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Friday, April 27, 2018

Why we need to fight for our NCD

A scene from Village West today.

This letter from GroveBeautiful, has been circulating today. We are sharing it here.

This is the dated April 26, 2018.


Hi Everyone.  We had a productive meeting at my office last Tuesday, and I want to say thank you to all that attended. 


Please keep this email and respond to any of NCD / community matters here: ricky@grovebeautiful.com, instead of my Metronomic email.  Also, please copy Carlos Alicea who will be helping with this: carlos@grovebeautiful.com.  This will help us push things forward and manage better.

At our meeting, we agreed that an injunction would likely be the fastest approach to stop a vote by the village board so that the rest of the community can be informed.  We also agreed that the primary reason would be the process of this proposed NCD change (among others), and we agreed to approach Weiss Serota regarding the injunction.  

I had a discussion yesterday with Alejandro Uribe and Ed Martos of Weiss Serota concerning this. They suggested that the time is not appropriate for an injunction, but some lobbying may be appropriate.

As you know, GroveBeautiful doesn't require membership fees, but if you believe in a particular cause or project you can participate in funding it to make it happen.  I'm inclined to retain Weiss Serota and to pay the $1,500 to retain them if others agree to split their monthly bill for this cause. The more, the better.  As you will see in the retainer agreement, Weiss Serota will work with us in good faith to help keep the numbers down.  Everyone that participates will get copies of the invoices and copies of the GroveBeautiful accounting for the specific project your participating in.  The next project will likely be a PR effort against decreasing building sizes in NCD altogether (not 65%... nothing).  I believe that the lobbying effort, PR effort, and injunction/law suit (later if necessary) are our best efforts for no building size reduction.  There are other items that are negotiable, but not the reduction of building sizes because that would be too detrimental to current and future families in our community.

I blind copied everyone for privacy purposes.  If you want to participate financially in this project, respond to this email and please copy Carlos. GroveBeautiful will represent all of our interests and the best interests of the residents of Coconut Grove; and I'm confident that Weis Serota team will do an excellent job aggressively defending those interest and our rights.  We'll make decisions together, like we did Tuesday, and Carlos and I will keep everyone informed of our progress.

Kind Regards,

Ricky Trinidad
GroveBeautiful
Member
ricky@grovebeautiful.com
www.grovebeautiful.com

=====

An email here, from their attorney's office, Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole & Bierman in Coral Gables, dated April 25 outlines their lobbying plans, to lobby the Planning and Zoning Board behind doors. 

I’m writing to briefly recap our phone conversation.

1.      A court will not take jurisdiction over a case unless some injury has accrued. To date, no such injury has accrued because (a) the PZAB hasn’t taken a vote, and (b) the PZAB likely couldn’t injury developers if it tried because, in this instance, it’s only going to be issuing a recommendation to the City Commission. The proposed NCD legislation isn’t effective until its approved by the City Commission. Given the above, an injunction to stop the PZAB process would be premature or, in legal terms, it would not be “ripe.”
 2.      A court could potentially intervene if there’s some evidence that the right procedure wasn’t followed—for example, if public notices were defective. However, there’s two reasons why I don’t think this point of attack would be effective yet.

a.       First, to get immediate relief from a court, such as an injunction, you’ll need to submit to the court some evidence establishing that you’re right. You’ll have to prove that you have a “likelihood of success on the merits.” We’re not aware of any such evidence.

b.      Second, City Staff and the City Attorney’s office is very responsive to the need for property public notice and procedural due process in general. If there’s a notice problem or some procedural error, we can submit that to City Staff and if there’s really a problem they will address it—Alex, I and my colleagues raise such issues to them very frequently and I can’t recall a single instance where the City didn’t respond by re-noticing or otherwise addressing the issue. For this reason, you may also want to be strategic about when you present a notice issue. If a deferral would benefit you, it’s best to time when you present the notice issue so that there’s not time for the City to correct it—usually a day or two prior to the hearing.

3.      For the above reasons, we strongly recommend that Grove Beautiful take a lobbying approach first and, if necessary, turn to the courts later. A lobbying approach would entail:

a.       Developing one or two versions of our preferred legislation
b.      Lobbying community stakeholders to form a coalition in support of your preferred legislation
c.       Behind-doors lobbying the City’s Planning Staff, PZAB members, and Commissioners
d.      Presenting at PZAB and City Commission to:
                                                                i.      Advocate in favor of Grove Beautiful’ s preferred legislation;
                                                             ii.      Speak in opposition to other versions of the legislation; and
                                                           iii.      Put onto the public record the arguments and evidence Grove Beautiful will need to assert any future claim in court

4.      If Grove Beautiful agrees to proceed in this manner, our lobbying efforts will be led by three individuals, Mitch Bierman, Edward Martos, and myself. We will likely consult to help develop a strategy and consult with Grove Beautiful members to help them develop Grove Beautiful’s preferred legislation, but we three will keep expenses down by having only one of us attend meetings with staff, community, stakeholders, and elected officials.

Attached is a retainer agreement for the services described above. Please review it and let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Alex Uribe
Alejandro Uribe
Land Development, Zoning, and Environmental Associate

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