Friday, April 30, 2021

POD - ready for weekend cycling - unicycling that is. Seen on the street in Palmetto Bay.

It is always fun to see the unexpected. I have seen road bikes, gravel and mountain bikes, kids and adult bikes, but this is the first time I have ever seen a unicycle carried on a bike rack.  What am I missing this weekend?

I wonder if this is a road or a gravel unicycle?

Have a great weekend everyone. Just Ride.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Village codes protecting plants - first of a series: Tree Mitigation - A developer friendly law enacted in 2012 under the Stanczyk administration.

Palmetto Bay residents want lush landscaping – creating a sense of place consistent with the term I coined, “The Village of Parks.” Palmetto Bay enacted some very good codes under my first two terms to enable this vision. Some codes (to be discussed in other future posts) included creating a Village Advisory Tree Board (created in 2009). As I said, there are some good codes. The issue is not always the code. We have plenty of laws. It is my opinion that the problems often lie in the failure of the Village to monitor and enforce (one example - the village code banning plastic straws in the Village).

I participated in a unique step in 2018 when I participated in the creation of a new section of the Village Code: Sec. 15-1. - Protection standards for Dade County Pine (pinus elliottii). Now, to be fair, this new code section does have a mitigation plan, but this is not one of convenience for the developer; to the contrary, it is a good type, one for actually INCREASING the number of native pines:

(b) Mitigation.

(1)       If preservation in place or through relocation on the same property is not possible, on-site mitigation shall be required with a mitigation ratio of 1:2, i.e., for every one Dade County Pine individual taken or destroyed, two mitigation individuals must be newly planted on the same property.

(2)       If such mitigation on the same property is not possible, off-site mitigation within the Village shall be required with a mitigation ratio of 1:3, i.e., for every one Dade County Pine individual taken or destroyed, three mitigation individual must be planted off site in the Village, on property paid for by the owner seeking off-site mitigation.

(3)       Dade County Pine individuals planted in mitigation shall be two-inch DBH (diameter at breast height) minimum, ten feet in height planted a minimum of ten feet on center.

In the Pine code above, mitigation equals more pines!

Some politicians don’t get it and laws were actually enacted during periods I was not a member of the Village Council (2010-2014 as well as subsequent to December 5, 2018).

I believe that one of the best (or worst, actually) pro development example is found in Sec. 30-100.2. of the village code of ordinances, commonly referred to as the Landscaping Mitigation Program.  This code section was enacted in 2012 (under Mayor Stanczyk). Here is a link to this code section online (Municode) CLICK HERE.

(a)  Intent. This section seeks to maintain the prevailing purpose and intent of subsection 30-100.1(b) by providing an alternative method for developments to come into compliance with the village's landscaping code found at Division 30-100. This section establishes a program which will permit required landscaping to be installed off the project site, in a public location within the village, when other zoning requirements limit the area available to accommodate such plantings. The remedy offered by this section shall not apply to the amount or type of landscaping required by Article 18A of the Miami-Dade County Code. (Bold emphasis added)

No room for trees on a development site? Do those bothersome trees offend or take up too much room for your planned development? Then no problem, the mayor and village council in office in 2012 have a proposed solution: plant them in public areas. Sounds like fun. Planned impact? Not more trees, instead, more room for cement and density on a development site.

Other objections - it is my opinion that the property owner should remain responsible for maintaining the required tree canopy / landscaping plan; that it be maintained on their own property. This 2012 tree mitigation ordinance appears to allow the property owner to divest him or herself of continuing responsibility once the trees are installed in this 'public location within the village.' This shifts the responsibility to the residents.

The Stanczyk tree mitigation ordinance seems to take issue with what it terms [sub part (b)] 'the fact' that Miami-Dade County’s home rule power and the minimum requirements established in Article 18 of the Miami-Dade County Code precluded the 2012 counsel from offering a mitigation remedy from those provisions. The 2012 council recognized that the original Palmetto Bay tree and landscaping requirements (created under my first terms of office) are more stringent than that required by Article 18A of Miami-Dade County. Therefore, the Stanczyk council wanted to offer a mitigation remedy through implementation of this landscaping mitigation program. And why require a public hearing which may alert people to a reduction of the code, the 2012 ordinance, as I kid you not, what is explicated stated that “This mitigation would obviate the necessity of seeking a variance under the provisions of Division 30-30, relating to the village's landscaping requirements as delineated in Division 30-100.” This, in my opinion, removes notice to the public and any participation by the public. 

This 2012 mitigation ordinance remains on the books, but it was not employed for any zoning applications during my administration, 2014-2018. The “Landscaping Mitigation Program” did not exist until it was enacted in April of 2012.


Facts are facts. Get the facts. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Poor Tree. Who determined where and how to locate the Coral Reef Park Bridge? Regulations ignored. Once again, Palmetto Bay acts say: do as (Palmetto Bay) says, not as Palmetto Bay does.

