High-Stakes City Agenda Items for North Beach, June 8

Reassuring news that should come as no surprise: our collective voices are being heard—and making a difference. We have learned over the past few months how the Commission, Mayor and City take what residents say seriously. You matter.

Please take the time to attend, email, and/or call the Mayor and Commission regarding the items coming up at this week’s Commission meeting—Wednesday, June 8th starting at 8:30AM at City Hall. Click here to access agenda.

Two items—the demolition moratorium ordinance affecting  the historic districts of North Beach and the 2nd public reading of the Ocean Terrace ordinance—have specified discussion times, which makes speaking in support much easier.

A vocal presence sends the most powerful message. But if you can’t come, write and call!

Here’s a rundown of the items important to North Beachers. (In a hurry? Note our suggested request in blue text included with each item.)

Support the temporary Demolition Moratorium for North Beach

ITEM R5G @ 10:30AM, co-sponsored by Commissioners Ricky Arriola and Joy Malakoff, proposes a temporary moratorium on demolitions of contributing historic structures within the North Shore National Register and the Normandy Isles National Register Districts until the in-progress Master Plan by Dover, Kohl and Partners is completed and implemented by the Commission.

We’re seeing strong resistance for this item from members of North Beach Now, including the Chair of the Master Plan Steering Committee. Their position is incomprehensible: Why would they not want to protect the integrity of the Master Plan as well as these local resources?

Whatever their motives, such maneuvers seem to confirm the importance of this protection. Although those who oppose a moratorium state it will slow down development in North Beach, this ordinance will last only 180 days and simply ensure future development is framed by the Master Plan that residents have invested $400,000 to create. Tell the Commissioners and Mayor you value North Beach’s historic buildings and support the demolition moratorium.

Request Revisions that Tighten the Ocean Terrace Ordinance to Prevent a *Third* Tower on 73rd-74th Block

The language of the current ordinance (ITEM R5H @ 5:01PM) would permit yet another tower on the south end of Ocean Terrace. This could be easily prevented by adjusting the aggregation requirements on Ocean Terrace. Whatever your feelings about the current OT plan, it’s important to consider the broader context. Please encourage city officials to call for a revision of the ordinance to include language that limits aggregation on 73rd and 74th blocks to prevent an additional tower.

Request Ocean Terrace Covenant to Secure Project Details

Also worthy of mention within ITEM R5H @ 5:01PM: Many of the most popular elements in the presented plans for Ocean Terrace—street-level activation with cafes and hospitality outlets, retention of hotel use, and preservation of MiMo facades—are not fully addressed within the ordinance.

The developer, as well as city officials, have repeatedly expressed a willingness to include these elements in a binding covenant that would be attached to the deed of the properties so that any future owners are legally obligated to uphold. Please encourage city officials to remain firm on these requests and require covenants that solidify our interest in the activation of shops and restaurants on Ocean Terrace; retention of MiMo facades; and ongoing operation of the Broadmoor/Days Inn and Alcan/Ocean Surf hotels.

Support Residents’ Rights to Know City Charter Amendment

ITEM R9P, put forward by Miami Beach United, is designed to ensure greater transparency on matters that potentially affect residents’ quality of life. Given the rapid pace (and risks) of development and zoning changes in our neighborhoods, this item is an important opportunity to ensure fair, clear, and inclusive procedures for decision-making. (See attached document for details.) Please encourage the Commission to seriously consider this item for the Miami Beach Ballot this November.  Also email any suggestions and feedback to Mark Needle at mdneedle@hotmail.com.

Support Skate Park Proposal and Discuss Location Considerations

ITEM R9L is an exciting proposal to bring a long-awaited skate/pump park to North Beach. During a recent meeting, the emphasis seemed to be on building in North Shore Open Space Park, due, in part, to the lengthy timeframe to building it in the West Lots given funding has already been secured. We’ve heard widespread support for this park, as well as certain key questions:

  • Wouldn’t the West Lots be the best location for this active community space? This seemed to be the consensus during the Master Plan Charrette, as shown in the work-in-progress draft presented by Dover, Kohl. One concern seems to be the timeline, but like NSOSP, the City controls and should be able to manage this land efficiently.  If this portion of the West Lots could be developed quickly, would that change the location conversation?
  • If it goes into NSOSP, how will the City evaluate and minimize environmental impact? Good design will be essential for effective stewardship of this rare, treasured green space.

