in the same year, nothing in Florida law requires surrender of the Homestead Exemption. This implied safe harbor disappears if the property is leased again during the following (second consecutive) year. Because Florida law (Florida Statute § 196.015) empowers the local Property Appraiser with broad discretion in juggling eligibility, relevant policies vary by jurisdiction. At the onset of her tenure, Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish had adopted a once in a lifetime policy policy for rentals with lease terms that wholly fall within a calendar year, allowing each homeowner a single opportunity to rent their Homesteaded property without sacrificing the exemption. These safe harbor policies were savaged during the 2013 legislative session.

St. Augustine Senator John Thrasher
St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth
St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth told Senator John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine) that constituent homeowners who live near the Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters of the PGA Tour wanted to rent their homes to golf enthusiasts, links groupies and media personnel who haunt The Players Championship and other PGA events for a few weeks each year – without endangering their Homestead Exemptions. A former Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and a close ally of Senate President Don Gaetz, Thrasher elbowed Senate Bill 342 into law over the objections of Property Appraisers across the State. The new law changed Florida Statute § 196.061(1), asserting that a Homesteaded property will not be considered abandoned “unless the property is rented for more than 30 days per calendar year for 2 consecutive years.”

Click Here to The Players Championship While virtually useless for the purposes that most owners (or tenants) lease a property, the 30-day lease terms are perfect for siphoning a few bucks from the golf tournament. Although it will facilitate lucrative month-long rentals for a handful of St. Johns homeowners, by delimiting an annual statutory maximum lease term of 30 days, thousands of longer leases that were regularly granted safe harbor by local property appraisers are now at risk. Enacting this local patronage pork trough threatens tens of thousands of leases between unit owners and their annual or seasonal tenants in community associations across the State. Lori Parrish strongly suggests that her office be consulted prior to executing any leases – spin for do it or else!

Sample TRIM Notice
By the end of the second week in August, the Property Appraiser mails “Notices of Proposed Taxes” (AKA “TRIM” notices”) to all Broward County property owners. Once you receive the TRIM (Truth in Millage) notice, you must act expeditiously if you intend to challenge the assessment or proposed tax rates. Unfortunately, many property owners ignore the TRIM Notice and wait until they receive their tax bills in November – after the September 17th deadline – it will be too late to file an appeal.

The TRIM Notice contains proposed tax rates as set by local taxing authorities (i.e., Broward School Board, Broward County Commission, City of Fort Lauderdale, South Florida Water Management District, North Broward Hospital Board, Children’s Services Council of Broward County and the Florida Inland Navigation District). During the past two years, Broward properties realized average countywide jumps in taxable value of 1.48% in 2012 (wherein losses recorded in 7 of Broward’s 31 municipalities were marginally offset by gains in the remaining 24) and 4.46% in 2013 (when 30 of 31 cities and towns registered increases).

Click to Broward County Revenue Collection Division The DR-420 Certification of Tax Roll Value for 2013, released by the Property Appraiser on June 28, 2013, observes that 30 Broward municipalities recorded “varying overall tax roll value increases this year. Only one municipality (tiny Lazy Lake) and the unincorporated area of Broward experienced value declines.” Closer scrutiny of the 8.29% decline in the unincorporated area revealed that lower values for sizable tracts owned by Florida Power & Light dragged down a modest increase in residential property values.

Taxable values for the Galt Mile’s “Big Three” taxing authorities realized increases of 4.49% (the School Board), 4.46% (the County Commission) and 4.49% (the City of Fort Lauderdale). Each taxing authority holds two public hearings from August through September, where taxpayers may question proposed millage rates, non-ad valorem fees and special assessments, or comment on services being cut from local budgets. Your TRIM Notice lists the hearing dates, locations and contact phone numbers for each taxing authority. While these hearings provide flustered taxpayers with an opportunity to vent, prospects for successfully manipulating a lower millage rate are statistically comparable to spontaneously growing an eye on your thumb.

Click to Broward County Revenue Collection Division Tax calculations are based upon a simple mathematical formula: TAXABLE VALUE x TAX MILLAGE RATES + SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS = TAX BILL. The TRIM notice reminds property owners that they can save money by paying early. Paying in November earns a 4% discount. The discount drops to 3% in December, 2% in January, 1% in February and full price in March.

