Cerabino: Boca Raton’s high-rise downtown going to pot?


The City of Boca Raton is a real buzz kill when it comes marijuana.

This week, the city’s planning a zoning board recommended another yearlong moratorium on any marijuana-related enterprises within the city limits. If approved by the city council, this will mark the third straight year that Boca Raton has been making preemptive strikes against a theoretical, yet-to-exist legalization of medical marijuana.

This is a foolish move.

I understand that Boca is obsessed with keeping out the riffraff, which in city terms also includes car dealers.

But lumping a marijuana dispensary in the same category as a Kia dealership is an insult. Probably to both of them. And it shows that Boca leaders may have unexplored control issues when it comes to people taking trips.

For if the voters in Florida decide to approve medicinal marijuana, the city’s decision to make its sick residents travel out of town for relief is aggressively … well … Boca.

The city’s anti-marijuana posturing is also worth reconsidering for another reason.

I’m no pothead, but I may need to become one if I continue to live in the city.

Boca Raton, which is apparently Spanish for “Can I show you a unit?” is currently in its downtown high-rise phase.

It’s as if city planners have suddenly discovered the concrete-mountain vistas of coastal Broward County and decided, “Let’s get some!”

There’s a new complex called Via Mizner that’s going up on Federal Highway and Camino Real. It’s got a Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 85 luxury condos, and 366 apartments. The studio apartments there start at $1,845 a month, while the three-bedrooms rent for $5,895 a month.

Why so high? Well, it is across the street from a Trader Joe’s.

Nearby, towering over a Dunkin Donuts, there’s another new high-rise rental building, City Walk, which has 229 apartments starting at two thousand dollars a month. And about a mile away on Palmetto Park Road, there’s a 378-unit high rise called Palmetto Promenade undergoing its finishing touches.

This promises to be a new infusion of thousands of new downtown residents and their Chihuahuas, scouring the landscape for brunches, dermabrasions, and yoga, as they navigate their leased BMW’s around two drawbridges and an All Aboard Florida train that zooms by twice an hour on the nearby railroad tracks.

It’s bound to make everybody more uptight, even though uptight is already Boca’s default position.

I think I know where this is heading: We’re all going to need marijuana.

The doctors will agree. They’ll conclude that the Boca Raton City Council has imposed a level of downtown development on the population that requires the kind of temporary relief and mellowing best offered by medicinal marijuana.

Ironic? Yes.

After all, the city that has become the first to proactively ban medicinal marijuana within its borders may end up being the city that needs that marijuana the most once it is legalized.

I can envision a future time when residents will pack the city council chamber, showing up for a meeting to complain about downtown traffic gridlock.

And those same city council members that are now pushing for a moratorium on marijuana, will wish their staffers could just fire up a bunch of joints and pass them around the room before the “public comments” portion of the meeting begins.


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