Over the past few days a lot of untruths have been said about me by my opponent and his lobbyist friends. When asked if my opponent would buy the apartment building and build a parking garage, his answer was that “not going to take anything off the table.”
As a resident, you want to know what I stand for and I have clearly laid out what I am for and what I am against. My opponent is leaving himself options so that he doesn’t have to tell you what you don’t want to hear. Theissues are:
• Buying a $3 million building and tearing it down for 30 parking spaces
• Redeveloping Town Hall complex without a public vote for financing it
• Town purchase/develop Basin Drive marina complex
• Install sewers in a private condo complex paid for by LBTS taxpayers
• Building a parking garage
I oppose what is on my opponent’s table. The difference is clear, and you can
see it for yourself by watching the debate at lbts-fl.gov, minute 56.
My position on fixing the hotels on El Mar Drive:
The hotels and motels on El Mar Drive are a very important issue for me. In 1994, my family bought A Little Inn By The Sea on El Mar and operated it for over a decade. The hotels are the reason I ended up in Lauderdale By The Sea and now raise my children here.
Unfortunately due to the mismanagement of some investors, the properties fell into disrepair and now sit empty behind fencing at times. The Town and its businesses have lost over 200 hotel rooms that could be hosting visitors.
As is the case when you work with developers, the Town must stand tough on the issues and has done so in recent times. Levying daily fines and not giving in on zoning items. The former Clarion property is now showing some work being done but the former Holiday Inn/Villa Caprice remains untouched.
As a former member of the Chamber Board and with a deep understanding of the El Mar hotel industry, I will ask my fellow Commissioners to make me the liaison on this topic. I want to work with the Town to speed up the process with the developers. With my private sector experience in construction, I know how to create the sense of urgency that is needed to fix this problem.
Our residents, especially those close to the properties, are asking for help and I hear you loud and clear. As your commissioner, I will make this a priority for our residents.
From the start, I have said that I would put the residents first. While meeting many of you and knocking on doors, again and again, the concerns about vacation rentals were at the top of your list.
After I published by position that our ordinances should be enforced, the lobbyists came into Town in full force. First it was the attack emails, then the attacks on me personally which I understand is part of politics.
For the first time, lobbyists are buying their way into our Town. Just this week they paid my opponent’s campaign $900. This weekend, your quality of life will be reduced because of untruthful robocalls.
Imagine your neighborhoods filled with vacation rentals that do not follow the rules and ordinances. That would hurt our quality of life and I will stand up to the Tallahassee lobbyists that don’t care about Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
The campaign filings are public record and are available at Town Hall. Here’s the proof that lobbyists are buying influence in LBTS.
Please read and tell your neighbors! It has come to my attention that I am being attacked by vacation rental lobbyists. My goal is to represent the residents first and protect our neighborhoods.
As a candidate for public office, I expected to have some residents disagree with me. Disagreements are a part of a campaign, even for a small Town like ours. The key is to have an open conversation with everyone and make sure people understand where I am coming from.
What I did not expect is to be attacked by lobbyists for stating my position on protecting our neighborhoods. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Board of Realtors has been fundraising for their lobbyists and seeking donations for my opponent to help their cause. They are attacking me personally for stating my opinion and that of many residents in Town.
I posted that vacation rentals should follow the same rules as our hotels and that our Town should enforce the rules that are already in our ordinances.
From the start, I have been stating what I stand for and what ideas I had for our Town. I tried to be as accessible and transparent on this by posting on social media and my website. During the candidate forums, I also stated very clearly what I stood for on many issues and the reception has been very good.
No member of the Commission since 2010 has sought the endorsement of the Board of Realtors and I agree with that approach. I don’t have a problem with anyone that makes a living as a Realtor, I was simply avoiding the appearance of conflict of interests. I have family members that work as Realtors and I have used Realtors on many transactions.
The Residents in LBTS deserve better than lobbyists and professional campaign managers running our Town. Don’t let anyone hide their true intent on the topic of vacation rentals. Rules should be enforced and the same for everyone.
I will always represent the residents and our quality of life first!
My position on rebuilding the Town Hall & Public Safety Complex:
Jarvis hall is situated on a prime piece of real estate in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. El Prado park is nestled from the ocean to Town Hall giving some of the best views to those that visit our Town. The complex also includes our long standing volunteer fire department, which has served our Town for many decades and does a great job. A few years ago, the commission also acquired an adjacent property and converted it to a public safety complex for our ambulance and police departments.
Unfortunately, the property is no longer very functional or efficient for its many uses. We have fire trucks sitting under tents, ATVs in the grass and public safety professionals sitting in old hotel rooms.
So far, the Town staff and commission have not started the official planning on rebuilding the complex. That conversation should be started to understand the many needs and goals of such a project. Residents, architects and our partners that use the facility every day should list their top priorities in an open and transparent setting.
Once a concept has been mapped out and preliminary designs are in place, we need to understand what the price tag estimate is. This project will not be cheap and would most likely cost upwards of $20million. When Lighthouse Point had a similar project a few years ago, they followed a similar process and I believe their approach was good, putting residents first.
