It’s Time To Vote – For Something !

                     Name That Vision !!! 

     That’s right, the finalists have been picked, now it’s time for you to vote! Do your civic duty !!

     You’ll remember ( I hope!),  that  Fort Lauderdale’s project to let the citizens have a say in the City’s future has begun ( preliminary interviews, findiing the issues, choosing the meeting sites etc.), but that elusive name for the effort  has not yet been decided on.

     Last month, you, and over 100 of your neighbors submitted their ideas for a great name for the effort, and the advisory/steering committee for the Vision effort has chosen four finalist for you to choose from  ….

                         Here are the four finalists!

         Fort Lauderdale, Forward Focused
     Vision Fort Lauderdale – Dream it, Do it !

     Fort Lauderdale – Our City, Our Vision

        Fort Lauderdale – Future in Focus

   …….  In order to vote for your favorite, you can go to the City’s web site, or just click on the link ( the word vote below) –  and vote ! It’s that easy ! 


                                See you on the Vision trail …..   Tim


Got Crime?

     Whether your house, car, or business has gotten broken into, so far this year in Fort Lauderdale, generally depends on where exactly you live!

     Check out this map –  no, it’s not today’s thunderstorms !


       ……   it’s the intensity of crimes so far this year in Fort Lauderdale …

     Those bright orange circles are crimes, and plenty of them. They are either robberies, burglaries, vehicle burglaries, vehicle thefts, or business burglaries … 

     The worst areas of the city’s crime intensities are – the center of the Northwest, the areas north and south of Broward Blvd., centered around Andrews Avenue, and the area north and south of Sunrise Blvd. , between Andrews ave. and  Powerline Rd..

There is also a somewhat less crime intense area at the Fort Lauderdale beach, but it’s mostly vehicle burglaries, ( leaving your purse on the car seat when you go to the beach?)

     The core of crime seems to be in the dead center of the city.

                 Check out these neighborhood crime stats so far this year 
                                      and tell me  …… 

        …….  Bal Harbor ……0
        …….  Birch Finger Streets ….. 0
        …….  Dolphin Isles ……. 0
        …….  Seven Isles …… 0   
        …….  Sunrise Intracoastal ….. 0
        …….  Nurmi Isles ……    1
        …….  Idlewyld …… 2
        …….  Harbor Beach ….. 4
        …….  Bermuda Riviera ….. 6
        …….  Rio Vista ….. 14
        …….  Coral Ridge ….. 63
        …….  Sailboat Boat Bend ….  80
        …….  Flagler Heights ….. 84
        …….  Riverside Park …. 86
        …….  Dorsey Riverbend ….88
        …….  Croissant Park …..  91
        …….   Melrose Park …… 124
        …….   Lauderdale Manors ….. 133
        …….  South Middle River …..  169      

…..  is there something wrong here ? 

                                is this acceptable ?     


Protecting History is ….. History!

     The Broward Trust for Historic Preservation, the only organized group fighting to save some of Fort Lauderdale’s most important historic structures, is calling it quits!

     Their leader, long time historic activist Diane Smart, confirmed today that the organization would go dark on December 31st, the last day of the city’s 100th birthday .

                                                        preserved 1939 Fort Lauderdale Beach

     The group was successful over the last few decades in saving many important historic buildings in Fort Lauderdale, including the brokering of a deal with a beach developer to save the Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, the first big hotel on the beach (pictured above). The deal saved the front portion of the structure, but allowed the rear portion to be built into one of the beach’s new mega-hotels.

     Their latest success in preservation was the relocation of the Annie Beck House, a turn of the century bungalow owned by two of Fort Lauderdale’s most famous residents, Annie and Alfred Beck. Annie started the first garden club, and Alfred was one of the first pharmacists. 

      The famous Beck house had been moved off of Las Olas a few blocks, some decades ago, to accommodate redevelopment, but faced the wrecking ball again, when the off Las Olas location was also to be redeveloped.

     Former Commissioner Tim Smith ( that’s me – picture at the top , suggested they move the historic gem to Middle River Terrace Park, where it sits today. The House has been completely renovated by the Trust, who planned on locating their offices there and offering meeting space to area non – profits. The Trust must now try and secure the house’s long term fate now that they are going out of business.   

