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Friday, April 15, 2016

It's all about the square footage

About 10 or 12 years ago, I noticed a house in the neighborhood being torn down. It was a nice house, typical mid-century, probably built in the 1950s or '60s. Great bones from the outside. It almost looked like the Brady Bunch house. I really liked it. I didn't even know it was for sale or I probably would have checked it out. I almost bought one like it on Micanopy one time; I like that style.

I called the company that owned the house, they had a sign out front. I asked them why they were destroying such a beautiful house and their response was that it was termite ridden. Their answer to this pesky problem was to construct two large, three story town houses on the property, side by side, touching with a common wall, a modern day Queens/Archie Bunker Astoria-style house, you know - attached.

There is maybe a foot or two of land on either side to get to the back of the lot. The houses next door are one story ranches, now in the shadows of the large structure. The original house had been set far back with a nice big lawn out front, now the lawn is gone and there is space for a couple of driveways, but they come up as close to the sidewalk as possible.

A friend told me that his mother lived at the original house a couple of decades ago. He said it was a great house inside, just as I suspected. It was not one of those tiny shotgun houses, which I know people like to knock down and replace; it was a decent size house that could have easily been renovated. But with the laws as they are, why have a decent size house on a plat of land when you can have huuuuge (picture Bernie saying this with his arms spread) townhouses taking up the whole lot and selling for much more money.

I had worried over the years that the neighborhood would turn into this but so far, no one has sold out. But I did notice that one project on another side of the street that was supposed to be three large townhouses is now going to be five or six. I don't know when that was approved, and I suspect it wasn't approved, but it's being done.

This has been the way of the Grove for years. It's the ability to knock down older houses and then construct big, tall, replacements. Remember that lady who wanted to put in the Montessori school on South Bayshore Drive, across from Mercy Hospital? Well, you should see the property now - it's a bunch of big white box-y houses with almost no green space now. Maybe the school wasn't so bad after all.

I'm wondering if there is a way to sue the city for every infraction against the Miami 21 code. Right now on Park Avenue in South Grove, there is a house on a 40,000 square foot lot that has been approved for demolition. How many houses will now stand on that one lot? The South Grove does not have sewers. What about the tree canopy and traffic?

It's not just here in Coconut Grove, read the Miami New Times' front page story this week: "Residents and Preservationists Push Back as McMansions Take Over Miami Beach".

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use Monsanto as an example. Monsanto is the worlds largest produced of GMO's. It use to be that auto mfg's and big oil ruled Wall Street. Today it's Monsanto, and only about 5 additional GMO producers of crops and seeds that rule the financial world as these companies race to feed the world's starving. Monsanto began suing everyone and seem to rule the roost until several legislators and lawyers began lionizing the only way to get safe food on the table was for everyone who could afford $450.00 to file a lawsuit complaint against Monsanto and break this multi-billion dollar GMO producers financial back. GMO'bt's have proven to our major healthcare issue. Thousand's have sue Monsanto and their back is to the wall financially. So, if the Grape wanted to keep this fire going then similiar blogs might rally a group together to raise funds to file a complaints against, VERY SPECIFICALLY, the City of Miami, EVERY TIME a concerned citizen provides proof of an infranction to our zoning and building codes. Each filing will cost the City several hundred thousand dollars. In no time at all violations will cease. Money talks and BS walks. Jobie Steppe

April 15, 2016 7:38 AM  
Anonymous swlip said...

I'd be interested to hear from Grove condo owners about why detached home property owners shouldn't be allowed to derive the best value from their investments.

April 15, 2016 10:51 AM  
Blogger SwimSnapper said...

There is a meeting taking place on April 27th at 7pm in Davis Hall at Plymouth Congregational Church (3400 Devon Rd.) to discuss development, tree canopy, and preservation issues Grove residents are facing. This is an organizational meeting and everyone is welcome.

April 15, 2016 3:29 PM  
Anonymous North Grovite said...

What I don't understand is why anyone wants to live in a house with no breathing room outside and such close access to their neighbors' lives, sounds, and smells. It's not Manhattan, after all. It's nice to have some open space and sunshine. I don't get why open space and privacy aren't as valuable as square footage. Plus, those lot line boxes are relying on other people to keep their trees and greenery intact to keep the neighborhood a desirable leafy place. Not fair.

April 15, 2016 3:36 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

No one mentions the water mains that they are allowing these new houses to connect to. There is a statute or a law that states the taxpayer shall not be burdened with the costs of improvements. I wish I had paid attention sooner. I just took a ride around my neighborhood and am still in shock over the changes

April 15, 2016 4:58 PM  
Blogger jenna said...

Im grateful for the density here and having duplex townhomes allows for that good balance, sadly though, i agree the historical homes should be protected under our zoning and they are quietly dissapearing one by one

April 15, 2016 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone "wants" to live in a house with no breathing room outside and with neighbors feet away. However, growing families need square feet, and when the choice is a newly built townhouse for $900k vs. a similar size outdated house on a large piece of land for $1.3m, then sometimes your desire for open space isn't worth the money.

April 15, 2016 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm proud to say I own a home & rental property in Coconut Grove. I'm proud of our Grove and have lived on Gifford Lane since 1965. And the police have worked hard to jail those that really needed to be jailed! Things have changed, namely traffic, everyone has to wait, wait and wait some more during morning, noon and evening traffic. Businesses have come and gone. All three adjacent properties surrounding me are these Mac Mansion duplexes apparently on zero lot lines, i.e., only a few feet from wall to fence all around. I personally WANT A YARD, plants and numerous fruit trees to be all the view I desire to see - GREEN, GREEN AND MORE GREEN & sweet fruit. But, I've never devoted a second of thought thinking that another persons property line is any of my business.

