Undercurrents

Start rifling through desk drawers for that bill of sale you got when purchasing a bicycle ten years ago, because the City of Fort Lauderdale is now demanding proof that you own your bike. If you can't find the receipt, the city will confiscate your two-wheeler and sell it to someone else.

The city is launching its Bicycle Registration Ordinance, which is a mandatory registration "vital to the safety and well-being" of the citizens. This gestapo-on-wheels program got rolling two weeks ago.

If you don't plop down a buck and provide a valid bill of sale to obtain a required decal, a cop riding around town on a bike or in a car can seize your property on any roadway, alley, or sidewalk. One would think that the police would have to prove it's stolen property, but in Fort Lauderdale the burden is on the bike owner.

Ninety days after impounding your bike, the police department can keep it for their own use, transfer it to another governmental agency, or sell the bike. Any which way, you lose your pollution-free mode of transportation.

Also, picture the out-of-towner who brought a bicycle in for the season. If the vacationer can't prove his or her residency upon demand, "the bicycle shall be handled as an in-city, nonregistered bicycle and may be impounded." There's a fun experience to share with friends back home in Canada.

The police say this completely over-the-top move is necessary because of the high number of bicycles stolen. The cops oughta work harder at catching the thieves instead of confiscating citizens' bikes and making them prove ownership.

The Sun-Sentinel did a great imitation of the Chicago Tribune's famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline with "Jimmy Quitting" last week. Both papers are owned by the mighty Tribune Co., so jumping the gun must be deep within the corporate gene pool.

What the hell are sea oats, and why has their planting along State Road A1A become such an issue?

The oat controversy surfaced again last week as the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection sought more plantings in the central beach area of Fort Lauderdale. The fast-growing oats (Uniola paniculata) would supposedly reach six feet high and create dunes that will retard beach erosion and prevent sea water and sand from spilling onto A1A. (Isn't the wave wall supposed to do that?)

Opponents, the most vocal being activist Art Sietz, claim $60,000 worth of sea oats has already been washed out to sea and the new plantings will only take up space on an already narrow beach and block the view. Sietz and political heavyweight Hamilton Forman claim that erosion is governed by wave and wind action and the tall oats are unnecessary.

It's harvest time. We're not talking about a lonely coastal area where the sea oat plumes are just part of an environment that protects birds and small animals. This is a bustling and busy urban beach where thousands go every day to, well, sit down and look at the ocean. Naturally developing dunes are a nice idea but not very practical. And besides, the oats are ugly plants that seem to collect more trash than sand.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1581, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbpb.com.

 
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