Victoria Park Civic Association - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Code Reform

This page reflects reports of the  Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations.

Neither the VPCA  nor its committees have endorsed these recommendations.

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03/13/07 REPORT


Propose positive changes to influence building code.

Promote choices.

Ask the Commission to initiate a two-step process to

Direct staff to act on items that can be accomplished in 6 months or less ("low hanging fruit"); and
Act on remaining items in the next 12 months, hiring a consultant if necessary.


A. Massing:

Goals: To facilitate: variety of housing, affordable housing, improve relationship of adjacent buildings, placing garages on the side or rear of the lot instead of the front yard, and green space/tree preservation.

1.      Reduce building height as it approaches the property lines.
2.      Setbacks:

a. Allow averaging of setbacks to create undulating sides of the buildings on the first and second floor to enable tree preservation.
b. Institute progressive setbacks (i.e. larger lot larger setback) to adjust proportionally to the width of the lot.  (Ex. 5 ft. up to 60 ft; 7.5 ft at 75 ft; and 10 ft at 100 ft.)
c. Apply progressive setbacks to multifamily also.

3.      Floor Area Ratio ("FAR"):

a. Require FAR for all residential including single family.
b. Reduce FAR for all residential building types.

4.      Allow breakup of mass by:

 a. Permitting single dwelling structures to be detached buildings on the same lot.
b. Permitting separate dwelling structures on multi-zoned lots.
c. Implementing kitchen restrictions in single family zoning to prevent illegal renting.
d. Permitting detached garages should be in all zoning categories.

5.      Create a maximum building footprint.

B. Design:

Goals: To facilitate: creative architecture; tree preservation; allow garages to be accessed from the rear or center of the lot; increase green space; an increase of pervious area.

1.      Create incentives to accomplish the above goals:

a. Reduce the number of garages facing the street (in same linear plane)

Allow more narrow drive throughs to access rear of property, especially on adjoining lots with duplexes or cluster homes.

2) Encourage use of alleys for access where possible.

b. Reduce the amount of frontage that can be paved.
c. Allow sharing of driveways, especially on adjoining properties.
d. Reduce front set back (as an incentive) See I A. 4. above.

2.      Require individual identity on contiguous town homes. Distinguish through the use of architectural    design features (not just paint and detailing) and varied front setbacks.

3.      Allow usable architectural features to encroach into setbacks, including:

           a. Balconies
          b. Staircases
          c. Trash and recycling bin enclosures
          d. Porches
          e. Fountains

4.      Provide accelerated inspection schedule for projects with LEEDS points.
5.      Create incentives for projects with LEEDS Certificate (points) to promote sustainable green building practices.
6.      Require permanent trash and recycling bin enclosures/screens complementary  to building design. Screen bins from public view (not in garage).
7.      Amend the ULDR to require screening of all external mechanical equipment mounted above ground to the highest point of the equipment.


A. New Construction/Landscaping:

Goal: increased green space/tree preservation.

1.      Increase new construction landscaping:

           a. Require larger trees.

           b. Increase required number of ornamental bushes.

c. Require a tree survey as part of the survey process for new construction/additions. Note:  include species and caliber.

2.      Increase fines for removal of existing trees.

3.      Require increased percentage of pervious surface area on the site.

B. Parking:

1.      Create requirement for guest parking for duplexes and townhomes.

2.      Allow guest parking off site to count towards the requirement.

3.      Review current allowances for curb cuts.

4.      Create and define "Transit Oriented Corridors"/Roads.

5.      Allow reduced parking ratios along defined Transit Oriented Corridors "in exchange for a "transit fee."

6.      Allow the limit to meet offsite parking requirements to be increased to 1/4 mile with new spaces, (provided such parking is not located on a street/ ROW).

C. Construction Management:

1.      Review and strengthen the construction mitigation requirements and improve enforcement.

2.      Make requirements part of the ULDR.

3.      Amend ULDR to require that a contact cell phone number be posted conspicuously on every      construction site. Note: Create standardized sign that should include development and City enforcement contact information.

D. Trash and recycling collection:

1.      Alter trash collection system on major roadways (e.g. AIA) so that trash and recycling bins are not left on the swale/sidewalk. This would ensure that:

a. Pedestrians would have clear access to sidewalks,

b. Bicyclists would not have to go around receptacles into the traffic lane; and

c. Ensure safe passage for baby strollers.

