Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My critical analysis of awful #YoungCircle Roadway Feasibility Study that'll make #HollywoodFL #traffic worse, NOT better 😮 = coming soon. This week!

My critical analysis of awful #YoungCircle Roadway Feasibility Study that'll make #HollywoodFL #traffic worse, NOT better 😮 = coming soon. This week!


Looking east/northeast from the west side of Young Circle/ArtsPark, with Hollywood Circle being built in the distance, opposite the northeast corner, Hollywood, FL.
To me, the only thing in Hollywood as sublime as Hollywood Beach near the Johnson Street bandshell on a sunny November weekend after the tens of thousands of Canadians have made their annual invasion of the area during "the season" is this statue.
Erected to City of Hollywood founder and its first mayor, Joseph Young, it bears the single greatest line you could ever want to see on a statue honoring any politician, at any time, especially in ethically-challenged Florida: "His vision and courage created this city."
No matter how many times I've walked past this statue, I can never pass near it without stopping for a moment and reading it yet again, knowing how many people in this area are indebted to this man that so few people living here now ever think of.
May 31, 2017 photo by me,
South Beach Hoosier. © 2017 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.





























South Florida Sun Sentinel
Running rings around future of Young Circle - Proposal for a two-way traffic pattern in Hollywood gets mixed reviews
Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel
July 16, 2017
HOLLYWOOD - A grand redesign may be in the cards for downtown Hollywood's Young Circle, the roadway that confounds drivers with its one-way traffic and seven stoplights.
The ambitious plan calls for the removal of all the traffic lights and would give Hollywood a rare two-way traffic circle. Drivers in the inner lane would travel clockwise; those in the outer lane would travel counterclockwise, as they do today. Four roundabouts with landscaping would replace the lights at Federal Highway and Hollywood Boulevard.
Also under discussion: Persuading the state to build an underground tunnel at Federal Highway and Young Circle to give drivers the option of bypassing the traffic circle. But the idea is so new that Hollywood officials have no plans drawn up yet.
See the rest of the article at:

I didn't bother to mention Sunday on Twitter, above, how little the Hollywood CRA's transportation and planning consultant, Ian Lockwood, seemed to know about the future consumer/traffic realities of the Young Circle/ArtsPark area.

Specifically, about Hollywood developer Chip Abele's soon-to-open Hollywood Circle 
project on the NE corner across from Young Circle, i.e. Block 55. That project will not only include the new and much-larger Publixbut also an upscale restaurant, hotel and condominium. 

There's also Abele's already-approved large condominium and 103-room Hilton-branded hotel project that'll be going up across the street from the SW corner of Young Circle at Harrison Street.

This project, now known as Block 40, but formerly called Young Circle Commons, is the one that I told many of you readers about last September 21st, via email and Twitter, just minutes after it was approved by the Hollywood City Commission.

Hollywood developer Chip Abele at the September 21, 2016 Hollywood City Commission meeting. Photo by me, South Beach Hoosier.


Here's a link to one of my blog posts from 2009 about Mr. Abele's efforts to get something built at that same NE corner location, Block 55. 
He never gave up.

That little historical interlude makes me wonder something, and I might as well say what I'm thinking: Would it really have been too much to expect the consultant hired by the Hollywood CRA to at least know as much about the general area under discussion, both pro and con, as... well, me?

Above, looking north towards the construction at Hollywood Circle from the east side of Young Circle/ArtsPark, where despite the city's big sel-serving talk of the past decade-plus that it was a transit-oriented city, there is not one actual bus shelter at that location for transit riders to stay out of the rain or hot sun, at what is THE busiest bus stop in southeast Broward County. 
When it rains, transit passengers have to hide under Publix's canopy waiting for their bus then run thru the busy parking lot -and moving cars!- to get to the sidewalk and bus. 
Really. 
In the year 2017. It's #pathetic 
May 31, 2017 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier.

