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Does Boca Need More Density? ALFs in residential zones?

Does Boca Need More Density?

by Les Wilson

Council Member Monica Mayotte has proposed a resolution asking the City Council to amend the zoning laws. It proposes allowing Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) in Boca residential neighborhoods. What you need to know is that allowing ALFs in residential zoned neighborhoods is a land grab by developers and brings increased density and intensity. Rather than develop expensive land already zoned properly, the name of the game is to grab lower cost land and get it rezoned. That’s the play. The City Council is the highest decision making authority for zoning. Stop it there and it goes nowhere. If you want to stop it, click the button at the bottom of this article to send an email to the entire city council.

the play to change Boca’s zoning laws to allow ALFs in areas zoned residential is afoot.

Quick backgrounder on ALFs in Boca’s residential zones

Earlier this year, Boca City Staff rejected a proposal to build an ALF in Boca Square. Council Member Mayotte was its sponsor. In a nutshell, the rejection was based on ALF not being an “allowed use” in areas zoned for residential. Attorneys for developer, Jay Whelchel Jr (son of former Mayor Whelchel), argued that an asterisk in the zoning law allowed ALFs in residential zones and sued. The asterisk was since cleaned up to render explicit the zoning law’s intent to disallow ALFs in residential zones. Nonetheless, the Whelchel’s “asterisk lawsuit” continues. For background on the initial attempt to build an ALF in the Boca Square neighborhood, see Boca resident Holli Sutton’s article Zoning Change Alert: Council Looks at Adding Hi-Rises to Neighborhoods or her Boca Matters interview: NOALF: It’s not about an Assisted Living Facility.

That was then, this is now

But now, Council member Mayotte has put forth an agenda item for this coming Tuesday’s (Oct 25) Council Meeting that puts ALFs in Boca’s residential neighborhoods back on the table. Here is the cover letter for the resolution (119-2022).

Resolution 119-2022 Cover Letter regarding ALFs
Snippet of Resolution 119-2022 Cover Letter. Click to see full document

What’s next? Raising the cap on downtown development?

In her 2016 mayoral re-election campaign, Susan Haynie’s platitude to construction weary residents was that the downtown was almost built out. Now, seven years later, city records show that 14% of the allowed square footage remains unallocated. It begs the question “Will we next see an effort to raise the cap on developing the downtown?” Regardless, the play to change Boca’s zoning laws to allow ALFs in areas zoned residential is afoot.

14% of 8 million square feet of development remains
Snippet from page 1 of the May 2022 Boca Raton Annual Report to property owners. Click to see full document.

All you need do is send this email

The issue of allowing ALFs in Boca’s residential zones was hashed out thoroughly on social media and City Hall when the Boca Square project was proposed. Residents are against it and petitioned the council to disallow it. One of voices of opposition was Holli Sutton. I asked her about Mayotte’s latest efforts to shoehorn ALFs into Boca’s residential zones. She said:

I’m not behind it. Resolution 119-2022 will add Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) to conditional uses in Residential areas which currently it is not. … What Councilwoman Mayotte is proposing is to allow these high intensity ALFs in our residential neighborhoods, forever altering our City by changing our law to include ALFs to be built in neighborhoods. This proposed legislative policy is bad business for all home owners. 

Holli Sutton

I reached out to Council Member Mayotte to ask why she is promoting the zoning change but as of this writing, got no response. As someone who followed the issue, I can say it’s not because of the will of the people.

But what do you think? If you think it’s a bad idea, tell your elected City Council to vote NO to allowing ALFs in Boca’s neighborhoods.

Dear City Council,
I live and vote in the City of Boca Raton. I am against changing the zoning laws to allow Assisted Living Facilities in areas zoned residential. Please VOTE NO on resolution 119-2022.

Copy/paste the text above or write your own. Include your name and be nice. Here’s a button to create a pre-addressed email:

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