Cocoa Beach: Breaking Away, Workshops And Vultures.

Bear with us on this one…..

Tonight at 6:00 PM at City Hall, the City Commission will host a workshop on proposed ballot amendments to be voted upon this November by residents. The agenda for the meeting can be found here. Please take note of the earlier time of 6:00 PM rather than the normal Commission meeting time of 7:00 PM.

The Charter Review Committee is making the following proposals:

1) Building Height Limit
Ballot Title: Cocoa Beach City Charter Amendment Revising Building Height-Related Charter Provisions
Ballot Summary: Amending the City Charter to revise height-related charter provisions, change the Charter building height limit from 45 feet above crown of abutting road to 70 feet (excluding 8 feet of unoccupied rooftop appurtenances) above a defined Base Elevation (which accounts for flood elevations), and change the number of commissioner votes necessary to approve comprehensive plan changes increasing permissible building height up to the 70 feet building height limit from five votes to four.____ Yes____ No

2) Charter Cleanup
Ballot Title: Cocoa Beach City Charter Cleanup Amendment Ballot Summary: Shall the Cocoa Beach City Charter be amended to make certain technical, corrective and conforming changes to the Charter to correct scrivener’s and grammatical errors, provide clarifying definitions relating to City boards, committees and departments, conform City budget procedures to current state law, and add clarifications to make the Charter easier to read and understand?____ Yes____ No

(NOTE: We don’t see how the height and the 5-0 vote change can be tied together on one ballot question. They are two separate issues and will force people who want to the height changed, but not the voting requirements changed and vice versa to make a choice of one part coming along with the other. We aren’t sure if that is legal or not. Usually the different parts of an amendment like this are separated and we believe they should be.)

There is also the “Williams Proposal” which reads:

Recommendations by the Petitioners’ Committee: – Changes to Section 6.08 Building height limit accommodation
Ballot Title: Cocoa Beach City Charter Amendment Revising Building Height Accommodations.
Ballot Summary: Amending the City Charter to provide that where a parcel or a portion thereof has been assigned a FEMA Based Flood Elevation, or another minimum elevation for construction of habitable space has been applied to a parcel pursuant to federal, state, or local law, the Charter building height limit in Section 6.04 shall be measured from the higher of the Base Elevation or other minimum elevation, rather than the crown of the road. ____ Yes____ No

The Charter Committee’s recommendations on height increases was easy to see coming.

We find it amazing that the same people who during the Ocean Dunes variance procedure swore that there would never be need for a building higher than 60 feet, are now proposing a 78 foot building height measured from a different elevation point which adds even more height.

“Trust us,” the proponents say.

We reply with “give us one reason to trust you as this proposal shows the depth of the lies you will make.”

We were thinking about how this will change the landscape of Cocoa Beach. Essentially this is a 73.3% increase in height for buildings in the City. As we were thinking, we thought of the movie “Breaking Away.” The movie is about growing up, coming of age, and other things and is a gem if you haven’t seen it.

One of the poignant moments in the movie is when the lead and teen walks onto the campus of Indiana University with his father who helped cut the limestone for the buildings that surround them. The son is struggling with his plans for the future.

The father gives a small talk. From the script:

(The campus is deserted. Dave and Mr. Blase are walking slowly outside a huge classroom building. Mr. Blase lights a cigarette.)

Just one.. Don’t tell mother.

(looking at the building)

You know, I do.this every now and then. Come here at night and…I cut the stone for that building over there-…

Yes,. I know, Dad.

I was one fine stonecutter… Mike’s dad…Moocher’s, Cyril’s …we all were. Well, Cyril’s dad…Ah, never mind. The thing is. I loved it. I was young, slim and strong and damn proud of my work. And the buildings went up…and when they were finished…damnest thing happened.
It was like the buildings were too good for us. Nobody told us that. But we just felt uncomfortable. Even now. I’d like to be able to stroll through the campus and look at the limestone but I feel out of place.

I suppose you guys still go swimming in the quarries.


So, all you get from my twenty years of work is the holes we left behind.

We’ve been thinking how that scene applies to Cocoa Beach.

Cocoa Beach wasn’t always a tourist destination. It was once a thriving community of blue and white collar workers who were employed at Cape Kennedy, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Station. Tourism was a sideline – a weekend endeavor if you will.

Like Mr. Blase in Breaking Away, at some point the people who built the City of Cocoa Beach began to feel they no longer belong there. Their hard work and their creation of actual hard goods have been taken over by hoteliers, real estate agents and others who make their money by shuffling papers.