Click to Value Adjustment Board Appeals Process While the Property Appraiser’s Office exerts no influence over tax rates, if the market value as shown in the box “Your Property Value This Year” is higher than the market value of your property as of this past January 1, a Deputy Property Appraiser will discuss your market value and how it was calculated on request. Similarly, the Property Appraiser’s office will review any exemptions that were denied. If still dissatisfied, you can file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board (VAB) to reconsider the assessment and/or any denied exemptions.

The Broward County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) is the independent appeals board that has initial jurisdiction over challenges to any property valuations (the “assessed value”), denials of exemptions, denials of classifications, and other similar matters. When HB 909 amended Florida Statute 194.015 in June of 2008, the 5-member VAB’s composition was changed to include two Broward County Commissioners, one School Board member and two layperson taxpayers (a homesteaded property owner selected by the County Commission and a commercial property owner selected by the School Board).

The Board is completely independent of the Property Appraiser’s office. As per Florida Statute 194.035, the Value Adjustment Board appoints Special Magistrates - who are all qualified, professionally designated real estate appraisers (for valuation cases) and/or attorneys (for exemption cases) – to conduct the hearings. The only question the Special Magistrates can determine is whether the market value of a property as shown on the TRIM Notice was higher than the property’s market value as of last January 1st.

The process is triggered by filing an appeal application form (DR 486) and a nonrefundable $15 statutory filing fee with the VAB by the September 17, 2014 deadline. The fully completed petition must be filed with the Value Adjustment Board at Broward Government Center, 115 South Andrews Avenue, Room 120, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301 (or filed online using a credit card) - BEFORE THE DEADLINE. While the Property Appraiser is immutably prohibited from processing an appeal after September 17th, a taxpayer who misses the deadline due to extraordinary circumstances can still petition the VAB to consider a valuation appeal. Since “good cause” late-filings are vetted on a case by case basis by the VAB attorney, the applicant must contact the VAB directly to assess an appeal’s merit.

In accord with the provisions of Florida Statute 194.034 (d), petitioners are required to furnish the VAB Appeals office with all the information or documentation that will be used to support their conclusions of value. Failure to provide information previously requested by the Property Appraiser at least 15 days before the hearing precludes its use before the VAB.

Broward County Headquarters at Governmental Center
To best prepare a case, documentary evidence supportive of a claim should be compiled with the assistance of the Property Appraiser staff, VAB staff and/or an attorney. To request the VAB’s help, a petitioner can visit the VAB office in Room 120 at Government Center (115 South Andrews Avenue), call 954-357-7205 or 954-357-5367 or send an email to To elicit assistance from the Property Appraiser’s Office, visit their headquarters at 115 South Andrews Avenue, Room 111 in Governmental Center (954-357-6830) or email Manager Kelly Brown at Any person representing you at the hearing must have a letter of authorization or power of attorney attesting to that fact. This applies to anyone whose name is not on the deed. If a late-filing petitioner is denied “Good Cause” by the VAB or if the Board finds against the applicant after a hearing, the petitioner is entitled by law to file an action in Circuit Court within 60 days of the date on the final decision letter, pursuant to Sec. 194.171, Florida Statutes.

CAVEAT EMPTOR! As you are doubtless aware, this appeal is a lawsuit. Such actions are considered de novo, or original actions, rather than an appeal of the VAB decision. Lawsuits cost thousands of dollars in legal fees (retainers can run $250 to $500 per hour) and court costs. If unsuccessful, these costs would be incremental to the possible doubling or trebling of property taxes implicit in losing the homestead exemption. An appeal is anything but a consequence-free “toss of the dice”.

