Tuesday, January 21, 2020

No sign of them here? Why is this critical intersection not marked? Street by street? Not here.

2:00 PM UPDATE TO ORIGINAL POST: It gets worse. I spotted a Facebook update who went out to confirm or deny what I had posted early morning of Tuesday, 1/21/2020.  Here is the report from this FOSDU* Note that the identity of the person who posted has been redacted. 


As stated in the post: 
So, was the Mayor's (Referring to Mayor Cunningham's) Clean Street Sign initiative so good that some signs disappeared like the 174 SW 87th ??And some others were completely ignored.See exhibits A, B &C
The missing signs are confirmed, but note the second photo that documents the condition of the Street sign placed at SW 86th Avenue and SW 174th Street (a different intersection).

It is obvious that residents of this area are not "FOK's" (Friends of the Mayor) and are not receiving their spoils share of council delivered public works pork. Unfair!
______________________________________
Original post - 6:00 AM Tuesday, 1/21/2020:

It is easy to see what is there, but it is often harder to notice what is missing. Can you tell without me pointing it out? Look at the photos below, provided to me by a FOSDU*  

Do I need to give you a sign, or at least a hint? Not everyone uses a traffic APP to navigate Palmetto Bay. Anyone involved in a true "street by street" initiative should have been all over this issue by now.

Street signs remain critical. Why then, is the intersection of 87th Avenue at SW 174th Street without these signs? We need to separate and highlight the facts from the fiction being promoted. This is an additional example of why public works should be through professional administration, based upon need, rather than a political initiative through the Mayor or Village Council members.

We may know more on Thursday, January 23, 2020, as Palmetto Bay officials have called a Special Council Meeting for 7:00 PM, to be held at the Palmetto Bay Municipal Center. Item 3 of this meeting (III) is "A traffic circle on SW 87th Avenue and SW 174th Street."


Do you really want to know how to get action for your street? See the post(s) related to:  Getting action. Sometimes nagging works. Sign in process of restoration on day 67! An account of one neighborhood's experience with street signs under Mayor Cunningham's administration and how some streets appear to be treated better than others.

For PRIOR RELATED POSTS, see:

*FOSDU - a frequently used acronym for "Friend of South Dade Updates" Blog - concerned residents who don't necessarily want to be publicly identified.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Celebrating the leadership of Martin Luther King. Jan 20, 2020

Today, Monday, January 20, is the day we celebrate the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King in 2020.  President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation creating a federal holiday to honor King in 1983 . The holiday, first commemorated in 1986, is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to the civil rights leader’s January 15 birthday.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a leader about principles, not populism and doing things that are RIGHT, not because they are politically expedient.

I have posted a link to watch a posting on YouTube of the "I Have A Dream Speech" of August 28, 1963. Please take the time to view this important and inspiring historical statement:


 
For more information, check out 10 Things You May Not Know About Martin Luther King Jr., on History.com by Christopher Klein. This online article was originally posted on April 4, 2013. It was updated January 15, 2020.

Happy Martin Luther King Holiday

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A fun time riding as a guest with AOS. 59 miles on Sunday. Central Miami-Dade to Hollywood Beach, Broward County, FL

Quality exercise is a great way to clear my mind. I was fortunate to ride 80.4 miles over the weekend, 59 miles of that rode today. 

I have taken my bike with me on travels and have ridden throughout different Counties and States, but this was my first ride that took me from central Miami-Dade (Ponce by UM) crossing the Dade-Broward county line to Hollywood Beach.  I often head south and accumulate mileage riding from Palmetto Bay to as far south as North Key Largo, FL via Card Sound Road (yes, crossing the Dade/Monroe County line.

Winds were less than Saturday. Ride was beautiful and fast at times. Stopping for traffic, bridges and one flat tire. A great day riding with a great group.
Above photos - the group at the halfway point at Hollwood Beach, cooling down and preparing to make the turn, heading back to Miami-Dade County.

Photo immediately below - Group stopped at the light in Golden Beach, preparing to cross the Dade/Broward Line.
Photos below: downtown Miami


Friday, January 17, 2020

A medium length primer on Bert J. Harris Act claims. What we can expect (including a timeline). Link to Bert J Harris Act provided.

Be thankful that Bert J Harris claims don’t arise every day. But this also means that the law is one that is still developing, so there is some uncertainty, so less predictability, as to how these serious claims for (alleged) deprivation of property rights may play out. 

I offer up some perspective to answer questions I have been asked on this matter. I am publishing this response here for public viewing as well as to assist our first time Palmetto Bay “Interim” Village Manager who has no experience in these types of matters as well as Palmetto Bay’s recently hired in-house Village Attorney (I am unaware as to his level of expertise on this specific litigation). I am trying to be helpful. The main point is Palmetto Bay needs to manage this litigation correctly as this could be the first of a few Bert J Harris claims, unfortunately, rather than a unique claim. Palmetto Bay must avoid setting bad law precedent for future litigation.

