Broward News

Six Ways Fort Lauderdale Has Changed for the Worse

Last week, we mused about ieight ways Fort Lauderdale has changed for the better, highlighting social justice, the FAT Village art walk, and Uber. 

But as with any performance review, we get the back-patting out of the way and then move on to the constructive criticism. All that swank can't cover up every flaw. 

With hopes that we can rectify or reverse some of these, here are six ways Fort Lauderdale has changed for the worse: 

6. The Tropic Cay was demolished.
The Tropic Cay was one of the last few places a person could nab an affordable drink on the beach. Sure, it was dingy and the clientele was a little sketchy. But the poolside dive bar and stacks of hotel rooms seemed like living fossils of another time — so cool that New Times crowned the drinking spot the Best Beach Bar in 2013. It was a sad day in October 2015 when the Tropic Cay was demolished to make room for the 23-story Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences, slated to open in 2018. 

5. Pricey new skyrises are making Fort Lauderdale unaffordable.
As a destination for luxury real estate, Broward County is often overshadowed by Miami. But over the past five years, new real estate developments have sprouted up throughout the county. With the Fort Lauderdale area no longer a tacky spring-break destination, rich people have flocked to Broward to invest in new properties (and even to live) because the price of new construction is significantly cheaper than in Miami. The problem is that this dramatically increases property values and rents, forcing longtime residents west. Take Auberge Beach Residences and Spa going up on North Atlantic Boulevard on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Properties start at $1.5 million, and the penthouse is going for $9.8 million. 

4. Traffic has gotten worse because public transportation is lousy.
A lot of us would be willing to ditch our cars if we could get around without them, but alas — in Broward, a trip that takes 30 minutes by car can take more than two hours on the bus. So we get behind the wheel — even though, as Fort Lauderdale's population increases, so does congestion on the roads. 

3. Flakka use has skyrocketed 
Data shows that Broward County is the epicenter of Alpha-PVP —  a designer drug imported from China. Unlike bath salts and ecstasy, this synthetic drug, more commonly known as flakka, sells on the street for only $5. Its side effects — agitation, paranoia, delusions — have caused a string of strange occurrences: One man climbed a bridge naked; another impaled himself on the fence at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. In 2013, the Broward Sheriff’s Office crime lab had zero flakka cases. The following year, it processed more than 190. In 2015, the number of flakka cases soared exponentially: 1,415 cases from January 1 to December 24.

2. Laws are biased against homeless people.
In October 2014, a new city ordinance made it illegal for anyone in Fort Lauderdale to feed people outdoors unless they had a permit, permission from property owners, and certain amenities like toilets and sinks. Clearly the law was meant to stop activists and samaritans who had been providing food to the homeless for years. But the law sparked international outrage in 2014 when two clergymen and 90-year-old Arnold Abbott defied the feeding ban and were arrested. The publicity got so bad that a Broward judge ordered that the ordinance not be enforced. Other so-called "homeless hate laws" make it difficult for the homeless to sleep in public, panhandle, or store their property. 

1. Racist cops have plagued the police force. 
In 2015, four police officers were found to have sent text messages about "killing n***ers" and to have made a video depicting Barack Obama as a thuggish villain. One resigned, and the other three were fired in March. If that wasn't bad enough, last June, Ofcr. Jeffrey Feldewert was let go after he took to his personal Facebook page and wrote "typical hoodrat behavior" as a caption for a photo of a black man being arrested. The photo Feldewert posted was a meme that read: "Black People. Because without them the evening news wouldn't be as much fun to watch." In August, Feldewert appealed his firing and was reinstated and given back his badge. 
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson