UPDATE: Wes Blackman on Lake Worth Boardinghouse Brouhaha
Alternative household? Or hotel? You be the judge.
OK, we take it back. Lake Worth blogger and citizen activist Wes Blackman is a reasonable man: Maybe he didn't dive headfirst into the deep end -- he just dipped his toe in.
Blackman sent the Juice an email of bullet points about his recent complaint to the Florida Department of Business and Regulation against Lake Worth City Commissioner Cara Jennings for "keeping a boarding house."
And he followed up with a half-hour phone conversation explaining his thinking on the issue. Blackman filed his online complaint based on a Juice blog item describing Jennings' organic garden and her house on C Street, nicknamed "the Canew," as a gathering spot for anarchists.
The specific grounds Blackman is using for the complaint are here.
"This is really a philosophical issue for me," Blackman says.
"As a sitting city commissioner I think Jennings ought to be setting some sort of example. If there are more than three unrelated people living in the house, that is a violation of city code. As you know overcrowding is a problem we have throughout the city."
Blackman, who says he lives alone with his dog, added, "I personally would conduct myself differently as a public official. Lake Worth is talking about an ethics ordinance now, and I'm concerned when someone who has publicly made a stand saying she is for protecting single-family neighborhoods is living in a situation that is not supported by city law."
We pointed out that Jennings is not earning income from visitors to the house, which would seem to be the point of the law. Blackman admitted that the Canew's impact, in terms of overcrowding in the neighborhood, was "probably minimal." But he says he thinks that rather than simply flouting the law, Jennings should work to change the code citywide if she believes it needs to be updated.
As for Blackman's larger criticisms of the commissioner, he had this to say: "What has happened in Lake Worth is that we have driven people who would invest in the city away. From Jennings' standpoint, Lake Worth is fine as it is -- she wants no change. We're running into some ramifications of that point of view now that we don't have the property tax base to support our government services. Jennings could be doing much more to promote an interest in the city as a redevelopment target."
On Blackman's blog, he noted that he supports organic gardening and that he'd like to pay Jennings a visit to get a look at her crop. "I'm still waiting for an invite," he said. "I wouldn't want to appear unannounced at the front door." Hey, Wes, all are welcome! You just need to pony up a few bucks if you want to use the internet.
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