Low-Income Senior Exemptions

Pursuant to Section 196.075, F.S., residents 65 years or older as of January 1, 2014, may qualify for the additional $25,000 Senior Exemption. In 2013, qualified seniors had to demonstrate a total 2012 household adjusted gross income of not more than $27,590 (adjusted annually for inflation by the Department of Revenue) to be eligible for the additional exemption. Since income eligibility is recalculated every January to reflect changes in the cost-of-living index, this exemption must be applied for annually. While the exemption applies to the county portion every Broward resident’s taxes, only those residents living in cities that adopted the exemption (such as Fort Lauderdale) may also apply it to their municipal tax bite. The filing period is from January 1st to March 1st each year. To insure a proper filing, follow the steps below:

If You File An Income Tax Return:

  1. Complete Part (A), Part (C), and Part (D) of the Sworn Statement of Adjusted Gross Income of Household
  2. Submit the Sworn Statement of Adjusted Gross Income of Household to the Property Appraiser on or before March 1, 2014.
  3. Submit a copy of your 2013 Income Tax Return Form 1040 and W-2 for all persons residing in your home (excluding renters and boarders) to the Property Appraiser no later than June 1.

If You Do Not File An Income Tax Return:

  1. Complete Part (A), Part (B), Part (D), and Part (E) of the Sworn Statement of Adjusted Gross Income of Household
  2. Complete Lines 1 through 4 of the IRS Form 4506 and sign the form. There is no fee for verification of non-filing.
  3. Submit the Sworn Statement of Adjusted Gross Income of Household, proof of age, and the IRS Form 4506 to the Property Appraiser on or before March 1, 2014.
  4. Submit a copy of your Social Security Statement (SSA 1099) to the Property Appraiser no later than June 1, 2014. The Social Security Administration will send you your SSA-1099 by February 1

If you miss the March 1st “soft” filing deadline for the 2014 Senior Exemption, and believe that you have “Good Cause” for not having timely filed the application, you can still call the Property Appraiser’s office at 954-357-6830 before September 17, 2014 (the hard deadline) or email Customer Service & Exemptions Division Manager Kelly Brown at and ask if and how you can still file for the 2014 Senior Exemption. As per State law (Section 196.011(8), Florida Statutes), applicant material submitted after the September 17th "hard deadline" will not be considered.

Other Exemptions

With the exception of the $5,000 Veteran’s Disability Exemption and the Historic Property Exemption, a Homestead Exemption is a legal eligibility prerequisite for a buffet of other tax-saving vehicles. While helping property owners with Homestead Exemptions and Low-Income Senior Exemptions, Property Appraiser personnel also facilitate applications for the following exemptions:

  • WIDOW/WIDOWER EXEMPTION: Bring copy of spouse’s death certificate, newspaper obituary, or memorial card.

  • DISABILITY/VETERAN’S DISABILITY EXEMPTION: Ask us about the filing requirements for the various partial and full versions of these exemptions.

  • DEPLOYED MILITARY EXEMPTION: Bring dated official evidence (US military documentation) of participation in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Noble Eagle or Operation Odyssey Dawn

  • ADDITIONAL EXEMPTION FOR COMBAT-WOUNDED FLORIDA DISABLED VETERANS: Bring documented proof that disability was combat related (i.e., copy of Purple Heart Medal award paperwork), and a certificate from the US Government or US Department of Veterans Affairs attesting to the percentage of your permanent disability.

  • “GRANNY FLAT” EXEMPTION: Bring permits, Certificate of Occupancy and construction plans used to house your 62-year old (as of January 1st of the year for which the exemption is requested) “Granny Flat” occupant

  • HISTORIC PROPERTY EXEMPTION: Depending upon whether or not the historic property is open to the public, submit a fully completed application, evidence of its designation status and documentation demonstrating the percentage of the property eligible for its historic designation

  • NON-PROFIT, RELIGIOUS, EDUCATIONAL & GOVERNMENTAL EXEMPTIONS: In addition to proof of ownership by an eligible organization, eliciting Institutional & Non-Profit Exemptions also requires documentation demonstrating that it is currently "predominant used" for an eligible purpose.