This article is in follow up to the Monday, January 13, 2020, blog post: involving Breaking News – 2:29 PM, Monday, January 13, 2020 - LUXCOM voluntarily dismisses the DOAH administrative action; gives notice of BERT J HARRIS claim potentially seeking over $21 million. Details including link to relevant documents.  As indicated, there are links provided to relevant documents that will allow those interested to do a deep dive into this matter.

Before a lawsuit is filed for a Harris Act claim, certain prerequisites are required under the statute. The Bert J Harris claim must be submitted not less than 150 days prior to filing a lawsuit under the act (Completed by LUXCOM on 1/13/2020). This claim must include a bona fide valid appraisal in support of the claim. (Completed by LUXCOM on 1/13/2020). Both the claim letter and appraisal were delivered to Palmetto Bay.

Palmetto Bay is now on the clock, and is required to either make a written settlement offer or state that Palmetto Bay will take no action within 150 days. (Deadline date:  Thursday, June 11, 2020)

If no settlement is reached during the 150-day notice period, Palmetto Bay must then issue a written statement of allowable uses identifying the allowable uses.

LUXCOM has to follow this procedure, or Palmetto Bay will be entitled to a dismissal of the Bert J. Harris Act claim.

Remedies – the $21,760,000.00 question.

Cash or rezoning – much is a matter of timing and how Palmetto Bay responds. 

LUXCOM appears to be alleging $21,760,000.00 in damages under Bert J Harris. The important allegation is contained in the Appraisal (Page two of appraisal, overall page eight of 63) that the Bert J Harris damages are projected at $21,760,000.00. The appraisers arrive at that number by setting their appraised value for the property as of July 29, 2019 at $34,000,000.00 based upon the value as an institutional use. The same appraisers then set a value for this same property predicated upon the re-zoning for the Estate Density Residential as of July 30, 2019: $12,240,000.00.  This results in the opinion of the appraisers for the "Bert J. Harris" claim as of July 30, 2019, or: $21,760,000.00.

Obviously Palmetto Bay will seek its own appraisal. However, it will be bound by the appraiser’s report.  Perhaps the appraiser will opine that there is no difference in value between the value of institutional use for example on July 29, 2019, as when the property was rezoned (as of July 30, 2019). Obviously, any different in value by Palmetto Bay appraisers (if requested) will set a minimum (floor) for potential damages, just as LUXCOM is bound by a maximum claim (ceiling or high water mark) of $21,760,000.00.

Another aspect of the act is encouragement for the parties to resolve claims by using alternative remedies (sounds a lot like the 12/12/2019 dispute resolution event, that did not go well for Palmetto Bay – see: January 7, 2020, South Dade Updates Guest Blog- view of the 12/12/2019Palmetto Bay / Miami-Dade County conflict resolution proceeding (let’s hope the Village has learned from this 12/12/2019 debacle and will be better prepared for this round involving a potential $21,700,000.00 plus Bert J. Harris claim – we are talking serious money here, not stop signs)

Palmetto Bay, if it acts timely, can avoid monetary damages, but, [and again, during a limited period (unless extended)] Palmetto Bay must make a written settlement offer that can include adjustment of land development; increase in density, intensity, or use; transfer of developmental rights (TDRs); land swaps or exchanges; mitigation, including payments in lieu of onsite mitigation; location on the least sensitive portion of the property; conditioning the amount of development or use permitted; etc. This takes a willingness to actually take a stand and make an offer. Obviously none of this would occur if Palmetto Bay officials opine that the Village (and its taxpayers) are at no risk from a Bert J Harris Act claim.

Big Issues with remedies

Once a lawsuit is filed, the court is limited to remedy monetary damages only. This may pit Palmetto Bay's appraisal (if one is obtained) v. LUXCOM’s appraisal of  $21,760,000.00.

Special circumstances may allow for the parties to revisit the monetary and work out a zoning option, but both sides need to be willing and sufficiently savvy to do so.

The “Toolbox” (resource materials):

The actual ACT online (CLICK HERE or title line below):

RELIEF FROM BURDENS ON REAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
70.001   Private property rights protection.
70.002  Property Owner Bill of Rights.
70.20 Balancing of interests.
70.45 Governmental exactions.
70.51  Land use and environmental dispute resolution.
70.80 Construction of ss. 70.001, 70.45, and 70.51.
70.001 Private property rights protection.—
(1) This act may be cited as the “Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act.” The Legislature recognizes that some laws, regulations, and ordinances of the state and political entities in the state, as applied, may inordinately burden, restrict, or limit private property rights without amounting to a taking under the State Constitution or the United States Constitution. The Legislature determines that there is an important state interest in protecting the interests of private property owners from such inordinate burdens. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature that, as a separate and distinct cause of action from the law of takings, the Legislature herein provides for relief, or payment of compensation, when a new law, rule, regulation, or ordinance of the state or a political entity in the state, as applied, unfairly affects real property.
BLOG EDITOR'S DISCLAIMER: I will update with more information in additional future posts. This information is put out to provide some idea of the alleged basis for the LUXCOM claim under BERT J HARRIS ACT. How the claim actually proceeds, if at all is dependent in large part upon how the claim is pursued by LUXCOM as well as defended by the Village of Palmetto Bay.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Lighter side - Photo of the Day - The phone book has arrived?

