Sandy Simon - his story in words and pictures 

SandySimon.co

BLOG

view:  full / summary

Delray Beach - Planning to avoid Diminishing Returs

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Certainly the populations of Florida, Palm Beach County and Delray Beach will increase substantially over the coming years. Our town is at a place where it does not need to give incentives to any developers who press for exemptions, conditional uses, higher densities, taller buildings or closing of service alleys.

We are already overburdening our streets with gridlock daily during the winter season. Our easy access and the quality of life are diminishing. Have we reached the "Point of diminishing Returns?" That is, will each new develop result in less for the people of Delray Beach? At this time, there are 1,000 apartment and condominiums under construction or permitted in or near the core of Delray Beach likely, many more are to come. My question is: who benefits?

Delray Beach - Planning density

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Should we consider down zoning certain lands so that their densities per acre are reduced substantially?

As a point of reference, in the early 1970s, as taller and taller and more and more high rise condominiums were developed south of Delray Beach, inexorably moving north, Highland Beach became a town of nearly all high rise condominiums. The Delray Beach City Commission in its wisdom down zoned the land east of the Intra Coastal Waterway from 45 dwelling units/acre to 15 units/acre. Of course, there was a hue and cry speculators and would be developers , but can you imagine what east Delray Beach would look life today if they had not done that, and can you imagine trying to travel west/west on our one street town with hundreds of more residents trying to get to and from our beautiful beaches.

It is take the same foresight and courage to consider down zoning land in our core so that we don't end up with thousands of new dwellings which our current

infrastructure cannot accommodate. That is why we must elect to our City Commission members who have intelligence, knowledge, courage, a compatible

vision of our future.

Delray Beach - City Elections

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Delray Beach elections are upcoming and will occur on March 10th. It is important that we actively vote and cast our votes for the best people we can.

If you believe Delray Beach is on the right path now, finally, there is something you can do about it. I urge you and all my friends to consider seriously the

progress we have made during the past year with leadership from Mayor Cary Glickstein, Commissioners Shelly Petrolia and Jordana Jarjura.

As the majority of the City Commission, they had to undo many of the misdirected policies of earlier administrations. Then they had to reconstruct our city

government, hire a new City Manager and other city department directors. They have done a good job in stressing quality over quantity.

Delray Beach is a unique town because of its continued existence with a small town culture, unique in southeast Florida. As a result, it is a veritable magnet

for shoppers, diners, visitors, home buyers, tourists and deep pocketed developers. Our Mayor

and these two commissioners are working hard to preserve our quality of life, honor our history and legislate all they can to preserve our uniqueness, despite

our enormous population growth.

Future of Delray Beach - Its up to us!

Posted on February 6, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Hi, I've been meeting with Mayor Cary Glickstein, discussing the growth and quality of life in Delray Beach. We both agree Delray Beach is a unique town and must stay that way. "QUALITY NOT QUANTITY is our belief.

He has good intentions to keep our unique brand and way of life.

Too many residents have told me they no longer drive, dine or shop in downtown. "It's not the Delray we loved". It's too busy with closed streets, closed Atlantic Avenue, $10 valet parking, etc., ad nauseam.

Have you tried to drive on Atlantic Avenue or Ocean Blvd lately? Twice in the past 10 days I've been hit by cars on clogged Atlantic Avenue by drivers who were upset with the delays on the Avenue and actually told me, "I was trying to get the green light!" so they hit me while I was parallel parking in front of the former Mercer Wenzel building

It took me 45 minutes to get from Atlantic Plaza to Seagate Towers last weekend because streets (including Atlantic Ave.) were closed during the "Winter Art Show". Without the Atlantic Ave. bridge, Linton and George Bush were overloaded and everyone drove on A1A including confused tourists who made numerous U turns.

That is not how I want to live.

The question is what do we want our Delray Beach home to be?

Do we need to accommodate every developer's request?

Do we need to provide housing?

What do you think? I'd like you to tell me and our City Commissioners.

 

Tourism has always generally speaking good for our growth, property values, shopkeepers, restaurants and the like.

As I recall Atlantic Plaza was the last commercial development built by locals who love this city and the last that was built within existing development regulations. There is a difference as compared too Worthing Place. Worthing Place was sold the land by the CRA for far far less than the marketplace value. They asked for and received extra units, more floors than our regulations permitted. Has it really generated as advertised? Then the City Commission accepted the developer's offer to take title of their still empty parking garage. The results?: The city taxpayers now secure, police, maintain, insure and no longer receive ad valorem taxes on the parking garage. Why?

