Why less and less people want to do business in Delray

3453

By: Ryan Boylston
Publisher
An open letter

Last night I sat and watched our commission once again send the wrong message to the business world about our city. Once again we saw inaction where leadership was needed. Once again, we saw delay, rather than forward movement.

Our city commission recently appealed an item that was approved unanimously by the Planning and Zoning Board and staff, which would allow a business the opportunity to relocate from Boca Raton to Delray Beach as they desired. The business is Tradition Tattoo. The commission felt that they wanted to change the rules regarding said business type prior to voting on Tradition Tattoo. A process that has become all to common in our city, and in simplest terms, is wrong. It’s both anti-business and anti-progress.

People filled the chamber to speak on the topic only to find out commissioners were postponing the hearing until June 7. Another meeting for residents to mark on their calendars and several weeks for the business owner to wait to hear the fate of the business.

The fact is we cannot continue change the rules in situations where a decision is already on the table. If the commission feels that LDRs need to be addressed for future situations concerning like usage, no problem. Approve Tradition Tattoo as recommended by board and staff and then develop ordinances so future requests are met with a pre-established plan or vision.

Another factor to consider is that tattoos are also protected under the First Amendment. There is case law on the topic. Cities do have the right to regulate certain things about tattoo shops, like their hours of operation.

Taking it even further was our commission’s discussion late into last week’s meeting, which saw members of the commission grouping tattoo parlors, the rehabilitation industry and heroin users into one conversation. That’s correct. Your city commission feels there is a correlation between tattoos parlors and heroin users. But let’s not get off topic.

A previous commission was in a similar situation fifteen years ago when BankUnited wanted to open a bank downtown on Atlantic Avenue. Although the commission recognized that a bank’s hours did not align with the vision for our downtown to be activated at night and on weekends, they approved BankUnited. Then, in proper fashion, changed the rules to prevent similar situations that could impact the vision for our downtown in the future.

It’s about doing what’s right by the businesses that want to be here in our city. That want to pay taxes, create jobs, infuse commerce and be a part of our community. And rather than embrace and encourage said move, we do the opposite.

I’ll end with this. I own a marketing company. Every week I meet with current and potential clients in the real estate development and investment field that tell me that they have zero interest in Delray Beach due to the current environment. They are incredibly involved with progressive cities with vision and leadership like Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. Some people in our city who refute progress, would call that success. I call it scary.

Now, it’s spread even further. I met close to a dozen brewers this past weekend at Old School Square Beer Fest that were met with open arms in Pompano, Boynton and other regional cities. When asked if they considered Delray – their responses were disheartening. The sad part is that not only are breweries economic powerhouses, job creators and millennial drawers, but they are also incredibly proud of their cities. Ensuring that every bottle or can is adorned with phrases like “Proudly brewed in…”

I also ran into a good friend with a 60 person firm that a year or two ago would have killed to move his company from Boca to Delray, but instead I got word that he had just signed a new lease in Deerfield. Not because they rewarded him financially or wooed him, but because the city welcomed him with open arms. When asked “Why not Delray?” He replied “Are you kidding? After how your city treated Kanner & Pintaluga, iPic and Atlantic Crossing – why should I move there?”

Good question.