Remember when 'the greater Miami area' was served by the White Pages and two volumes of the Yellow Pages? 

I received this must smaller edition on Wednesday, 1/15/2020. And it was delivered the 'old fashioned way' in a bag, tossed onto my driveway.

The "Real Yellow Pages" even bills itself as "The original search engine." Gallows humor?
Bed side reading.

Please recycle.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

QUICK BITE – Observation of the issues generated at the “Zoning Hearing / LPA meetings” held Monday, January 13, 2020 – I see issues and a glaring need for a reboot to survive court action or rejection by the State.

Monday night concerns - Should I watch college football or Palmetto Bay hearings? Tough choice. I tuned in to the Palmetto Bay Land Use/Zoning Hearings held during the evening of Monday, January 13, 2020, for a few minutes. However, I do admit that I was a bit distracted in my activities by the College Football National Championship game (as were most of us sports loving South Floridians).

Please help me. Did I see what I thought I saw? Specifically did I see a mayor and Village Council voting on an ordinance that affects an entire area, but apparently was noticed (or more correctly – mis-noticed) only as a specific zoning / LPA matter affecting specifically listed properties and not correctly listed as a reduction in vested property rights?

It appeared to get worse as I watched. It  seemed that Mayor Cunningham and the remainder of the Village Council did not know what they were voting on (well, 3 of the remaining 4 – as Council Member David Singer did recognize and raise the issue of notice and legality, that the proceeding - not the decision - was improper) – the density of this ordinance (again, that they had been ‘hard at work on for over a year’) was greater than the prior DUV. Again, this was after more than a year of ‘workshops’ and other meetings that involved ‘preliminary votes.’ Council Member Singer did tell me later on that he is in favor of the 2,500 cap, but that it must be put in place properly, as required by law.

Panic appeared to ensue and a reactionary and arbitrary cap of 2,500 units appeared to be placed on this downtown area. This, seemingly, without notice to all properties located within this downtown area or for the general population of Palmetto Bay.

So before we get all excited and applaud this arbitrary 2,500 unit cap for the downtown (which may or not be a good thing, if properly put in place), let’s consider whether this action is:

1. Likely to survive court challenge as there appears to be improper notice – both to the public as well as the affected landowners.
2. Arbitrary, not based upon any evidence – yet another “Palmer” litigation situation.
3. Legal – this appears to downzone properties without giving them notice (government does have discretion in areas to make land use decisions adverse to a property owner, but you have to at least give notice as to the action).
4. Liable to create yet another Bert J Harris Act issue (more on this in other areas, but think “LUXCOM”), and, finally (for now – there are other issue that I could, but will not address at this time),
5. Does this action create a conflict between the Palmetto Bay Zoning Code and Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP)? – (but there are workarounds).

My prediction? At best, I see a re-do or re-boot in the future, or, at worst case, yet more Bert J Harris Claims. And, this is if this hastily and arbitrarily revised ordinance can even get the required review by the State - It may not get transmitted to the State for review.

Moral should be (if there is one for this group): Anything worth doing, is worth doing properly. As much as I wanted to watch and enjoy college football, it is clear that we all need to keep a watchful eye on this Mayor and Village Council.  Has this current Mayor and Village Council forgotten the hard lesson of arbitrarily picking numbers out of the air (for populist approval) from the Palmer litigation fiasco?

Quote by Hunter S Thompson: “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”

BREAKING NEWS - County was set to remove stop signs, but will wait for Village Council to reconsider Traffic Circle

This is breaking news.  Miami-Dade County was set to remove the stop signs on 87th Avenue at SW 174th Street today - January 15, 2020.

Thanks to resident involvement and complaints, Miami-Dade County will now hold off on the sign removal to allow the Palmetto Bay Mayor and Village Council to reconsider its position on the Traffic Circle for this location.

Another great example of leadership at the local grassroots level - by involved residents.

IMPORTANT BACKGROUND see: January 13, 2020, Palmetto Bay - salvage what you can before the door actually closes on the traffic circle for 174 and 87th Avenue,  where I have advocated for cooler heads, that it is time for Palmetto Bay to move forward on the Traffic Circle – and this should be done before the 4-way stop signs are removed and the “do not block the box (intersection)" paint is placed on 87 avenue. This change is currently scheduled for January 17, 2020 - just days from this post. The Palmetto Bay lawsuit seeking injunctive relief is not going anywhere and it will go nowhere – at least anywhere productive. 
Photos above demonstrate the options for Palmetto Bay on 87th Av at 174:
"Do Not Block" paint versus landscaped traffic circle. Which looks and performs better?

UPDATE - 5:00 PM, January 15, 2020:  Palmetto Bay officials have called a Special Council Meeting for 7:00 PM, Thursday, January 23, 2020, to be held at the Palmetto Bay Municipal Center. Item 3 of this meeting (III) is "A traffic circle on SW 87th Avenue and SW 174th Street.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Pictures often tell the story, but I can't tell from photo. Has anyone else observed this activity along C100?

