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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

It's not OK to wipe out suburban nature of the Grove

Miami City Planning department has a plan to increase the supply of housing in Coconut Grove by changing government regulations (up-zoning) to allow more units in the same space and District 2 Commissioner, Ken Russell has said he will sponsor the amendment. 

The Planning Department tried to sell us on their proposal in a workshop ostensibly to gather resident input. Neighbors had little opportunity for input, not many attended. Everything in the workshop was about the City’s agenda. We asked to have 15 minutes to show the existing strength of our current NCD code, based on the court tested language of Coral Gables code, we were denied.

In NCD-2, it is believed there is both a need for affordable housing and an appropriate social benefit for residents displaced by condemnations, and demolition by neglect. The increase in supply will lower housing costs of buying and renting, perhaps appropriate as 85% of residents are renters. It is proposed that this area, by residents’ choice, will become part of a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). Affordable housing needs would be met by allowing developers to over-develop many NCD-2 areas in exchange for building some low income and workforce housing. 

In NCD-3, where residents have not been offered a choice, the proposed amendment would also increase supply, overburdening a fragile infrastructure, and it would lower the price of homes, so you could only sell or rent your home for less money. Where 85% of residents are owners, not in need of affordable housing, it is NOT appropriate. The average household income is $111,414 here, per the latest census data; the free market has been found to work well in allocating housing where people are prosperous. Should one of the most affluent areas in the city be entitled to subsidized housing? I have not noticed the need for such a public benefit among my neighbors.

At first I thought the idea of 450 ft. ancillary rental buildings, another part of the proposal, was interesting, maybe I could rent it as an Airbnb, use it for guests, or rent to a U of M student. But on further reflection, if all of my neighbors did it, with no additional parking or sewage, not so good. I’m O.K. with the existing cottages that are here, but having a lot more would be a problem. Where people live in the sub-urban areas of the Grove, residents need a car, each car contributes 30,000 pounds of Co2 to the atmosphere per year on average; better if U of M students live in a dorm or student housing close to campus. 

Further this would be a clear step toward making all of the single-family districts into DUPLEX Zoning. NOT What Residents WANT.  

At 3701 Park Avenue, the planning director used the existence of a 700 ft. ancillary cottage to justify creating two building sites where there was formerly one claiming it did not increase density. Center Grove homeowners often lament their district having been rezoned as Duplex, creating a much denser Urban character, let’s not allow it to happen in either of  the NCD- 3’s or NCD-2’s single family districts.

It would be better if the city followed their own plan for growth: density in the city core, along transportation and mixed use commercial corridors. The present proposal, would homogenize NCD-2 and NCD-3 codes for two very different & distinct areas. My thinking is that a plan more nuanced than the present proposal is needed not only to save the environment but also to maintain property values. 

BOTTOM LINE  It is NOT OK to WIPE OUT the sub-urban nature and character of the sub-urban areas of Coconut Grove. It is NOT OK to COMBINE NCD-2 and NCD-3 codes & swirl them around to become homogenized & UPzoned in the overall mix of Miami 21 code. 

What do you think? Let Commissioner Russell KNOW that you want him to protect your property rights, not perhaps unwittingly “deal them away” while making a very bad deal for the community. You own the property, your homes’ and you believed the Neighborhood Conservation District Zoning would protect your neighborhood’s character, livability and value. Protect the UNIQUE historic community you call HOME make sure it is there for the next generation.

Ken's email: krussell@miamigov.com
Or he responds faster to tweets: https://twitter.com/kenrussellmiami

John Snyder
Coconut Grove

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel the following could be related and interesting to folks regarding low cost housing loans in the Grove for those displaced by gentrification , i.e., dollars $ $ $, profits, home values and development. At all banks throughout the U.S., federal banking laws make mandatory rules called The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, to be displayed at an obvious location where customers enter banks. I've seen this at our Grove Bank & Trust. Essentially the rules make law that reads a certain percentage of cash deposits on hand (I believe it's 4%) must be made to folks with low incomes who seek housing or want to create a business, or else the bank will be investigated and could be fined and/or lose certain rights. For those who fall into this category please go by our bank and read or pull this up on your computer or cell phone, it might help. You can ask the appropriate officer overseeing this law for the file on their community investment program to determine if the bank is following this law. Jobie Steppe

April 03, 2018 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The low income housing ship has sailed out of the Grove. Where is the low income housing in the Gables, Pinecrest, or any other affluent areas in Miami????

April 03, 2018 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed anon 9:32, but in my opinion only because the news releases 1st announce a parcel is going to develop low income housing. Years later, after the developers arrange for low cost loans and the property is developed, only then do we realize it was all a lie, a scam, business as usual, normal human greed. Low income housing for service personnel was scarce before the hurricanes hit last year and one entire low income community that was minimally harmed had all the homes condemned so the cheap properties could be redeveloped into expensive homes.

April 03, 2018 11:45 AM  

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