E. Greenway Connectivity and Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Transit Routes:

1.      Designate greenway corridors and integrate them with the Broward County Greenway Plan.

2.      Identify requirements for properties adjacent to "greenway corridors."

3.      Encourage an initiative to develop multi-modal activities throughout the city. Emphasis should be       placed on user friendly pedestrian and bike lanes with a minimum width of 10 feet.

4.      Within 5 years:

a) Remove impediments under City control,

b) Widen sidewalks on "major" streets to create safe, pedestrian, and neighborhood walkways,

c) Reduce vehicular lane widths.

III. Neighborhood Character

A. Master Plans and Compatibility:

1.      Create neighborhood specific character plans.

2.      Provide objective criteria for neighborhood compatibility section of the ULDR.

3.      Amend ULDR to require that Neighborhood Compatibility shall be neighborhood specific as defined by the neighborhood.

B. Changes to zoning:

1.      Educate residents about property owner/neighborhood initiated re-zonings.

2.      Establish a standardized process (standing, percentage of property owners, notification) through which residents may initiate re-zonings.

3.      Establish transitional zoning where it does not exist (e.g. RMH-60 and RS-8).

4.      Amend ULDR to prohibit surface parking lots along transit corridors.

5.      Review and update permitted uses along "Image/Gateway/Priority Streets" and discourage, through overlays, objectionable uses that are neighborhood specific.

C. Neighborhood Involvement:

1.      ULDR Notification requirements:

a. Expand current notification requirements to include all DRC submissions (currently notice to property owners within 300 feet and posted sign) and notice to neighborhood associations.

2.      Amend ULDR to require that the City Planning Staff conduct a meeting between planning staff, developer and residents to define what is eligible to be built on a site whenever new construction/redevelopment projects will be submitted for review by the DRC (development review committee). Meeting shall be conducted prior to submittal to DRC. City shall notify the Civic Association/neighborhood of the meeting.(Guidelines shall be established for the notification process).

D. Historic Preservation:

Goals: Make it easier to preserve than to demolish. Make older/historic properties more productive (e.g. adaptive re-use, accessory structures).

1.     Update the Historic ordinance.

2.      Examine definition of "hardship" for BOA to include historic consideration.

3.     Create incentives for upkeep, designation, adaptive re-use, and preservation.

4.      Hire full time staff and allocate resources necessary to operate effectively.

5.      Educate property owners and general public about positive economic impacts of preservation.

6.     Provide relief in code to requirements to upgrade to current standards under the 50% rule, change of use, and conformity provisions for:

§     Density

§     Setbacks

§     Parking

§     Landscape            

7.     Allow additional structures to be located on property within density limitations that are conforming.

8.      Provide relief from the breezeway/air conditioned space requirement for additional structures.

9.     Allow "carriage house" designs.

10. Examine fire risk materials provisions.

IV. Building and Permitting Process  

A. Permitting Process:

Require DRC submittal to include electronic version of plans, including graphics to be posted on line for public access.

Increase "user friendliness" by providing ability to submit comments from the public on-line.

[1,2 missing]     

3.     Create process of expedited planning and permitting.

B. Code Review:

[subpoints missing]



For Future Discussion


1.      Examine definition of permitted "density" in residential zoning to reflect impacts generated by differing types and sizes of residential unit.

2.     Transitional Neighborhoods and Zoning

3.      "Marque street" zoning

4.     Incentives/Cafeteria Plan for achieving better building design

5.      LEEDS Standards

6.      Green building techniques

7.      Construction Management Practices

8.      Smart Growth

9.      Stormwater/wastewater management

10. Street design standards

11.     Traffic and parking issues

12. Transit oriented development

13. Time certain permitting/fee-based system

14. Extra approval process     



A. Massing:

1. Reduce Building Height as it approaches the property lines:

By reducing building massing as it approaches the property line allows light and ventilation to come between buildings. There are several ways to reduce mass as it relates to adjacent neighbors.

