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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

It now costs more to park on the street - for some

I was out of town for a few weeks, came back, parked in the Center Grove and was surprised to see the rate is $3.00 per hour to park. On the street. I know $3.00 is less than a cup of coffee, but when it comes to street parking that's quite a high hourly rate.

There is a discount for City of Miami residents, which there always was if you use the phone app, but it wasn't automatic, you have to re-apply. Which I did and was declined the first time, something didn't match apparently. So I paid $6.00 for two hours. Once I sorted it out, the next time I parked, I was charged $1.40 per hour to park, which is what I usually would pay.

I wrote about this meter rate rise in December and it was supposed to be $1.75 per hour in the Grove without the discount, but $3.00? Are people going to visit and pay that? What if someone comes from outside the City to spend time in the Grove - what if they come to an event for four hours - they pay $12 to park. On the street! I think it's probably cheaper to pay in one of the lots around the area.

I was just up north for awhile, I was all over - Long Island - The Hamptons, Montauk and New England and I don't remember us having to pay a dime to park at any of these places. It was all free. That's how it is on the west coast of Florida, too. I don't remember ever paying to park on the street in Naples, Ft. Meyers, Venice, Sarasota, and so on.

I reached out to the Miami Parking Authority to ask them where all this money is going, since I don't think it goes to street repairs or anything city related. According to their website, "MPA invests in the construction and management of parking facilities."

I had to read that line twice, because as far as I know, the MPA sold off our only city-owned garage in the Grove to a private developer who turned it into an office building and there have not been any garages built around here since. One plan was to add condos to a much-needed garage which still has not been built at the Playhouse lot. I'm not sure how adding condos, rather than parking spaces to a garage, helps the parking situation or lack thereof.

Also they say, "MPA is an active member of the South Florida community, contributing funding and in-kind services to more than thirty festivals, events and non-profit organizations each year." In-kind means free. So they are not spending any money there.

From their annual report: "MPA, a semi-autonomous, self-sustaining agency managed by parking industry professionals and financed by parking revenues, receives no taxpayer support. Funds not used by operations are returned to the City of Miami, and all ticket citation revenues are payable directly to Miami-Dade County.

Still, I don't understand this $3.00 per hour to park for non-residents. It should be a quarter!



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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer bingo night at Woman's Club

The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove is having a fun summer Bingo Night for the whole family on July 25.  

Doors open at 6:30 pm, and games start at 7:00 with a free snacks and a cash bar.  Adult admission is $5.00 plus purchase of a minimum of 5 games at $1 each. Children under 12 or free. 

New exciting prizes include gift certificates and the winner of the last game gets a $1000 with a full bingo card of 46 numbers called.  Some of the proceeds will benefit the Beautification Committee that is replanting the ground of the Woman’s Club, located at 2985 South Bayshore Drive. For more information check the website womansclubofcoconutgrove.org.

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Circuit court stops lot-splitting

Good news regarding our tree canopy. Last week, the 11th Circuit Court upheld the prohibition on lot splitting regarding NCD-3. In other words, you cannot split a lot from one house to multi-houses on one piece of property if  a single home is currently on the plat of land.

A property at 3600 Hibiscus Street was denied the right to split into multi-dwellings. The developer Amanda de Seta of Lointer Homes, had a plan to split the lot into three white boxy houses, none would have garages. Amanda owned The Bookstore for a bit and Lointer has had issues before regarding multi-lot properties and tree canopy issues. The HEP Board called them out on another occasion Lointer tried to pull a fast one, where they were building a condo on a small plot of land, destroying many trees in the process and adding underground parking for 12 cars. On one lot in a residential neighborhood.

Those plans called for large parts of an old 100 year old live oak tree to be chopped off to accommodate the new building. Luckily the HEP Board put a stop to that.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of the the end to lot splitting and tree killing in Coconut Grove.

We did a recent story on the new research project going on called Grove ReLeaf, "which focuses on teaching plant identification and inventory skills while also developing a citizen science network for urban tree mapping and monitoring across the Miami area," especially Coconut Grove. 

