Friday, August 12, 2016

DDA Extortion For Huzienga Plaza Begins

A shadow has been hanging over one of the "public" spaces in downtown Fort Lauderdale: Huzienga Plaza/Beaubier Park is at risk of being privatized. The Downtown Development Agency, facing a large shortfall over many of its projects, has been threatening to sell the property unless the City of Fort Lauderdale rents it out.

On Tuesday, the City Commission of Fort Lauderdale will formally vote on the request to rent the park from the DDA for $100,000 a year. The undercurrents of this situation are sad but predictable. The DDA has engaged in a series of boondoggles that have gone nowhere for years, including the WAVE streetcar, anti-homeless programs such as the "Ambassadorship program" and supporting the City's anti-homeless laws, and trying to get a new Federal Courthouse built.

The DDA claims they have to get this revenue from the Park to make up for the lack of taxes that they are collecting from downtown businesses, and have even suggested that if the City does not rent it that they will sell it to a developer. The DDA themselves are a veritable cabal of millionaire developers and property owners, appointed by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.

What the fuck gives them the right to extort the City for $100,000 a year for one of its parks, or risk it being privatized?  Homeless hate laws take on many forms, and this is surely one of them. The DDA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars the last few years making sure Riverwalk and Huzienga are well-guarded against unsavory homeless people. They've also made a spectacular effort to revitalize and gentrify the area, a noble effort if at any point there was any provisions made for the indigent people who already live in the area.

Will the City support this effort? In the past they have not acted particularly happy with the DDA's demands for help with their budget problems. But we're now closing in on the last year of Mayor Seiler's tenure, and how many times have we seen this City Commission get a proposal forwarded to them by the City Attorney, and supported by downtown's 1%, that they did not like?

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