2. Setbacks:

a. Averaging setbacks allows a minimum setback, say 5 feet at the minimum and an average of say 7.5 feet, 10 feet, or 15 feet depending on lot width and zoning and building height. The averaging as it relates to the building length along the side property lines will crate pockets for trees and eliminate the continuous uninterrupted bulk.

The massing is more important to be reduced as the structure gets taller. The footprint on the ground floor for example is not as imposing on the neighbor as it is on second or third floors. The proposed reduction in footprint and floor area ratios will allow for these open spaces to be located along the sides to satisfy this new requirement.

Formulas will have to be worked out depending on building lengths. Short buildings may not be required to have this requirement.

b. Progressive setbacks different width lots will have different side setbacks. On smaller lots such as the typical 50 or 60 foot lots in older neighborhoods the 5 foot setback may remain as appropriate as a minimum and enhanced with the averaging setback as described above.

Lots that are larger than 60 feet to less than 75 feet would be required to have 7'-6" minimum and lots that are over 75 feet would be required to have 10 feet minimum.

Also taller structures would require stepped back setbacks (like a wedding cake) as structure goes up or the entire structure may be setback farther from side yards.

c. Progressive setbacks should also apply to multiple family buildings. The code today already addresses this issue.

3. Floor Area Ratio (FAR). Floor area ratio is the total of all the enclosed square feet of all floors divided by the area of the lot. It regulates mass or bulk.

a. Require floor area ratio for duplexes and multiple family. The code today regulates floor area ration for single family zoned properties only which could also be re visited to adjust if necessary.

b. Apply FAR standards to multiple family with each zoning district having an adequate ratio.

4. Mass break up suggestions:

a. Once the setbacks and massing are established allow that on the property a single family homes may be separated into separate buildings such as detached garages, studios, guest rooms, cabanas, work shops, etc. The result will be a reduction in mass and more interesting structures with smaller roof lines due to smaller spans and additional natural light into the structure.

b. Same as above should apply to multiple family structures. For example a duplex may be less bulky as two separate structures with open space between them than all under one large roof.

c. Implement kitchen restrictions so that the separate structures are still used as individual dwelling units and prevent them from becoming additional rental units.

d. Detached garages in all zoning categories. Many times the space between the garages and the main structure could be used as courtyards and additional natural light can enter the structure.

5. Create maximum building footprint.

Footprint is the projection of the structure onto the site. Sometimes it is referred to as lot coverage. At present the footprint can go from setback to setback and thus creates the boxy look. Reducing the footprint will allow more open space for outdoor living, trees, natural light, and pervious ground. Massing will be reduced by undulating structure and creating pockets to save exiting trees or create space for new ones.

B. Design:

Goal is to allow flexibility in the case of small plated lots, as well as new regulations to encourage creative architecture, tree preservation, reduce the impact of vehicles and garage doors, and increase pervious area along street frontages and swales. The code also should address the possibility of having specific requirements for individual neighborhoods such as on street parking, sidewalk widths, massing, etc.

1. Incentives:

a. Reduce the number of garage doors in the same lineal plane. At present garage doors and driveways dominate the front yards and swale areas especially in duple structures thus paving the entire front yards of the new larger structures.

1) Allow more narrow drive thorough to the middle or rear of the property by reducing the width of the driveways to 10 feet from 12 feet and placing them along the side of the structures. The landscape buffer may be reduced from 2'-6" to 18" to allow for a hedge or vines as a buffer to the neighboring properties. Allow strips instead of solid drives at 10 foot driveways as in the older homes. Allow the sharing of two driveways between two adjoining properties such as two duplex lots. The code allows this today as a "cross easement agreement", but it is not clear that it can be used in all cases.

2) Encourage the use of alleys for access to garages and parking instead of from the street. Clarify that only the frontage of the alley abutting the parcel being developed need to be paved rather than the entire block which would discourage the sue of the alley due to cost.

b. Reduce the amount of frontage in the front yard or City swale that can be paved for vehicular use areas. Depending on the lot widths, there should e a percentage that can be paved for vehicular use areas. Study to make sure the lots can still be developed and provide the proper parking. This will allow tree preservation and re orient the front doors and windows to the street as a neighborhood should be.

c. Allow sharing of driveways as outlined above.

d. Reduce front setback as incentive to make up for development rights lost to other suggestions. It is much better to reduce the front setback for at least a portion of the frontage or area and the result will be a landscaped swale with street trees and placement of all or a portion of the garages to other areas rather that he front yard. Cities like Seaside in the Panhandle, Celebration in Orlando, and many other more with creative zoning allow the reduced setback and are much better walking and aesthetic cities.