But according to The New Times, "Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill to bar local municipalities from regulating tree removals on residential properties.

"House Bill 1159, also known as the Private Property Rights Protection Act, went into effect July 1. Under the new legislation, municipal governments are not allowed to require any permits, notice, or approval from residents who wish to remove dangerous trees from their properties. All a homeowner needs is a report from a certified arborist or landscape architect who says the tree poses a danger." 


Two steps forward one step back.

Here are the limitations and requirements regarding the building sites, which hopefully will override the new state law:

“Miami-21 appendix A3.6.g. Additional Limitations and requirements.   

1.   Lots and building sites: Wherever an existing single-family residence or lawful accessory building(s) or structure(s) is located on one or more platted lots or portions thereof, such lots shall thereafter constitute only one building site and no permit shall be issued for the construction of more than one single-family residence except by Warrant. Such structures shall include but not be limited to swimming pools, tennis courts, walls, and fences or other at grade or above ground improvements. No building sites in existence prior to September 24, 2005 shall be diminished in size except by Warrant, subject to the criteria specified in Article 4, Table 12 Design Review Criteria.”

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Monday, July 15, 2019

A-rod moving his office to the Grove



I had mentioned one time that A-Rod lived at the Twisted Sisters towers, I was wrong, it is Derek Jeter. I always get the two mixed up.

But it got out into the universe some how, because A-Rod is moving his business, an investment company, into the Twisted Sisters. 

A-Rod and J-Lo are seen often in the Grove, you can see them at various restaurants up and down Commodore Plaza a lot.

More on the office here in The Real Deal.

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Supporting home ownership for the working poor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Javier made his points exceedingly well [in yesterday's letter to the editor]. That said, he never gets to the key point, which is HOW do you keep poor minorities in their own historic neighborhoods (West Grove, Little Haiti, Allapattah, Overtown) under the overwhelming relentless development/money pressure? Government subsidies ("Free Money") mostly goes to apartment buildings and Section 8 housing, which only slightly slows the inevitable gentrification. Some cities (Boston, New York) have defaulted to rent control, which has never gotten support in our "Property Rights" state, much less our City and County.  

To me, the answer is supporting home ownership for the WORKING poor. Help them first to inspire others. In other words, give a hand up instead of a hand out - to a greater extent than is being done now.  It's a political decision, and not an easy one since helping some more means helping others less, at least in the short run.  It also means allowing - after obtaining neighborhood support - limited amounts of increased density ("cluster" courtyard low rise units) into single family and duplex transects. This is illegal "spot zoning" unless done carefully using Land Trusts to hold the land in perpetuity. But it could be done using "Soft 2nd" mortgage financing, and could bring home ownership to those who are now paying $900/mo for rent, which corresponds to $36,000/yr Gross Family Income. You then restrict re-sale of the units for say, 10 years, and the at-risk neighborhoods are stabilized while allowing minority families to participate, if they so choose, in the prosperity they help to create in their own neighborhoods.

Andy Parrish
Coconut Grove

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Coconut Grove CRA? Say Goodbye to Livability and Historic Character

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

There are two principal reasons to establish a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) or create an additional CRA District. The first allows the CRA to capture the growth in property tax revenue within the District from the County and from the City and those funds can only be spent within the boundary of the District (through Tax Increment) to alleviate “Slum & Blight."

The second reason for establishing a CRA is to avoid having to ask the taxpayers for permission to spend money on larger projects, and here is where the proposition becomes a risky one: as once the CRA trust fund receives money from the County and the City, it is revenue, and not tax dollars, and can be spent without having to go to the voters for permission.


Extending the Omni CRA’s boundaries into West Coconut Grove – by gerrymandering the area’s disadvantaged, predominately black communities – does indeed create the potential for allocated funds to fight poverty here, but it also creates a mechanism whereby funds from here could be redirected outside Coconut Grove to other parts of the CRA.


