Historically, multifamily housing in several areas of Wellington was used for new residents who were waiting for their homes to be built elsewhere in Wellington. Over time, as Wellington grew, multifamily housing converted to full-time rentals. We commonly refer to this housing inventory as "Transitional Housing". Between 2004 and 2005, Wellington worked with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (PBSO) to establish a special policing program entitled Problem Oriented Policing, or POP. The POP program was designed to target specific centers of crime by engaging residents in programs such as Crime Watch, coordinated neighborhood clean-ups and public works projects designed to improve neighborhood appearance and safety. During the first year of this program, targeted crimes fell in excess of 80 percent. PBSO found a great deal of support from the residents and with their cooperation and assistance, the POP program spread to other transitional neighborhoods experiencing similar issues.
Wellington Code Enforcement staff also began coordinating their efforts in 2005 with PBSO to target problem properties. One of the commonly held theories is that neighborhoods that look bad are also areas where crime can flourish. This policing theory is often referred to as the "broken window" theory. Again, with the assistance of code enforcement, neighborhoods were improved. In 2006 and 2007, Wellington staff began discussions aimed at registering landlords that owned these rental units. PBSO stated that in many cases they had difficulty identifying the owners and tenants as many of the owners were non-residents and in some cases lived out of state. In 2007, Wellington enacted a "Rental Ordinance" requiring the owners of multi-family rental properties to register with Wellington. This ordinance has proven to be a useful tool for both PBSO and our Code Enforcement staff.
Also in 2007, PBSO turned from their POP approach to the formation of a "Street Team". The Street Team was designed to operate separately from the traditional road patrol or neighborhood policing approaches. The Street Team is comprised of undercover or plain clothed deputies who target specific neighborhoods, businesses or residences where criminal activity is suspected. Often their work is conducted during the night or on weekends when criminal activity rises. The Street Team has made dozens of arrests and has solved a very significant number of residential, auto burglary and drug cases.
In 2008, Wellington launched an Economic Development Initiative (EDI) that contained eight goals. One of these goals was a neighborhood redevelopment plan to address the aging housing inventory in Wellington. The plan calls for providing the regulatory framework and the incentives to revitalize much of the transitional housing inventory.
In 2010, Wellington's Council passed an ordinance to create the Residential Renaissance Overlay Zoning District to encourage developers and residents to redevelop transitional neighborhoods. Wellington is putting the framework in place now in anticipation that housing and economic conditions will improve.