NBNA Statement of Shared Priorities for the North Beach Master Plan

Based on conversations with our North Beach community, North Beach Neighbors Alliance (NBNA) has identified the following 7 shared priorities for the Master Plan:

#1 Historic Designation: North Beach deserves local historic designation of our National Register Districts.

North Beach is already recognized by the National Registry for its cohesive, irreplaceable concentration of mid-century modern tropical architecture–and yet our historic neighborhoods remain nearly completely unprotected locally. Local Historic District designation should be the foundation of the Master Plan. (In fact, this designation was unanimously passed by the Historic Preservation Board in 2014 but delayed by city officials until it could be integrated within this planning process.) With development pressure and aggregation of parcels within our RM-1 districts at an all-time high, historic designation offers the best protections to ensure the compatibility of new development within these areas. North Beach deserves the same local designation that has helped preserve the integrity of South Beach without sacrificing suitable development.

#2 Government-Owned Parcels: North Beach’s city-owned properties must serve the good of the local community through recreational and educational uses.

All city-owned property, including but not limited to the West Lots and public parks, should be carefully developed to support the public good and not private interest. The West Lots should be used for some combination of efficient parking, green space, and public resources like an expanded library, skate park, educational/research institution, etc. While many are in favor of light commercial use like cafes and small-scale retail, particularly along the Harding Corridor and around the perimeter of (not within) the West Lots, the vast majority oppose profit-driven development of residences, hotels, or large-scale shopping centers.

#3 Green Space & Open Sky: North Beach’s natural beauty and fragile environment needs respect and protection.

Public parks should never become sites for commercial development, nor should special interests be granted land use rights that would endanger our green spaces. The North Shore Open Space Park and Allison Park, as well as our smaller local parks, should be preserved as scarce, valuable resources for residents’ enjoyment and environmental protection.

#4 Land Use Regulations: North Beach’s existing zoning laws should be consistently enforced, particularly when it comes to height.

While the public has the right to vote on density increases, the City Commission can—as it did on Ocean Terrace—offer height variances that undermine the integrity of the neighborhood. We need the Master Plan to call for height certainty: consistent adherence to the current laws. Despite the claims of some developers (and as proven by South Beach), profitable development does not require massive high-rises. The recent vote against the Ocean Terrace upzoning demonstrates locals’ opposition to over-development; that should be formalized in our Master Plan.

#5 Transportation: Creative expertise should be used to improve circulation of traffic.

Improving traffic in North Beach will not be simple, and it will require a combination of solutions. Some suggestions from neighbors include revision of traffic flow to ease pressure on main arteries; expansion of the North Beach Trolley route to include both north/south and east/west routes; the completion of the bike- and pedestrian-friendly beach path between North and South Beach; the addition of water taxis (or better yet, busses); clearer markings and stronger enforcement of existing bike lanes; and critical analysis of possible connections to proposed monorails and other city and county initiatives.

#6 Parking: Enhanced public parking options are needed for local residents and visitors.

The importance of accessible, affordable public parking options cannot be overemphasized for residents or visitors. Rising population in residential areas coupled with a growth in commercial district use requires more parking spaces. Increased public parking options should be considered with a long-term view of future mass transit hubs.

#7 Neighborhood Character: North Beach wants to promote livability for residents, not become a luxury destination.

What we love most about our neighborhood is its quality of life: family-friendly resources, local businesses, accessible rents, natural beauty, and cultural and economic diversity. We choose to live here—and many choose to visit—based on the charm and character of our low-scale and historical beach town feel. North Beach is not South Beach, and we don’t want to be a luxury destination or haven for absentee investors. Planning should prioritize the local community through support of small businesses and the creation of facilities and public spaces that prioritize year-round livability for a mixed-income resident population.

Other commonly expressed wishes for your consideration:

  • Activation of the Harding Corridor through walkable West Lots, allowances for short-term (‘guesthouse’) rentals within restored existing MiMo structures (with the caveat that 24-hour management remain on site at all times) , and light commercial development.
  • Pedestrian-only Ocean Terrace.
  • Parking structures up to 3 stories.
  • Limiting concessionaires on beach.

The consensus on these issues is reassuring and inspiring. If we all get out there and communicate these messages—clearly, civilly, and consistently—with the Steering Committee and Dover & Kohl, we have a real opportunity to craft a Master Plan that serves all of North Beach.

Let’s make North Beach better by keeping what we love the same.