If the reduction is only for a portion of the frontage it will break up the mass facing the streets.

2. Individual identity on townhouses.

By offsetting units even a few inches, changing roof lines, material, colors, window shapes, parapets, detailing, banding, etc. Individual units should be perceived as individual. Subtle changes will do a lot for the overall massing and aesthetics.

3. Architectural features.

As the code stands, the amount of architectural features in most cases has to meet the same setbacks as the main structure. The result has been faceless boxes since the developers are not willing to lose are to allow for larger balconies, trellises, columns, or non-habitable features such as those used in modern architecture. If a footprint is created and features can encroach into the space they will minimize the impact of the bulk. These would include features such as: balconies, open staircases, trash enclosures, porches, verandas on upper floors, trellises, dormers, chimneys, and parapets among others. Allow in ground decorative fountains with 30 inch walls above grade within setbacks similar to swimming pools now allowed.

4. Incentives to encourage the design of LEEDS points and establish a minimum amount of points to promote sustainable green building practices.

5. Require plans to specifically designate the placement of solid waste and recycling for other than single family homes. Enclosure to be permanent in nature and of the same material and design as the main structure with solid gates not facing the street if in the front yards.

6. Require solid waste and recycling container enclosures and screening. Revise existing ordinance to require that in multiple family developments, 3 or more units, location to be determined as part of the site plan and screening to be complimentary or of similar construction as the main building if visible form the street.

7. Screen mechanical equipment mounted on the roofs to the top of the equipment. At present the ordinance in most cases requires screening as not being visible form any point around the property line of lot being developed. In taller buildings this is easily achieved. However, the equipment is still very visible from the street or form places into the neighboring properties. Require that the screening be extended to the top of the mechanical equipment.


A. New Construction/Landscaping:

1. Increase new construction landscaping.

a. Require larger trees.  As the amount of pervious area decreases, one way to mitigate the impact is to require larger trees at planting. Some trees take too many years to grow in restricted areas. Also, as buildings get taller, taller trees are necessary to be minimize the mass and be in context with the taller structures. Also a larger percentage of trees need to be of native species to reduce watering needs.

b. Increase bushes. At present, the amount required is too small. A larger percentage needs to be draught resistant and the larger amount of bushes will require less watering than sod. Requirements for variety as well as different heights need to be established as foundation planting.

c. Require tree surveys. The surveys are to indicate any existing trees and their species prior to obtaining a building permit for new construction or additions. Caliper (diameter  4'-6" above grade) shall also be indicated.

2. Increase fines for removal of existing trees. This will encourage maintaining existing mature trees. The additional green areas created by reducing mass and bulk will allow more trees to be maintained.

3. Increase the percentage of pervious area. The reduction of building coverage will facilitate this requirement. In addition, wood decks built with recycled "wood" planks materials will allow pervious ground to remain as well as outdoor enjoyment areas.

B. Parking:

1. Create requirement for guest parking for duplexes townhouses, and multiple family. At present the requirements do not designate the labeling of guest parking separate from the guest parking so that these spaces are sold to unit owners and no longer available to guests. In the case of townhouses or duplexes, most of the required parking is inside private garages, a good place to hide cars for owners but an unlikely place for guests to park. Guests park now in the neighborhood in many cases ruining swales.

2. As the back out parking is hopefully educed, it will allow for some on street parallel parking for guests. These spaces should be encouraged and should be allowed to account toward the guest requirement.

3. Review current allowances for curb cuts (driveways). The width may be reduced from 12 feet to 10 feet in some cases and the amount of lineal feet as it relates to street frontage needs to be reduced to allow for more landscaped areas in the front yard and the swale areas.

4. Create and define "Transit Oriented Corridors"/Roads.

The City is at the tip of redevelopment. Defining those corridors will guide development to those areas such as along the major east west and north south corridors. Existing or future transit lines will allow for higher densities in those areas such as the mixed use developments and work force housing. This will relieve pressure in the lower density neighborhoods. The future growth should occur on these corridors where many sites are under utilized with large areas of surface parking and obsolete one story strip centers.