       The Trust ” never got large enough” to be viable, says Former Commissioner John Aurelius, who is credited with restoring ( and opening for tours), one of the City’s oldest Fire Stations, Station 8, in the historic neighborhood of Sailboat Bend.

Aurelius says the City has made ” grave mistakes” in dealing with it’s history, but says in today’s economy, other priorities will take place “like making sure our sewers work!”.

                                former Aurelius with current Roberts at St. Pats parade
     Commissioner Rodstrom,
who says the dissolving of the Broward Trust concerns her, also says that today’s economy ” is hitting all levels, including historic preservation”.

                                                         Commissioner Rodstrom

     Smart, who has been the biggest voice for preservation for quite some time, sounds angry about the Trust’s fate. She says she is “disappointed” that the City and County have canceled their preservation efforts, not funding the professional experts needed to save the important history before it is all gone.
She says the Trust “cannot function without that professional assistance”.

     Smart says the Jolly Roger hotel on the beach is a ” huge loose end”, that will probably be lost. The Trust had been working to save the nautical front portion of the building in much the same way that the Lauderdale Beach Hotel was saved. She fears it, and many other important parts of our history are doomed ( like the “McCrory’s Five and Dime” downtown, and the Sheraton Yankee Clipper on the beach.)

Thou Shalt Not Lie ….. To Jackie Scott !

     So, you thought the bad blood between the Las Olas neighbors – First Presbyterian Church and the Coolee Hammock neighborhood it resides in – was settled last week, when the two sides compromised on the Church’s plan to enlarge their facility? Eh? 

     NOT !!

                                                              Jackie Scott

     The neighborhood’s President, Jackie Scott, and some of the neighborhood’s other leaders are totally miffed at the Church this week over another matter.
                                                                   the Church
     According to the neighborhood, the Church is leasing their parking lot ( zoned residential but grandfathered in to allow Church parking only) to a restaurant across the street (Rocco’s Tacos) in violation of City Code.

                                                              Church goers parking only ( and Taco eaters?)

     And to make matters worse, according to Scott, the church’s Facilities Manager lied when asked if they were leasing the lot to Tacos. Scott said she approached the Church first, rather then go to the City, to see if she could get it settled between them, but was given false information.
     So Scott and other activists approached the Valet Parkers the other evening to get the skinny, and were told they were parking the Taco Patrons cars in the church lot, with permission from the Church.

     And the story gets quirkier! According to reports, the Church said something like ” we’re not really leasing the lot to Rocco’s, we’re letting them do it for free and they’re giving the Church a donation”! Unconfirmed reports put the “donation” at $1000. per month.

     Scott says the Church is continually trying to be “bigger than it can be”, according to the area’s zoning. She calls the area “a village”, and wants it to stay that way.

     I have a call out to the Church’s layperson on the parking matter, but haven’t heard back.

     Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of this !

Mgr. Feldman Removes Surveillance Cameras

     With a new City Manager, comes new rules.

     Here in Fort Lauderdale, the seventh largest city in Florida, we’ve just hired Lee Feldman, and here’s a few interesting things he’s already changed!

     Lee Feldman

     When Lee took control of the 7th floor, the floor of City Hall where the rules are made, he found surveillance cameras trained on the citizens, waiting in the lobby.

     Turns out, former City administrations ( you know the names) had installed Live Feed surveillance cameras in the lobby of the 7th floor to see who was out there! ….. So as you sat there waiting for your appointment, the City Manager could sit and watch you wait ( could he read lips ?).

     Feldman’s spokesman Chaz Adams confirmed the cameras, and their removals,. but says Feldman doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but is looking forward to a bright future. Feldman says he  “didn’t see a need for the cameras”, and had Public Works remove them.

     Also troubling to me, I hear that former Administrations had restricted access to the 7th Floor to everyone, 24 hours a day, 365, even Police and Fire!

Though I couldn’t get any official to go on the record ( imagine that), I was told that even in emergencies, the Police and Fire Divisions had no way to access that floor. Sounds like there was a trust problem!  ….   My source said the administration said that in the event of an emergency, “they ( the 7th floor personnel), would deal with it”.

