Friday, March 23, 2018

Protecting native pine rocklands - our duty to preserve our Palmetto Bay community - this property is still at risk - there is more work to be done to ensure preservation.

I was invited to speak before the Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition on Thursday, March 22, 2018. I was pleased to present our continual efforts to protect what little native rock pineland remains in Miami-Dade County.  I posted information on how those interested in protecting our Pine lands can get involved: Presentation by the Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition - -- Who they are. How you can join, Dec. 14, 2015.
I discussed our progress to date in preserving these Pinelands.
"The struggle is real": We almost lost the 22 acres of imperiled Pine Rocklands to development of 41 homes and a fire station back in 2014 - See: Palmetto Bay council defers old Burger King property zoning; approves Palmer Trinity’s site-plan changes, by Lola Duffort, July 22, 2014.This effort was sponsored by then Mayor Stanczyk (as reflected in official agenda and public documents)

See: Palmetto Bay developer’s rezoning request up for vote, Environmentalists worried about proposed project on 22 acres of forest land, July 21, 2014.

This was also covered in the Miami Herald at length, Palmetto Bay approves Palmer Trinity expansion, By Lola Duffort, September 26, 2014, reporting that:

The council was also initially scheduled to hear a rezoning package on 22 acres of mostly forested land to allow for single-family homes and fire station at the Palmetto Bay Village Center, the 80-acre bayfront office park that once housed Burger King’s world headquarters in the village’s southeastern quadrant.

The item was first deferred from July, when criticism from environmentalists about developing forestland peppered with Pine Rockland – an imperiled habitat unique to South Florida and the Bahamas – led council members to direct staff and the property owner to gather more information about the forest’s environmentally sensitive properties.

Last week Stanczyk, the item’s sponsor, withdrew it from consideration after staff told her that the appropriate information had not yet been gathered.

“Mr. [Scott] Silver [a partner in the office park] has contacted some of the [environmental] groups, he has done some things but I don’t have any thing in writing at this point that is available to me to show that those environmental concerns have been addressed,” she said on the Thursday before the hearing.

Environmentalists who spoke out against the measure in July, including Tropical Audubon Society Executive Director Laura Reynolds, have said they wouldn’t have a problem with the village rezoning just the 1.5 acres necessary to site a fire station on the northern tip of the parcel.

But Silver said on Tuesday that the company has no intention of splitting up the rezoning package to allow the village to make a decision on the fire station separately from the housing development.

Is it important to save Pine Rockland?
Florida’s pine rocklands are some of the most imperiled lands in the world. They are characterized by limestone rock outcroppings with a low understory of tropical and temperate shrubs, palms, vines, grasses and herbaceous wildflowers — as well as a single species of overstory tree, the slash pine. With very little soil substrate and a dependence on fire, these ecosystems are among the world’s rarest forests, occurring only in South Florida and the Bahamas. They once spanned 185,000 acres of Miami-Dade County, but now — thanks to rampant development — just 2 percent of those lands remain outside Everglades National Park. Florida’s pine rocklands are now regarded as critically imperiled globally, and the plants and animals that rely on them are extremely rare.
See: Save The Pine Rocklands, Biological -

I chose to save the 22 acres. These 22 acres do have significant development rights (discussed in many other blog posts). 

I ask that our residents who care for our community continue to join the fight to preserve these lands.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Going Solar in Palmetto Bay - Miami-Dade Solar Co-Op Info Session - Wed., April 11, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

I am proud to be hosting the April 11, 2018, Solar Co-Op meeting to be held in Palmetto Bay.  This is a tri-city event that will also include Daniella Levine Cava, as co-host for this meeting. This is a must attend meeting for those considering going solar.  Palmetto Bay is currently one of ten (10) Miami-Dade County municipalities that have waived all or at least 75% of permitting fees for solar panels: Town of Cutler Bay, Coral Gables, Surfside, Miami Beach, City of Miami, Miami Shores, Miami Springs, Doral, Palmetto Bay and South Miami. 

Waiving these fees can save homeowners hundreds of dollars on their installation.has eliminated building permit fees for installation of Solar panels for a one year period. Learn how you can save money through participating in a Solar Co-Op.  