This photo was sent to me by a friend who resides along the C100 canal - the photo was received mid morning on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.

I have posted prior photos of happenings in this canal, from invasive fish and iguanas, hunting iguanas and canal repair/restoration.

The observation is of spraying taking place from those on this boat.

Has anyone else observe this and, if so, can someone provide additional insight as to what is happening in the C100 canal.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Real Breaking News – 2:29 PM, Monday, January 13, 2020 - LUXCOM voluntarily dismisses the DOAH administrative action; gives notice of BERT J HARRIS claim potentially seeking over $21 million. Details including link to relevant documents.

Perhaps LUXCOM would rather face the current Village Attorney on a Bert J Harris claim than litigate against Dexter Lehtinen, Esq, before the ALJ later this month.


The dismissal simply states that LUXCOM has 
...opted to assert its legal rights against the Village, pursuant to the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act as set forth in Fla. Stat. Sec 70.001 ...
As part of this document, LUXCOM served the Village of Palmetto Bay with the pre-suit claim and supporting appraisal pursuant to Section 70.001(4)(a) of the Bert Harris Act.

CLICK HERE to download and view the entire 63 page document (2 pages voluntarily dismissal)

There is a document (beginning page 6) entitled "AN APPRAISAL OF THE FORMER FPL CUTLER POWER PLANT SITE LOCATED AT THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF SW 67TH AVENUE AND SW 152ND AVENUE"(Hereafter simply "Appraisal")

LUXCOM appears to be alleging $21,760,000 in damages under Bert J Harris. The important allegation is contained in the Appraisal (Page two of appraisal, overall page eight of 63) that the Bert J Harris damages are projected at $21,760,000 – an excerpt follows:
Based upon the scope of the assignment, our investigation and analysis of the information contained within this report, as well as our general knowledge of real estate valuation procedures and market conditions, it is our opinion that the Retrospective Market Value of the Fee Simple Estate of the Subject Property, as an institutional use, as of July 29, 2019 was:
$34,000,000
It is also our opinion that the Retrospective Market Value of the Fee Simple Estate of the Subject Property, considering the land and zoning use to Estate Density Residential, as of July 30, 2019 was:
$12,240,000
Based on these two valuations, it is our opinion that the damages claim for the “Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act”, as of July 30, 2019 was:
$21,760,000


I need more time to review, so updates will follow. I want to get this information out for public discussion. This is an interesting development. We will see the reaction from the Village.  I look forward to a strong and spirited defense.

Palmetto Bay - salvage what you can before the door actually closes on the traffic circle for 174 and 87th Avenue

Experience matters as does maturity. It is time for Palmetto Bay to move forward on the Traffic Circle – and this should be done before the 4-way stop signs are removed and the “do not block the box (intersection)" paint is placed on 87 avenue. This change is currently scheduled for January 17, 2020 - just days from this post. The Palmetto Bay lawsuit seeking injunctive relief is not going anywhere and it will go nowhere – at least anywhere productive. 

It is easy for our current members of the Palmetto Bay Village Council to talk tough and hide behind a lawsuit. It is harder to make the right choice, even if it is far from an easy choice. After all, bad litigation allows Mayor Cunningham and the Village Council to scapegoat; to blame the courts for the adverse rulings or others (and boy, does this current mayor and council love to sit back and do nothing but delay and point fingers at others!). 

The facts:
  • The County basically ignored the lawsuit, VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY, FLORIDA VS MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, case number 019-031036-CA-01, case filed 10/18/2019.
  • The lawsuit was very weak, particularly as the alleged facts “verified” (sworn to on the complaint filed) by Karyn Cunningham where she verified unsupported allegations made in the lawsuit that were not based upon an actual traffic expert. Not that this would have made a big difference, but it would have provided something of substance for a Judge to consider at an initial hearing for a preliminary injunction.
  • There were obviously no grounds for a preliminary injunction (something that would have alleviated the need for pre-suit dispute resolution and allowed for the injunction - until the case can progress on the merits). The current Village Attorney has not even seen fit to file anything with the court post conflict resolution meeting of 12/12/2019.
  • The County pushed back hard at the Dispute resolution conference. (see letter pictured here) and see: January 7, 2020, South Dade Updates Guest Blog- view of the 12/12/2019 Palmetto Bay / Miami-Dade County conflict resolution proceeding
  • Palmetto Bay officials have all but admitted to the fact that this lawsuit is baseless, which can be argued by the fact that the current village attorney has not filing anything with the court to advise that the conflict meeting was held and seeking the injunction to prevent removal of the signs currently scheduled for this week, January 17, 2020. The lawsuit simply sits there, untended, which is a reflection of how useless a tool this suit is to force the county to maintain the 4-way stop.

    Here is the short version, cutting to the chase, as to what was offered at this meeting of 12/12/2019:

Miami-Dade County officials offered to do 1 of 2 things:

1.  Remove the stop signs and paint a "do not block" (the "box") at the intersection, (see posted pictures for an example) or 
2.  Miami-Dade County will fund and install a traffic circle at 174 and 87th Avenue.