Or the Atlantic Crossing Project. Both of these projects asked for and received exceptions from the height allowance, have density far above the city's regulations and other "gifts" from the City Commission. The resulting traffic congestion will drive shoppers and diners away from Atlantic Avenue

Now comes iPIC movie theaters. They want to be in the Central Business District (CBD) that doesn't permit theaters because they require so much parking, 800 spaces in this case, but only want to provide just over 200 while removing 107 free, street level spaces and replacing them with just 50 spaces in a parking garage. If the theater was built one block south, outside the CBD, it would be required to provide 800 spaces. The CRA which answers to no one, certainly not the citizenry, urges approval including suggesting the city abandoning the North/ South alley which serves for delivery and waste removal from Atlantic Avenue shops.

 

Do you and other residents enjoy living in our unique city as much as you did just a few years ago? And Do you think it's going to get worse every year in the future?

Have we reached the Point of Diminishing Returns? I believe we have.

Residents over the years have given generously to the city, including Veterans Park and our beautiful public beaches because they passionately loved their town.

Now speculators and developers come and take and do not respect our development regulations or our way of life. They don't live here, and seek only more and more profit while we must live for generations with their mess.

Currencies in Delray Beach for many years were mutual respect, mutual interest, charity, kindness, a love for our "Village By The Sea", neighborliness, dignity and generosity.

Today, it seems, the single currency is money and they want more and more.

And several past Mayors and Commissions appear to have lacked the intelligence, knowledge, integrity, independence or a passion for our way of life.

We voters must demand more from future would be commissioners.

 

The same goes for our politically appointed CRA Board members. Frankly, I'd rather see our citizen elected commission and Mayor become the board of Directors of the CRA with perhaps the CRA Board becoming an advisory board. Why have two layers of expensive staffs and $2 million offices?

 

It's time we "Take Back Our City!!!”

I would like to know how you feel about these issues.

Please let me know.

We MUST do something about it if we want our city back!

ACT NOW. Tell our commissioners and Mayor what you want. Remember, they work for us!

Or, please tell me and I'll get your message to them. It is up to us!

Sandy Simon

Delray Beach - A plan

Posted on February 6, 2015 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Cary Glickstein, our current Mayor of Delray Beach, in my opinion, the best Mayor BY FAR over the past 40 years, wrote this Op Ed article that appeared in the Palm Beach Post last week. I am convinced he has the vital characteristics we need in our Mayor and City Commissioners, characteristics apparently lacking in pa Mayors and commissioners during the past 40 years: Intelligence, Integrity, Independence, good character, a vision in keeping with the expectations and desires of our citizens and a passion for our "Village By The Sea, a most unique town with a high quality of life.

 

As he has said, "WE WANT QUALITY AHEAD OF QUANTITY".

 

PLEASE, AT YOUR PLEASURE, READ HIS EXCELLENT STATEMENT.

 

Sandy

 

"As a central tenet of Delray Beach's Comprehensive Plan, is "Village by the Sea" still a relevant, aspirational goal or merely honorific — a tipping of the hat to past generations for what they gave us. It's all of that and more. Yet our town now struggles to balance the sometimes competing priorities of economic development and preserving that which makes Delray so unique and livable.

 

Some feel we have reached a tipping point and are at risk of losing our small-town character and "vibe" that attracted us and sustained us. Others feel we should leverage our popularity with more intense development offering more economic opportunity and diversity. It is a false dichotomy, despite the divide, to think it's one way or the other — that we cannot reconcile those ideals of being good stewards of our built and natural environment and responsibly marshal the market forces we are fortunate to have.

 

As a native Floridian shaped by countless anecdotes of town after town losing their way to the pressures of economic cycles, development trends, short-sighted planning and leadership, only to become another unmemorable example of generic USA, I look to other cities' struggles and success in striking the proper balance.

 

Common themes emerge: great public assets (check), contextual and inclusive planning (ours is 13 years old) and restraint when called for (perhaps now is that time). As Delray looks to enact the first new land development regulations in over a decade, one could argue there is something for everyone.

 

For those looking back for the way forward, we are focused on improving our public realm by making our streets more walkable — great streets where people want to be, where they feel comfortable, safe and charmed by their surroundings, ensuring that new development is memorable and authentic and, as Charleston Mayor Joe Riley suggested, "we are glad it was built." And as we push back on the blunt tools of density and height to re-define what land uses we want to incent and how best to do it, we are taking steps to preserve our iconic main street, Atlantic Avenue, for the ages.