Solar United Neighbors presents
Miami-Dade Solar Co-op Info Session

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

Village of Palmetto Bay Municipal Center
9705 E Hibiscus St 
Palmetto Bay, FL 33157

This event is Co-Hosted by: 
Eugene Flinn, Mayor, Village of Palmetto Bay
Daniella Levine Cava, Commissioner, Dist.8, and
Town of Cutler Bay
Village of Pinecrest, and
League of Women Voters of Florida

CLICK HERE to view and use the RSVP link. 

CLICK HERE to view the official Facebook event page

More information regarding Solar United Neighbors of Florida can be found online - (CLICK HERE)

Volunteer Eco Restoration fun days -- Hosted by Livablecutler - Sat / Sun, March 24 & 25 see information below

Volunteer - participate in Eco Restoration -- Hosted by Livablecutler
Here is an opportunity to participate in restoring part of our native lands - going on for 7 hours on Saturday with another opportunity on Sunday for an additional 7 hours.  Note that they are NOT seeking a full 7 hour commitment for either day, spend the time and effort to the extend that you are able.  Please see the Livablecutler Facebook site for more information.
We will be restoring our coastal ecosystems.

March 24&25, Sat and Sun. 8:30 - 3:30

What will we be doing?

Planting native plants - restoring uplands with pineland and hammock species and coastal wetlands with native grasses. Also removing light debris, installing interpretive signs, and mulching trails.


SE corner of Old Cutler Rd and SW 184 St - at the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands


All are welcomed. From individuals, groups, schools, organizations, and elected officials. And we give credit for needed volunteer hours.

You too can be a part of this great effort and add your own brush strokes to the painting.

Gloves, drinks, and snacks will be provided.

Just bring sunscreen and energy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Meeting report - Monday, March 19, 2018 - a victory for controlled development

3 of of 5 members of the village council voted to keep traffic restrictions in place, reduce the development cap down to 389 and transfer sensitive Pine Rockland to Village ownership.

Monday, March 19, 2018, was a very positive day for Palmetto Bay and for everyone who values preservation of endangered lands, properly controlling development and who wanted to see less, not more density along Old Cutler Road.

I am providing several positive points that result out of 3 out of 5 members of the village council diligently working together:

  • Reducing density from the potential of "485" to a hard cap of no more than 389 units,
  • Reducing traffic impact on Old Cutler Road,
  • Permanently protecting endangered Pine Rocklands,
  • Supporting transparency by holding additional public hearings on the proceedings
Please CLICK HERE to Download and/or view the presentation made by the Village Planner addressing the Village Mixed Use (VMU) District and explaining the main differences between the development approvals given in 2008 and in 2016, along with recent traffic data gathered impacting the site's development.

I applaud the efforts of Council Member David Singer who brought forth an amendment to the Vice Mayor's Ordinance.   Council Member David Singer's amendment to that ordinance are based upon actual evidence; a traffic analysis that was completed and provided to the Village on March 15, 2018.

I am proud to have voted with Councilman Singer and Councilwoman Siegel Lara to protect 22 acres of pine rockland from development right along Old Cutler Road and lower the cap of development down to 389 units – a number less than the 400 units, plus a hotel, plus probable development on the pineland that the Vice Mayor’s Ordinance would have allowed.  It is unfortunate that this was not a unanimous action. The Vice mayor and one council member don’t want resolution, but want instead to place our village at risk for uncontrolled development along Old Cutler Road by repealing the traffic safeguards put in place on May 2, 2016.


Why would the Vice Mayor and another council member vote against reducing traffic along Old Cutler Road,  Why would they vote for more development, to put 22 acres of valuable pine rockland back on the development block – a vote that risked an absurd possibility of a total of 680 units on Old Cutler Road. This was a time for reasonableness and evidence, not emotion and politics.  It is undisputed that the Palmetto Bay Village Center owners have vested rights to 400 units on their main property, plus rights to development on the sensitive Rock Pineland. The ordinance passed on first reading caps all development at 389 and could go lower – and protects the Pine Rocklands.

Think about the difference between 680 units verses 389 on Old Cutler Road.

Political ambitions nearly costs us!