Further, the prospect of CRA allocations in West Coconut Grove will only add more fuel to the speculator-dominated investment cycle that is stalling, rather than promoting, real progress in helping West Grove residents. Property owners (both long-standing and out-to-town investment interests alike) are sitting on properties, allowing market forces to continue to value properties up – call it investor driven “Slum and Blight.” The designation of the area, under federal law, as an Opportunity Zone, will further fan the flames.


Case in point: A couple of weeks ago the development group Metronomic purchased some of the Berkley & Berkowitz parcels on Grand Ave. for $6.6 million – an increase of $1.2 million from the sale price just a year and a half earlier, despite the property resting in the heart of an area alleged to be so depressed and economically stagnant that both local and federally dollars are needed to kick start it’s revitalization. And this example is hardly the exception. According to the Finding of Necessity report accepted by the City of Miami Commission, the growth of assessed values of Real Property (the driving force behind a CRA’s income potential) with in the five-year study period (2012-2017) showed an increase of 83.8% or $300 Million.


What’s more, the proposed Interlocal Agreement which was passed by the Omni CRA and City Commission awaits Miami-Dade County approval and calls spending commitments on several county initiatives in the Omni area of close to $900 million through the life (and extension) of the CRA, Yet there is no mention of any spending in Coconut Grove -- only that priority projects will be “NEGOTIATED”.


The argument Commissioner Russell made for extending the CRA is that we cannot save the historic nature of the neighborhood and help residents stay in the neighborhood without funds programs to promote affordable housing. But while true up to a point, the real legacy of a Grove CRA will not be the handful of affordable housing units it preserves or creates, but the skyrocketing property values that, in time, will render much of this historic neighborhood unaffordable for all but the most well-heeled owners.


Is the tradeoff worth it?


Extending the Omni CRA is not the answer. Instead we should be focused on other legislative options. One example is the Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance that can be amended and implemented to assist in protecting the historic nature. To be fair, a recent effort to do so, under Commissioner Russell’s leadership, was soundly defeated by fellow Commissioners. When the City Commission debated the merits of extending the Omni CRA to Coconut Grove I stood up and made it clear that, as a real estate professional, the warning signs made such a proposal unwise: “Development” as CRA’s are meant to do, will only hasten the demise of this historic neighborhood and will only hasten the displacement of its long-time residents. Alas, my words were ignored.


The CRA expansion is shortsighted political theater by Commissioner Russell which, compounded with other political moves, will have long term financial consequences for all residents of Coconut Grove and the City of Miami.


Javier Gonzalez,
long-time Coconut Grove resident, is a candidate for the
City of Miami District 2 
commission seat.

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Watersports activities expanded to veterans

Shake a Leg Miami has expanded its water sports programming for disabled veterans and their families through a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In its sailing and fishing programs, Shake a Leg Miami uses a fleet of handicapped-accessible boats, including the 60-foot catamaran Impossible Dream and The Pilar, a replica of Ernest Hemingway’s beloved fishing boat. Shake a Leg Miami also provides physical conditioning and wellness center classes for veterans with physical and mental disabilities, including PTSD. All programs are offered free of charge to veterans and their families.

Upcoming events include:

-Veteran open sailing on EVERY Saturday from 9-2pm

-Veterans sunset open sailing for vets, friends and family from 5pm-7:30pm (EVERY WEDNESDAY)

-Open sailing Thurdays and Sundays (let us now that you will be coming)

-Veterans paddle boarding 07/17/19 @3pm-5pm

-Veterans Fishing 07/25/19 @2:30pm-6:30pm

For more information about Shake a Leg Miami’s Veterans Program, please contact Karis Starke at Karis@shakealegmiami.org or visiting www.shakealegmiami.org.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Yoga studio celebrating 10 year anniversary

Bikram Hot Yoga Miami is celebrating their 10 year anniversary!  For all these years they were between Shell Lumber and The Daily Bread, but they have moved, and changed their name to Yoga House Miami, their new location is at 2050 Coral Way #602.