     OK Lee, I’ll agree to that looking forward, keep up that transparent spirit!


Only A Few May Get New Commissioner

     If Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Harry Stewart’s advice is taken, only a handful of neighborhoods will have a change in Commissioners.
high-paid Harry

It’s all because the 2010 Census showed a substantial deviation between the number of people each Commissioner represented in the current make-up of the Districts, and by law, they have to have nearly the same number of folks to represent.

     Turns out, Commissioners Rogers and Dubose have too many people, and Commissioners Rodstrom and Roberts not enough, and Stewart has sent a memo to the Commission detailing a plan to correct that.


     The proposed changes are interesting.

     The most interesting change will be two of the neighborhoods that abut Las Olas, – Cooley Hammock and Beverly Heights. They would both shift over from Commissioner Rogers to Commissioner Rodstrom.

     Figure this – Cooley Hammock has been at odds with their Commissioner Rogers over the proposed First Presbyterian Church development, slated for the south side of Las Olas,  down near the Floridian Restaurant. Whoever the Commissioner for the area is will certainly continue to have heavy pressure from the neighborhood to stop the project. If Rogers is no longer the Commissioner, Commissioner Rodstrom, who is known as the most anti-development person on the Commission, would probably try and kill ( or substantially change) the project. The pressure on Rogers will be diminished.

       Jackie Scott, long time activist and current President of Cooley Hammock , that’s been fighting the Church, says she has no problem with the Commissioner switch. She says Rodstrom ” works hard for her neighborhoods”.

     But the other neighborhood off Las Olas has a different view of the switch. Richard Mancuso, longtime President of Beverly Heights, personally opposes the switch. He says his neighborhood hasn’t had an opportunity to talk about it yet, but he says the City tried the same thing 10 years ago and they fought it then. “It’s nothing personal, nothing to do with Commissioner Rodstrom, but we are an urban neighborhood and should stay linked with the Downtown. The Downtown areas need to speak with one voice”.

     The other areas proposed for Commissioner swaps include both ends of the beach, south and north.

     One the south end, the neighborhoods of  Harbor Beach, Harbor Inlet, and  Harbor Isles would switch from Rogers to Rodstrom.


     Activist Genia Ellis, from Harbor Inlet, opposes the switch, [ Genia sent in a comment after I published this post, so I’ve added it at the end of this post] as does Harbor beach activist Annette Ross.  Ross so far has sent a short response “no thank you” , but asked for time to elaborate on her opposition when she gets a chance.

     On the north end of the beach, the Lauderdale Beach neighborhood, which is on the east side of A1A and between NE 27th Street and E. Oakland Park Boulevard would switch from Rodstrom to Commissioner Bruce Roberts.

     The Commission takes up the matter Tuesday.

  ….from Genia Ellis ………..

Tim, when you asked me about the agenda item regarding re-districting, I
replied that there isn’t an opportunity for neighborhoods to have a
meaningful dialog on a holiday weekend. You say I am opposed however it is
more correct to say that there has been no public input or an assessment of
the effected neighborhoods needs – that isn’t exactly being opposed.

Redistricting is always difficult when trying to assess the needs of areas
to comply with mandated numbers requirements resulting from the census.
Neighborhoods work cohesively for district issues and realigning them is
always fraught with concerns. Most of which are easy to address.

During the last redistricting efforts and to assure well rounded
representation of the beach, it was determined to continue with 3 districts
addressing the beach issues to represents all of the types of residences
(single family, multi-family and including hi rise) and businesses in the
area – each defined differently by entertainment districts, CRA, BID, RS
4.4, RS 8 and a large variety of other multi-family zoning. The change
propose would certainly change that dynamic and local concerns could be

Interesting that this time, the public was not engaged in
offering possible
re-alignments and recommendations are coming forward with little opportunity
or time to effectively allow that process.

While in the end, the changes may be appropriate and concerns small, it is
the public process that is lacking in the planning – something which this
Commission has continued to pride itself on. We know that time is of the
essence with elections coming forward in the 1st quarter of 2012 but perhaps
there is still an opportunity to address the needs and concerns of those
being reassigned.

Genia Duncan Ellis, tmg,CA 
“Giving back to our community
through neighborhood participation”