It is time for Mayor Cunningham and, if not her, the others on the village council to face reality and take some action based upon the facts and not their political pandering. 

THE FACT – there is a resolution ready and waiting. The County’s offer of to fund and build a traffic circle at 174 and 87th Avenue is still available – if Cunningham and Co gets out of the way and allows the proper response to the dangerous intersection. My advice to them: ‘when in a hole (and mayor, you are deep in this hole) STOP DIGGING!’ See Law of Holes.

I originally asked this question on December 12, 2019, and nothing good has happened over the month relative to this issue:

FAIR QUESTION: How do our village officials feel their aggressive negotiation through threats and litigation is proceeding, is it effective so far?  Does Mayor Cunningham feel that this process will provide the results worth the probable negative impact on joint projects planned for other areas of Palmetto Bay?  Will we need to litigate all these projects?

TRAFFIC RELIEF PLANS ARE GLOBALLY ON HOLD: Planned traffic relief set for implementation in early 2019 has come to a screeching halt – Malbrook, 152/77th Area, Old Cutler Road (south of 168th), Farmers Road/Old Cutler North, bike lanes for SW 136 Street (morphing to an enlarged sidewalk solely borne by Palmetto Bay residents), as well as the right turn lane on Ludlum, turning right onto eastbound Old Cutler Road – all currently off the rails. See October 17, 2018, Update on Palmetto Bay Traffic Projects - and further updates will be posted as available 

Well?

Grassroots government: INTERESTING POINT – unique to local government. This current Palmetto Bay Village Council has created another first – a local government where the County Mayor and other County Officials get more done through meeting with involved residents than the current elected officials. Not a good sign for anyone looking for any relevance of results from Palmetto Bay officials.

Perhaps this credibility gap is caused by Palmetto Bay officials negotiating and reaching 'agreements' only to renege on that promise (as occurred when the traffic  circle and other projects agreed to were voted down by the village council). 

Again, this litigation will go nowhere productive. Dismiss it and allow Miami-Dade County to fund and install a traffic circle at 174 and 87th Avenue.

The choice (far from 'Sophie's choice')
as demonstrated through photos below (but it may be more of a 'Hobson's choice').



Photos above demonstrate the options for Palmetto Bay on 87th Av at 174:
"Do Not Block" paint versus landscaped traffic circle. Which looks and performs better?

PAST RELEVANT POSTS – the ‘toolbox’ on this issue. 

January 7, 2020, What is next for traffic management in Palmetto Bay. I missed a report if there was one on Jan 6. Where is the plan?

January 3, 2020, Waiting for Palmetto Bay’s official response – Cutler Bay site alleges that the 174/87th 4 way stop to be removed January 17. Where is the announcement, what about the lawsuit? - There is just no other way to say it - Mayor Cunningham and the Village Council tell you only what they want you to know. You need to look elsewhere for most information. 

December 5, 2019, Meeting noticed: Conflict Assessment Meeting set in Village of Palmetto Bay vs. Miami-Dade County, Florida, for 2:00 PM, Thursday, December 12, 2019, at Village Hall, as well as:

October 25, 2019, Thoughts on the most recent litigation FILED by the village: Good faith or is this a less than good faith attempt to avoid a deal that the Mayor and Council had no authority to make?


December 10, 2019, Agenda for the Conflict Resolution/Mediation set for 2:00 PM, Thursday, 12/12/19. Agenda includes public comment. Should you/must you go to state your position. Fair questions in advance.
November 20, 2019, Litigation Update. Court approves agreement between Palmetto Bay & Miami-Dade County to stay proceedings pending exhaustion of conflict resolution procedures


We all are waiting to see how this plays out. We could have at least had a traffic circle, funded by Miami-Dade County. We will now, as things stand now, have the "Do Not Block The Box" paint. Hardly as effective, but that is just my opinion.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A POSITIVE update in Palmetto Bay. A 2 day snap shot. The Merwitzer family produced more power than they used on Jan. 7 & 8, 2020, thanks to their solar panels.

Finally, a positively charged blog post! I want to shed some light to ongoing Solar energy happenings here in Palmetto Bay. Thanks to their solar panels, the Merwitzer family produced more energy than they used on both January 7 & 8, 2020.  Though these dates are highlighted here, it is far from unusual. Producing more power than used is far from unusual. The savings are present year around. I offer this post as a snap shot of what occurs when you can take the plunge and go solar.

This update relates back to a PRIOR POST of January 5, 2017, Merwitzer family ends 2016 on a solar note. Go GREEN in Palmetto Bay

Over the past two days, The Merwitzer family have produced 35kWh more than they have used. This will only get better through June.

The Merwitzer's solar panels have produced 115.4kWh of power over the last two days (January 7 & 8, 2020).  To give you an idea of what that means, it is enough power to run their refrigerator for 25 days or run a 100w light bulb for 96 nights.  The gray bars in demonstrated in their FPL Energy Dashboard show that the Merwitzers have created and  have sent FPL excess power. 

