Friday, April 12, 2024

The “Crusade” Against Ryan Boylston’s Mayoral Run

A disgruntled developer is spending $20,000 to keep Ryan Boylston from becoming mayor of Delray Beach.

Here’s the story:

Last month, Kurt Jetta asked the city commission for changes that would allow him to expand the number of multi-tenant housing units (MTHUs) at his property on Northwest Fifth Avenue. MTHUs are shared living spaces that essentially are updated boarding houses.

Boylston joined three other commissioners in rejecting the idea. Now Jetta, president of Delray Beach-based Jetta Investment Company, is running ads that challenge Boylston’s claim of being a supporter of affordable housing.

The ads, though, are confusing and deceptive. One calls Boylston “out of touch” for saying that he approved 274 units of affordable housing in the last six years while rents in the city supposedly increased by 80 percent. But there is no context for the accusation.

In addition, the ad is credited to the “Florida Housing Innovations Council.” The name suggests that it’s a group of parties with similar interests. In fact, it’s just Kurt Jetta, using that $20,000 with which he formed the entity in November.

In an interview, Jetta said he is targeting Boylston because he’s the only one on the March 19 ballot. He is not necessarily supporting Boylston’s opponents, former commissioners Tom Carney and Shirley Johnson. Jetta also failed before a previous commission when he attempted to get the rule changes.

“I’ve tried persuasion, and I’ve tried lobbying,” Jetta told me Wednesday. “What else is left?” He added, “This started as an idea, then became a project, then a campaign, and now it’s become a crusade.”

Jetta’s argument is that “affordable housing” as Delray Beach defines it is out of reach for his market—people making no more than $35,000 a year. Jetta said he supports Jim Chard and Anneze Barthelemy in their respective commission races because they would “take a look” at his idea.

Boylston told me Wednesday, “Kurt Jetta wants it his way, and he wants it now.” But consideration of Jetta’s idea, Boylston said, can’t happen until the city completes its review of new rules that would apply to the entire Set neighborhood where Jetta’s property is located.

Example: If landowners in The Set want to tear down an old, single-family home and replace it with a new duplex or quadplex, they can’t do it. “That’s a potential loss of three units,” Boylston said.

Examples: It’s very hard to build houses on small lots. Boylston recalls the commission having to grant a waiver for a 1,500-square foot home. The city, Boylston said, also could make it easier to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), known more familiarly as mother-in-law suites. “Those could be very accessible from alleys,” of which The Set has many.

If, after that review, the city wants to consider Jetta’s idea, “We can do that. But there are other things first.”

Boylston said he has conveyed that message to Jetta during “many meetings with him. And I have answered every email. If he thinks he’s going to bully me, he can think again.

“Bring it.”

Pride intersection defacer turns himself in

delray
Delray Beach Pride intersection, photo courtesy of the City of Delray Beach

The man accused of defacing Delray Beach’s LGBTQ Pride intersection made things easy for police.

Nineteen-year Dylan Reese Brewer of Clearwater faces one count of criminal mischief over $1,000 and one count of reckless driving for allegedly burning his truck tires over the intersection at Northeast Second Avenue and Northeast First Street on the evening of Feb. 4. He turned himself in Monday. A hearing is set for March 14.

Dylan Brewer, photo courtesy of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

According to the charging document, Brewer burned his tires over the pavement three times between 8:23 and 8:33. He did so in full view of surveillance cameras at the intersection and a nearby restaurant. Multiple witnesses took videos.

On his Instagram account, Brewer had posted pictures of himself with the Dodge Ram registered to his parents. The pictures show the “President Trump” flag on the truck that is visible in videos from the incident. Brewer also posted shots of him wearing a black cowboy hat. Videos showed the driver wearing such a hat. Investigators learned that Brewer’s truck had been modified to make such burnouts easier.

Two passengers were in the truck. They told investigators that Brewer “recently moved away and came back to visit them.” The plan had been to “drive around Atlantic Avenue.” The website of the family’s chain of funeral homes, Brewer & Sons, lists Dylan Brewer as a “Funeral Attendant In Training” who is studying “military discipline” at a school in St. Petersburg and enjoys racing cars.

As the charging document points out, Brewer nearly hit a man on a scooter the last time he went through the intersection. At this point, this incident seems worse than the first in 2021, when Alexander Jerich burned his truck tires once during a birthday parade for Trump.

I’ll have more after the hearing or before then if there are developments.

Delray to introduce speed cameras in school zones

Red-light cameras are all but dead in Florida, but speed cameras in school zones are back. Soon, they will be coming to Delray Beach.

During the Feb. 6 workshop meeting, Boylston, Angela Burns and Rob Long expressed support for having the cameras at all schools—public or private—with designated speed zones. Mayor Shelly Petrolia and Commissioner Adam Frankel, who often are on opposite sides of big issues, opposed the cameras.

Last year, the Legislature allowed cities and counties to allow the cameras, which private companies would operate. Vehicles that exceed the speed limit by 10 miles per hour would draw a ticket. The fine would be $100, but no points would go onto someone’s driver’s license.

Frankel noted, correctly, that the ticket would not necessarily go to the person who was driving the car. Someone, he said, could have borrowed the vehicle, but the owner would get the ticket. Frankel wanted the city first to install flashing lights at all school zones. Not every school has them.

Petrolia was “cautious.” Under this system, she said, “cameras will be making the decisions,” not trained law enforcement officers. Even if the city gave lots of notice, there would be “a lot of unhappy people” when the tickets arrived.

Police department representatives argued that the cameras would save overtime, since the department would not have to assign officers to school zones. They also noted that the fine for such a ticket from an officer is $350.

City Attorney Lynn Gelin predicted that the program “will be challenged.” That happened after local governments implemented red-light camera programs in the late 2000s. Lawyers challenged the technology and constitutionality of the cameras, arguing that Florida prohibits municipal court systems. Each city was setting different rules.

In 2010, the Legislature addressed the constitutional question by setting statewide rules for the cameras—with Tallahassee getting a share of the standard fine. Most cities and counties, though, have ended their programs. That experience went into last year’s bill on school-zone cameras.

Boylston, Burns and Long countered that the cameras would improve safety. City Manager Terrence Moore told me that the city will seek bids from camera companies. The goal, he said, is to have the cameras in place for the new school year.

Boca Financial Services Director to retire

I wrote previously that the Dec. 31 retirement of Leif Ahnell, Boca Raton’s city manager for nearly a quarter-century, began the loss of the city’s vast financial expertise. Ahnell’s specialty was finance, and his knowledge helped Boca Raton secure the highest bond rating in all categories.

Boca Raton Financial Services Director Linda Davidson

The next to leave will be Financial Services Director Linda Davidson. According to a news release, she is retiring in August after 41 years with the city. Her successor will be Jim Zervis, who has been chief administrative officer in Kern County, California, which has a population of almost one million.

Zervis will start in late March, giving him several months to work with Davidson and help to prepare the budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. New City Manager George Brown’s expertise is development, so the hiring of Zervis takes on added importance with Ahnell gone.

Roofclaim.com will no longer sponsor Boca Bowl

Roofclaim.com has declined to extend its sponsorship of the Boca Raton Bowl.

The company could have added its name to the annual college football game at Florida Atlantic University Stadium for another three years. ESPN’s Doug Mosley, the event’s executive director, called the company “a great title sponsor” and said he will be looking for a successor. The game, which began in 2014, has had three corporate sponsors.

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Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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