 

For the development community we need as an integral partner to sustain our growth and success, they gain clarity and a more streamlined path from plans to shovels in the ground. Is it perfect? No. Are we done? Never. But on the heels of development projects that unnecessarily divided our community, the proposed new code provides time for us to re-engage the four corners of our city-community in a new, inclusive planning process. After all, Delray has always been good at planning our city — from our pioneer families to the latest master plan that served us so well, updating our plan will prepare us for current challenges.

 

In the end, our city belongs to everybody and when we build here, we are building something for everyone, and while there will always be conflicting and competing visions for what our city should be, we should be in no rush to get there. We are all, at heart, gradualist, our expectations set by the steady passage of time. Delray Beach can grow old competitively and gracefully through proactive, inclusive planning and policy. "Village by the Sea" can be whatever we want it to be.

 

Cary Glickstein is the mayor of Delray Beach.

 

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

U.S. Signals Shift on How to End Syrian Civil War

Posted on January 23, 2015 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

New York Times

U.S. Signals Shift on How to End Syrian Civil War

 

By ANNE BARNARD and SOMINI SENGUPTA JAN. 19, 2015

BEIRUT, Lebanon — American support for a pair of diplomatic initiatives in Syria underscores the shifting views of how to end the civil war there and the West’s quiet retreat from its demand that the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, step down immediately.

The Obama administration maintains that a lasting political solution requires Mr. Assad’s exit. But facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria.

That shift comes along with other American actions that Mr. Assad’s supporters and opponents take as proof Washington now believes that if Mr. Assad is ousted, there will be nothing to check the spreading chaos and extremism. American planes now bomb the Islamic State group’s militants in Syria, sharing skies with Syrian jets. American officials assure Mr. Assad, through Iraqi intermediaries, that Syria’s military is not their target. The United States still trains and equips Syrian insurgents, but now mainly to fight the Islamic State, not the government.

Now, the United States and other Western countries have publicly welcomed initiatives — one from the United Nations and one from Russia — that postpone any revival of the United States-backed Geneva framework, which called for a wholesale transfer of power to a “transitional governing body.” The last Geneva talks failed a year ago amid vehement disagreement over whether that body could include Mr. Assad.

One of the new concepts is a United Nations proposal to “freeze” the fighting on the ground, first in the strategic crossroads city of Aleppo. The other is an initiative from Russia, Mr. Assad’s most powerful supporter, to try to spur talks between the warring sides in Moscow in late January. Diplomats and others briefed on the plans say one Russian vision is of power-sharing between Mr. Assad’s government and some opposition figures, and perhaps parliamentary elections that would precede any change in the presidency.

But the diplomatic proposals face serious challenges, relying on the leader of a rump state who is propped up by foreign powers and hemmed in by a growing and effective extremist force that wants to build a caliphate. Many of America’s allies in the Syrian opposition reject the plans, and there is little indication that Mr. Assad or his main allies, Russia and Iran, feel any need to compromise. The American-backed Free Syrian Army is on the ropes in northern Syria, once its stronghold, and insurgents disagree among themselves over military and political strategy.

And perhaps most of all, the Islamic State controls half of Syria’s territory, though mostly desert, and it has managed to strengthen its grip even as the United States and its allies try to oust it from neighboring Iraq.

Still, Secretary of State John Kerry declared last week that the United States welcomed both initiatives. He made no call for Mr. Assad’s resignation, a notable omission for Mr. Kerry, who has typically insisted on it in public remarks. Instead, he spoke of Mr. Assad as a leader who needed to change his policies.

“It is time for President Assad, the Assad regime, to put their people first and to think about the consequences of their actions, which are attracting more and more terrorists to Syria, basically because of their efforts to remove Assad,” Mr. Kerry said.

On Thursday in Geneva, Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy for the crisis in Syria, also signaled a tactical shift, saying that “new factors” such as the growth of the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, must be taken into account. He said there was no point in trying to organize a third round of Geneva talks before building unambiguous support from both the Syrian government and its opponents for some kind of “Syrian political process.”

The urgent search for a political solution, Mr. de Mistura said, must “bear in mind” not only the Geneva framework, “but also the need to adjust aspirations without preconditions, in line with the new factors which have come up in the reality of the area, such as ISIS.”

