Today, Andy Reid of the South Florida Sun-Sentin
It's well worth your reading below, and as you do so, look at the public notice from the City of Hallandale Beach directly above it that ran in today's Miami Herald and ask yourself a simple question.
Beyond the general idea that we'd all agree that it's clearly NOT smart to waste water, IF it's such a problem in Hallandale Beach now, then how many actual citations has the city issued here the past 12 months?
My guess is ZERO.
The burden of proof that there is currently a problem in this city worth legislating lies entirely with the city, and it requires them citing and showing thru photos or some other tangible means, the evidence of a problem, along with totals, etc.
Where's the evidence?
They need to make make a PowerPoint presentation before the public in the City Commission Chambers before voting on this, NOT do something simply so that Mayor Cooper can pat herself on the back in an attempt to get more attention for herself.
Otherwise, this is nothing more than a new Stamp Act.
My experience from personal observation walking and driving thru HB is that the city itself is THE worst and biggest offender, just as they are with so many other Code Enforcement problems, starting with the longstanding violation located just a few feet from where City Manger Antonio parks his own car, which he is perfectly aware of because it's so obvious.
And the one a few feet past that one... and then the other one nearby...
August 16, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier
And what about the glaring Code Enforcement violation that Hallandale Beach City Hall has allowed to exist for years in the Upper Deck Ale & Sports Grill parking lot, next to Gulfstream Park Racetrack & Casino?
And when did restaurant parking lots in this city become boat marinas, as this boat above has been in this parking lot for well OVER two years, as it's visible from the sidewalk and the Gulfstream entrance/exit along N.E./S.E. 10th Avenue?
(I'll have more on this particular subject later this week, with damning photos taken by me over the past two years proving that Hallandale Beach City Hall's wink-wink system of code enforcement fails citizens, and which completely disproves any notion that City Hall treats everyone in the city equally. They don't!)
Two years ago at a HB City Commission meeting, I cited several examples of the city breaking the South Florida Water Management District rules on water, including one just a block from Hallandale Beach City Hall.
Guess what happened?
Published in Miami Herald on 2/19/2011
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
What restrictions? South Florida's year-round watering rules not being enforcedBy Andy Reid, Sun Sentinel
February 19, 2011
Lax enforcement means few citations have been written for violations of South Florida's new year-round watering rules, according to a Sun Sentinel sampling in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Since the new rules began last March , neither Broward County code enforcement nor city of Fort Lauderdale code enforcement officers issued a single citation for violating watering restrictions, as of the first week of February.
In addition, Fort Lauderdale lets homes and businesses water landscaping on more days than Broward County's countywide rule allows.
Rider hits bus driver across face in Oakland Park. See the video here.
Over the same time period, Palm Beach County issued just three notices of violations for water users breaking the new rules. Of those three, only one was forced to pay the $125 fine.
Neither Delray Beach nor Boca Raton issued a watering violation.
Also, the South Florida Water Management District — charged with protecting regional water supplies — stopped keeping track of whether cities and counties each week enforce the new year-round watering rules that the agency imposed.
While the year-round watering rules are intended to promote a permanent conservation push, the district requires cities and counties only to report weekly enforcement totals during droughts.
The new year-round landscape irrigation rules were supposed to create a new "culture of conservation" in thirsty South Florida, but backers say that requires stepped-up enforcement. "It hurts everybody when there's no enforcement," said Drew Martin of the Sierra Club, which advocates tougher watering restrictions.
"It punishes the people who obey the law and rewards people who don't."
Code-enforcement officials contend that budget cuts during Florida's economic downturn left fewer people to look for watering rule breakers and code-enforcement priorities changed as droughts faded away.
Now, after months of lax enforcement, concerns about forecasts for a dryer-than-normal spring could trigger tougher watering restrictions for South Florida homes and businesses.
"There's no overtime to speak of," Patrick Saba, Broward County code-enforcement supervisor, said about the possibility of being asked to crack down on watering rules. "We will do the best we can. … Officers will write the violations when they see them."
District officials and local community representatives contend that ticket totals aren't the best gauge of conservation success. They say more water users are voluntarily following irrigation rules and that overall water use has declined.
But code-enforcement officials acknowledge that if drought conditions worsen and the district requires tougher restrictions, enforcing them only gets harder.
"With a tight budget … we are not sure how much of an effort we would be able to put forward," Palm Beach County Code Enforcement Director Kurt Eismann said.
South Florida uses the most water in the state, averaging about 179 gallons per resident per day, according to the water management district.
About half of South Florida's public water supply is used for landscape irrigation.
While South Florida typically gets more than enough rainfall to meet its water-supply needs, guarding against the flooding of neighborhoods and farms that now cover what used to be the Everglades and other wetlands leads to dumping much of that stormwater out to sea.
Lake Okeechobee is South Florida's backup water supply. But during 2010 the Army Corps of Engineers drained more than 400 billion gallons from the lake, with most of the water — more than 300 billion gallons — flushed out to sea because of flood-control concerns.
Also, because of a lack of water storage space, the vast system of drainage canals operated by the South Florida Water Management District dumps about 1.7 billion gallons of stormwater out to sea after a typical summer rainy day.
The South Florida Water Management District last year switched from temporary watering restrictions, imposed during droughts, to year-round watering rules aimed at prolonged conservation.
The district agreed to allow watering as much as three times per week for southeast Florida, but also allowed local governments to be more restrictive.
Miami-Dade and Broward counties require the more-restrictive twice-a-week limits year-round, while Palm Beach County allows up to three-day-per-week watering year-round.
Despite Broward County's two-day-watering rule, Fort Lauderdale allows its residents to water three times per week.
The city contends that its rules actually save more water by establishing fewer allowable hours of watering, and then spreading the watering over three days.
Adding up the total allowable watering time means 33 hours per week under the city rule and 36 hours per week under the county rule.
"The overall goal of the ordinance is water conservation." Fort Lauderdale spokesman Chaz Adams said.
Yet using the total hours allowed for watering as the comparison assumes that homes and businesses actually run sprinklers during the entire watering periods — a wasteful practice the city's own website discourages.
Fort Lauderdale passed its watering rules before the county's twice-a-week standard took effect. But when it comes to watering issues, the county rule takes precedence, according to Broward County Senior Assistant County Attorney Michael Owens.
Fort Lauderdale code and environmental officers focus on "communication and outreach efforts," Adams said.
"Their first objective is to educate and inform citizens, not penalize them," Adams said.
The lack of citations in Boca Raton since year-round watering went into effect largely was due to favorable weather conditions, Assistant City Manager Mike Woika said.
"There hasn't been a drought," Woika said. "There wasn't a significant enforcement need required."
Forecasts for worsening drought conditions could change that.
The water management district focuses on education and outreach to try to win local governments' cooperation to enforce restrictions, said Terrie Bates, its assistant deputy executive director for water resources.
"It's going to take time to keep repeating that message," Bates said about the watering rules. "It's in effect. We expect people to be compliant."