Traffic was and is a problem, yet the same paper pusher and sellers want more.

They want to change the texture, fiber and spirit of the City of Cocoa Beach.

And all to make a buck.

You see, right now the vultures are circling. They are looking to end the Cocoa Beach that has been a staple of Brevard County and the State of Florida. They want to pick at its bones and make it like other communities such as Miami Beach where the concrete canyons and elite can be seen.

Maybe that is the type of Cocoa Beach you want. It is hard to see the plan for a type of community which bills itself as “family tourism” and yet is increasing its police and policing powers because of disorderly conduct and other issues from every group other than families.

In Breaking Away, the community has a hole in the ground in which people went swimming after the people who built the town were no longer needed.

The people who built Cocoa Beach won’t even get that.

We hope to see you at the workshop tonight.

6 Responses to “Cocoa Beach: Breaking Away, Workshops And Vultures.”

  1. Hometown says:

    Great movie and a great post. Reminds me of the song “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. The lagoon is at/past the breaking point, the last thing we need is more development before we fix the problems we have. We don’t need bigger buildings we need better buildings,let’s fix what we’ve got first. The mayor keeps bringing up an un-named developer that wants to build a $200 million dollar project in town, can’t begin to imagine what additional traffic, wastewater, and overcrowding impacts that would bring to town.

  2. Sandy says:

    Right on, Hometown! I’m sure we’ll hear another big sales pitch tonight.

    • Frances says:

      Do you remember reading this a couple of weeks ago on raised on hoe cakes ???…

      “Cocoa Beach petition group to add the Williams amendment to the ballot, which maintains the 45′ height limit but allows for changes in the FEMA flood zone requirements will be in front f the CB library today (Friday) collecting signatures. If you’re a registered CB voter please come out so we can get this put on the ballot for the people to decide. Bring your friends.”

      The group supporting the petition drive had this week off due to a leak in the fairly new Cocoa Beach Library facility, not yet 50 years old, having a plumbing problem. The repair was taken care of last weekend and this week it is closed to ‘DRY OUT’; it conveniently closed pedestrian traffic into and out of the city library.

      Whatever, maybe at tonight’s city commission meeting the residents and local group who presented it will receive the commissioners respect and they will vote on it with a nay or yea response.

      Tune-in tonight. I’ll be watching to see if we still have a political football coming up in November.

      Over four hundred residents took their time to sign the petition to place their agreed upon terminology on a November Ballot.

  3. Hometown says:

    I honestly believed that Commissioners Williams proposal was a fair compromise presented in good faith to help overcome the changing FEMA requirements that developers had claimed prevented them from being able to redevelop. Not sure if this would have been approved or not but it would have let the residents decide.

    No sooner than the words were out of his mouth the Gang of Four added another 10′ on top for unoccupied structures and discussed increasing the washthru requirements above the FEMA requirements.

    I’m beginning to understand that as clunky as our current requirement may be, it works and if you give this group an inch they’ll take a mile. I’ll hold for my final Judgement till I see what goes on the ballot but I am disappointed that they couldn’t just accept Commission Williams proposal as submitted without trying to sneak more height into the final version, business as usual I guess.

  4. Hometown says:

    I spoke wth Commissioner Williams for a bit to get his take on the latest version of the CB referendum 1 wording. He believed his original proposal was a better option to solve the issue of constantly changing FEMA requirements but the other commissioners are intent on adding the additional 10′ on top of what he had proposed. Being a strong supporter of the democratic process he felt it ishould be left up to the residents to decide in the upcoming November election. For me personally I believe the additional 10′ requirement will ultimately doom this latest proposal. The large majority of residents I’ve talked with didn’t want any increase in building heights. A shame that by adding this additional 10′ of height to appease the developers will probably cause this to fail And we will be left without any positive reform.

    I do not support the latest proposal which allows for 45′ plus any wash-thru requirements plus an additional 10′ on top for stuff. This just opens the door for additional creep of building heights.

  5. Frances says:

    I agreed with you. I have to go back over the video tape of the city commissioner meeting. I believe I heard the attorney say something about placing a measurement, like the ’45’ ft. and the ’10’ ft. wording on the ballot might cause it to become null and void.

    It seems to me that the city’s operational requirement documents should already baseline the ‘fact’ that we will be in compliance with federal rules and regulations and noted somewhere; in LDC appendixes or inter local agreements with our Brevard County Coastal overseer. If so, then no determination to submit a ballot is needed and the cost-savings could be used to fund appropriate documentation task changes.