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Tuesday, January 29, 2019


        Say goodbye to the quaint former fishing village known as Coconut Grove.  Miami's City Commission is intent on letting developers destroy it. This was never more apparent than in Thursday's Miami City Commission meeting.

    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.


  1. If you care about Coconut Grove you have to help select sympathetic City Commission candidates in all 5 districts.

    The concern of many neighbors about the overdevelopment taking place in Coconut Grove and the need for improved enforcement has morphed into a Proposal to make radical and confusing changes to the existing NCD code rather than enforcing the existing easily understood code in effect since 2005. Existing NCD code was initially enacted as part of Miami 1100 code and incorporated SD18, and 18.1 which date back to 1991 and corresponds to Coral Gables code.
    1. How specifically would proposal #3001, allowing most existing single family sites to become duplex, and therefore subject to splitting, prevent increasing of density, and uses?

    2. How would proposal 3001 control the size and mass of new construction at a level LESS than current with all of the excluded building areas in the definition of Floor area and FLR?

    3. How would allowing most of the commercial mixed use zoning to increase the density to 231% of present zoning an increase of 131% be helpful and to whom?

    4. How would a decrease in required parking by up to 100% which would assure massive on-street parking in all areas including T3 and throughout the area be helpful to the community?

    5. How would increasing allowable Lot Coverage in the Single Family District from 50% to 70% an increase of 40% over what Miami 21 allows and 100% above Miami-Dade county allowance be consistent with conservation objectives?

    6. How would the combination of increasing allowable Lot Coverage and creation of additional narrow building sites with accompanying mandatory minimum side set backs of 5’ which can have a 3’ encroachment help to protect the existing tree canopy in Coconut Grove?

    7. What specific clauses, aspects of the City’s Planning proposal # 3001 add clarity and enforceability to that required by the Intent of the existing NCD-3 Code ?

    8. Where are those clarifying clauses, which would enhance and make more streamlined the enforceability of the code and how so?

    9. How would delegating the making of changes to strengthen a code suffering from lack of enforcement, to those who have shown lack of effectiveness, favoritism and bias in enforcement of the existing code, be likely to produce a more effective or stronger code? Would that not be counter intuitive?

    Please cite specific sections and clauses of the proposal, “Whereas statements” are not the proposed code.

    LINK to Village Council chair’s answers in red and our follow up responses in green :
    Village council answers and reply
    analysis of an actual site