Thursday, July 29, 2021

Introducing the Caecilians, a newly discovered non-native species to our South Florida environment.

Yet another non-native appears to be settling into South Florida ecosystem. There are reports of a very strange, ‘noodle-shaped amphibian’ known as “caecilians”  (pronounced “Sicilians”) having been found in the Tamiami Canal. South Florida appears to be the area in the United States where this animal has been documented, according to a new report from the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville and as reported in the Miami Herald. It was reported by the Miami Herald that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers recently came upon this specimen about a mile south of Miami International Airport.  According to the Herald, The aquatic, limbless, worm-like animals belong to an ancient order of amphibians that has been around since even before the dinosaurs.

Information below is taken from Florida Museum online, Weird, noodle-shaped amphibians known as caecilians found in South Florida canal, by Natalie van Hoose, July 28, 2021:

Caecilians have arrived in Miami. Florida Fish and Wildlife biologists captured one of the obscure legless amphibians in the Tamiami Canal, the first example of an introduced caecilian in the U.S.

Florida Museum of Natural History scientists used DNA testing to identify the specimen as the Rio Cauca caecilian, Typhlonectes natans, a native of Colombia and Venezuela. While caecilians – pronounced like “Sicilians” – hunt and scavenge various kinds of small animals, museum experts say it’s too early to predict their potential impact on the local ecosystem.

“Very little is known about these animals in the wild, but there’s nothing particularly dangerous about them, and they don’t appear to be serious predators,” said Coleman Sheehy, Florida Museum’s herpetology collection manager. “They’ll probably eat small animals and get eaten by larger ones. This could be just another non-native species in the South Florida mix.”

Editor's comment: Regardless of its impact, I am sure it is another non-native that we can do without. 

I invite you to read the entire article. Links provided above and below.

The Miami Herald has also covered this discovery, article available to Miami Herald subscribers (paywall): Welcome to Miami? A weird-looking, noodle-shaped animal was just found in a canal, by Madeleine Marr, JULY 28, 2021 

Photo credit – photo from the Florida Museum article only, original credit, “photo courtesy of Noah Mueller”

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Awaiting verification - if proven, will you be scheduling a third dose? Will a 3rd dose increase your COVID antibody levels 5 to 11 fold?

Note: the following information is for discussion only. Make your own decisions. Many have refused vaccinations even in the face of a recent COVID surge of the Delta variant. So what can we do to add to our protection?

Is a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine in order? Pfizer appears to be steering the discussion in that direction. Note the following is Pfizer information; I have not seen any information that the CDC or other independent bodies have considered or commented on the information presented below. You can read the Pfizer power point - CLICK HERE.

5-fold for those 18-55? Pfizer has posted data online suggesting that antibody levels against the Delta variant in people ages 18 to 55 who receive a third dose of vaccine are greater than five-fold than following a second dose.

An 11 fold increase for those 65 to 85? Among people ages 65 to 85, the Pfizer data suggest that antibody levels against the Delta variant after receiving a third dose of vaccine are greater than 11-fold than following a second dose.

But what about the “’tweeners”, those aged 56 to 64???

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE – that the company data has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.

This information is put out in order to stimulate additional consideration of how to best protect yourself and loved ones during this COVID pandemic.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Partial clean up. Update on the trashing of the FPL easement property

Irate neighbors demanded action and immediate clean up othe FPL easement property (under the powerlines that run between SW 140th and 141st Streets East of SW 77th Avenue). 

This debris should never have been dumped there in the first place. Where does the buck stop? With our mayor and council. How does our village team of charter officers, code enforcement and village policing unit think this would wait for complaints?
(Partial clean up. Photos above & below - condition of the FPL easement area as of 5 PM, Monday, 7/26/2021)
Sources report that the complaints were numerous as well as justifiably loud, driving an immediate (but overdue) reaction from village officials who suddenly became aware and concerned. (Do any of the village officials ever tour the village over weekends?)

Clean up started late in the afternoon of Monday, July 26, 2021, and will continue into Tuesday, until complete.  I was provided photographs of the state of clean up as of 5 PM Monday, 7/26.
We trust that this debris will be removed and the area full restored by close of business day on Tuesday, July 27.