5. Allow reduced parking ratio along the "Transit Oriented Corridors" in exchange for a "transit fee" The fees could be used for additional public transportation and encourage the use of mass transit.

6. Allow offsite parking requirements to be met with parking provided within a º mile as long as the remote parking is located on private property.  In many cases the short walk is doable and will encourage centralized parking garage or parking lots along railroad tracks for example that can serve the community. Centralized parking will also allow better traffic circulation, put pedestrians on sidewalks, and allow for better architecture.

C. Construction Management: To be added.

D. Trash and recycling collection:

1. Alter the trash collection system in those areas where the swale area is too small such as on major roadways to stage the carts (e.g. A1A) so that trash and recycling containers are not left on the sidewalk making pedestrians, bicyclists, and baby strollers step down onto traffic.

One way is to have someone take the container out of the driveway and to the truck as it get picked up or make the route just ahead of the truck and tuck them away right after pick up. This will require an additional person.

E. Greenway Connectivity and Bicycle/Pedestrian/Transit Routes:

1. Designate greenway corridors and integrate them with Broward County's Greenway Plan.

2. Identify requirements for properties adjacent to "greenway corridors".

3. Encourage an initiative to develop multi-modal activities throughout the city. Encourage connections to the system. As our corridors re develop, especially along the major corridors, larger sidewalks and bicycle lanes need to be established. If not built at present, at least a bicycle corridor easement needs to be created. The present system of having bicycle alongside fast moving traffic is dangerous and does not encourage the use.

Require at least a ten foot or larger path.

4. Within 5 years:

a. Remove as many impediments as possible and widen sidewalks on major streets. Light poles, signs, traffic signal equipment, etc. The proposal is to set a goal of 5 years under city control to accomplish the goal.  Several agencies will be involved such as Florida Department of Transportation, Broward County Engineering, City of Fort Lauderdale, and private property owners adjacent to the right of ways. Voluntary or imminent domain will be necessary to achieve this goal where space does not allow relocation.

b. Widen sidewalks on "major" streets to create safe pedestrian paths. At present most sidewalks are only 5 feet wide. New development requires at least 7 feet wide for commercial developments. However, when next to fast moving traffic it is too dangerous and not user friendly.

c. Traffic lane widths may be reduced to slow traffic and to create the space necessary.


A. Master Plans and Compatibility:

1. Neighborhood specific character plans. Each neighborhood has a "character that needs to be preserved, tree canopy, architecture, history, larger lots, mixed uses, etc.

2. Provide objective criteria for neighborhood compatibility. At present too subjective and enforced at whim or on popularity votes.

Developers need to know the rules prior to purchasing property. The trial and error system at present is costly.

B. Changes to Zoning Designations:

1. Educate residents about re zoning possibilities such as from multiple family to single family in areas where single family homes are prevalent and most residents want to maintain the status quo.

2. Establish standardized clear process.

3. Establish transitional zoning where it does not exist. In some neighborhoods for example RMH-60 and RS-8 are next to each other or commercial adjacent to single family.

C. Neighborhood Involvement:

1. Notification requirements. Notify neighbors by posting of signs, mailing within 300 feet and neighborhood associations of proposed developments as soon as possible. At present not all developments are notified except to the president of the association and at such time most decisions have been made. Make agenda items submissions available on line for at least the site plan, elevations, floor plans, and landscape plans. Many cities do this already.

D. Historic Preservation: To be added.


A. Permitting Process;

1. Require that all Site plan Level II (DRC) developments and above be posted on the City's Web page with graphics.

2. Increase user friendliness by allowing comments and responses to be sent to the City planner for the case on line with a "contact us button".

3. Permitting and approval process needs to be expedited. Although the regulations have not changed in years, the permitting and approval process has increased to unacceptable levels. The result is an increase in cost of end product. Delays, interest carrying, additional engineering and architectural fees, taxes, etc. passed on to the consumer thus making affordable homes harder to come by.