After we have understood the cost, I would ask for the voters to approve it in a ballot. This is not a referendum or charter amendment but a simple vote by the residents to spend a large sum of money. A commissioner should do the work of the residents but ensure that residents make the decisions that permanently change our Town. Not allowing the residents a voice in the matter or leaving it to just a few voices is not the way we should govern in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. We are a Town made great by the people that live and visit here and we must include them in the process.
My position on vacation rentals in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea:
Towns like Lauderdale-By-The-Sea are fighting powerful lobbying efforts in Tallahassee to be able to control the vacation rental problems in our neighborhoods. Currently, we are required to allow rentals of 7 days or more, even if we wanted to stop short term vacation rentals. The reason is the Board of Realtors. As a group, the lobbyists fight to be able to bring investors into residential neighborhoods and market their properties as vacation rentals.
This is why I turned down the request by the Realtors to meet with me and potentially endorse my campaign. I will always represent the residents first and had I participated in their government affairs process, a conflict of interest would have been created. My opponent is only the 2nd candidate in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea over the past decade that has taken the endorsement of the Realtors and as a realtor himself cannot be an impartial vote on this important issue. No sitting commissioner has even taken the meeting with the Board of Realtors.
My impartiality is unquestionable, I owe nothing to the Realtors and will speak for the residents. Even with the current ordinances and State limitations on regulation, there are steps that we can take as a commission on making sure that vacation rentals do not reduce the quality of life we enjoy.
1. Code compliance must vigorously enforce the time limits and registration requirements of the vacation rentals.
2. Code enforcement should review online listing sites like vrbo.com and airbnb.com to find listed properties in Town. This should be cross checked to properties that have registered with the Town.
3. Registered properties must comply with State and County regulations and inspections for safety, the same standard imposed on our hotels and motels.
4. Vacation rentals must show business and tax licenses in the property, this will be checked by Town during inspections.
5. Registered properties must comply with sales tax collections and reporting. Such reports should also be provided to the Town; we must be proactive to find owners that are bypassing these regulations.
The policies I outline above will make it more difficult to cheat the systems within current requirements. Investors must realize that Lauderdale-By-The-Sea will not be pushed around by lobbyists with their own agenda.
That is why I will fight for the residents and did not take the meeting with the Realtor lobbyists that endorsed by opponent. This endorsement is an indication of the priorities my opponent places on this issue.
My position on investing in our neighborhoods:
Over the past 6 years, the transformation in Town has been noticed by everyone in Broward County and our visitors from around the world. The commission has invested over $10million on rejuvenating the Commercial Boulevard business district and the results are fantastic. The area has become more welcoming and walkable. Businesses are investing into our Town because of the improvements, which was the goal of the strategic plan.
I have spoken many times about the need to take care of the neighborhoods and residents as well. Our capital improvement plan should now focus on the neighborhoods and residential areas to bring the same form of progress to the residents.
Residents are also investing in our Town by buying properties, renovating or building their homes. Our residents also include many families with children of all ages bringing to the forefront this need for improvement.
The commission should invest more capital into beautification through encompassing plans that include traffic calming, paving and street lighting. The projects are not cost prohibitive and can be undertaken with our current budget and savings. These investments pay for themselves by increasing the values of the residential properties. Many streets have not been paved in 30 years and the commission recently approved a mere ~$200,000+ to repave streets.
I will always put the residents first when I vote to spend our taxpayer dollars. My first budget recommendations will include proposals that reflect this focus on our neighborhoods.
Today, I received the endorsement of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The editorial board interviewed both candidates at the same time and believes in the vision I have been discussing with the residents.
This election is important to ensure that Lauderdale-By-The-Sea continues to move forward with a measured approach that always puts the residents first.
You can read the full endorsement here:
My position on funding improvements on private property with taxpayer dollars:
The Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is currently being sued by the Palm Club. Palm Club is a private property, a horizontal condominium, located north of Bel Air in the North part of Town. The lawsuit contends that the Town should put $5million+ sewers on their property.
Keep in mind that the property is private, it cannot be accessed by residents or visitors, and is not maintained by the Town. The property is currently using a septic system which is in compliance and must remain so with environmental and other regulations.
My opponent publicly states that he would spend the $5million+ on installing the sewers on the property. That price tag is a majority of the property tax revenue that the Town receives annually. Spending this amount would mean that other neighborhoods, that have public roads and require imminent improvements, would have to forego renovations and beautification for many years. Additionally, this would put pressure on the Town to raise taxes, a harsh reality that comes with spending above our means.
I would vote against spending taxpayer monies to a private property. The Town would not renovate my home or make improvements on a condo building. Using taxpayer funding for the benefit of a select few is a misappropriation of funds that I cannot and will not support. I will always put the residents first while my opponent needlessly put the Town at risk by making this promise while Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is being sued by the property.
I don’t think its fair to the residents and taxpayers to give taxpayer money away, do you?