Click to Broward County Property Appraiser Office The Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office is located in Broward County Governmental Center at 115 South Andrews Avenue, Room 111, in downtown Fort Lauderdale (just south of Broward Boulevard). The Office is ordinarily open weekdays from 7 am until 6 pm. and - with exceptions - closed on weekends and Holidays. In 2014, the office will be open on “Special” Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and hours are extended during “TRIM season” to address the heavier traffic. The telephone number is 954-357-6830. The Broward County Property Appraiser maintains a web site at Maureen Morrison is the Broward County Property Appraiser’s condo and co-op supervisor in the Real Property Office. Maureen can be reached at (954) 357-6832 or by email at

Exemptions Division Manager Kelly Brown helping Outreach Senior
Beach Community Center
The Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office conducts taxpayer outreach sessions at City Halls, Condos, Co-ops, Community Centers, Homeowners, Civic and Community Associations and a variety of other venues where Deputy Property Appraisers provide local residents with property tax information and help with filing exemptions. On the last Friday of most months, BCPA staffers assist Galt Mile residents at the Beach Community Center (3351 NE 33rd Street) from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For more information about these events, contact Customer Service & Exemptions Division Manager Kelly Brown - who oversees Community & Homebound Outreach - at 954-357-6830 (or 954-357-6035) or by email at

File for Your Homestead Exemption Online - CLICK HERE
The Property Appraiser’s office has instituted a new Online Homestead Filing Program. While the Property Appraiser’s Outreach Program is remarkably convenient for new filers, the internet-based program is even easier. You can save time, gas-money and avoid lines and crowds that assemble at the local Broward office or the outreach venues. To apply for a 2014 homestead, simply Click Here to use the online Homestead Application system. To apply for other exemptions, visit the Download Forms page and either print, complete and submit the appropriate application by mail or in person or - if an interactive version is available - fill out and submit the online application.

Note: Homebound persons and other qualified individuals with disabilities who cannot readily leave their home may also file for a Homestead Exemption by calling (954) 357-6035 to arrange for a visit from the Property Appraiser’s Homebound Outreach Program.

Galt Mile Residents

  • Please contact Bob Wolfe of Inter-Governmental Media Relations at (954) 445-5732 or at for further information.
  • Click Here to access the Broward County Property Appraiser web site in English, Spanish or French (Creole).
  • Click Here for additional information about Homestead and other Exemptions.
  • Click Here for info about additional Senior Exemptions
  • Click Here for info about new Tax Reform Legislation
  • Click Here for info about the TRIM (Truth in Millage) Notice
  • Click Here for info about the Broward County Value Adjustment Board (VAB)
  • Click Here to file a 2013 petition to the Broward County VAB or check its status - ONLINE
  • Click Here for all Exemption & Appeals forms
  • Click Here to access the Online Homestead Filing Program and file for your exemption the easy way!
  • Click Here to check the status of your pending 2013 VAB Petition
  • Click Here to use the Home Buyer’s Tax Estimator
  • Click Here to get a copy of your tax bill
  • Click Here to see copies of deeds, mortgages, liens, release of liens and court judgments

Facing the Music

Homestead Fraud Hotline Upon reviewing the resources inherited from her predecessor following her 2005 installation as Property Appraiser, Lori Parrish learned that the fraud unit was comprised of a file cabinet attended by two secretaries on a part-time basis. During her first 17 days, Parrish developed 131 cases. Her first 60 days yielded $12 million in fraud related recoveries. She tossed the antique computer system – mothballing archaic software originally developed by Atari as a precursor to their “Pong” platform. Today’s cell phones offer exponentially greater computing power. Having replaced the window dressing fraud program with a fully functional unit, by 2010 Parrish recaptured $3 billion in assessed valuations from properties fraudulently exempted from the tax rolls, raking in $20 million in “found” revenues. Department of Information Systems head Erik Reed has since provided the fraud unit with statewide search capabilities and a nationwide reach.

Broward residents who scam the County by fraudulently claiming exemptions for which they are clearly ineligible outrage Parrish. In 2010, she pleaded with Galt Mile Advisory Board members to rat out snowbirds claiming Homestead Exemptions. Despite having informed Ms. Parrish that Advisory Board members wouldn’t violate the confidentiality of their residents’ information, they were understandably conflicted about passively enabling these thieves. We agree with Ms. Parrish that scammers increase the burden on every other taxpayer in the County and applaud her efforts to smoke them out and hold them accountable. Note: I suggest that scofflaws forgo any solace taken from their association’s refusal to cooperate with Parrish’s ever-intensifying crusade. If I can accrue evidence of exemption violations in fifteen minutes by Googling public records sites, her IT bloodhounds can do it in 60 seconds - without breaking a sweat.