Ask the Commission and Mayor to consider input from the Charrettes and MP, as well as the community meeting last week to present realistic location options and timelines for our valued pump park.

Your emails and calls truly do make a difference—and your vocal presence at meetings is even more valuable. However you can, please be sure to make your wishes known to your city officials.

Many thanks, as always, for your commitment and care for North Beach!

The Commissioners and Mayor can be reached as follows:

  • Mayor Philip Levine: philiplevine@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7035
  • Commissioner Micky Steinberg: micky@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7103
  • Commissioner Michael Grieco: michaelgrieco@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7104
  • Commissioner Joy Malakoff: joymalakoff@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7106
  • Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez: kristenrosengonzalez@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7030 Ext 6854
  • Commissioner Ricky Arriola: rickyarriola@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7030 Ext 6274
  • Commissioner John Aleman: johnaleman@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7102

Here is a handy email list to copy and paste:

philiplevine@miamibeachfl.gov, micky@miamibeachfl.gov, michaelgrieco@miamibeachfl.gov, joymalakoff@miamibeachfl.gov, kristenrosengonzalez@miamibeachfl.gov, rickyarriola@miamibeachfl.gov, johnaleman@miamibeachfl.gov

Let’s Save Ocean Terrace Again

Dear neighbors,

Many thanks to those of you who have shared your responses to the revised Ocean Terrace Overlay and Claro Development’s plan for developing that area. As always, it is a pleasure to see such passionate community investment in the issues that affect us all.

We’ve learned how much you like certain aspects of what Sandor Scher has shared, particularly the proposed preservation of existing facades and street-level activation of Ocean Terrace.  At the same time, we’ve heard your serious concerns about the scale and uncertainty of this vision. The common thread throughout has been the fact that the language of the current OT Overlay ordinance is not strong and clear enough to safeguard the future of this landmark area.

Based on these conversations, North Beach neighbors want to unite behind the following priorities: discover a way to moderate the height increase that was rejected by voters because it was incompatible for the area and pursue binding revisions to the ordinance as well as covenants to guarantee the interests and needs of the community are served.

Below, we’ve outlined an overview of each priority and possible talking points based on your input; we’ve also attached a sample letter to inspire your own.  All of us have our own priorities, and NBNA’s goal is to empower each of us to stand up—with different perspectives united in a shared vision. So please take this opportunity to make your voice heard through emails and calls to Commissioners and through social media to get others involved.

Most importantly, please write and call our Commissioners and Mayor as soon as possible.  It is crucial that as many of us as possible attend the first reading of the OT Overlay Ordinance on May 11th.   In addition, consider asking the City to hold a public meeting in North Beach to generate constructive dialogue among a wide range of community stakeholders.

Information will follow regarding when and where to be on May 11th. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about any of these points or join in the developing conversation with neighbors, please reach out and follow the FB page. We will do our best to keep the community informed and connected—with your help, as always.

In solidarity,
North Beach Neighbors Alliance

We Want to Tighten the Ordinance and Seek Binding Covenants to Guarantee the Interests and Needs of the Community are Served

Remember, the OT Overlay will apply to this area regardless of owner or developer! Although the circulated ideas may be appealing, the ordinance language does not guarantee that the results will be in line with that vision. North Beach cannot simply trust and hope for the best, as we (and many of our current Commissioners) learned all too well from the Biltmore Terrace demolition in 2014. We need stronger assurances that Ocean Terrace will truly be handled with the care it deserves—and we need it in writing.