To celebrate they are offering free classes all weekend on July 13 and 14 where you can reconnect mind and body and leave centered and strong. Plus they have big retail sales on clothing and accessories and membership pricing before their next price rise. Space is limited - register through the posted schedule at yogahousemiami.com. They offer free parking.

Check out a quick video here.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Scary situation as gas escapes on 27 Avenue


Photo by Douglas English

Were you one of the people evacuated on Wednesday due to the gas leak?

As you know, over 300 people in the area of 27 Avenue and Bird Avenue were evacuated after an old 1000-gallon tank exploded. The gas tank, underground is over 60 years old. There is concern that there could be other tanks like this that are old and unexposed and therefore have not have been inspected for years.

For hours, a flame burned that looked almost like a tiki torch, as the gas escaped into the atmosphere.


For most of the afternoon into the evening 27th Avenue was closed from US1 to South Bayshore Drive, then parts were open as the situation came under control. 12 buildings in the area were evacuated for awhile, with Grove Village Gate apartments being ground zero for the incident.

Scary situation.

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Late summer music camp for kids

Wondering what to do for the kids later this summer before school starts? The Miami Conservatory of Music is offering two one-week fun music camps for beginning musicians ages 5 - 12 with no experience required. With acting, singing, playing keyboard, drumming, music games, instrument demonstrations, your child will explore a variety of musical expressions with the guidance of professional musicians.  You can register for one or both weeks starting now. The dates are: July 29-August 2 and August 5-9.

Each week there is a different Broadway Show theme.  Children are placed into two groups aged 5-6 years and 7-12 years and will present their talents at a show for parents every Friday. The camps start at 9:30 am and end at 4 pm daily.

Fees: $275 for One Week  and $525 for Two Weeks.

For information and to register online go to: miamiconservatoryofmusic.com

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Broadway live at the Woman's Club

Broadway is coming to the Coconut Grove Woman's Club when Niki Simon Blacker and John Reubens bring their musical talents for a night of live show tunes.

Enjoy John's vocals with Niki at the piano on Thursday, July 11 from 5:30 to 8 pm.

Cost is $10 at the door, there is a cash bar and free snacks.

The Woman's Club is at 2985 S. Bayshore Drive.

There will be other themed Happy Hours throughout the summer including:
Line Dancing on Aug. 15
Karaoke on Aug. 29
Art Workshop on Sept. 12
New Mystery Book signing on Oct. 10

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Get a Mango Croughnut for a limited time

Tigertail + Mary is hosting a dedication ceremony on Saturday, July 13 at 11 am, in honor of the new Carrie Mango Tree they planted with the help of The Kampong National Tropical Botanical Garden. Leading into the ceremony, on Friday, July 12, Chef Michael Schwartz’s T+M Café will debut a limited-time special, Mango + Coconut Croughnut, that was made in collaboration with Miami hot spot The Salty Donut to spotlight the Carrie mangoes.


On the croughnut’s debut day (7/12), every croughnut will be free (one per customer) until sold out, and will also come with a custom-designed mango temporary tattoo from local artist, Pooka. After the debut day, the Mango + Coconut Croughnut will be sold for $4.75 at T+M Café through Sunday, July 14. The limited time doughnut will also exclusively be available at The Salty Donut (Wynwood and South Miami locations) from Saturday, July 13 through Sunday, July 21.

Tigertail + Mary is located at 3321 Mary Street.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Dems Club Summer Social

The Grove-Key Dems Club is holding a Summer Social on Thursday, July 11 which is open to all like-minded neighbors. 

It’s a summer social with food and music to bring a bunch of people together (without having a fundraiser) and get exposure to some of the candidates including Daniella Levine Cava and Cindy Lerner.

There is also a presentation by Robin Bachin, she is with UM and the provost for civic and community engagement. 

"We’ll provide food and ambiance, guests bring their own drinks (and hopefully cups; we are aiming for a low to zero waste event," says club president Christina Bracken.

"I will probably have a bit of live music and maybe one of the young poets... waiting for reconfirmations on that. It’s the summer hole... a good opportunity to engage, pick up ideas, enjoy oneself without a lot of pressure - and recharge to be ready for the fall!" says says.