I saw Mr. Abele at the second Young Circle Roadway Feasibility Study meeting, but did not have a chance to speak to him, though he was seated in the front of the room at the Fred Lippman Multi-Purpose Center on Polk Street, where all the meetings were held.
In fact, he was seated right near former Hollywood and Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger, one of my favorite people, and someone whose (continuing) dedication to this city and its residents' best interests nobody can deny or top in my estimation.

I mention this because it was NOT at all clear from Mr. Lockwood's remarks that he fully understands just what that sort of intense development in that area will mean for the future in the way of additional bodies and traffic there, after it has gotten used to being the way it's been for so many years, which to my eyes, is not nearly as busy and "crowded" as many people imagine when there are no events going on there.

Ask yourself this simple question: If you were already a struggling business located on Young Circle, where parking is always at a premium in the minds of most people, how would tearing-up the existing US-1 to create this plan with its four roundabouts that will slow traffic down to a crawl -and thereby reduce your present and future potential customer base- help your business in the short-term and the long-term? 

Especially once you realize that the plan aims for nothing less than to reduce the number of vehicles that actually go past your business on US-1, WHY would you stay there

Why indeed.


This point was driven home when Comm. Gunzburger asked Mr. Lockwood several simple-but-pointed questions that he should have regarded as softballs if he was properly informed and prepared, but which he could not answer, despite being given plenty of time to respond.
In fact, from where I was sitting, towards the back of the room, right in front of Comm. Debra Case, he actually seemed to try to make light of his failure to know something important, which is certainly an interesting approach.

Mr. Lockwood's inability to answer her simple question about when the traffic survey he was relying on was conducted matters a great deal, because in this area of South Florida, tens of thousands more people live here and in next-door Hallandale Beach from October thru April.

A high percentage of the Canadians from Quebec and Ontario who are staying at local hotels and motels that cater to them not only use US-1 daily, but use Young Circle in particular. 
And everyone in the room knew that. 
Everyone but Mr. Lockwood.
Just saying...


The plan, as presented so far -and I've seen it three separate times- largely ignores the fact that thousands of people in Aventura, Hallandale Beach, Golden Beach, Hollywood and North Miami Beach depend upon that road everyday to get to work in Fort Lauderdale, or to go to the airport, as well as for others to go to work or home in the opposite direction, going thru Hollywood.
None of that was mentioned the three times I heard Lockwood go thru his paces, full of the same familiar faces, nor the fact that the people who live in those places, as well as their respective City Commissions, will be weighing-in on the proposed change, too, since they are stakeholders as well.


But if you attended those Hollywood CRA-arranged meetings, you almost might think that only people at Hollywood City Hall and FDOT would be deciding everything.

Here's what I can tell you for a fact, the sort of thing I'll expand upon in my forthcoming blog post later this week. On the afternoon of the last public meeting regarding this CRA-sponsored plan, I went over to The Greek Joint in downtown Hollywood with the intention of speaking with its popular, high-profile owner, Jimmy Sklavenitis.

I wanted to find out who, if anyone, had talked to him about the plan already, whether from the Hollywood CRA, the city or the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
In short, to find out his current opinion about the plan as of that date and whether he saw the fatal flaws right away, or, wanted to hear more before perhaps realizing what a diaster this plan would be and the havoc it would create in the area if it became a reality.

I wanted to speak to him because I had already spoken to owners and managers of several restaurants and businesses on Hollywood Blvd., Harrison and Tyler since the first meeting had taken place.
None of the people I spoke to, all of whom either owned or managed popular places that draw LOTS of paying bodies into downtown Hollywood, knew a thing about it.
That is to say, none of them knew anything concrete about a plan or the meetings despite the fact that there had already been several meetings on the plan before I spoke to them.

They certainly were not aware of what the consultant wanted to do in the way of dramatically changing a major South Florida road into a boutique road, like something quaint that you might see in a small tourist-dependent town in the Horse Country of Northern Virginia on a Sunday morning/afternoon drive from Arlington County or DC on the day the Redskins draw the NFL bye week. (As I know from experience.)

In short, turn an iconic road that's very important to the everyday functioning of the local economy into something that's a little too precious and affected. 
And NOT at all useful.

