Preserve historic districts to protect North Beach’s future.

Our long, hard fight to achieve local designation for North Beach’s historic districts is almost over, but we need you to make another stand.

On December 5 at 3:00, the City Commission is holding a “special meeting” designed to undermine these districts—and the years of collaborative work they represent.

Against the recommendations of the Master Plan, City Planning has suggested eliminating South Shore Drive and the Tatum Waterway from local designation, cutting large chunks out of our National Registry Districts. The Historic Preservation Board reviewed their arguments and rejected these cuts.

Now, Commissioner Aleman, apparently under pressure from outside development interests, has called for a “special meeting” to discuss the boundaries of the local districts. Their arguments focus on sea level rise, but of course that’s not the whole story.

Without preservation of the waterfront, developers would be able to amass plots to build oversized developments in the middle of our historic neighborhoods.

After this meeting, the Commission will decide whether to support the local designation as put forth by HPB and the Master Plan or suggest reduced boundaries.

We know, it feels like we’ve all been working on this for ages… and this is our big moment. Sea level rise cannot be used as a reason to reject local preservation.  What will happen to the already designated areas throughout Miami Beach if this argument wins?

North Beach demands that the Mayor and City Commission stand by their word—and respect the (expensive) expertise of Dover, Kohl & Partners—by confirming designation of our local historic districts as defined by the Master Plan.

We’ve provided some background and talking points below.  Please come out on Monday, December 5 at 3:00 at City Hall (1700 Convention Center Drive, 3rd Floor). Whether you can attend or not, please call and email your Mayor and City Commissioners to make sure they hear from as many of us as possible.  All info for contact below image.

The Mayor and Commissioners are on record in support of the Master Plan and local designations. Now they need to stand by that promise—and we need you to hold them to it.

The Background

  • In 2014, the Historic Preservation Board voted unanimously in favor of local designation. The Commission blocked this, deferring the decision until the Master Plan.
  • The North Beach Master Plan was crafted based on a full year of community engagement and expert evaluation. It calls for local designation of these districts as well as conservation of surrounding areas, with unanimous support by the Steering Committee.
  • In July, the promise of local designation was used to support a height increase in TC-1, the area along 71st street from the Normandy fountain to the beach.
  • In August, the Mayor and Commission unanimously approved the Master Plan and stated (on video) their intention to support local designation.
  • In September, the Historic Preservation Board voted unanimously in favor of local designation as laid out in the Master Plan.
  • Now, in December, the boundaries of the districts are being challenged under the pretense of concern over sea-level rise.

The Talking Points

Respect the Balance of the Master Plan

  • The Master Plan was a genuine consensus among residents and stakeholders regarding where to develop and what to preserve. It’s a good-faith compromise, and local designation is a central feature in that balance to counter height increases that are already being pushed through based on the promise of local designation.
  • The Master Planners dealt extensively with sea-level rise, and they recommended local designation of these entire districts. The plan’s balance of development and preservation are in accordance with FEMA recommendations: Massing should happen in higher areas, like Town Center. Vulnerable areas should have lower density and less new development, not more.

Sea Level Rise: Adapt and Preserve

  • SLR cannot be used to invalidate all local preservation designations. Climate change adaptation is complex and multifaceted. It requires many complementary strategies that are not incompatible with preservation.
  • Yes, areas of our waterfront will need higher and/or stronger sea walls and drainage. But the structures in those areas are reinforced concrete, which is sturdy. Many, if not most, have crawl spaces and there are numerous remedies in practice which can be applied to adapt many or all of the significant architectural components that contribute to the historic allure and authenticity of our National Register districts. What’s needed now are design guidelines that account for the realities of local preservation given the need to adapt for resilience.
  • Again, the Master Plan considered this: FEMA recommends lower density and less new development in vulnerable areas, not more. Massing should happen in higher areas, like Town Center.

Respect North Beach’s Historical Value

  • North Beach has been distinguished by its two National Register District nominations. These districts are unlike any other – with their rich, extensive and cohesive concentration of Mid Century Modernist tropical architecture that is representative of the exuberant postwar golden age of American innovation in one of the nation’s most sublime resort cities.
  • Local designation would give the Historic Preservation Board the authority to ensure that the quality and integrity of these neighborhoods are respected. Without local designation, they’re likely to be demolished and incompatibly overdeveloped under the Design Review Board.
  • North Beach has waited long enough to share in the cultural legacy and economic boom that has made Miami Beach (and the MiMo Biscayne district for that matter) a thriving global destination and an internationally renowned brand by virtue of its preservation efforts. Lack of local designation would threaten the genuine character that comprises the allure and economic viability of our beautiful historic neighborhood.
  • What makes North Beach any less worthy of local historic designation than Flamingo Park, the Art Deco district, MiMo Biscayne, Coral Gables, Savannah, Charleston, St. Augustine, Key West, etc. where adaptation and resilience are no less pressing?

The Big Finale

This is a momentous time for North Beach. The community has talked and listened and compromised and come up with a balanced plan for our future. We can’t lose this opportunity. This last-ditch fear mongering seems like a calculated attempt to undermining the thoughtful outreach, widespread neighborhood engagement, care, advisement and compromise that has gone into developing the Master Plan—and a convenient justification to thwart the interests of the community and subvert this balanced plan in favor of incompatible development.

The Mayor and Commissioners are on record in support of the Master Plan and local designations. Now they need to stand by that promise — and we need you to hold them to it.

Actions (in order of effectiveness)

Come: City Hall Commission Chambers, December 5 at 3:00


  • Mayor Philip Levine: 305.673.7035
  • Commissioner Micky Steinberg: 305.673.7103
  • Commissioner Michael Greico: 305.673.7104
  • Commissioner Joy Malakoff: 305.673.7106
  • Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez: 305.673.7030 Ext 6854
  • Commissioner Ricky Arriola: 305.673.7030 Ext 6274
  • Commissioner John Aleman: 305.673.7102


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