Director Ron Cacciatore of Professional Standards and Compliance
THE BOTTOM LINE: Since 2010, Ms. Parrish has substantially enhanced her fraud-busting operations. When BCPA fraud watchdog Ron Gunzburger left the Property Appraiser’s office in 2012 to serve as General Counsel for newly elected Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, the unit was seamlessly managed by Director Ron Cacciatore of Professional Standards and Compliance, a former BSO Detective. In 2013, Bob Wolfe informed the GMCA Advisory Board that Parrish is annually adding $millions in taxes recovered from fraudulent exemptions to the County coffers. If you have been claiming a Disability Exemption while playing tennis every Thursday or a Homestead Exemption while continuously renting your unit for the past six years, you’re in trouble. If you turn yourself in, you may forgo the 50% penalty on the money you ripped off from the County. Alternatively, if she nails you, your goose is cooked. Moving won't help. Think about it!

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President/CEO John Newstreet of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
December 30, 2013 - In the spring of 2012, District 4 Broward Commissioner
Chip LaMarca hired John Newstreet as his new District Director. The eloquent bureaucrat was a more than adequate avatar for LaMarca at hundreds of meetings, celebrations and assorted neighborhood events during the past year, enabling our County representative to effectively double his community outreach. Newstreet just took a new position as President/CEO of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, a testament to his skills as a political gymnast.

Legislative Aide Ryan Reiter
Legislative Aide Kate Wesner
With the departure of Newstreet, LaMarca recently added two new Legislative Aides, Ryan Reiter (a loquacious Marine veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom) and Kate Wesner (a realtor who served as former Congressman Alan West’s District Director and worked for the ill-fated Romney and McCollum campaigns). Wesner also served as campaign liaison for the Galt Mile's former State Senator (now Florida CFO) Jeffrey Atwater. Until they are fully conversant with their boss’s local agenda, LaMarca is personally attending an expanded lineup of regular community events - including those on the Galt Mile.

Broward Battles Back

Click to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Web Site At the December 19 GMCA Advisory Board meeting, our County Commissioner scrutinized the economic engines stoking Broward’s recovery. While applauding a slide in the State’s unemployment rate to 6.4% (in contrast with the national rate of 7%), LaMarca noted that the jobless rate in Broward County had dropped to 5.3%. He attributed the promising job stats to new construction fueled by the rebounding real estate market and 49 consecutive months of increasing tourism. LaMarca observed “For every 85 visitors to Broward County, one job is created. If you take into consideration the 12 million visitors in 2012, that’s a lot of jobs. Those same visitors spent roughly $10 billion here.” To best exploit regional and county economic resources, LaMarca has long advocated enhancing the County’s critical infrastructure, including transportation hubs, a convention center and our shrinking beaches.

Citrix Broward Operational Headquarters
Click to the Citrix Systems Web Site LaMarca is the County Commission’s liaison to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, a countywide Public-Private economic development panel. A mission priority is the attraction of new business while retaining existing companies. Having recently developed a uniquely effective seamless cloud system that enables corporate employees to wirelessly access networked data on mobile devices, Citrix Systems is actively courted by technology parks across the country. LaMarca credited the Alliance with incentivizing the tech enterprise to remain in Broward, “instead of heading to the North Carolina Research Triangle.” With their Strategic Headquarters in Santa Clara, California and Operational Headquarters at 851 West Cypress Creek Road in Fort Lauderdale, Citrix was recently recognized as a Best Place to Work for 2014, a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award. A classic South Florida lifestyle contributed to their fourth straight year on this iconic list.

Beach Fix & Dirty Tricks

Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Click to Web Site
Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department Deputy Director Eric Myers
LaMarca enshrines our beaches as Broward’s most important natural resource, crediting them for “protecting lives and property while anchoring a vital tourist economy.” He observed that 61% of the $10 billion generated by local tourist activity takes place in his coastal District 4 - from Deerfield Beach to Port Everglades, and 51% within the City of Fort Lauderdale. Updating the status of the long awaited Segment II beach renourishment, LaMarca said that the County is currently working through permitting obstacles in Tallahassee. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) baited a draft permit agreement with language that would box Broward into assuming responsibility for unanticipated problems that are unrelated to the renourishment effort.

