Results of November 9th Historic District Vote

The city commission voted 3 to 2 to lower the voting threshold to form a historic district from the current 67% to 50% plus one. Those voting for this change are telling you that your rights are less important than the collective opinion of your neighbors and that of a city board whose legal charter excludes consideration of your rights.

Carolyn Cooper, Tom McMacken, and Greg Seidel voted for 50% plus one. Sarah Sprinkle and Steve Leary voted to leave the threshold at 67%.

There will be at least two more votes on the Historic Preservation law. You can continue to offer your input to your elected officials at: [email protected].

The November 9th vote is both negative and unreasonable for Winter Park, as are most aspects of the proposed law as it pertains to historic districts.

The city commission received emails and letters against a change in the voting percentage from well over 100 homeowners and approximately 6 emails from those in support.

There were (my guess) over 100 people present at the public meeting on Monday, November 9th. According to the city clerk, 25 people spoke against the change in voting threshold and 22 for it.

Given changes to the proposed law including the change in voting threshold, the commission will vote a second First Reading of the ordinance on Monday, November 23 with a final vote expected on December 14th.

Again, you can continue to offer your input to your elected officials at: [email protected].

Regards, Pete Weldon


11 Responses to Results of November 9th Historic District Vote

  1. Hold On To Your Rights says:

    A long time favorite tactic of Winter Park City Commissioners is to bury any controversial approvals in the last City Commission meeting of November and the December when residents may be traveling or otherwise pre-occupied with Christmas season festivities, and not notice their politician’s mischief. During the same upcoming meetings mentioned, Commissioners have also scheduled a vote on another proposed ordinance that would grab your free speech rights too! How about that? It’s no coincidence that the proposal that pretends to be a “Street Performer” ordinance also prohibits all kinds of normal free speech in the Park Avenue corridor, simply by declaring the talker a “Performer.” According to a Winter Park Observer article on the subject, if approved the ordinance would cause residents to lose their right to circulate petitions in the area such as those that would end further rights grabs.

    No coincidence that a vote to gag opposition to a “Park Avenue Historic District” is occurring this month, just prior to the Park Avenue property rights vote being taken up by the City Commission in early 2016. The same three commissioners who voted for the property rights mess at Monday’s meeting also voted Monday to begin putting wheels in motion for an ordinance that would stagnate the greater Park Avenue area with another so-called “Historic District” property rights grab there and Interlachen.

  2. Of course the numbers on either side don’t tell the whole story. Remember, the group that prefers to be thought of as “Historic Preservation” in Winter Park has been recruiting followers for at least five years. And all they could drum up in five years was 22 people to speak in favor of the proposed ordinance at Monday’s meeting, or an average of about 4 supporters per year. Of those 22, several included in their public comments the disclaimer that they were speaking in favor of the proposed ordinance “with further amendments,” while never explaining what those amendments might be. Once you kick out those “Yes” people from the count, next is to identify who was saying “Yes” based on their comments. At least 3 additional “Yes” people identified themselves as currently living in one of the few existing “Historic Districts.” They are somewhat biased obviously, and unrepresentative of Winter Park as a whole, because everyone in town has the natural inclination to think that their own home and their neighborhood are the greatest. Then, drilling down into the specifics, here’s who the other “Yes” people were Monday night: 1 historic preservation architect, 1 HP Board member, 1 relative of a historic architect, 1 person who enjoys pulling up roots and moving around from one historic city in the country to another, 3 others who seemed hysterical or bitter that everyone else in town wouldn’t dance to their tune, 3 others who appeared to be just reciting talking points that someone had given them to say, and on it goes. Oh did i mention the Yes people imported from as far away as St. Augustine?

    Bottom line is, by the numbers, there is no public support for this ordinance in Winter Park. None. That’s why they use the appealing banner “Historic Preservation” to attempt to sneak the ordinance by residents before anyone understands what they are approving.