In any case, when I arrived at The Greek Joint, Mr. Sklavenitis was not there, but in talking to several employees and customers for a few minutes while I was there,not one of them said that they had heard anything about the plan.
After I shared some pertinent facts with them, they told me they didn't understand why if it was such a great plan, the Hollywood CRA seemed to be doing as little as possible to communicate with the residents and business owners in the area so they could weigh-in with their opinions, whatever that happened to be.

So, what does that tell you about the intensity of the public engagement efforts of the Hollywood CRA in the preceding weeks?


Another salient fact worth mentioning here that's been largely ignored in the public discussion so far is that nobody I know of in Hollywood is in favor of the current retail building on the east side of Young Circle staying in their current configuration once Publix leaves for its new home across the street in a few months. 
I mention that because some of the backers of the Lockwood plan seem to imagine that people opposed to the plan want it to stay in place, when nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, a few years ago when dynamic architect Bernard Zyscovich was hired by the city as a consultant to create a new master plan for the city, having frequent meetings in Hollywood to talk about ideas for transforming the face and image of Hollywood into a more dynamic, attractive and well-functioning community, especially the downtown area, meetings that I always attended and blogged about at the time, he specifically spoke about the necessity of opening up the east side of Young Circle.
In short, to make it just like what Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy says in the Sun Sentinel article about allowing the beach to meet Young Circle via Hollywood Blvd. without having to look at the unattractive backside of an older retail complex.

"When you approach the circle from the east you see the back of the Publix and the loading docks," Levy said. "It would be great to connect Hollywood Boulevard to the circle. Imagine standing in the ArtsPark and looking east all the way to the Hollywood Beach Hotel. It would be amazing."

Now I'm going to change the tenor of this blog post a bit, since there was someone else mentioned in that article that I've had personal dealings with before, someone that deserves some of your attention, but not because of anything positive...

Most -though not all- of you also know from several of my past emails and blog posts over the years why I hold thin-skinned and egotistical Greg Stuart, Exec. Director of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), cited in the Sun Sentinel article above, in such very low regard. 
Stuart's name and initials can be found on so many awful, failed or tortured transportation plans, policies and projects in Broward that he was always quick to praise, despite the self-evident facts-on-the-ground or his disregard for the known behavior and habits of Broward residents.

This petty, petty man's own words, actions and behavior have consistently shown him to be a person who simply can't take ANY constructive criticism, esp. in public from people who have a great familiarity with both the facts and his own actions and words.

That is never more the case then when he is clearly and consistently on the wrong side of public opinion, and consistently championing the sorts of nonsensical Big Government plans that, objectively, in the end, seem only to benefit planning and traffic consultants and bureaucrats, like his employees and his friends.
And elected officials who push these plans who then receive campaign contributions from those very same consultants and their firmsbut not actual residents, taxpayers, drivers or mass transit riders.
You know, stakeholders?

His clown-like performance at Hallandale Beach City Hall, a few years ago, where he publicly denied so many things that were objectively true was a real beauty, and one of the worst public performances I've ever seen in South Florida.
That's even more damning when you know that I was on Capitol Hill frequently during my 15 years in Washington, D.C., AND was present at many of the Miami-Dade Commission meetings concerning the proposed government-funded Marlins ballpark, and saw things there that I was truly astonished by.

Equally contemptible was Stuart's truly smarmy and self-serving response to my having to bring up
just a few of the "Inconvenient facts" that HB Mayor Cooper and the City Commission seemed either woefully ignorant of -always a good bet there as experience shows!- or were afraid to mention publicly because they necessarily showed the Broward MPO and Stuart himself in such a negative light if genuine facts were to be discussed and evaluated.

Stuart also used the fact that once I spoke on the agenda item, that I could not get back to the microphone to rebut his future lies and exaggerations of his track record that same night, while he could just stand there and say sweet nothings into the microphone and Mayor Cooper just let him vamp.

His attempt to belittle me and my points largely failed, because as everyone who knows me can tell you, and as most of the well-informed people in the Commission Chambers already knew as well, I'm not going to say things into a microphone that I haven't already checked -and double-checked.