Director Mark Thomasson of Florida’s Division of Water Resource Management
Bumping Heads FDEP Division of Water Resource Management Director Mark Thomasson laced the Draft Permit with “31 d. In the event additional impact from the project is documented, the Applicant shall be required to mitigate for the impacts, through compliance and enforcement action, with the amount of mitigation determined according to the Department’s Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM).” Tantamount to demanding a taxpayer-funded blank check, the regulatory spin would force Broward to mitigate impacts outside the scope of the project and – absent any time constraint – until the sun went red giant. Unwilling to empower FDEP as judge, jury and executioner, on December 19, Broward Beach Boss Eric Myers diplomatically answered Thomasson, “Following issuance of the permit we would apply for a modification to address the quantification of liability which the County believes should have been a part of the original permit. Specifically, we are requesting that Specific Condition 31 d. be struck in its entirety.”

Click to Florida Fish and Wildlife Web Site Throughout the permit process, FDEP (and Florida Fish and Wildlife) have held the Segment II beach renourishment hostage, threatening endless regulatory roadblocks if the County or its coastal cities pursued local policies that rankled agency officials. As such, City and County officials have been walking on eggshells, quietly moving potentially contentious issues to a back burner. However, once the beach is fixed, the State “hammer” will disappear - unless FDEP can plant some post-project “leverage” in the permit agreement. After citing Eric Myers for repelling a surreptitious attempt to saddle Broward with virtually unlimited liability, LaMarca assured Advisory Board members that the remaining permitting ripples would soon be resolved.

Bagging the Big Jets

Click to Port Everglades Web Site Click to Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) Web Site Turning his attention to the critical transportation hubs that deliver tourists to county beaches, hotels and restaurants, LaMarca reviewed both planned and in progress improvements to Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) and Port Everglades. Finally supported by noise-leery neighborhood residents, the Airport expansion will reduce delays and facilitate services to visiting tourists and business travelers. Although the airport currently has a long runway to accommodate larger jets, its two alternative runways are significantly shorter, creating delays when several Dreamliners descend simultaneously. In addition to correcting the airport’s stunted functionality, provisions in the airport’s Master Plan would fast forward a 1980s facility into an aesthetic and architectural monument.

Planned FLL Extended Runway Vaulting over US 1 and FEC Tracks
In 2003, planners decided to lengthen one of the short runways and decommission the other small intersecting “crosswind” strip (Runway 13-31). Unfortunately, since highways and rail tracks that encircle the grounds would block an 8000 foot strip required for larger aircraft, engineers drafted a “work around”. They selected the 5300-foot landing strip (Runway 9R-27L) located just south of the existing long runway that runs parallel to Griffin Road. At roughly 2400 feet from its western end, the runway will gently tilt upwards and over US 1 and the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway tracks, slowly rising over a distance of nearly twenty football fields before terminating at a 60-foot high man-made embankment at its new easternmost end.

Noise Mitigation in Dania Beach
The $791 million project would accompany a $250 million bailout for neighborhood residents driven nuts by living with scores of daily brain rattling landings and takeoffs - for decades. As ever-larger jets landed and disembarked at an annually accelerating pace, residents living in the adjacent Dania Beach community increasingly complained about noise impacts that exceeded levels medically verified as hazardous. To protect homeowners incrementally endangered by the anticipated increased air traffic, 2073 nearby Dania residences will be fitted with sound-cancelling new roofs, heavily insulated impact glass windows, extensive weather stripping and central air/ventilation systems to achieve an interior noise level of 45 DNL (Day-Night Sound Level - a weighted decibel-based noise metric used by the FAA to describe 24-hour average sound levels).

Terminal 4 Rendering
“The terminals will also be modernized,” said LaMarca “as new restaurants and shops will reflect local flavor.” A second $800 million rehabilitation of the airport’s 4 terminals was planned in tandem with the runway expansion. Terminal 4, which is already being rebuilt, will double in size as the number of gates will be increased from 10 to 14, 12 of which will be able to handle both domestic and international flights. While the other three terminals will be refurbished, terminal 4 is being redesigned as a facility centerpiece to stimulate more international flights, both to and from Fort Lauderdale.

