Hundreds of us went to City Hall to plead for changes in the building code that would stop the building of the white boxes that are ruining the Grove's neighborhoods. Hideous and huge, they are replacing the trees and unique character we love about Coconut Grove.
For three years concerned citizens have been pushing for changes in the building code (the "NCD") that would create limits on how big residential structured can be. Now you're allowed to pour concrete over 80% of your property. In most places (like Coral Gables) you can only build on half of it. The proposed change would pare it down to the 50-60% range.
Its all about greed, our city allowing developers to build the biggest possible houses to make the most money. These money mongers sell their Grove boxes touting the delicate tropical ambiance that they are wiping out.
If you were there Thursday you saw a vast majority of those attending -and those speaking out- saying, "Please help the citizens of Coconut Grove save and protect our community".
Our pleas fell on deaf ears. Most of the commissioners seemed bored by the whole affair wandering here and there while residents spoke. They finally voted to ignore the standing-room-only crowd and postpone a decision. They know if they put it off enough the concerned citizens may lose faith and stay home for future meetings.
It was reminiscent of the hard-fought Scotty's Landing controversy five years ago. Next to city hall they're building the Mall-On-The-Bay. It is replacing a boat yard and a casual sea-side restaurant, "Scotty's Landing". These two things represented so much of what we loved about this community. This seaside spot felt like part of a small town, a place where, after you painted your boat, you could point your flip-flops to the beer joint next door.
Even if you didn't have a vessel you could be a part of the bayside scene watching boats come and go while munching on a fish sandwich.
Francesca and I always took our out-of-town guests to Scotty's, it was our own version of "Margaritaville".
Soon that extended tiki shack will be a multi-storied Shula's Steakhouse. Heck, the plans I saw make it look like a shinier version of one of the big boxes they're stuffing into our neighborhoods.
Architect's rendering of the tiki shack's replacement
We did get to vote on the "Mall or Scotty's" issue. In the city-wide election, voters in the Grove chose to keep Scotty's but now, sadly, Bay Mall rises.
The majority of the city commission consistently vote to ignore our pleas for help. They are turning the downtown Grove into an office park This behemoth now looks down on Greenstreet's
and our neighborhoods into what looks like and un-ending series of tree-less apartment complexes. My little street will get its third big box this year. The two-block Avocado Avenue, (behind me) already has six.
What can we do? Stuff City Hall once more when they take up our NCD proposal again on February 28th? I suppose.
We can't stop now. If the Grove is destined to become soul-less and tree-less as our Brickell neighbor, we can't let them do it without a fight.