Let this be a lesson. Village officials should take action to prevent similar dumping in the future.

What a difference a change in administration makes - Palmetto Bay update. Why make it a park when it serves well as a debris dumping ground?

Here is an update on the FPL easement property (under the powerlines that run between SW 140th and 141st Streets East of SW 77th Avenue). Is it passive park? No, it appears to be serving as a debris staging site. My initial thought is whether Village officials are looking the other way while residents suffer a violation of their rights guaranteed under the Palmetto Bay Neighborhood Protection Charter section. I discuss this at the bottom of this post.
But first, please tell me that this is not the best use for this property as envisioned by the current mayor and village council. 

There were much better ideas.  Here is the vision that Palmetto Bay and residents participating in the Palmetto Bay Parks Master Plan process had for this property while I was mayor:
Please be mindful that the above was a concept, far from a done deal, as we want to involve the neighbors in the process. 

But seriously, which use do you prefer? And, BTW, fair questions: Should this debris be secured with a environmental barrier as well as a safety fence? Prior administration thought this land better suited for a park. Do you want to see kids playing on this debris pile?

A Parks Master Plan process was being held in 2018. While serving as your mayor, my vision for this property was a passive park.  See a PRIOR RELATED POST of May 23, 2018, Update on the Parks Master Plan process. Next visioning session is set for Sat. June 2, at 9:00 AM at OCPC. This prior post should serve to document the past process, past plans, as well as what a difference a new administration makes. 

WHERE DOES THIS DEBRIS ORIGINATE? - neighbors that I have communicated with believe that this debris comes from the SW 136th Street MEGA sidewalk project. No one really knows as no one from the Village provided advance notice of the coming debris dump to the residents of the residents of SW 140th Street

This project was designed by Palmetto Bay, but is also a joint project involving Miami-Dade County and Pinecrest. Palmetto Bay allowed the bike lanes to be removed, but agreed to create an 8 to 10 foot shared use path solely on the Palmetto Bay side. So not only does Pinecrest save more trees, not only does Pinecrest not have to shoulder the burden of a loss of right of way, but Palmetto Bay residents appear to be left holding the bag for debris staging.

Debris field or a passive park? You decide how this new direction is going for Palmetto Bay.

My recommendations - Clean it up. Take the SW 136 debris immediately to its final location. Don't burden the residents of SW 140th Street with such unsightly and potentially harmful debris. 

What happened to the protection of Palmetto Bay residents voted un under the Neighborhood Protection Amendment to the Village Charter?

All Single-family residential properties shall be protected from the negative impacts of adjacent or nearby non-single-family-residential uses.

10.2.1 All non-single-family-residential developments, structures, or use (that is/are a direct or indirect result of that development, structure, or use) in, adjacent to, or nearby any single-family zoned properties shall not disrupt or degrade the health, safety, tranquility, character, and overall welfare of the adjacent or nearby single-family residential properties by creating negative impacts on those properties such as density, intensity, noise, light, glare, dust, odor, vibration, traffic or run off that exceeds that of adjacent single-family properties. Nothing herein should be construed or applied to abrogate the vested rights of a property owner. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Fun times - a local "metric century" ride for the special birthday ride

Again, It’s a bike thing, so non-cyclists may not get it. I rode what is known as a metric century – that’s 100, but kilometers, not miles.  A metric century is 62.125 miles. My 2021 event total was 62.53 miles taking me north from Palmetto Bay into Pinecrest, Coral Gables, South Miami with a return back south through Cutler Bay, into unincorporated Miami-Dade (Black Point Park) before returning home. It was a 4 hour plus ride.

As I posted Friday, a common cyclist birthday ritual is to ride one’s age in miles. This is easy, a waste of time actually, in one’s twenties and thirties. The ritual really doesn’t begin until the age begins to represent a challenging ride. Many cyclists older than me regularly ride 60, 70, even 100 mile rides.