Norwegian Air 787 Dreamliner
Click to Norwegian Air Web Site LaMarca said “While currently ranked the 21st busiest airport in the United States, once fitted with two runways capable of managing the big Boeing 777s and 787s, FLL will become one of the nation’s top air hubs.” To illustrate how the improvements impact growth, he added “An agreement was recently signed with Norwegian Air, which has already added 8 of the large 787 Dreamliners to their fleet.” Europe’s third largest budget airline after Ryannair and easyJet, fast-growing Norwegian Air is the only budget airline flying transatlantic routes. As if to punctuate LaMarca’s illustration, on December 13, Southwest Airlines announced that FLL would serve as its new hub for international flights.

Click to Southwest Air Web Site When the vaulted runway is completed in September 2014, motorists, trains and pedestrians will pass underneath through a series of tunnels. The projected 50% increase in capacity will enable the airport to accommodate about 450,000 landings and takeoffs annually. LaMarca summarized the immediate and long term benefits, “This will add 11,000 temporary jobs and a $1.4 billion boost to the regional economy.”

Port Preps for Panamax

Port Everglades
Click to  Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Navigational Improvements to the Port Everglades Harbor Recently named the world’s number 1 cruise port, Port Everglades annually hovers between 1st and 3rd (along with Port Miami and Port Canaveral) in the number of passengers that use the Port, at almost 4 million a year. LaMarca observed “We have the 2 largest cruise ships in the world and will be getting another very soon,” referring to when the two giant Royal Caribbean sister ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will be joined in 2015 by the company’s newest Quantum-class vessel, Anthem of the Seas. After a 16-year bureaucratic rain dance by Federal and State regulators, when the Army Corps of Engineers approved the Port’s Draft Environmental Impact plan in June followed by the October passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRDA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, it kick-started a series of Master Plan improvements that eluded Port officials for decades.

Click to Turning Notch Info Noting that Miami is also racing to improve its Port facilities, LaMarca told Advisory Board members, “Along with widening and deepening the seaport’s navigational channels to handle deep-draft Post-Panamax ships, other improvements will set us apart from ports to the south and north.” He explained that the additional cargo managing capabilities created by enlarging the turning notch will allow the Port to simultaneously berth and service five more cargo ships, not just accommodate the larger next generation monster vessels. The Port’s most significant competitive advantage will be an Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF). LaMarca clarified “This rail project will get containerized cargo right off the ships onto rail - and out of Port Everglades without ever coming into contact with our South Florida traffic issues.”

Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF)
With funding seeded by Federal tax dollars, Miami is building a $1.1 billion Port Tunnel to inject Port cargo into the highway system. Since Port Everglades’ onsite rail system will be faster and safer, it’s a less expensive cargo management option, the single most important factor when shipping commodities. LaMarca added that the ICTF doesn’t burden taxpayers, unlike the Miami project. The Port is contributing the 42.5 acres of land and Florida East Coast Rail (FEC) is paying the bill – drawing on a grant, an FDOT bank loan and their corporate coffers. Annually, the Port generates nearly $26 billion in business activity statewide, supports 11,700 jobs locally and over 200,000 statewide, and is responsible for producing $730 million in state and local taxes.

Panthers with Nine Lives

Stanley Cup
BB&T Center
When asked about the long troubled BB&T Center - a County-owned sports arena that houses the cash-strapped Florida Panthers, LaMarca said that New York businessman Vincent “Vinnie” Viola recently purchased the Florida Panthers from a loose-knit conglomerate headed by Cliff Viner with minor pieces held by local heavyweights H. Wayne Huizenga, Alan Cohen, Mike Maroone and Jordan Zimmerman. As if scripted by an old school Hollywood screenwriter, after securing National Hockey League (NHL) approval and buying the team from these dispirited “Masters of the Universe”, Viola announced on Friday, September 27, that he was committed to giving the Panthers “the resources needed to win the Stanley Cup.”

Douglas Cifu and Vincent Viola
Click to BB&T Center Web Site A West Point graduate who served in the 101st Airborne Division and rooted for the New York Rangers while growing up in the pre-gentrified Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the 57-year old Viola is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and CEO of his high-frequency electronic trading firm Virtu Financial. Along with sole minority owner and longtime associate Douglas Cifu - who is also the new Vice Chairman and Alternate Governor of the Panthers - Viola shunned a traditionally luxurious owner’s box in favor of watching games a few rows up from the glass near the red line (the ice hockey equivalent of a mid-court sideline seat).