Stuart just happened to have the good fortune at that moment to be at the one City Hall in Broward where facts, logic and reason are almost always ignored, per Mayor Cooper's custom.
So he got away with saying things that were simply not tethered to reality.

So, that said, it should hardly be surprising that Stuart's crazy about this plan that Broward MPO's elected head, Hollywood Comm. Richard Blattner, is largely in favor of.
In fact, Stuart says he think it's "phenomenal."
But then that's what good sycophants like Stuart say and do, isn't it?

Don't be surprised if there's a blog post here in the coming months that asks -and answers- the question, "Is a big part of the problem with Broward County's dysfunctional planning and traffic the fact that it contains too much of Greg Stuart's fingerprints?"

More facts about this project coming later this week.





This was my response -as I balanced a laptop at a Hollywood City Commission meeting- to some one who agreed with some emails I circulated a few weeks ago.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 7:20 PM
Subject: re Young Circle Roadway Feasibility Study


I just got your email while at the Hollywood City Comm. meeting.
I'm still there at 7:20 PM.

I attended last night's meeting as well as the previous meeting and last night, Mr. Lockwood, if possible, actually manged to be even more condescending and patronizing of the public -and skeptics like me- than at that the last meeting, which is really saying something.

This, on top of his inability to answer basic reasonable questions, whether from Sue Gunzburger re the integrity of the park and the County's investment in it, to when during the year his traffic numbers were done, to other questions from the public, including about how
valid it is to allow one car trying to park by backing up to park, to stop all traffic in one direction, since under the plan, it'll now be one lane.
So what's his plan for emergency vehicles on one lane roads?

I had planned on speaking this afternoon under Public Comments after Lockwood made his presentation to the City Comm., focusing on the CRA's abysmal civic engagement, with no visible advertising via fliers and sandwich boards along Young Circle, or at the ArtsPark
itself.
Nothing at Radius or Starbucks or... anywhere...

So, the hundreds and thousands of people who attend Monday night Food Truck gatherings and the Friday night family gatherings ever week, well, apparently, the Hollywood CRA didn't think any of them would be interested or have something to contribute that was better than what was presented.

What would explain such a colossal failure to do the most obvious thing? What's the CRA's explanation?

What's their explanation for ignoring the business people who own and operate popular restaurants and stores who are completely in the dark about something that DIRECTLY affects them, their business and their personal and economic futures?

Trust me, I've been taking notes, taking photos and asking people who have invested in the area what they knew about it, and when did they first hear about it. Nothing.
ZERO.

So imagine how happy they are to hear about it from me, after-the-fact?

In the end, I decided not to rebut Camejo and Lockwood publicly today, and instead write my longstanding concerns via a fact-filled, photo-filled email to the City Comm. next week pointing out the flaws as well as reminding them of the city's longstanding failure to do basic safety checkups in the years since the ArtsPark was formally opened, and then post it to
my popular blog, Hallandale Beach Blog.

Trust me, I can describe the whole circle by heart and what's missing and what's wrong.
So why isn't the city starting with solving those safety and aesthetic problems first?
It could not be more obvious.

In my email, I'm going to offer to give them a quick tour pointing these things out, which, once you see them, you can't believe they haven't been fixed the past 8-10 years.

Today's "findings" by Lockwood are based on... 152 self-selecting people.
The "Usual Suspects." 

I know because I am one of them.
But where's the diversity of opinions?

I saw far too many people drinking the consultant's Kool-Aid last night and today, rather than ask even, well, even softball questions, the whole City Commission completely rolled over.
It was a sad sight. :-(

Contact me if you might be open to meeting at Panera's or someplace similar because I share many of your concerns about this make-work opportunity for Mr. Lockwood and his company, who want the gravy train to continue.

By the way, his company will have to bid against other companies to actually do any of the things he discussed and proposed.
That is a fact that was never mentioned at either meeting but which came up today.

Not that the City of Hollywood has any money to do any of the things 
Lockwood proposes.

Dave

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