As the state legislature convenes its regular session this March, the City of Lighthouse Point has an agenda in place that identifies the legislative and funding priorities it would like its recently hired lobbyist, the law firm Becker & Poliakoff, to focus its efforts on.
The agenda is also intended to serve as a guide for the City Commission, residents and City staff to better understand the City’s legislative strategy.
The City Commission approved the City of Lighthouse Point 2023 Legislative Agenda at its Jan. 24 meeting, and authorized the mayor to submit for appropriations and grant funding for infrastructure projects, including stormwater drainage, bridge replacement and dredging.
“I support this and look forward to contributing however I can to make these policy positions and these appropriation requests a reality,” said Commission President Jason Joffe.
Becker & Poliakoff – which is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale and also has offices in Washington, D.C. and Tallahassee – will provide lobbyist consulting services at the federal, state and local levels.
The City will request financial support, in the form of grants and/or appropriations, for the most essential infrastructure needs, including funding from the Department of Transportation for six bridges that were built in the 1950s and are in need of replacement. Those bridges are over the Alamanda Waterway (NE 24th Avenue), Cap Knight Bayou (Sample Road), Heron Waterway (NE 31st Court), Coral Key Waterway (NE 48th Street), Tern Waterway (NE 29th Street) and Pelican Waterway (NE 28th Street).
The City will request funding from the Department of Environmental Protection for stormwater infrastructure repairs and/or replacements. The City’s engineering consultant, Kimley-Horn and Associates, is currently developing a stormwater master plan update that includes a capital improvement plan (CIP) to address 10 priority stormwater improvement projects (basins) throughout the City, based on observed flooding, flood complaints, roadway conditions, traffic volumes and hydraulic analysis. The stormwater master plan update will also include an operation and maintenance program that will require an annual budget.
The City will also seek funding for the dredging of its canals and waterways. A hydrographic survey recently prepared by Kimley-Horn and Associates identifies the sections of waterways and canals that require dredging to meet the mean low water table.
Another priority on the City’s legislative agenda is procuring financial assistance for seawall repairs and/or replacements. Kimley-Horn and Associates has prepared a seawall study that indicates the tops of most of the existing seawalls within the city are at elevations between 3.0 and 4.0 NAVD. Due to sea level rise, Broward County passed an ordinance that requires all seawalls that are being replaced or substantially repaired to be built to 4.0 NAVD by 2035 and 5.0 NAVD by 2050.
Per the policy positions outlined in the City’s legislative agenda, Becker & Poliakoff will lobby against any effort to limit the City’s home rule authority. The City supports legislation that restores authority to local governments for the regulation of short-term rental properties as necessary for quality of life and public safety. The City also supports legislation clarifying that existing, grandfathered municipal short-term rental ordinances can be amended without penalty.
Becker & Poliakoff will lobby on the City’s behalf for legislation that helps local governments address resiliency issues; preserves general revenues collected from the local business tax, which are used to fund essential municipal services; maintains an equitable property tax system while preserving a municipality’s ability to fund public infrastructure and other essential services; and preserves the ability of cities to tailor unique land development solutions and decide how they look and grow.
The City is also in favor of legislation that directs the Florida Department of Transportation to provide financial assistance and incentives to develop multimodal transportation plans tailored to municipal transportation demands, and identifies additional transportation revenue to fund innovative infrastructure and transit projects to meet increasing transportation demands driven by population growth in Florida.
The City supports the Florida League of Cities 2023 Legislative Platform where it is aligned with the City’s priorities.
Mayor Kyle Van Buskirk said that, as lobbying efforts move forward, it is important that he and the city commissioners start traveling to Tallahassee to see elected officials at the state level and make the City’s needs known.
“We just want to make sure that they don’t forget us,” said Van Buskirk.