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Friday, April 22, 2016

Overbuilding in the Grove

As a past candidate for City of Miami District 2 Commissioner, I feel I need to share some thoughts about the “overbuilding” neighbors are complaining about in South Grove.

First, to the deniers, a lot of building is happening. It is perfectly legal though. The rules need to change if neighbors do not like being surrounded on all sides by solid white, concrete walls. But a lot of what we see is according to code, despite it being against good sense. More on that in a moment.

Second, to the newcomers, this is the never-ending fight to preserve the character of our great single-family home neighborhoods. Let no one trouble you about why you are joining us now. Welcome to the club. This struggle is fierce at the beginning and towards the end of every building cycle.

Third, to the concerned, there are some projects that are certainly out of scale, contrary to good planning principles and downright unfriendly to neighbors. And then are those that are against code, in a BIG way. Once a project if fully built, it is effectively legal (perhaps improper). But when it is obvious that setbacks are violated, that multi-structure projects are allowed on former single-family property lots and mature trees go completely missing, you have a right to complain. Zoning and building rights are granted by us through our elected representatives.

What can you do? A commissioner sets the tone and adjusts policy as needed. I endorsed Ken Russell for commissioner because it was the right thing to do. I knew it would take time for him to acclimate to the role. I knew that in the mean time, businesses would close, historic homes would be demolished and as much advantage would be taken of our community during the transition.

Now is the time to effectively advocate your issue:

First, organize those most affected. I am pleased that neighbors are organizing to contend with the issues they see in their particular neighborhood. Your united voice gives our commissioner the ammunition to make the case for policy changes.

Second, citizen lobbying works. We have to help Ken convince administrators and the other commissioners to see the Light of our concerns. We get the government we deserve by neglect or by careful attention.

Third and last, always keep the commissioner in the loop. He can only advance policy from the dais with the agreement of his peers. He and his staff can help you at every step to your goal. It is his job to carry the issue “football” across the goal line with the Commission.

Some parting wisdom: No one knows your concern better than you --- you are your greatest advocate. Do not engage in debate with people who cannot help you --- bypass them. Make friends with those who can help you --- calling people names will not resolve anything but being friendly will.

Your advocacy team is only as good as its members. You want the best, you want the ’72 Dolphins as your front line. You will get your neighborhoods back and better. A new commissioner was the first step, now it is on you to work with him.

Yours truly,
Rosy Palomino

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Rosy. The second any concerned citizen THINKS a construction project isn't in sync with the code they must take immediate action, for example when they see the foundation is going to result in an oversize structure; zero lot line, say only 2 feet from the adjoining property(s). Once ground is broken all the required permitting, variances and warrants make the project legal and it's hard to impossible to undo legal. Jobie Steppe

April 22, 2016 8:12 AM  
Blogger Your Neighbor said...

Rosy, while I agree with your editorial in general your third sentence "is totally wrong" . The code is specific. Lot sub-division is illegal in NCD-3 without a "warrant" which these properties do not have. You might talk to larrisa Ozols about her experience in trying to divide the property she inherited on Hardie ave. These lots have not been divided in accordance with the code.

April 22, 2016 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Jack said...

You are correct. The new construction adjacent to my property is just starting. The swimming pools are 41 inches from my property line, the pump for the pools 23 inches and the foundation appears to be 51 inches. The overall height of the foundation is much higher than it was before. After much investigation I have been told that that the developer has all of the variances, permitting and warrants to make all of this legal.

April 22, 2016 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WE were told similar distractions which further investigation showed to be untrue.

Really what part of "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” is not understandable?

April 22, 2016 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all made "legal" by the stroke of a pen from a city employee with the blessing or non-interference of higher ups.

After all, it's not in their backyard so why should they care? Is there even a single member of zoning or building administrator that lives in the city?

It's only until we complain forcefully that we will get results. Employees will be brought to line or disciplined for wrongdoing the moment the politician's careers are threatened. That is how powerful our voices are.

April 22, 2016 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the rule that everything (structures, pools etc.) should be 5 feet from the property line?

April 22, 2016 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what people haven't identified yet is that there is no effective 5 feet setback or whatever when city staff regularly grants warrants which is at their complete discretion.

Definition of Warrant (Law) from Wikipedia:

"Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization; a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is performed." Emphasis

April 22, 2016 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can see how intelligent folks are becoming with these exchanges on the Grape.
A lot of comments, but they are becoming sophisticated and closer to reality. I met a woman about 1 year ago who said she got paid to either stand in line at permitting or to go directly to someone she knew to get these variances and warrants passed. I've heard stories that it's possible to obtain or see what developer has submitted their plans officially, but before they are approved. Having access to this would allow a person the time to register, say a complaint that challenges the developers plans as being out of sync with the codes, regulations or the law. This is very hard stuff to accomplish, but for those who REALLY CARE, go for it. Jobie Steppe

April 22, 2016 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone mentioned yesterday, why aren't Grove residents informed of proposed projects before the approval process begins so action can be taken before it is too late. There is no transparency at all. By the time ground is broken it can be too late to protest. Per the post, I'm asking Rosy and Mr. Russell to tell us how we can get the City to inform us of every project well in advance.

April 22, 2016 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want real transparency, look at Seattle's city website. Their planning department has an easy-to-follow map that displays development projects (both proposed and ongoing).

Always know where the projects are and keep tabs.

April 22, 2016 7:32 PM  
Blogger Your Neighbor said...

There are few warrants in the city of Miami, about 90 total per year for the past 4 years. Most all of them are for commercial properties many have to do with outside dining. These lot sub-divisions are taking place without the warrants required by law.In these cases the person(s) damaged are grove homeowners.

April 22, 2016 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Your Neighbor

Warrants or spot-zoning or whatever term you want to use granting special privilege or non-enforcement of standard rules to builders is always subject to the subjective nature of decision making process of zoning and construction permitting. Again, its completely subjective and open to the interpretation of whoever the decision maker is.

Have a friend, will build!

April 23, 2016 12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion anon 7:32 hit the nail on the head. I'll contact Seattle and try to obtain a blue print as to how they created a website that post any and all request for permits or whatever we call it here, warrants, variances or just plain old permits. Perhaps this could become a normal part of the Grape for now. Jobie Steppe

April 23, 2016 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commissioners set policy. After 2007 Marc Sarnoff was aggressively pro-development, Ken Russell appears to be pro-development. Once warrants are approved by staff they are almost impossible to overturn.

April 25, 2016 12:50 PM  

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