The shifts reflect a longstanding view among United Nations officials in Syria that the West must adapt to the reality that Syrian insurgents have failed to defeat Mr. Assad. Syrians on both sides have said frequently in interviews that they fear the growing influence of foreign militants, and while they mistrust all international players that have financed warring parties, they are willing to explore compromise with other Syrians.

Western diplomats who had long called for Mr. Assad’s immediate resignation say now that while he must not indefinitely control crucial institutions like the military, a more gradual transition may be worth considering.

One Western diplomat at the United Nations said that while a “post-Assad phase” must eventually come, “the exact timing of that, we can discuss,” as long as the solution does not “cement his position in power.”

Western leaders now openly talk about a deal allowing some current officials to remain to prevent Syria from disintegrating, like Iraq and Libya.

“The political solution will of course include some elements of the regime because we don’t want to see the pillars of the state fall apart. We would end up with a situation like Iraq,” the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, told a French radio station last Monday.

At the same time, such statements have further alienated Washington from ordinary anti-Assad Syrians and rank-and-file insurgents, reinforcing the idea that the West has decided to tolerate Mr. Assad.

The view that the United States supports Mr. Assad is spreading even among the groups receiving direct American financing, groups deemed moderate enough to receive arms and work with a United States-run operations center in Turkey. A fighter with Harakat Hazm, one such group, said Wednesday that America was “looking for loopholes to reach a political solution and keep al-Assad.”

Tarek Fares, a secular Syrian Army defector who long fought with the loose-knit nationalist groups known as the Free Syrian Army but who has lately quit fighting, joked bitterly about American policy one recent night in Antakya, Turkey. “This is how the Americans talk,” he said. “They say, ‘We have a red line, we will support you, we will arm you.’ They do nothing, and then after four years they tell you Assad is the best option.”

The United Nations freeze proposal tries to improve on efforts over the last 18 months inside Syria, where the government and insurgents have reached local cease-fire deals to restore basic services and aid delivery — most recently on Thursday in the Waer neighborhood of the city of Homs.

But those cease-fires have never had the imprimatur of international bodies, and they often collapse. With a few exceptions they have amounted to insurgents’ surrender to a government strategy of siege and starvation.

Juliette Touma, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Mistura, said that his plan would not resemble the past cease-fires, and that the United Nations, not the Syrian government, would be the guarantor. Yet even the modest Aleppo proposal is on shaky ground. While Mr. Assad has said he will consider it, his government has not signed off on the plan; Mr. de Mistura’s deputy arrived Sunday in Damascus for consultations.

The Moscow talks are arguably in worse shape. While Mr. Kerry said he hoped the talks “could be helpful,” several crucial opposition groups have refused to attend and say the United States has not pressured them to go.

That leaves American policy ambiguous, offering only modest verbal support to the new mediation efforts while continuing to finance some Syrian insurgents, yet not enough to seriously threaten Mr. Assad. Even a new program to train them to fight ISIS will not field fighters until May.

Critics argue that Washington is simply trying to disengage and offload the Syria problem to Mr. Assad’s allies, Russia and Iran, even at the cost of empowering them.

Still, any attempt to bring the parties to the table should be considered constructive, another Western diplomat said. “You can’t say to the Russians, ‘Go to hell.’ ”

Anne Barnard reported from Beirut, and Somini Sengupta from the United Nations. Reporting was contributed by Nick Cumming-Bruce and Michael R. Gordon from Geneva, and Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad from Beirut.

iPic Movie Theater - Delray Beach

Posted on January 5, 2015 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Following is my email to the Planning and Zoning Director, Mr. Little, Director of Planning and Zoning and the P&Z Board members.

 

“Anyone who has perused the iPic application, what it requires and its negative impact on our city and the CBD, cannot accept it, recommend it or approve it.

 

It is far too intensive, it asks citizens and shoppers to give up 107 free surface parking spaces for just 50 that will be made available in the new iPic parking garage.

Many, if not most, near the 4th Avenue entrance to the garage will be set aside for the gifting of the north half of the 100 year old alley. This alley is critical to the operation and off Atlantic Avenue delivery, the waste removal and other needs of Atlantic Avenue stores in that area. To abandon the north half as suggested by the CRA would eliminate that access.