Vincent Viola, wife Teresa, sons Travis, Michael, John
LaMarca’s confidence in the new owner’s credibility was bolstered by plans to empower sons John, Michael and Travis with key roles in a new family business (25-year old Travis is already working as a Panthers executive). Viola will buy a house in Broward (wife Teresa spent premarital summers in her grandparents’ Pompano home), commute to business interests in New York and Texas, and keep the team here. “We are firmly committed to South Florida,” said Viola. “My wife has commanded we move here, so we are moving here.” The $250 million purchase price includes the whole Florida Panthers dog and pony show, including: the NHL team; Sunrise Sports & Entertainment; an operating agreement with the Broward County-owned BB&T Center that extends through 2028; the three-rink Saveology Iceplex in Coral Springs; and the rights to develop acreage surrounding the arena.

Panther CEO Michael Yormark
Click to Florida Panthers Web Site Delighted that Viola dispelled rumors about relocating the arena’s primary tenant, LaMarca surmised that Viola sought to offer some upgraded shopping venues with ties to Sawgrass Mills - the 2nd most visited destination site in Florida (after the Disney Cosmos). In fact, Michael Yormark, who oversees business operations and was promoted from Team President to CEO by Viola, is maneuvering to land a “destination” casino on the arena grounds. The team had previously announced a partnership with Boyd Gaming to mutually lobby for relaxed Florida gaming laws. When asked about a prospective casino windfall that could substantially outpace the fiscal expectations of a borderline sports franchise, Viola dodged the issue like a Federal bureaucrat with a corporate marker in his back pocket, exclaiming “We’re all about hockey and are very singularly focused people. That’s what we’re about, the Florida Panthers. We will do everything we can and we will win here. We’re excited about that.” Hhhmmm... Anyway, if a Casino Resort somehow emerges adjacent to the arena, no one will complain if the County snags a taste of the gate.

Bus Pass for Vets

Click to Broward County Transit Web Site Dumping Sand LaMarca wrapped up his report with good news about a pet project. Expanding on an item in his November 2013 Newsletter, LaMarca reiterated that the County Commission finally approved his long-planned pilot program to equip Veterans who meet low-income criteria with a free 30-day bus pass renewable on a month to month basis for six months (Commission peers Kiar and Holness were granted a request to co-sponsor the measure during the November 12th Commission Meeting).

Soldier Despite efforts by the United Way and Broward’s Elderly and Veteran Services Department to match Veterans with available programs and services, LaMarca lamented a lack of public transportation options that creates barriers to Veterans seeking employment, medical services, and the ability to successfully reintegrate with the community.

Veteran Enabled Transit Pass Since 184 Veterans currently enrolled in Elderly and Veteran Services have incomes that fall below the $26,000 program cap and no reliable means of transportation, data on usage and need captured by his Veteran Enabled Transportation Pass (VET Pass) pilot program could justify supporting a more permanent version of this benefit, both here and in other jurisdictions. LaMarca believes that the $32,000 to $64,000 fiscal impact projected by the Broward Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is dwarfed by “our debt to those who gave so much to our country.”

LaMarca’s Footprint in the Sand

Dumping Sand Following a Q & A that further probed the issues he addressed, Advisory Board members and officials thanked LaMarca for closing the year with an impressively comprehensive report. In the next few days, LaMarca forwarded documentation supporting his beach renourishment disclosures, including hard evidence of the war of nerves playing out between FDEP and the County. If Myers and LaMarca can ring in a regulatory catharsis without letting the wolf into the henhouse, Broward’s beaches will be fixed – and its beach-based economy will flourish. Given the myriad excuses throughout decades wasted on bureaucratic dogma, some Galt Mile residents have reasonably questioned whether their County officials have the stones to go the distance. As such, this message accompanied the Commissioner’s post-meeting correspondence, “I make this commitment that I am dedicated to getting this project done, no matter where I have to go to advocate or sell our story.” More to come...

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