April 15, 2016 9:31 PM  
Blogger Jane Issa said...

Greed rules.

April 16, 2016 4:22 AM  
Anonymous Charles Corda said...

This is not about what "people want".. It is not about having "breathing room around your house". This is all about a zoning code and City Commission that allows, nee embraces, this higher density and overdevelopment. This is very simply Developers maxing out their profits within the framework allowed. This is what developers do..No secret there. if they are allowed higher density in a desirable place they will build higher density..No mystery to any of this.
The key to getting this under control is getting the support from the City Commission and making appropriate changes to Miami 21 to preserve the essential nature of Coconut Grove. The difficult part is overcoming the influence the Developers have on both the Commission and Planning Department. As long as developers remain a major source of funds in elections they will support and encourage those candidates that will most likely help them make money..None of this is going to change any time soon unless there is a coordinated and forceful movement to add serious bulk and setback restrictions to Miami 21. Without a concerted citizen initiative you can expect that market driven forces will rule. Unless and until the residents of Coconut Grove are willing to fight the system nothing will change or get better.

April 16, 2016 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al Crespo always said that the Grove never votes in their best interest, and he was right! Thanks Al for helping them do it again.

April 17, 2016 4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Kathy a Kesler: I agree with Tom and ALL about the building of enormous structures that occupy over 80% of the property. Then there is is other issue mentioned, how will this affect the water and sewer supply? We just experienced a sewer overload that put all construction(a lot needed for center Grove business development/ renovations.
Why didn't the City pay attention and learn from that fiasco ?
Then there are the other issues: A structure has been under construction next to my property in South Grove for 8 years!!! It occupies over 80% of the lot, got a variance to be built 3 stories high with a 5 foot variance from our property. Our quality of life has been ruined with workers yelling, showing up seven days a week, blasting Latin radios until 8 pm, and that's only a few of the travesties. Here is the problem: the City has Codes but-they don't work on weekend or after 5 pm, they say to call the Police & get a citation number, IF the Police actually show up they are pissed off about being "bothered" , take a hour or more so it is 7 or 8 pm, and explain they cannot write citations - that is the duty of Code Compliance- just a circle of passing the responsibility.
This owner cut down 10 trees and hacked our Oak the FIRST day he got his Variance in 2008 using a pursuit of LEED certification to influence Zoning to give him all the variances. The property currently has citation penalties and fines that are over $700,000 owed to the City. That would buy a LOT of Police cars. It has been "posted as an Unsafe structure" 4 times and although it still carries all fines and NO Occupancy permit it is currently listed for sale for $2,500,000. If it sells & someone moves in, what if anything will or can be done?
I have met with a Commissioner, the head of the Building and other Departments including City Attorney and all have been very nice but the answer is always the same "our hands are tied" we can't force this developer to pay these fines or comply with the Codes.
In other words, we can all meet, talk, plan & attempt to "fight City Hall" but until we get the attention of the City Commission to CREATE a way to ENFOCE these Codes, it is a waste of time that I have learned the hard way.
It makes not sense to me- if you get a parking ticket the fine accelerates and eventually there is a plan that in place that you must pay-a lot of money, to continue to drive that car. Why can't the same type of enforcement be implemented for Code and Building violations???

April 17, 2016 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1960 thru 2000, a person would get in their v-8, 400 HP vehicle and drive to the local market to purchase a stick of butter. Lets imagine that this trip used up 4,000 btu's in gas, oil, & tire usage to purchase 150 btu's of butter; and there goes a small piece of our environment; green house auto emissions. Such an imbalanced exchange can be multiplied a million times an hour across our planet and only a few people out of 7.5-billion on our planet will note this fact. Our Grove is central to everything; EVERYTHING. Find a home in the Grove for $1,000,000, live here for 20 years or so and if you work anywhere near Brickell, downtown, Key Biscayne, S. Beach you'll save about 3/4 years of your life waiting in your vehicle for traffic. Translated; The average working married coupled could easily used this wasted driving time, at work, earning about $250,000.00. I say I can stick my nose in anyone's business, when justified, but I don't agree that people who purchases a home with zero lot lines is any of my business. Money & wealth was created because you could put your wealth in a small leather pouch, today in your pockets that you can easily carry with you rather than take a wagon load of straw, meat, veggies, produce, or lumber to the market place to barter; money made this easy. Money is the credit other humans give you for whatever it is that you do to exist in the modern world. To label profits and the creation of wealth as bad, or greed is contrary to reality. The only people obviously not concerned with profit and wealth are the mentally ill and/or the homeless and half of them are nuts. Who cares how big another persons home is!? Mac Mansions are mostly solid, safe and frankly look very good. I think if you bitch about something that is none of your business, i.e., zero lot line homes you probably live in a shack, or not in the Grove or you're simply jealous.

April 18, 2016 8:14 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Anonymous 8:14. I
Zero lot lines are our business if they are breaking the law It's everyone's business. I don't live in a shack. Maybe I am missing the point but I don't even put utility shed because of the required setbacks. We need to try to make these people follow the law. I will do whatever I can to help

April 18, 2016 5:29 PM  

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