The rules for the birthday bike ride: The rules? There are no firm rules other than get out and ride. Gravel or road. Ultra distance, chill ride or in between. Group or solo. In civilization or out in nature. But I draw the line at special bike decorations for a birthday ride. No way! My streak of undecorated bike stands for at least another year.

Me < 62.  Obviously I am not 62, not yet – at least for a few more years. The alligators jaws still point away from my age and open to 62. 

Maybe next year I will travel to ride a new route, another bicycle tourism event. I look forward to it.

Friday, July 23, 2021

The birthday ride 2021. What, where will it be? Why I ride. Just ride.

Every time I see that it’s someone’s birthday, I’ll usually post my wishes to them on social media. If they are a cyclist, I’ll ask if did or will partake in a birthday ride. It is interesting to hear what rituals people have on their special day.

The most popular response was for people to ride the amount of miles that equals their age.  That goal was much easier in my 20s and 30s. But hey, I need to keep it up. Age is just a number for some, and I try to not to get too concerned over it. 

It’s a bike thing, so non-cyclists may not get it.

I don’t have a consistent ritual for my yearly birthday ride, but I tend to do something out of the ordinary so as to make it memorable.  I have gone long distance, or even better, travel and rode some exotic (for me) location. Then sometimes, it is a local ride that allows me to chill and spend time in nature.

I still have not decided as to the plan in store for this year, but all I know is that it involves at least one more mile than last year. 

Remember, there are no rules other than ride and enjoy your ride.

So what about you?  What are your birthday riding (or other) rituals?

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Florida City testing use of Tesla vehicles into their Freebee fleet. Your thoughts?

Florida City just introduced Freebee service using Tesla electric vehicles. Palmetto Bay officials discussed this at a Committee of the Whole Workshop (COW) held on October 20, 2020.

What do you think of adding the expense of Tesla? Does it take a Tesla to get you out of your personal car for short trips and into a shared ride service intra-Palmetto Bay?

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Palmetto Bay Bridge - the definitive statement from the Village Attorney - more post mortem - photos, video and links provided.

The bridge “fight” is over. The video clip embedded below speaks volumes and has led me to examine as to where we are as well as why we are in this situation. This fight ended quicker than a Mike Tyson fight. 

In review, my first thought is so much for the "fight" against the bridge.  Secondly, all we seem to have to show for this “fight” are two completing camps on this divisive issue. 

It is becoming obvious that there is no fight, or at least much of a fight. The honest voice from the council dais is saying that this is done; let's move on to other pressing business while the elected officials appear to want to pretend they are actually doing something. They aren’t other than to perpetuate a false drama.

This council knew it was going to be a major issue. It certainly was an issue during the campaigns. I guess too many officials never move out of campaign mode into getting it done mode. Palmetto Bay was run off the road on this issue. It wasn't pretty, regardless of which side you were on (I have always opposed bridging and lead the successful fight against in during much of my time in office). I warned the current mayor and the 2019 village council (pre-2020 elections) that this issue was coming. Yet it seems that 4 out of 5 of that group claimed surprise. See a prior post of December 15, 2020, 2021's first test - the bridge is back. Will it unite or divide Palmetto Bay? Will it happen without input from Palmetto Bay's so-called leaders? There was no preparation to meet this challenge. 

I asked the question "What did they know and when did they know it?" (our current elected officials). February 2021 came and went without any elected officials keeping residents in the loop, updating them on preparations for combating the bridge. Why, obviously because there was no preparation, plan or vision. See another prior related post, this one posted February 2, 2021, Bridging Palmetto Bay - the plan is back and apparently this has been put together without any opposition or input from current Palmetto Bay officials. It is incredulous to think that our elected officials met with our County officials, with a new County Commissioner, without asking proper questions or being offered the updates on the plans for the bridge. 