Transparency is not the enemy of staying current as information and/or evidence develops. Facts and evidence often changes between the time an item is placed on an agenda and action is actually taken at the meeting. To argue against any modifications, actions taken at the meetings, would restrict all votes to a simply “yes” or “no” on an item as it was placed on the agenda, irrespective of the testimony by residents or experts at a hearing. 

Transparency is how you handle an item to conclusion.  Councilwoman Larissa Siegel Lara, Councilman David Singer and I agreed that the Singer amended ordinance shall not reach final vote without at least two (2) public hearings (not including Monday, 3/19) and the final vote will take place on the same date as the zoning hearing on any site plan application made by the Palmetto Bay Village Center. 

The amendment to the Ordinance protected the village from the harm that may have occurred had the original Ordinance been approved.  


This is a great day for Palmetto Bay and for everyone who values preservation of endangered lands. We have a park and protections from rampant development along Old Cutler Road.

More to come ...

Friday, March 16, 2018

Palmetto Bay hit with the LINE ITEM VETO!

The Florida Legislature giveth, but the governor took it away (line item Veto). The Palmetto Bay appropriation for the Multi-Modal project was vetoed by Governor Scott today (Friday, March 16, 2018).  

The entire veto list can be viewed online.  Governor Scott Vetoed $64 Million worth of line items.

This is why we don't count our chickens.  This post is in follow up of the prior post of March 14, 2018, Governor Scott to decide if Palmetto Bay receives State Money for its Multi-Model project.

Thank you to our State Representative Michael Bileca and State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez for their assistance.

We move on, living within our budget means.

Traffic meetings continue on a neighborhood group or personal level - updates.

We continue to meet with concerned residents on Traffic issues - both Traffic enforcement as well as Public Services (Public Works) requests.  Yesterday I was at Old Cutler and 152 on a failure to yield to school buses issue. Today with an issue impacting Cape Cutler Estates.

Council Member David Singer and I remain engaged in see these issues through.  See a prior post of  March 13, 2018, Update on Traffic Enforcement - Major Serralta and team discuss special traffic initiatives for Palmetto Bay - Council Member David Singer and I want to thank those who contiue to follow up with us, as well as those who were able to join us live at our Traffic Safety Town Hall meeting held March 12, 2018.  

I don't limit myself to office hours. I have met anywhere from 6:30 AM to as late as it takes. My cell is (305) 302-3713. My e-mail is

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

SW 136th Street project - FDOT - State Road (SR) 5/US 1 at Howard Drive/SW 136 Street, Project Identification Number: 439984-1-52-01

This project affects both Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Six is developing the design for a safety improvement project along SR 5/US 1 at Howard Drive/SW 136 Street, in Miami-Dade County. The scope of work for this project is listed in the project fact sheet (CLICK HERE to view online).

 Construction is expected to begin in November 2020 and last about four months. The estimated construction cost for this project is $385,520.

Work is expected to begin in November 2020 and last about four months. Please note that the construction duration is subject to change.

Project Identification Number: 439984-1-52-01

Junior League of Miami - 2018 Annual Legislative Breakfast

It was my honor to represent Palmetto Bay at the 2018 Legislative Breakfast held on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. The event was held at their headquarters in Coral Gables.

I am familiar with this organization as my wife Alexandra spent some years as a member and volunteer with this organization. Discussions of the long-term programs brought back memories, such as assisting as Santa Claus at an Inn Transition Christmas event.  Good times serving for great causes. I look forward to the Junior League April event at Deering Estate: April 14 – when The Junior League of Miami plans to transform the historic Deering Estate for the 2018 Miami Showhouse; open to the public from April 14 – 29, 2018. (CLICK HERE) to view the official Junior League of Miami website release regarding this event.

The official Miami-Dade County News Release describes the April Miami Showhouse event as an event hosted by the Junior League of Miami to increase awareness and financial capability for the 91-year-old nonprofit organization to continue its work helping at-risk families in Miami.