Updated to 02-28-07

Presented 03-13-07

 IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY                               AS OF 03/07/07



A. Massing: Items 1, 2, and 4.

B. Design: Items 1-7.


A. New Construction/Landscaping: Items 1 and 2.

B. Parking: Items 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.

D. Trash and recycling collection: Item 1.

E. Greenway Connectivity and Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Transit Routes: Items 1, 2, 3, and 4.


A. Master Plans and Compatibility: Item 2 was viewed as challenging but vital.

B. Changes to zoning: Items 1 and 2.

C. Neighborhood Involvement: Item 1a.


A. Permitting Process: Items 1 and 2.



A. Massing: Items 3 and 5.


A. New Construction/Landscaping: Item 3.

B. Parking: Item 3.


A. Master Plans and Compatibility: Item 1.

B. Changes to zoning: Item 3.



C. Construction Management: Items 1-3.

III. Neighborhood Character

A. Master Plans and Compatibility: Item 3.

B. Changes to zoning: Items 4 and 5.

C. Neighborhood Involvement: Item 2.

D. Historic Preservation: Items 1-10.

IV. Building and Permitting Process  

A. Permitting Process: Item 3.

B. Code Review:


 CFLCA AD HOC CODE REFORM COMMITTEE ROSTER                                         updated 03/12/07 ROUNDTABLE PARTICIPANTS                 Attending 03/07/07

Anthony Abbate     Colee Hammock     (954) 463-8596     N

Gustavo Carbonell     River Oaks     (954) 462-6565     Y

Courtney Crush     (954) 632-3388     Y

Rene Lepine     Victoria Park     (954) 634-0100     N

Tim Smith     Middle River Terrace     (954) 822-4727     Y

Richard Mancuso     Beverly Heights      (954) 525-1481     Y

NOVEMBER 14, 2006 SIGNUP LIST                      

Cheryl Abernethy     Harbour Inlet      (954) 524-1933     N

Bill Bodor     Rio Vista     (954) 462-6891     Y

Linda Brown     Tarpon River     (954) 764-1470     Y

Ray Dettman     Harbordale     (954) 763-4457     N

G. L. Franklin     River Oaks      (954) 522-8230     N

Rudy Herman     Chula Vista Isles     (954) 328-7305     N

Charles Jordan     Sailboat Bend     (954) 766-2600      Y

Michael Madfis     River Oaks/SABA     (954) 463-0833     N

Dave Marshall     Riverside Park     (954) 761-7164     N

Donna Megenhagen     Harbordale     (954) 467-8878     N

Reid Morgan     Tarpon River     (954) 214-5671     Y

Johanne Peck     River Oaks     (954) 764-0339     N

Mike Vonder Meulen     Poincettia Heights      (954) 612-3203     N

Chris Relyea     Harbour Inlet     (954) 763-5696     N

Dave Rose     Tarpon River     (954) 763-8638     N

Art Seitz     Central Beach Alliance     (954) 563-0060     Y

Andy Ziffer     Tarpon River     (954) 559-8000     N


Art Bengochea     (954) 658-7052     N

Pam Brown     Colee Hammock     (954) 462-5328     N

Bruce Cummings     Tarpon River      (954) 767-8025     N

Andrea Ebanks     Melrose Park      (954) 600-4179     Y

Cabot Edewaard     Beverly Heights      (954) 523-5615     N

Craig Edewaard     Beverly Heights      (954) 523-5615     N

Genia Ellis     Harbour Inlet     (954) 463-9525     Y

Ted Fling     Victoria Park     (954) 467-6160     N

Donna Guthrie     Melrose Park     (954) 740-8649     Y

Miranda Lopez     Dolphin Isles       (954) 565-8318     Y

Marilyn Mammano           --

Michael O'Brien     Middle River Terrace     (954) 237-1769     N

Cynthia Percy     Rio Vista      (954) 522-7384     Y

Vernon Pierce          (954) 763-4668     N

Ted Robertson     Poinsettia Heights     (954) 868-1283     N

Ken Strand     Nurmi Isles      (954) 463-3800     N

Tom Welch     Colee Hammock     (954) 768-4018     Y

Doug White     SMRCA     (954) 761-3855     N

Charles Wilrycx           (954) 763-4668     Y

Last Updated: Tuesday April 02, 2013

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