So why is money begin spent for the Social Media specialists as well as attorneys to attend these "mediations"? What are the deliverables for the tax dollars being spent?
  • You want "no right turn signs"? The County has always been reasonable. What has been unreasonable has been the cost of enforcement. When does Palmetto Bay reach the number of 'no turn' signs where they lose their effectiveness?
  • You want "traffic tables"? We have secured these anytime we have asked (at least while I was in office). And I think we have reached the point of diminishing returns on them at this point.
  • Landscaped chicanes? We have been allowed to install those as well (I actually prefer them).  Approved for use and installed in 2008.
  • Roundabouts? They work. I even got the County to pay for them. Not everyone likes them, but traffic lights are so awkward. Holding drivers up when there is no traffic and tend to go out in bad weather. Current Palmetto Bay leaders have a lawsuit pending to avoid the County's offer to fund and build a roundabout at SW 87th and 174.
  • Traffic diversion, turning some streets one way? All could be done, at least at one time.
  • We did get the County to put in at least one traffic signal that I can recall - 87th avenue and Coral Reef Drive - through negotiation and in collaboration with our commissioner Katy Sorenson - once again, we thank you Katy! 
  • Also lighted crosswalks - Old Cutler Road/174, numerous spots on 82nd Avenue and on 168th street.
More examples of concessions from Miami-Dade County waiting to be enacted? See July 21, 2017: Next Palmetto Bay debate: should we reduce speed limit on village managed roads to 25 MPH? Your voice matters - BREAKING NEWS- Friday, July 21,2017: Miami-Dade County has authorized the Village of Palmetto Bay to reduce the village speed limit  (on Village jurisdiction Roads) to 25 mph. Again, what are your thoughts? I started the discussion back in 2017. This is a debate that needs to occur within Palmetto Bay, amongst our residents. The County is good to go (or at least was good at one time).

But all this was through a well-developed quality working relationship built while I was in office between Palmetto Bay and the County.
  • In fact, the County has even looked away when Palmetto Bay has conveniently failed to comply with the requirements that the 'temporary traffic tables' (informally identified as the black rubber mats) be removed after 90 days.
The current Palmetto Bay Mayor and some council members appear to want to fight rather than work with Miami-Dade County. Contrast pre-2019 when the County would assist in design and payment for traffic roundabouts while I was mayor with the actual lawsuits filed and maintained to fight the traffic circle proposed for 87th and 174. This is after some (I wont name her here) took credit for obtaining the traffic circle, yet flip flopped and fought it when some residents objected at a meeting. Facts are facts and here is another good background post of February 11, 2020, Lawsuit? What lawsuit? Palmetto Bay is now a bit player in future decisions to be made regarding traffic solutions along SW 87th Avenue and surrounding areas.

The video embedded below is an excerpt from the Palmetto Bay Regular Council Meeting, July, 2021: Village attorney response to query from Council Member Marsha Matson. It is fact based and appears to me to be a professional and proper way of setting expectations.

His statement: "The County is going to build that bridge and they've made that very clear; that nothing is going to stop that construction."

NOTE: This video was taken from another site. I did not prepare or had any input on the preparation or posting of the video from this YouTube site, but it does present important information. Anyone interested should watch the full video of the entire meeting - don't wait for the minutes to be posted as this current mayor has seen fit to post a very limited number of meeting minutes - I believe only 4 meetings held since January 2019 have minutes posted out of approximately 132 meetings held to date.

CLICK HERE to view some prior related posts relating to the 87th avenue bridge.

What do I think went wrong? Agreements have not been kept by Palmetto Bay - causing a crisis of credibility and leading Miami-Dade County to move on without Palmetto Bay's input.

Included, but important to set out here is a prior related post of January 8, 2018, entitled: "Commissioner Cava issues her decision. She is NOT supportive of the 87th Avenue bridge. She will continue to work to find solutions for all." These were the days of collaboration and inter-governmental inclusion / partnership. Look at the list of past projects that were worked out through collaboration with the prior administration of Palmetto Bay. 

Ask yourself what happened to the partnership once the new (current) administration took over on December 5, 2018. Projects have been pushed back, cancelled, modified, basically, it is my observation that the commitments were not kept by Palmetto Bay, thereby forcing the County's hand to move forward on the 87th avenue bridge. Ask yourself, can the bridges for 77th Avenue be too far in our future?