 

For What benefit is this 8 theater to the citizens of our city? The old public Library and Chamber of Commerce lands and buildings belong to the citizens of Delray Beach. Yet the proceeds from this possible sale, a reported $3.6 million would go to the CRA, NOT to the city which needs these funds. The developer tells us they expect 420,000 patrons each year. 420,000! They claim these theaters will bring an additional $6.5 million in revenue to downtown. Well, think about it - 420,000 times a very conservative $20 per person (including tickets - currently $18.00 at their current theaters), popcorn, candies, sit down-yes, they say "sit down food service, sodas, etc., comes to $8.4 million! Now how does it help downtown restaurants and shops when their estimated income goes only to the theater? Even if just 72% of the 420,000 attend, - 300,000, at $20-25 per attendee, the gross revenue will come to $6.0 to $7.5 million and go directly to the theater.

Additionally remember also that movie theaters are destinations, not anchors attracting shoppers and diners. For example look at the theater at Linton and U.S. #1. Several retail stores including strong nationals near the Regal Theater closed. And now, even Regal closed, replaced by a Gym.

 

We must not allow this project in the CBD proceed.

 

Thank you for listening. My agenda is on behalf of the quality of life of the citizens and the success of the businesses of Delray Beach.

 

Sandy Simon”

Detailed information has been given to the P&Z Board and to your staff.

This project belongs outside the Central Business District (CBD) where 800 parking spaces would appropriately be required. It is totally inappropriate for our CBD! The developer is trying to squeeze a watermelon into a tennis ball. Look into this and satisfy yourself. I have and I believe this project will badly hurt the shops along Atlantic Avenue

I have a question: Is it time for the CRA Board to be elected by the citizens? The CRA has not removed most of the blight, especially south of Atlantic Avenue, collects its TIF from east of the Intracoastal to AIA.

Have you ever seen blight there?

Simplest way for that to happen is to have The City Commission replace the CRA Board and become the CRA Board.

 

If you believe as I do that this proposed theater and office project should NOT be located in the Central Business District with its entrance on S.E. Fourth Avenue then please contact our City Commissioners ASAP.

 

Yes, to have theaters NEAR to downtown town, with adequate parking would be nice, but it's not imperative

 

Sandy

An Important Book for the TIMES.

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

NOW ON SALE - SANDY'S BOOK - A Memoir - The CAMP DAVID ACCORDS 35 years later: No War, No Peace. -- (B&W and Full Color copies are available)

THIS BOOK IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT AT THIS TIME OF UPHEAVAL IN THE REGION

See Book Page for FULL information and follow link to order. >

IS - Conversation on the US reaction

Posted on September 10, 2014 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Posted on September 10, 2014 at 9:25 PM 

As the U.S. government forms and activates a unifies attack on ISIL, the plan is easier in Iraq because we are in concert with the Kurds and the still weak and non inclusive Iraqi government.

In Iraq the new Shiite controlled government still has not included Sunni members, so some in ISIL will continue to posoiit that the government remains an adversary since most ISIL fighters are Sunni, rebelling for inclusion. Sunnis are in the minority in Iraq, but are the majority (65% plus in Syria, which could mean there are thousands of young Sunni males who demand inclusion in Syria's government, thus, providing potential recruits into ISIL.

The conundrum for the U.S. is that without the existing government's approval allowing attacks on their homeland, the U.S. could be charged with invading a sovereign state.

Actually, attacking ISIL in Syria would be far more successful with government assistance and cooperation on the ground instead of arming the small "Moderate" Opposition?

Two questions:

What are the real reasons Obama and the Congress want Assad out? Is it because we've deemed him a dictator? (consider Russia, China, Cuba, N .Korea, Venezuela and several more: Are we not attacking them.

It just doesn't make sense. Is Syria's government a threat to the U.S. and the American people? There is no evidence Syria has ever been a threat to the U.S., but ISIL is considered an existential threat to the entire Middle East. So, should not the U.S. work with the existing Syrian government if that is by far the most efficient means to defeat ISIL? Our best long term interests would be, many believe, is to ally with Assad to defeat ISIL in exchange for Assad to include Sunnis in his government.

Assad, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq governs a secular state where all minorities, women are free as equals.

We destroyed Iraq for false reasons and now we appear ready to do the same in Syria.

Stay tuned...

Alexander A Simon Jr

[email protected]

Thank You Senator Nelson

Posted on September 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

We thank this Senator for his support and action - Sandy Simon.

Sen. Nelson plans bill to approve air strikes in Syria

 

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is planning to introduce legislation authorizing U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria, in a bid to ensure President Obama is not waiting on Congress to escalate the military campaign.

 

When Congress returns next week, Sen. Nelson says he plans to introduce a bill to "ensure there's no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use air strikes in Syria."


Rss_feed