  3. I agree that those FOR this change in the ordinance all know each other and are part of the Historic Preservation advocacy set. But I caution, while I strongly disagree with this law as written, these people live in Winter Park (well, almost all of them) and are speaking to their priorities, as we all have a right to do.

    HP is a value system built around shared experience. There is nothing wrong with this and, in fact, this focus on preservation adds to the diversity of our city.

    The big problem here is not historic preservation, it is writing laws seeking to impose your values on your neighbors. A corollary would be our dog lovers marching on city hall to make every park a dog park, only this would be significantly lesser in impact as we have HP advocates happy to devalue your property to get you to obey (see: https://friendsofcasafeliz.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/same-old-story-say-goodbye-to-another-winter-park-favorite/).

  4. Cattle District says:

    An excellent analogy. “DOG PARK DISTRICT” Yeah, I’d like to see the same three commissioners approve an amendment to their HP ordinance that if 50% plus one of any group of 12 or more contiguous houses near any park votes to make that park a dog park, it becomes a dog park. “RACE TRACK DISTRICT” Further, I’d like to see them approve an amendment that if 50% plus one of any group of 12 or more contiguous houses wants to make their street speed limit 55 mph, that the street becomes 55 mph. I’d like to see them approve an amendment that if 50% plus one of any group of 12 or more contiguous houses wants to keep cattle in their front yard, the entire “CATTLE DISTRICT” must keep cattle in their front yard at all times. This would show how stupid the “Historic District” ordinance is, in case anyone hadn’t figured it out already.

  5. I am not sure each of these scenarios is an accurate corollary but I get your point.

    At what point does a group of neighbors have a right to tell another group of neighbors what to do?

    Sidewalks: Winter Park requires 67% of owners to agree to put in sidewalks.

    Brick Streets: Winter Park requires 67% of owners to agree to brick a street. See: https://cityofwinterpark.org/docs/departments/public-works/streets/BrickingPolicy.pdf.

    Under grounding: Winter Park required 67% of owners to agree to the cost of electric under grounding their street (this may be obsolete given city wide program).

    Keep in mind that all these are assets where both those agreeing and those compelled to participate against their will participate in the cost and the benefit equally. With historic districts, not so much.

    So, where does 50% come from? Politics, not common sense.

  6. Historic Memory Lapse says:

    It’s politics. And it’s also historic extremism. Taken to its extremes, historic preservation would take us back to a day when Winter Park was a pine forest, or later an orange grove, a city without indoor plumbing, a place with dirt roads and no motor cars, a town where diseases like malaria and polio spread. Where black people were treated poorly by their government, denied voting rights. In more recent times memorable to many residents, the historical extremists would take us back to a time when the stores on Park Avenue closed during the summer months, and when Park Avenue sported a dive bar called “Decades” where Burger Fi is today and where another bar permanently littered with peanut shells on the floor occupied the space just up the avenue. That was next to the restaurant that featured the belly dancer entertainment. Which was south of “Harrigans” on Park known for its late night drunken decadence sometimes with music so loud it would literally knock guests of their beds in the Park Plaza Gardens hotel across the street. And that was next to another bar called “Two Flights Up” that was known for its occasional lively brawl. Winter Park in those days was also a city without a Morse Museum.

    But you won’t hear about that at these City Commission meetings. They want you to believe that Historic Preservation is some kind of a fairy tale. Where story book homes grace a landscape of oak trees and peacocks for eternity. They want you to believe that freezing Winter Park in place like a tin type photograph would make property values soar and put Winter Park on the “A-list” of the world’s historic cities like Ancient Rome. Don’t believe it for a minute. The ultimate end of historic extremism is always the same – turning back the clock to an era with more problems than anyone cares to look at.

  7. The romantic notion is critically important to some people and I do not begrudge them their notions. If we don’t have an idea of what we want to be, there is no way for the idea to be realized.

    Policy, however, must be grounded in reality. For example, one former commissioner once said to me that downtown Winter Park is a stage set. The reality is that the stage set was bought and paid for by the property owners along Park Avenue, and those others within the CRA using tax dollars that would otherwise have gone to Orange County, or not been there at all because no one increased their investment in downtown Winter Park.