The event is from 7 to 9 pm at 224 West Mashta Drive on Key Biscayne.

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New park benches dedicated to 'Grove Legends'

Have you visited the South Grove's Four Corners Park lately?  It's the four corners where Palmetto Avenue crosses Plaza Street. It has been a dedicated public space since 1910 and a group of neighbors is trying to get the City of Miami to designate it as an official public park.

To to make it a little nicer they recently installed six benches there. Each is dedicated to a Coconut Grove citizen who has made significant contributions to the Grove community. "They makes the place more welcoming," said a neighbor, Glenn Terry.

Some of the honorees are  living, some are not, and one is even mythical king. All have ties to the park's neighborhood. The public is invited to visit the benches and to learn more about the “Legends of The Grove."   

Here's how they are described in the park's brochure:
     
THELMA GIBSON, 1926- Born in Coconut Grove, Ms. Gibson has been - and continues to be - an important West Grove leader. She became a nurse in 1947 and went on to lead important public health initiatives that continue to this day. Ms. Gibson lives on Franklin Avenue, three blocks north of the park.

BOBBY INGRAM, 1937-  Bobby is Coconut Grove’s legendary troubadour. The former U.S. Navy submariner began his musical career in the 1950’s and was, at one time, David Crosby’s partner in a folk duo.  His latest album, “Postcards From Coconut Grove”, is a local treasure. His cottage is on the east end of Palmetto Avenue.

CHARLIE CINNAMON, 1922-2016- Charlie was South Florida’s premier publicist and a WW II veteran. He brought Broadway shows to Miami and he founded the Coconut Grove Art Festival. He lived in the 1919 historic bungalow adjacent to the wooded area. His young nieces used to play in its dense foliage and they gave this magical place its name, “Charlie’s Woods."

KING MANGO, 1982- The Mango King is a mythical figure who leads the Grove’s annual holiday parade,“The King Mango Strut”. His bench is dedicated to the volunteers who have produced this zany affair since 1982.

EBENEZER STIRRUP, 1873-1957- Bahamian born, E.F. W. Stirrup was an early leader and philanthropist in the Grove’s African-American community. He built over 100 homes in our seaside village. His own 1897 home -at 3242 Charles Avenue- has been fully restored and is now a bed and breakfast.  It is just west of Main Highway’s Regions Bank.

JANET RENO, 1938-2016- Ms. Reno was first woman to serve as our Country’s Attorney General. The Harvard law grad spent her early years in her family’s Avocado Avenue home. Her honors include serving as our county’s State Attorney, and, as the Grand Marshall of the 2002 King Mango Strut. She once told Terry, the project's director, “I used to love riding my tricycle in this neighborhood."

The benches were financed by a grant from the Miami Foundation. Four Corners Park is open everyday from sunrise to sunset.  

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Monday, July 08, 2019

What's old is new again

I came upon this old photo from 1899. It's a bicycle valet!

This is the Bronx Zoo and the lady is leaving her bicycle with the guy at the bike valet - in 1899!

I thought it was great seeing that we have our own bike valet in Coconut Grove thanks to Bike Coconut Grove.


I was a the Museum of the City of New York lat week and they had a great exhibit of bicycles from the 1860s on up.

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The history of Coconut Grove

The History of Coconut Grove and the Story of the Mutiny Hotel are being featured at a Miami History Meetup on Saturday, August 3 from 3 to 6 pm at the Coral Gables Museum.

Topics include Origins of the Cocoanut Grove name; Early Pioneers; Millionaires Row; Architects and Artists; Counter Culture, Peacock Park and so much more.

Speakers include Casey Piket and Roben Farzad, author of the highly popular "Hotel Scarface" book.

A reception and cocktails will start the event, followed by a brief history and slideshow of the Grove, then Roben does his thing and then there is a Q&A period.

The Coral Gables Museum is at 285 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables.

Tickets may be purchased here. They are $25 each.

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