The release notes further that: “The highly anticipated design event will inspire dozens of the most sought-after interior designers to temporarily transform interior and exterior spaces in the former home of industrial magnate Charles Deering. From April 14 to 29, the public will have the unique opportunity to explore the residence reinterpreted with modern touches in an estate dating back to 1916.”  Please (CLICK HERE) to view the full Miami-Dade News Release regarding this event.
I am a supporter of the outstanding work of the Junior League of Miami.

I also discussed a few of the issues important to Palmetto Bay that I am fortunate to sponsor/facilitate including School Safety, transportation, our efforts in recent legislative agenda, Parks and Parks programing, including our Community Center, as well as our progress on becoming an Age-Friendly City.  

This event also provided me with time to meet (post event) with Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli – we are in contact on numerous issues relating to school safety, traffic, FPL, development, and even coyotes.  More on that in another post. Discussions were also held with County Commissioner Sally Heyman on traffic, transit and animal issues.

Thank you to the leaders, members and supporters of the Junior League of Miami that allows the Junior League of Miami to do some any great things for our community. 

Governor Scott to decide if Palmetto Bay receives State Money for its Multi-Modal project

The legislature placed the money in the budget, but the final decision belongs to Governor Rick Scott.

The money made it into the budget, but do NOT start counting the chickens. The question is whether the multi-model money will survive Governor Scott’s line item veto pen.

The Multi-Modal line item was discussed at our March Regular Village Council meeting when I set up an extraordinary telephone call in report from our State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez.  We also thank our Representative Michael Bileca who sponsored this appropriation in HB 3821.

See Miami Herald, Which local projects in the state budget will survive? It’s up to Gov. Scott’s veto, by Elizabeth Koh And Steve Bousquet, March 13, 2018.

As stated:
Scott’s pen is the final hurdle for hundreds of local projects sponsored by lawmakers for constituents back home — but it is a high hurdle to vault. The governor has slashed more money from the budget — about $2.3 billion in line-item spending, not counting last year’s school budget — than any other Florida chief executive, calling much of that spending unnecessary or wasteful.
Many of those local projects are standard municipal fare, including money for water and sewer projects, housing, transit, emergencies, and local cultural and educational projects. They are also a fraction of the projects proposed by legislators every year during session — others never even make it into the state budget, blocked by legislative leaders who have final negotiating power on its contents before it is sent to the governor.

We are working to try to survive the 2018 veto pen. 
Here is a link to the 2018 legislative priorities that I prepared and sponsored this year. It was approved unanimously  See: (CLICK HERE) Palmetto Bay Resolution 2018-17.

Southwood Middle School - 2018 winner of the Village of Palmetto Bay’s Earth Day Art

Congratulations Southwood Middle School.

Our area schools - Southwood Middle in this specific case- continue to make our Palmetto Bay Community Proud!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Update on Traffic Enforcement - Major Serralta and team discuss special traffic initiatives for Palmetto Bay

Council Member David Singer and I want to thank the participants of our Traffic Safety Town Hall meeting held March 12, 2018. The council chambers was filled with fellow residents who brought forward their concerns for their neighborhoods.  Our Village Police were on hand taking notes and preparing "pink sheets" which will be used to set up special enforcement details throughout Palmetto Bay.  Your voices were heard loud and clear.  Council Member Singer and are fully supportive of life-safety and traffic enforcement measures.

This was a first of the kind meeting where we brought multiple neighborhoods and individuals together and discussed an updated Traffic Enforcement Plan. I also want to thank those who could not attend the event, but who reached out to me over the weekend and earlier Monday to discuss their concerns.

Major Serralta discussed staffing and deployment at the current time, including the level of enhanced protection for our area schools, until they can get their police staffing up.  The projected cost to Palmetto Bay is expected to be in the area of $60,000.00 to take us to the end of this school year.

There is more to come on safety initiatives. 

Our next Town Hall meeting will be held in April and will focus on Community Safety and enhanced School Security. This Town Hall Meeting will be jointly sponsored / co-hosted by Mayor Eugene Flinn and Council Member David Singer. Both Do The Right Thing and Crime Stoppers will be participating in our next Town Hall Meeting. Principals of our area schools will be invited to participate and we expect that they (or their designee) will be available to discuss our school safety plans (to the extend that Public disclosure is allowed, we do not expect any privileged information that risks compromising the programs to be released).
Major Serralta is presently updating the traffic enforcement plans.  This plan will be brought before the Village Council for the April Regular Village Council meeting. 