    I also note that some like to sell the notion that Winter Park is like Carmel, California. Jack Rogers made this statement at the meeting on November 9th. Here is piece I wrote in 2009 on this very subject, also prompted by Jack’s vision for Winter Park to be more like Carmel: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/2009/11/02/do-we-live-in-carmel-california/.

  8. Ants look really big close up. But by standing, ants appear very small.

    According to Wikipedia there are 282 cities, 109 towns, and 19 villages in the U.S. state of Florida, a total of 410 incorporated municipalities. They are distributed across 67 counties. That’s 477 in total.

    Compare that with 69 who participate in the Florida Certified Local Government program for historic preservation that is a pillar of the proposed Winter Park Historic Preservation ordinance. A simple subtraction clearly shows that THREE HUNDRED NINETY EIGHT Florida governments DO NOT participate in the statewide historic preservation program.

    Compare that with the Sentinel article and the Winter Park historic preservation activists that say the proposed historic preservation ordinance would bring Winter Park “in line” with the rest of the State. Huh? Where I come from, that’s called A LIE. The “oddballs” are the cities that are a part of the Certified Local Government historic preservation net. They are outnumbered by normal Florida governments like Winter Park who do not participate by a margin of 6 to 1.

  9. Flood Light says:

    To dramatize just how many Florida local governments want absolutely nothing to do with the State’s Certified Local Government program, if anybody wants to help save property rights in Winter Park, they could recruit about 10 people to walk up to the microphone at the next City Commission meeting and each recite 3 minutes worth of municipalities that oppose binding themselves to the CLG.

    This wasn’t just a little white lie we were told about Winter Park being “the only one” in Florida not participating. This is a really BIG lie that deserves a really BIG response.

    Reading all the names of all the Florida cities and counties that do not participate in CLG, assuming 5 seconds for each name, would take about 30 minutes, assuming 10 speakers at 3 minutes each. It would also make an impression. Lie to the residents, and risk public exposure of the lie at a City Commission meeting.

    I don’t see how the people of Winter Park can just let themselves be lied to by their government and by their Orlando newspaper, without responding. When the lights come on, the cockroaches scatter.

    List of Florida cities:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_municipalities_in_Florida

    List of Florida counties:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_counties_in_Florida

    CLG local governments:
    http://dos.myflorida.com/media/695498/clg-list-9-17-15.pdf

  10. Cooper doesn’t want to PRESERVE Winter Park. Cooper wants to MAKE Winter Park like ENGLAND.

    She said as much last night during the Street Performer ordinance hearing.

    Voters should send her back to ENGLAND. She likes it there.

  11. WP Fact Check says:

    Using the sort feature on the table of cities, by establishment date, and compared with the CLG list, ALL of the following cities OLDER than Winter Park DO NOT participate in CLG: Pensacola, Marianna, Apalachicola, Milton, Archer, Brooksville, Jasper, Lake City, Monticello, Port Orange, Hampton, Starke, Green Cove Springs, Longwood, Baldwin, Wildwood, Live Oak, Orange Park, Ormond Beach, Hawthorne, Apopka, Bartow, Orange City, Crescent City, Lady Lake, Fort White, Belleview, Fort Meade, Tavares, White Springs, Arcadia, Bonifay, Oakland, Rockledge, and Welaka.

    These cities total HALF the number of cities in Florida that are OLDER than Winter Park. So if HALF of the cities in Florida OLDER than Winter Park DO NOT participate in CLG, the notion that Winter Park is “the only one” not participating in the State’s historic preservation scheme is not only misleading – it’s a HUGE distortion of the facts. And that’s just half of the cities OLDER than Winter Park. NOT total cities. The proportion of TOTAL cities participating in CLG is less than one quarter. Another reason why you can’t believe what you hear at City Commission meetings. You have to read this blog for the facts.