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When City Hall puts up barriers between itself and Winter Park’s citizens, it breaks the bond between our elected leaders and our families.

Broken bonds cause everyday people to believe that our leaders are out of touch. It reduces our faith in their decisions and creates the sense that we are being governed without consent.

The high-profile public disagreements we have in Winter Park are proof of that.

We can remove barriers to participation & consent if we examine how and why City Hall lost touch with its citizens.

The analysis & solutions we offer in our platform below are a good start to reconnecting City Hall with ALL Winter Parkers.


Home Rule for Winter Park Neighborhoods

Winter Parkers get better representation – neighborhood by neighborhood – when citizens in each of Winter Park’s 5 voting precincts can elect their own Commissioner. (Single Member District voting).

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Advocates of “Home Rule” statewide believe that cities have a better understanding of their goals and needs and ought to have the right to determine their own solutions. Most, if not all of Winter Park’s City Commissioners share that view. But we rarely hear a discussion in Winter Park about applying that same principle to our neighborhoods. Why?

When different parts of the city are given the right to vote for their own commissioner – to vote for someone who understands their needs – it’s called “Single Member District” voting. Our neighbor next door – the city of Orlando – votes this way. The alternative is “At-Large Voting.” At-Large Voting is the system we have in Winter Park. It’s time for a change to more-representative “Home Rule” government in our city.

Help Leaders Lead

Empower more effective, productive leadership by adding expert research & analysis to the tools we provide WP Commissioners.

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Elected leaders at virtually all levels of government employ staff members with the expertise required to help vet and advance proposals and solutions. Without this resource, daily governance at the state and federal level would grind to a halt.

Even with these resources, some elected officials are too dependent on industry lobbyists to create proposals & legislation – which are often riddled with buried loopholes & special favors. This danger can be particularly acute in local government, where well-paid attorneys and others are constantly promoting variances and other benefits on behalf of their clients.

A single, part-time staff member – appointed by each commissioner – could be paid for by repurposing city funds that are currently allocated for discretionary projects and/or redundant city staff.

Remove Barriers to Citizen Input

Elected & appointed leaders should respect and engage with the people who elected them.

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1. Hold public meetings when working people can attend them.

Start City Commission & board meetings at 6:00pm.

2. Make city officials more accessible.

a. Eliminate rules that keep citizens from directly addressing commissioners and board members during Public Comments at city meetings. Enable commissioners and board members to reply to citizen questions.
b. Require commissioners to hold open office hours at least once a week to talk with WP citizens at city hall. This should reduce the need for lengthy Public Comments during city meetings.

3. Make city officials more accountable.

When elected & appointed officials do not respond to citizen questions during Public Comments, they should be held accountable for their lack of response – and not be allowed to hide behind a rule of order. Citizens should be allowed to complete their remarks within a reasonable time. City officials who choose not to grant a request for a reasonable extension of time, should be required to vote “No” with a show of hands.

Remove Barriers to Citizen Participation on City Boards

Allow all commissioners – not just the mayor – to nominate citizens for city board appointments.

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Delegate all powers given solely to the mayor concerning any aspect of board governance to the entire commission. Currently, the power to nominate citizens to serve on city boards is given to just one person — our mayor. Put simply, this is a form of political patronage. Winter Park should open its doors to any citizen with a desire to serve.

Expand Citizen Access to Online Meetings

Online access to city hall meetings is now standard for large & small cities. Bring digital access to city hall in line with 21st century standards.

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Placement of multiple, inexpensive cameras in every city commission and board meeting expands citizen access to city government via recorded (and live) feeds. Currently, only one camera is used during commission meetings – and none are used in board meetings.

Declare Potential Conflicts of Interest

Full transparency requires full disclosure.

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In the interest of full transparency, every Commission and Board Meeting should begin with a public reading by city staff of each official’s financial interests, investments and property holdings that could be impacted by any vote, recommendation or ruling on any agenda item.

Equalize Access to City Hall

Unequal access results in unequal outcomes.

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City-supported special access for commercial interests (as shown in the City Municode excerpt below*) can work against the interests of Winter Park neighborhoods & families.

Commercial developers are knocking on our door to get into Winter Park. They’re wealthy and well-connected. Winter Park doesn’t need to offer special access to commercial interests – or pay city staffers to hold the door for them.

The city should support formation of a volunteer Neighborhood Advisory Board (NAB) – a group that is independent of the city – to stand alongside the city-mandated Economic Development Advisory Board. The city can encourage sustained neighborhood advocacy in a revenue-neutral way by providing access to existing city resources like meeting rooms and standard city mailings & notices.

City support for neighborhood input should include a requirement that the city commission and boards accept Neighborhood Advisory Board reports/advisories and provide an opportunity for NAB member(s) to speak at any commission or board meeting. Neighborhood Advisory Board member testimony would not be subject to public comment rules and limitations.

Create a seat at the table for a Neighborhood Advisory Board member/observer when city staff meets to discuss new development proposals and infrastructure for our neighborhoods – or when Comp. plan or CRA changes are being considered. (Think of it as an early-warning safeguard for neighborhoods.)

*From WP Municode:
Sec. 2-56. – Economic development advisory board.
Pursuant to the authority of the city commission, there is established within the City of Winter Park, an economic development advisory board, subject to the following provisions:
(1) Membership. The number of members and the procedures for appointment thereof shall be in accordance with the provisions in divisions 1 and 2 of this article. *The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce President shall be requested to serve as a member of the economic development advisory board.*
(2) Advisory board. The economic development advisory board is an advisory board and shall, after receiving such information as it deems appropriate, and following due deliberation in accordance with its internal rules and procedures, give advice and recommendations to the city commission concerning economic development.

Upgrade Commercial Development Permitting / Variance Process

Create common-sense controls. Follow best practices adopted by other communities.

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Prior to the first vote of any board or city commission:

Require developers to participate in neighborhood meetings and present project drawings and specifications to affected neighbors.

Mandate that neighborhood reports & summaries (produced by neighborhoods) be published & delivered to boards and the commission with a report summary to be read aloud in commission and board meetings.

Require developers to erect multiple “story poles” on proposed building sites to show citizens the height and footprint of a proposed building.

Promote Green Space / Tree Canopy

Green Space – in city parks and elsewhere – benefits families and enhances our Quality of Life.

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Specify in city code that city-owned property is a citizen-owned resource to be used for the exclusive benefit of Winter Park’s families. Guarantee that city-owned property is reserved as current or future green space/parkland unless another use or sale is conclusively & independently demonstrated to provide superior benefit to Winter Park families – adults and children alike.

Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is a daily reminder that over-development harms our Quality of Life.

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1. Current mapping/navigation technology re-routes congested traffic through residential neighborhoods – and will do so more frequently as congestion worsens. Our city should act now to create additional traffic controls to reduce/restrict commuter traffic flow through WP neighborhoods during peak commute hours.

One common-sense solution used worldwide is inexpensive signage restricting right and left turns during peak traffic hours.

2. A number of years ago, the city worked with Park Avenue merchants to set up a shuttle to move shoppers from WP Village to Park Ave.

Our city should consider re-introducing a city shuttle to connect residents (not tourists) in WP neighborhoods & senior centers to Park Ave. and other key WP retail/medical centers. This service could be provided/funded in partnership with retail and medical stakeholders to provide safe, convenient transport to WP families. This would especially benefit young people and seniors who feel “locked in” to their neighborhoods due to safety concerns caused by traffic congestion.


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