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Derrick Over Boca Raton

The Wizards of Boca

by Alan Neibauer

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” the Wizard told Dorothy. Lest they find out there are hidden hands pulling the strings. 

As derricks pepper the Boca skyline, it seems there are hidden hands at work behind the curtain in Boca Raton: The hands of architects, developers, and realtors who exercise their influence over development decisions.  Hands that are shaping our city into Fort Bocadale. With the wave of a wand, the stoke of a pen and raising of a derrick, Boca’s downtown buildings get taller. Buildable lots get smaller. History and open space, gone. Unaffordable housing choking out the workforce.

Wizards at Work?

New Dixie Boca. By all appearances, a land grab to throw people out of affordable duplexes, replaced by commercial development and non- affordable housing near single family homes.

 Boca’s open space policy. Architects squashed the idea of requiring open space where it would best be seen. They said it would “stifle” their creativity.

The loss of the pedestrian spine. A 30-year dream to connect Mizner Park and Royal Palm Place. Dead because of indifferent city councils deferring to developers and their derricks.

Pass a mysterious ordinance to allow automated garages, but only downtown. And supposedly having nothing to do with a proposed project that required it. Don’t believe it? See Rules revision for automated garages aids proposed tower, making council uneasy.

Talk about pedestrian and bicycle safety, but give short shrift to pedestrian and bike infrastructure.

Hold charrettes and workshops to get public opinions. Seek our desires. But rarely give them priority. 

Blinded by the razzle-dazzle of self promotion

They expect us to look the other way. To be so blinded by the razzle-dazzle of self-promotion, we fail to see the wizards behind the curtain. While Boca Raton has an excellent professional planning staff, many decisions are made above and beyond their jurisdiction.

Boca Raton was once a charming and unique City in a Park with a cherished history. But no more. Now a growing mini-metropolis. Traffic so bad that it needs barricades to protect park goers at Sanborn Square. Its history razed out of existence, replaced with Houston-esque developer driven planning of Chicago-style development written by derricks across the horizon.

Grow First; Don’t Ask Questions

Too many Boca Council members have been mesmerized by the campaign donations from bigger and bigger office buildings that it has a “grow first; don’t ask questions” attitude. On one hand they talk about Vision Zero, but the city is building both downtown and inland without any real regard for congestion, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

There’s No Place Like Home, Toto

Sadly, we can’t just click the heels of magic shoes three times and make everything right. As long as the wizards are still behind the curtain. Dorothy, we aren’t in Boca Raton any more. The wizards and their flying monkeys will see to that. But we can vote NO to extended term limits. It may not be much, but the vote is our voice. Make yours heard. Speak out against developer driven urban planning and lack of open space. Vote NO to extended term limits March 14 2023.

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