We request binding agreements in the following areas:

  • Clarify language regarding “important” contributing structures to give the Historic Preservation Board power to protect the integrity and cohesion of this historic district. The existing contributing MiMo and Art Deco facades on Ocean Terrace and Collins Avenue should all be retained, restored and appropriately incorporated within the new development.
  • Adjust aggregation specifications to prevent possibility that aggregation of Olsen Hotel and two or more additional lots within the 73/74 Street block of Ocean Terrace could result in yet another tower.
  • Ensure that if there is a higher variance for the residential tower, there couldn’t also be a higher variance applied to a hotel.
  • Strengthen the “permitted uses” language, with covenants if necessary, to ensure activation of the street-level of Ocean Terrace with storefronts, boutiques, cafes and other hospitality outlets that will serve the community and visitors.
  • Require that existing hotels will continue to function as such.

We Want to Moderate the Height of the Proposed Tower to Better Fit Ocean Terrace and North Beach

New development should be appropriate for and consistent with North Beach’s scale and style; a high-rise would overwhelm Ocean Terrace and its MiMo character.

There are two central threads to this argument:

  • The proposed increase from 75 to 235 feet—a 313% increase in allowable height!—sets a dangerous precedent for North Beach just as we are pursuing a balanced Master Plan. Dover, Kohl & Partners’ draft presentation did not include plans to upzone Ocean Terrace. Instead, it encourages—with broad local support—focusing height and density in the Town Center. Another out-of-place tower on the beach could have a detrimental impact on the neighborhood’s historic charm. The height, design and massing of what would be allowed in the ordinance needs more thoughtful consideration.
  • Miami Beach voters already rejected the near-identical Ocean Terrace Overlay in the November 2015 election. While this vote was technically on Floor Area Ratio, the debate was also always about size. In fact, that word was specifically included by the Commission for the sake of clarity, and everyday voters would have taken that description in good faith. So when they rejected “the overall size” allowed by the previous Ocean Terrace Overlay, they were rejecting more than just density. The City Commission needs to listen to and act on the wishes of their constituents. If officials ignore community objections, we will bear this in mind in the next election, in terms of both candidates and ballot initiatives.

Other questions to consider:

  • If the developer is granted such significant variances in North Beach, should they offer the community designated funds to contribute to local improvements, such as a MiMo Welcome Center, support for preservation efforts, municipal parking fund, integration of workforce housing, etc.?
  • If the City grants a height variance, will the Commissioners simultaneously place items on the November ballot asking that future height variances go to voters and affording local historic district designation to protect at-risk contributing structures in the North Shore? In this way, moving forward, the community will be assured that the wishes of the North Beach community are respected.

Sample Letter to City Officials

Dear _______________:

As a resident of North Beach, I am writing in regards to the new ordinance for the Ocean Terrace Overlay scheduled to come before the Commission on May 11th. Although I have heard of Claro Development’s most recent vision for the area and like certain aspects [explain what you like here if you have things to say], I am concerned about the lack of binding agreements related to the proposed Ocean Terrace Overlay ordinance.

I ask that you seek greater clarity for the public through a revised ordinance or other binding agreements as well as a moderation to the proposed height to ensure its compatibility with the neighborhood prior to the May 11th commission meeting.

Given our collective hopes for the Master Plan, as well as tensions left over the previous Overlay, it seems wise for the City to hold a public workshop to ensure an interactive, inclusive, and transparent process for all residents. I am sure you want to learn what the community wants.

When I voted against the FAR increase on November’s ballot, I did so because [explain your reasons].

Now, I have concerns about the OT Overlay ordinance because [explain your reasons].

As your constituent, I am asking you to stand up for North Beach by respecting the will of the majority of Miami Beach voters. We have repeatedly demonstrated our dislike of overdevelopment for others’ profit, and we will support Commissioners who share our values of suitably scaled development, historic preservation, and striving to serve the wishes of the community.

I hope you are the City Commissioner that North Beach deserves.


Your name

Contact Information

  • Mayor Philip Levine: philiplevine@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7035
  • Commissioner Micky Steinberg: micky@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7103
  • Commissioner Michael Grieco: michaelgrieco@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7104
  • Commissioner Joy Malakoff: joymalakoff@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7106
  • Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez: kristenrosengonzalez@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7030 Ext 6854
  • Commissioner Ricky Arriola: rickyarriola@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7030 Ext 6274
  • Commissioner John Aleman: johnaleman@miamibeachfl.gov Ph: 305.673.7102