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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

City inspectors are not doing their jobs

A reader sent this in, she is afraid to sign her name because she has been threatened by home builders in the area. They have knocked on her door, threatened to harm her dog, her cars have been damaged and so on. This is a byproduct of the greed and illegal over-development in Coconut Grove. Here is her letter:

Not sure who in the City of Miami or Building Dept. hates Miami residents, specifically Coconut Grove, as much as they do.  Middle and South Grove have exploded with new construction and some distressing access.  Just in our little area of S. Grove there are about 18 new houses under construction in just a three block area.   

Several small Grove streets have multiple constructions literally next to each other.  The safety concerns, debris, ill-concern for neighbors, environment, animals, and pets is out of control and there is nothing you can do.  Report something to the Building Dept. and you will have the builder and workers aware of your complaint and taking matters in to their hands.  We have experienced flat tires, damages on cars and property, and even personal harassment – even the illegal moving of a neighbor’s fence because the new house did not meet the appropriate boundaries.  Yet no one sees anything or will do anything.   

My neighbor has even had her cats poisoned.  There is no recourse for any of us, these builders who are buying these older homes and building monstrosities with cheap materials and selling for millions, don’t care about any of us (neighbors, and the City) or even their end product and the new owners who will be purchasing these lemons.  There is trash, beer cans, etc. in the walls of these new builds, cheap electrical, grass over construction debris and nails, and the list goes on.  Recently when mentioning something to a City inspector, they claimed they were busy and only there to see the one job they were called for and could (or would) not comment on any other violations they saw.  So these builders will continue to trash the environment, dump chemicals into storm drains, poison our pets, trash our neighborhoods and city property, build crappie homes, and we will continue to experience horrible traffic, nails in our tires – but hey, we should be happy because our property values are going up?  So are our taxes, and most importantly our peace of mind and the poor new home owner.  Where is our protection and when will the City of Miami care about the rest of us or is the corruption and kick-backs so much more worth it?

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Blogger James said...

This is a terrible situation, and I feel bad for the letter writer. We need reforms. While the builders and city are to blame, aren't the sellers to blame as well? They're the ones selling their houses to developers knowing they will be tearing them down. It's easy to rip developers calling them greedy, but why not rip the homeowner who's selling his house at an over inflated price knowing developers just want it for the land rather than selling it at a much lower price to someone who is going to keep the home the way it is? I think the reason is, many of the same people who are complaining now know they'd take the money and run if they were in the same boat.

June 14, 2016 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

American only want a level playing field that is fair for all concerned. But it seems that in the case of the City of Miami, our zoning office and elected leaders are beholden to developers and lawyer's that help fund their election campaigns. Most citizens have little chance against those odds. Public defenders are appointed by the courts to provide some help when brought to court. Isn't it time that public zoning advocates all be provided to help make that playing field a bit more level?

June 14, 2016 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your home is your investment. For us, it is our retirement. As much as we love it, we know we cannot afford to grow old here. Taxes and insurance make for a situation that forces an aging homeowner to take the money and run!

June 14, 2016 9:10 AM  
Blogger James said...

Well you do realize that when you crack down on developers, your home will no longer be worth these crazy values right? Nobody is going to pay a million dollars for a 1300 sq foot house on a half acre lot.

June 14, 2016 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They saved Olde Town in Key West and the prices there are cra-cra.

June 14, 2016 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of these seem like legitimate gripes, some seem like overreactions and some seem difficult to fathom. I'm piqued by this fence moving incident. Care to give more details? Are you saying that one of your neighbors came home and found that an entire side fence had been shifted over a few inches? What did they do? Did they file a trespass complaint? The other thing that I'm a bit confused about is this idea that new construction is leading to an explosion in property taxes. Aren't assessment increases capped at 3% a year in Florida? Do we really think that values wouldn't be rising by 3% a year in Coconut Grove even without new construction?

June 14, 2016 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the tax question, yes, the "save our Homes" is only 3 percent assessment, but 3 percent on last year's assessment, not the first assessment. (So, say you start with $100, now its $103. Then its 3% on $103, not $100.) Over the years, that starts to add up. In Miami, we pay a large amount of taxes compared to many other places (We do have a stadium to pay for). So, last year our taxes went up by over $500 to $8600. Our house insurance (we have to have Citizens because our house is old) went up $500 to $4500. This is on top of our mortgage. We have owned this house for a very long time and are not the high earners of the group that moved in during the last bubble. After healthcare and bills, we have very little in our retirement fund. Our house is our retirement.