You want more examples? There are many that can be listed and I want to keep this post relatively short, but here is just one:

This council needs to spend more time on the issues and less time on distractions, spin and photo ops. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Update on Multi-Paths for Palmetto Bay - the request was for $1 Million for a project with a projected total cost of $6,195,345. The Palmetto Bay taxpayers would put up the $5,195,345 match.

When we will be put in the loop? Only careful readers of Village Council business would have a hint that the current Mayor and Village Council are hell-bent on wrapping Palmetto Bay in 10 feet of sidewalk. Where are the meaningful public hearings, updates, or town hall meetings? Whose voice(es) matter?

What is mindboggling is how the current mayor and some members of the village council are deflecting responsibility through alleging that the shared path now under construction on SW 136th Street is a County Project (it is not, it was started under Palmetto Bay as a bike lanes project and morphed under a JPA CLICK HERE for background). 

Watch out! The shared path lightning bolt may strike twice in Palmetto Bay! Keep an eye out. I am the one who is actually keeping you in the loop. That a look at a SW 184th Street project that the current mayor and 2019 Village Council pitched to the TPO under the name "SW 184 St Intermodal/Intercity Connectivity Pathway".

The TAP request was for funding in the amount of $1 Million for a project with a projected total cost of $6,195,345. The Palmetto Bay taxpayers would put up the $5,195,345 match. And best of all, this $6,195,345 is the Village spending municipal (and grant money) for a COUNTY road.  Yes, that's right, there is no County partnership, this is not Palmetto Bay sweetening the pot to obtain some control or enhancements; this is 100% Palmetto Bay taxpayer dollars ($$$) mitigated by a mere 20% contribution by a TPO Grant.

But, but but: I know what you are thinking, but our current elects keep referencing 136th Street shared path as a COUNTY PROJECT - surely they would have no more influence over 184 than they had over 136th.

The reality: Apparently they have less influence over 184 than 136. Palmetto Bay did submit an application for a TPO grant for the Multi-Path along 184th Street from US1 to Old Cutler Road. (CLICK HERE) to view this detailed application (21 pages). This item was placed on the February 4, 2019, Regular Village Council Meeting agenda as item 10N (CLICK HERE) to view this item that I obtained and saved to my Google Drive. You can also view the approved resolution, Resolution 2019-32, where the current mayor and 2019 village council approved moving forward on seeking this grant by a 4-0 vote (CLICK HERE).

The application was not funded by the Miami-Dade TPO. The TPO received 21 applications for TAP funding in the 2019 cycle. 

The list of the 21 applications for TAP funding in the 2019 cycle
MEASURING SUCCESS: The 2019 Palmetto Bay mayor and council were limited in their "success" on 136th Street, merely redesigning a bike lane project worked out by a prior Palmetto Bay administration to a shared path (placed solely onto the Palmetto Bay side), but this mayor and council have been unable to date to get a 184th Street shared path moving forward.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

TheRealDeal reports: Estate Companies sells Palmetto Bay apartment complex for $58M

Online TheRealDeal, billing itself as South Florida Real Estate News, reported that the Estate Companies sold the 213-unit Soleste Bay Village for $58M. 

Doing the math, this is equivalent to $273K per unit.  

CLICK HERE to read the full article online, TheRealDeal reports: Estate Companies sells Palmetto Bay apartment complex for $58M, 213-unit Soleste Bay Village traded for $273K per unit, July 13, 2021 12:30 PM, by Lidia Dinkova

Photo credit/source - Soleste Bay Village Facebook page

Monday, July 12, 2021

Photo of the Day- hopefully no injuries. Accident at Coral Reef Park

A FOSDU sent me photos of what appears to be a single vehicle accident that took place at Coral Reef Park on Monday, July 12, 2021.

Weather has been horrible throughout the day. It appears that this vehicle took out the fence and landed near the trees that line the walking path. 

First: I hope that no one was injured. I hope this is not part of a larger accident. This must have been a very frightening incident, both for the driver as well as anyone else involved or nearby.

Further: I assume that the police have been there, but there is no sign of a driver, park personnel or police. The area is not taped off, go anyone walking by there should be careful.