FPL has to give them back this power at no charge (no pun intended). 

Each day, solar production is a bit different because of clouds and other factors.  Cutler Bay Solar Solutions installed their system three years ago, and it has worked flawlessly.  

NEXT STEPS: The Merwitzers are looking forward to having batteries installed and also the ability to use their solar panels even when FPL is offline such as during a power outage or after a hurricane.  People have asked them about the durability of their solar panels after a hurricane.  They even had neighbors come to their house after Hurricane Irma and were surprised to see that the solar panels were unscathed. The new plan is for using batteries to be able to have electricity from solar panels post next storm regardless of FPL's "hardened system" being offline.  

THOUGHTS FROM THE MERWITZERS: Why don't more people, who live in one of the sunniest places in the U.S., take advantage of solar panels? "This is a 'no brainer'".  

For reference, the Merwitzer's electric bill went from about $500 a month before the solar panels, to between $50-$100 a month after having solar panels installed.  The projected bill for January, 2020, is $53.  This is just under a 90% savings from before going with solar!

Once again, I congratulate Craig and Roseann Merwitzer - the entire Merwitzer family for taking this bold step in making use of renewable energy. It is paying off in savings, both to their ongoing electric bill as well as to our environment.

Posted here are some screen shots from the FPL website documenting the power production and savings created for the Merwitzers on Tuesday, January 7, 2019:


The Merwitzer family FPL bill for the day was a minus figure (but for the franchise fee assessed by the current mayor and village council - through they escape much of this tax burden as it is assessed as a percentage of the overall bill, so those who rely solely upon FPL for their electric needs at home and business pay substantially more in this Franchise Fee - tax).

I remain committed sustainability. Thank you Merwitzer family for stepping forward and setting such a great example for our community.

Thank you for keeping it positive Merwitzers!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

More real estate sold for redevelopment while the council continues to neglect the promised DUV rewrite. Bellsouth Building, south of Palmetto Bay Park is sold to investment group

Private enterprise keeps moving while the Palmetto Bay government sleeps, perhaps trying to get in under the wire, before any new zoning restrictions take effect.

More real estate in Palmetto Bay is being sold into re-development. The question is what are the vested rights for this particular (ans significant) parcel of land now that the moratoriums and Zoning In Progress, a/k/a "ZIPs" put in place under me (sponsored by David Singer) in 2016. It is unfortunate that these moratoriums/ZIPS were allowed to expire under Mayor Cunningham as of February 2019, prior to any of the promised revisions to Sec. 30-50.23. - Downtown Urban Village (DUVcode) being put in place. Will this latest sale of Palmetto Bay property be much to do about nothing, a great opportunity for Palmetto Bay redevelopment or result in yet another litigation cluster? Time and advocacy will tell. The property located in Palmetto Bay is the Bellsouth building located at 9500 Southwest 180th Street, just south of Palmetto Bay Park. . The land totals 130,680 sq. feet with the existing building totaling 32,489 sq.feet.

See- TheRealDeal online, "South Florida Real Estate News" article of January 7, 2020, TRD MIAMI, By Keith Larsen: BellSouthsells 1M square feet of land for $25M The portfolio sale includes eight buildings with 15K sf

Article:
Qualcon Real Estate Fund purchased commercial properties with over 1 million square feet of land in South Florida from defunct BellSouth Telecommunications for $25 million. The firm, led by developers Thomas Conway and Kevin Levine, along with Andy Stone and Petra Capital Management, purchased eight commercial buildings with 115,000 square feet, and 1.006 million square feet of land, scattered across Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Two of the properties are in Opportunity Zones, in Palmetto Bay and Little River. The Palmetto Bay property is located at 9500 Southwest 180th Street. The land totals 130,680 square feet; the building totals 32,489 square feet.
Click the headline above to read the complete article.

Photo: TheRealDeal online, "South Florida Real Estate News" 1-7-2020

Stay tuned. This may be coming to a zoning hearing near you.  I'm looking forward to hear what the plans are for this property.

Prior RELEVANT POST, see October 28, 2019, Village Council Chaos - Interaction with Village Attorney at a council meeting - Village Mayor & Council: You have been told repeatedly. You are the voting body. You have responsibilities of reading and knowing what you are voting on.


Miami Today (online version) Palmetto Bay hospital zoning battle in court - Written by Gabriel Poblete on January 7, 2020

Interesting read posted online from Miami Today. Headline: Palmetto Bay hospital zoning battle in court, by Gabriel Poblete, posted on January 7, 2020.
A zoning battle between the Village of Palmetto Bay and a developer intent on building a 200-bed hospital has devolved to several lawsuits, with a hearing scheduled for the end of the month. 
Photo Credit - Miami Today,1-7-2020
Luxcom Builders acquired a property on the northeast corner of Southwest 152nd Street and 67th Avenue from Florida Power & Light for $33 million and then proposed a hospital on a 71-acre campus. But Luxcom’s plan to build a hospital remains up in the air.
Yacht Club by Luxcom LLC is challenging an amendment to the village’s future land use map that changed the land use designation of its property. The case is to be heard by the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings from Jan. 29 to 31 in the village.
The lawsuit claims that while under contract to purchase the property from FPL, Yacht Club sent a letter Nov. 15, 2018, to the village’s interim planning and zoning director at the time, Mark Alvarez, to get confirmation of the property’s usages. Mr. Alvarez responded, saying that the development (exclusive of the western 10-acre portion) could indeed be used for, among other things, a hospital or a non-profit medical facility.
CLICK HERE to read the entire article as posted online, Miami Today


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What is next for traffic management in Palmetto Bay. I missed a report if there was one on Jan 6. Where is the plan?