Council Member David Singer and I are serious about the newly unveiled traffic enforcement program. Child safety is our priority – in or out of our schools.
I want to thank both Crime Stoppers and Do The Right Thing (DTRT) for participating and providing general and child/student safety materials for participants.  Both Do The Right Thing and Crime Stoppers will be participating in our next Town Hall Meeting, Community Safety and enhanced School Security that will be jointly sponsored / co-hosted by Mayor Eugene Flinn and Council Member David Singer.
This Traffic Safety Town Hall has been part of the interactive series that Council Member David Singer and I have been holding.  Prior Town Halls include our Traffic Calming Town Hall (Public Services) held on February 13, 2018. This meeting included our Public Services team and focused upon the traffic calming initiates that I have brought forward.

A Public Meeting was held by us regarding Transportation, on, January 24, 2018, to focus on making better use of the Village's existing IBUS routes, including discussion on improvements to transportation in the community. It was from this meeting (and other council members attended the meeting and took notes!) that the Park and Ride and other ideas came forward.

Public Meeting on Strategic Plan - January 10, 2018.  The purpose of this Town Hall Meeting was to gather resident input and feedback prior to the final adoption of the Village's Strategic Plan. Draft copies of the Strategic Plan were made available online as well as at the actual meeting.

Again, thank you all for participating, making your voices heard.  The Operations Commander took down many “pink sheets” that document problem areas and place neighborhoods in the que for the special enforcement.

The local media is taking notice of our efforts!

Fabienne Fleurantin, South Florida Uncovered, provided recent coverage on our efforts, proposals, and plans, as well as balanced reporting as to some of the resistance to public transportation in the article: Preliminary plan for Palmetto Bay I-Bus extension includes routes to FIU and MDC

Invisible stop sign? This is an area on the list of special traffic enforcement.

Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 March Madness is here - Just for Fun - can you pick the perfect bracket?

The odds of predicting a 100% successful March Madness bracket? Odds very, but some sources have the probability of 1 in 9.2 quintillion. 

CLICK HERE to download the 2018 March Madness bracket posted online by the Miami Herald.

Good luck with your predictions. It is all just for fun.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

UPDATE - Condition of Moony, neighborhood cat injured by Dart. Opportunity to donate.

My heartfelt thanks again to those compassionate neighbors who helped out on the neighborhood cat named Moony. 

Moony the cat is now resting comfortably in a local safe house located at an undisclosed location of Palmetto Bay (OK, its one of the worst kept 'secrets'.  The cat is with local pet rescue activist Cindy Hewitt).  The cat is still under care of Miami-Dade County Animal Services.

I visited Moony Sunday morning, March 11, 2018. Moony looked much better from the last time I saw him - when he still had the dart embedded in his head.

Cindy Hewitt has been fielding questions from many fellow residents about donating.  Cindy posted the following on the Facebook Page, Palmetto Bay's Lost and Found Animals:
In response to folks who have asked about donating towards Moony’s care: While there is no veterinary charge for Moony’s care, MDAS incurred veterinary & forensic expenses. If you want to support their efforts to sustain/increase the live release rate at the shelter (currently around 90% for both dogs & cats), the Animal Services Trust Fund accepts contributions (tax deductible). Checks should be made payable to Miami-Dade Animal Services with Animal Services Trust Fund on the memo line. Mailing address is 3599 NW 79 Ave Doral 33122. Contributions can also be made online at under the news and events tab, but I could only find a direct deposit form for county employees.
Or CLICK HERE for a link to the Animal Services page - scroll down for a link to report Animal Cruelty.  You can also CLICK HERE to go to a donation page. 

Please do not forget our local animal rescue groups who work so hard to help our furry companions.  I will be posting updates in the future spotlighting these groups.
This case remains an open animal cruelty investigation.  Please see a prior post: March 9, 2018, Miami-Dade County, Village Policing Unit & Miami-Dade/Florida Keys Crime Stoppers are seeking your help. Neighborhood cat injured by dart

Thank you to everyone who has been so concerned and inquiring as to how they can help.