June 14, 2016 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it possible to put homes into a land trust that prevents a future homeowner from knocking down trees and overdeveloping the property? There is a house at 17th and Tigertail being rebuilt and the pool looks like it's two feet from the fence. And the fence looks like it's the fence from the adjoining property.

June 14, 2016 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely agree. It's as bad for commercial establishments as well.

It took me two years of reporting a large warehouse area in the city of Miami illegally housing multiple businesses (no business licenses, no build-out permits), restaurants (unpermited kitchen), unpermitted events (loud outdoor weddings), etc to even get a tepid response from the city. Meanwhile said businesses are still operating with no care of the issues or their neighbors.

June 14, 2016 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's time for the Grove to leave the City of Miami and become our own city.

June 14, 2016 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the land trust, or something like a restrictive covenant so the next owner cannot tear down your house and redevelop the lot. Not a good idea if you ever plan on selling your property. Land values in the Grove are around $100 PSF, a 10,000 SF lot is priced at $1.0 mm, it is improved with a 1960's house with three bedrooms and two baths, around 2,000 SF. The depreciated value of the improvements is about $50 PSF x 2,000 SF = $100,000. So the total price is $1,100,000 which is 90% land value. If you do find a buyer for the property "as is" that person will be from a very limited pool of potential purchasers.

June 14, 2016 4:49 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Join Nextdoor. Neighborhood groups in the Grove and all over. We are working on stopping all the illegal building going on. We tried to leave and be own town but it needs to be approved by city and we are their cash cow so not possible

June 14, 2016 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This letter reveals that even though cats were allegedly killed, tires slashed, fences moved, autos damaged "and personal harassment" i.e., I assume personal means face to face, resulting in no police reporting or action(s). I'm 73 and would never allow such events directed @ me or carried out in my neighborhood; I think what applies is the letter writer and the neighbors are turning their cheeks, when it should be an eye for an eye!?

June 14, 2016 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live perpendicular to Hardie Road. There was a very large property that got sold to build loads of houses. They marked the trees that could not be cut down. But little by little these trees began to disappear in the night. It's ridiculous. I'm not against building, but I am against illegal removal of trees, construction sites without any fencing, and trash all over. Why is it that Coral Gables building sites are so much cleaner ? On my way home from work each day I watched a new house go up and the site was fenced and cleaned outside the fence each day. Why cant City of Miami expect the same for its builders ?

June 14, 2016 8:01 PM  
Blogger Bob Brennan said...

So long as we are anonymous our city will continue to ignore us. I have registered complaints.

We have a gutless City manager and head of Building and Zoning. He told me He does not do enforcement.

I noticed that. no one does. Especially on construction sites.

Stand up get in their face Call the police They will come out and correct the situation if necessary.

Bob Brennan long time resident

Marc Sarnoff is the problem still.....

June 14, 2016 9:49 PM  
Blogger Liz Gibson said...

just try to put up a small shed and see how fast they do enforcement.

June 14, 2016 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are a ridiculous bunch. Be happy there's development in the Grove. Many people want to live here and are willing to pay a good price for your home! Would you prefer to live in Detroit? That said, of course we need to make sure the rules are being followed and enforced. But rejoice, if you own your house, you've got a great investment.

June 14, 2016 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coconut Grove as a city is possible if there is a will?

June 14, 2016 11:52 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Several years ago we had a group trying to do just that. Since we were taken over by the City many years ago during the season where the winter residents were not here to vote, it became just about impossible to secede it requires approval for all the city of miami residents. If you think it can be done, I am sure many of us will join in the effort

June 15, 2016 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly I agree re being anonymous as well. I too have had run-ins with some of these construction sites. The problem is the workers, don't really care and they know who you are and where you live. Each construction site is full of multiple Crews of individuals who come and go in our neighborhoods, by our homes, and when werror nor home. We have no idea who they are or where they live. In my home they have taken it upon themselves to hang out under my tree to eat lunch and lay down, subsequently leaving their lunch trash in my yard. They do this when I leave for work and I get the trash when I get home. My neighbors have seen them. Re fence movement it's true. I know who they are and yes, their fence was moved and they did report it without success

June 15, 2016 11:54 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Levine said...

You could donate your home to a restricted federal fund, but I'm not certain how enforceable it would be. Just across the street three oaks have been removed to make way for a split lot with modular homes. And how did the City respond? By fining them $50K per tree. The developer expects to sell each lot for $3M, and so they swiftly signed a check and did away with the fine. These people have so much money that no fine or regulation will stop them from getting their way.

June 21, 2016 1:43 PM  

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