No update as to what is next in regard to addressing the pending issue of the intersection of SW 87th avenue at the intersection with SW 174th Street. This much we know:  There was no update of this matter at the regular village council meeting of January 6, 2019. I was provided a copy of the notification Miami-Dade County provided to Palmetto Bay - official correspondence of December 30, 2019. This situation is apparently not an emergency as the village council members have known about this developing situation through this official letter (in their possession prior to the end of 2019), as well as indirect, but obvious notification through Cutler Bay and this blog (see prior related post of  January 3, 2020, Waiting for Palmetto Bay’s official response – Cutler Bay site alleges that the 174/87th 4 way stop to be removed January 17. Where is the announcement, what about the lawsuit?

This is troubling. No updated instructions were provided to the Village Attorney, at least publicly, and it takes the full council to direct the attorney (it must be done in compliance with the Florida  Sunshine and public records laws).  Mayor Cunningham swore under oath (see the verification page), on page 6 of the 6 page complaint for injunctive relief (CLICK HERE), (in numbered paragraphs 16 and 17, page 3 of 6), that:
16. The Village is entitled to an injunction to prevent the County or any other party from removing the Additional Stop Signs without the installation or provision of an alternate safety measure at the Dangerous Intersection. 
17. The Village and its residents will continue to suffer irreparable injury - including, but not limited to personal injury - as a result of the County's removal of the Additional Stop Signs without the installation or provision of an alternate safety measure at the Dangerous Intersection.
So, FAIR QUESTION: has the Village now backed off the claims Mayor Cunningham swore to under oath above? Or has the Village Council determined that the "Do Not Block the Box" paint job (and signs) constitute "installation or provision of an alternate safety measure at the Dangerous Intersection"?

The public was not advised of any update on 1/6, so there appears to be no decision made, or at least announced, in accordance with the Florida Sunshine Law. And last night was a properly noticed council meeting, so I personally don't see how there would be a sudden need to call an 'emergency council meeting' before the 17th, when the signs are removed when this Village Council avoided discussing it at the January 6, 2020, meeting.  

There appears to be a total breakdown in litigation management as well as this Village Council attempting to manage traffic. I remarked on this in a much earlier post, about this council seemingly willing to abdicate its responsibility. PAST POSTS have discussed the buzz around the village is whether the current Mayor and council overstepped their authority in reaching a formal agreement with Miami-Dade County, through the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) without bringing the proposal back to the residents. It is a fair question as others have wondered whether this lawsuit is an abject 'abdication of responsibility' of the responsibility of their elected office as spelled out in the Village Charter for Mayor Cunningham and the entire Village Council to maintain civility, communication and advocate for Palmetto Bay with Miami-Dade County.

This has not gone unnoticed.  Look no further than the December 30, 2019, letter itself. It was addressed solely to the Public Services Director of Palmetto Bay and copied to various Country, but not Palmetto Bay officials.  This is significant in my opinion.

I have posted a photos taken from actual intersections (Red Road in Coral Gables) demonstrating what we can expect SW 87th Avenue at 174th Street to look and function like, according to the notification provided in this letter, see December 12, 2019, How did the Village fare at the Conflict Resolution/Mediation meeting held 12/12/19? I am providing photos of a 'Do Not Block" intersection.





Partial tool box on this issue - the relevant prior posts:

See December 5, 2019, Meeting noticed: Conflict Assessment Meeting set in Village of Palmetto Bay vs. Miami-Dade County, Florida, for 2:00 PM, Thursday, December 12, 2019, at Village Hall, as well as:

October 25, 2019, Thoughts on the most recent litigation FILED by the village: Good faith or is this a less than good faith attempt to avoid a deal that the Mayor and Council had no authority to make?

We all are waiting to see how this plays out. We could have at least had a traffic circle, funded by Miami-Dade County. We will now, as things stand now, have the "Do Not Block The Box" paint. Hardly as effective, but that is just my opinion.

South Dade Updates Guest Blog- view of the 12/12/2019 Palmetto Bay / Miami-Dade County conflict resolution proceeding by Jay Wolever

Before I get started I want to address the critics that will be curious of why I am guest writing on the former Mayor’s blog. I want to avoid the controversy, bickering, and downright negativity that I feel is plaguing our tiny community today so my opinions are my own, not his, not Karyn’s or any other person in Palmetto Bay.

