Sunday, June 11, 2017

Staff misrepresents occupancy of hotel restaurant and bar (HCN)

Watching the City of St. Augustine Planning and Building staff defend illegal developments and phony numbers is like watching a duck make love to a football.

Maybe they should be awarded medals for mendacity by the Dixie Mafia.

News flash: the City of St. Augustine Planning and Building Department staff used materially false and misleading occupancy numbers to help euchre, gull, cully and diddle democracy.

St. Augustine Planning and Building Department Director DAVID DOUGLAS BIRCHIM spoke like a huckster-conman, presenting false numbers to procure a 4-1 wrongful reversal May 22 by City Commission of the 4-2 Planning and Zoning Board's recommendation against amending the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the San Marco Hotel.   More flummery, dupery and nincompoopery by the estimable staff of the City of St. Augustine, showing favoritism toward multinational corporation (MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC.) and local franchisee KANTI PATEL.

Compromised controversial conman St. Augustine City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN is apparently not withdrawing the resulting misbegotten PUD legislation, on the agenda for the Monday June 12, 2017 City Commission agenda.

You can only speak about it in general public comment at the beginning of the meeting, because the corrupt City of St. Augustine does not allow public comment during first readings of putative "public hearings. " 

When is a public hearing not a "public hearing?"  When you're gagged and cannot speak.

That's the way it is, here in the itty-bitty City of St. Augustine, Our Nation's Oldest (and Oddest) City.

James Madison  once said of  Congress, "here, sir, the people govern."

But in the City of St. Augustine, we have biased, dirty rotten rules prevailing since the days of hick hack developer-directed City Manager WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS still prevail.  Every other local jurisdiction in St. Johns County allows public comment on every single agenda item -- St. Johns County Commission and St. Augustine Beach City Commission.  

The City of St. Augustine is the outlier, which allows lying liars to lie to adopt legislation.  Sick.

By the way, there's equity jurisprudence dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s allowing legislation procured through fraud to be set aside, depriving the wrongdoer of the usufructs of his wrongdoing.  The "fruit of the poison free," you see.

Legislation procured through fraud may be considered a crime.  A federal crime.  The insouciance of St. Augustine City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. is a disgrace to the human race.  The proposed legislation must be withdrawn.

Here's an awesome short article from Historic City News outlining the fraud on the public.

Staff misrepresents occupancy of hotel restaurant and bar

Historic City News has reviewed official architectural drawings for Kanti Patel’s proposed San Marco hotel that have been on file with the City of St Augustine Planning and Building Department since May 13, 2016.
At issue is a continuing dispute over the amount of parking required to sustain the anticipated hotel, restaurant, lounge, and 4989-square-foot event venue, proposed to be built as a PUD along Castillo Drive West.
“Architect Jerry Dixon, who represents Mr. Patel on the project, indicated 105 total seats in the restaurant and bar when he filed his drawings last year. The applicant’s representative raised that number on April 4th; telling the City’s Planning and Zoning Board that the restaurant and bar would seat 130 patrons,” downtown resident Lee Geanuleas explained to Historic City News editor Michael Gold on Friday.
However, on review, under direction of City Manager John Regan and Planning and Building Director David Birchim, Deputy Director of the Planning and Building Department, Amy McClure Skinner, advocated the substantial understated use of the restaurant and bar to be only 50 occupants.
In a face-to-face meeting this week, Regan and Birchim represented to Geanuleas that Skinner was simply “repeating estimates” given to her by the developer. They did not defend the understated need, but they did not offer to accept responsibility for the error or offer any effort to set the record straight, Geanuleas said.
The city staff has previously understated the parking need of the proposed hotel in an apparent effort to accommodate the developer who does not want to be held to the terms of the PUD as approved — with a $7 million underground parking garage.
The original PUD, approved 11-years ago, included an underground garage sufficient to hold all required parking spaces. This year, as the developer finally considers putting shovel-to-ground, he determined that the cost of the originally approved underground garage, like the one he built at the Bayfront Hilton on Avenida Menendez, would be about $5 million more than he estimated.
The developer went before the Planning Board for approval to add an additional half-acre of HP-5 to his PUD for surface parking — in lieu of the approved parking garage. The Board was not moved to approve the modification and denied the request, despite Skinner’s understated representations, on a 4-2 vote.
The developer appealed to the City Commission whose review was limited to determining whether the Planning Board applied correct law, provided due process, and based their decision on competent and substantial evidence. Mayor Shaver found that they did, and voted to uphold the Planning Board’s decision, however the four city commissioners sided with the developer and his lawyer and overturned the denial.
Now the developer will submit an ordinance for approval to the commission. The proposed ordinance will come on for first hearing on a very crowded agenda Monday night.

Mindy Nathan-Blaize
so in a nutshell: confusion (or deceit), votes (disregarded). terrible
LikeReply1 hr
Ron Ellenbecker · 

More of the shell game. Look it's simple. Approved for what was submitted. No one else's fault it was under estimated. No one else should have to modify because his mistake. Build it as planned.... Or move on. How hard is that?
LikeReply219 hrs
Michael Gold
That's exactly how I feel. He is absolutely free to reapply for a new PUD under the updated standards. At this point he's just cherry-picking. He is singlehandedly wiping out an entire class of historic preservation district (HP-5) with this project if he's allowed to keep buying and adding in property. It's a bad road with too many blind driveways for the type of commercial use he intends. Maybe we should do like Houston and do away with zoning. Then, if you own the property, just build whatever you want.
LikeReply119 hrs
Michael Gold
At some point, the citizen taxpayers of the City of St Augustine have to hold the City Manager, John Regan (Salary $157,317.65), and Planning and Building Director, David Birchim (Salary: $91,462.49) accountable for the mismanagement of City business.
LikeReply320 hrs
Pam Farnsworth
PUD's don't last forever. When was this 11 year old PUD expiring? Or had it already is the big question. I became aware of an expired PUD in my own community a few years back and the city was oblivious to acting on it until it was brought to their attention. As it turned out the Planning and Building Department did NOT require the developer to renew the PUD, but only to modify it and the Commission voted to extend it for 7 more years. As an aside, Todd Neville lived in this community and played a "shady" role when the Commission took a "break" before voting. The city is corrupt pure and simple and if folks do not start caring in a productive way the city is doomed to become a city where only tourists can enjoy it.

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