So what bothered me? The December 12th meeting at the point the Mayor turned it over to the Village Attorney became a disaster. The Village Attorney was not acting professionally and criticized some very talented PEs (Professional Engineers (PE) are licensed in their practice to design). In a mediation, both sides present their argument and their solutions then come together to compromise or impasse. Engineers by trade are problem solvers. The problem here is that when traffic is backed up heading north on 87th and you are heading west on 174th your view of southbound traffic is impeded so if you are crossing 87th or turning left, you have a higher risk of being t-boned. The solutions are installing a Traffic Control Device (TCD). All engineers are bound to design problem solutions based on the law and existing standards. In this case there are many organizations that create the standards for which a design may be based and most likely in this case it would be the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) who study, design and make recommendations to governments to which design criteria (Codification of Law) are created. This code is managed by the Federal Highway Administration and is referred to as the MUTCD or Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The MUTCD is the law under 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 655.

To install a TCD, a licensed engineer has to study the problem, confirm there is a risk, and create a design that mitigates that risk. In my practice, I use what is known as a residual hazard identification protocol to determine the mean time between events and what methods are available to mitigate unacceptable or undesirable risks (there is a formula). In this case it is much more simple as that work has already been done by the Federal Government and the ASCE. You will note that members of the council, the Village Attorney, and acting Manager referred to a traffic study performed at that intersection. The Vice Mayor referred to every study performed by the DTPW being wrong citing the 82nd/168th avenue circle as an example of malpractice. He pointed to adaptive traffic mapping applications such as WAZE and that traffic studies done in Miami-Dade County do not account for these apps and therefore are void. To my knowledge this software is not widely fielded and classified as not useful because adaptive mapping only has a temporary effect. However, the main point that the representatives made was that they didn’t do a traffic study that predicts traffic patterns. They looked at the existing traffic count (the cars on the roadway no matter how they got there) and existing risks and determined the appropriate TCD for that application. In this case, a stop sign carried more risk than not having a stop sign. So they looked at the alternatives which were “do not block the box” (if cars move far enough forward, the westbound traffic can see around them and be at a lesser risk of being hit by southbound traffic) or install a traffic circle which the DTPW offered to pay to install. The code (law) says the municipality cannot install a stop sign at that intersection because based on actual data (not modeling) it is more dangerous. The danger being people blocking the intersection and people rolling through the stop sign during non-peak periods.

So why is there a stop sign there now? It starts at a culmination of two different issues, first is the traffic problem in Malbrook and the need to install no right turn signs and the second is an accident that occurred where a car was hit and careened into one of our neighbors’ yards with injuries. Marlin Engineering has completed a traffic study and the Village was coordinating with the county and Marlin to find a method that allows the no right turn signs and keeps the traffic from backing up into Cutler Bay (Remember Cutler Bay had demanded the no right turn signs be removed). Marlin said that they cannot mitigate the traffic problem but they could “que up” traffic so that it did not impede Cutler Bay traffic. Basically they were going to stack cars up in Palmetto Bay on 87th and 168th by adding a second lane on the 87th/168th circle similar to the turbo lane on 87th and Old Cutler road and extending that lane on 168th to the little bridge and stopping there. So the 87th/168th quagmire would still exist but it would double the cars that would be in the intersection and reduce the backup on 87th down to Eureka. The solution to the problem on 174th and 87th was to add a traffic circle. This combined project, the turbo lane on 87th/168th, the second lane eastbound on 168th from 87th to the bridge, and the 87th/174th traffic circle were proposed as a plan to the county that the Village would perform at a cost of over half a million dollars with no contributions from the state or county. The county accepted this proposal from the Village and allowed the temporary installation of the stop sign at the 87th/174th intersection in lieu of installing the traffic circle. One small problem, that solution wasn’t brought before the council for a vote and the electorate of Palmetto Bay did not want to stomach a half million dollars on a useless traffic mitigation project. It died and the County said by law we have to remove the stop sign.

So you have an attorney that looks at three licensed Professional Engineers demandingly and says that “their book” doesn’t take into account the reality of what the residents face daily. He says that the engineers are not putting the safety of the residents first but aren’t the engineers putting safety first and is the Village insisting on leaving a TCD in place that is a higher risk than the alternative? The attorney is right in that the MUTCD doesn’t take the safety of Palmetto Bay residents into consideration, it takes into consideration the entirety of the travelling public within the jurisdiction of the US Federal Government. In my opinion that mediation puts Palmetto Bay at risk of losing any ability to have professional meetings with the DTPW.

This year will bring us a new Village Manager, a new Village Council combined with the newly appointed Village Attorney. I feel we have lost our ability to negotiate deals that benefit Village residents, is courteous of our neighbors, and takes advantage of what developers can offer without sacrificing land that we should be preserving and our precious family time in traffic. We should be working with Cutler Bay as they are fighting to keep development smart, as we should be with Homestead and all our neighbors. Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay and Homestead make up a powerful voting block across different County Commission Districts and State Legislative seats if we get together and fight for transit solutions, and infrastructure improvements. Traffic is not Palmetto Bay’s crises, it is a symptom of the crisis of not being neighborly.