A continuing issue for this current mayor/administration: 

1. Leaping without looking, and 

2. Rules are for others. 

I was proud to lead Palmetto Bay into becoming a "Tree City USA" municipality. But tree abuse like this should lead to Palmetto Bay being stricken from that list of honor.

What am I talking about?  This once proud Oak Tree (pictured right). I am also posting before and after photos. Note the elevation. Note that at one time these trees were planted in ground far from any paved surfaces. Now they are paved into the bridge path. Why is this a problem? Because placing asphalt too close to the roots has been described by some environmentalists as the equivalent to placing a plastic bag over someone's head, but placing a few air holes in it to provide air to breath.  This tree is now facing an uphill (or downhill) battle for survival.

Trees are important to parks (they are very important in general). Trees/plants are essential for the passive/environmental element.  Trees should line and shade walking paths, but not have their roots paved over like this one. It is also ironic to note that these impacted trees are close to the meditation area that members of the Palmetto Bay Garden club set aside for the late Dolly Morrow. Now garden club members will view what has been done to this tree.

Pictured above: the trees pre-3rd bridge built 2020-2021

Also take note of how the tree has become 'shorter'. The ground around that tree was elevated surrounding (against) the trunk. This is not healthy. This is a tree not long for this world.

Note the changed elevation for the trees adjacent to, not made part of the path

Who cares? Too few obviously, perhaps even the Palmetto Bay Tree Board. I can't believe the Tree Board Members would have signed off on this path placement. And if they didn't, well then, that is another problem in and of itself. 

Many residents want "tree protection" in Palmetto Bay; for Palmetto Bay to punish developers and property owners who cut down trees to make way for development. But here is the real issue: How can we expect Palmetto Bay to enforce rules on private property when it ignores Village rules on public land?

This is yet another example as to how this current administration operates with little regard - actually - no regard, for rules. 

Are there rules against this? Palmetto Bay adopted Chapter 24, Article IV, Division 2 of the Miami-Dade County Code, cited as Sec. 30-100.4. - Tree preservation and protection.

The technical section:

It’s a short section, simply providing that 

The Village of Palmetto Bay adopts Chapter 24, Article IV, Division 2 of the Miami-Dade County as part of the Village's Code as it relates to tree preservation and protection. DERM is responsible for administering and enforcing these provisions. (Ord. No. 08-21, § 1, 10-6-2008)

A sub part of this applicable Miami-Dade County code provides that:

(e)Natural grade shall be maintained within protective barriers. In the event that the natural grade of the site is changed as a result of site development such that the safety of the tree may be endangered, tree wells or retaining walls are required. (bold emphasis added)

Note the lack of either tree wells or retaining walls in the pictures posted. The tree trunks are merely absorbed into the new land elevations.

Finally,  Live oaks are listed as a tree unsuitable for restrictive paved areas due to large surface roots see page 4/4

I once oversaw the implementation of a “right tree in the right place” program for Palmetto Bay. It is obvious that not a single village official looked at a map locating the existing trees when the current administration was looking to place a bridge.  Poor planning and execution.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Happy Earth Day - 2021. Keep pushing for sustainability.

 Where are we in regards to protecting our fragile ecosystem?

Do you know the approximate age of the Earth? 4.543 billion years. Yet today, 4/22/2021 is just the 51st Earth Day celebration. Its a great time marker to celebrate, but a single day, or even a week is insufficient to preserve this wonderful life providing planet. We must act 24/7/365. And ACTING on Earth Day is more than just a movie night, it is taking action and participating, doing things differently, ending (sub)Urban Sprawl.

A brief history of Earth Day: The April 22 Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, and was first organized in 1970 to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution.

I am proud to have led Palmetto Bay and created more than a simple Earth Day Celebration, but set Palmetto Bay to be committed to Earth Day 24/7/365. We don’t just recognize a day, we are now in big, in such a big way, that we take a full week to celebrate. Green activities, all free to the public, have been going this past week. We continue to involve our youth in partnership with the local schools as they are going to inherit what we leave behind.

I milestone we all should be proud of : Friday, July 20, 2018, Palmetto Bay was certified by the FGBC as a Green City. Next stop is Silver and then Gold Certification so long as the subsequent councils continue to subscribe to the green footprints cast before them.
Participating in a python hunt to 
remove an invasive species
What, if anything, are you doing to mark this event?  Please feel free to CLICK HERE for past updates on Earth Day. I recommend that you also take the time to review the Official Green Page of Palmetto Bay: "Palmetto Bay Village Green" which has both information of all the events of the week as well as the ongoing green efforts of our village. 

Prior relevant blog posts: Some relevant posts on my personal blog include Invasive Species, creating a backyard oasisCelestial Events: there have been many posts throughout this blog covering these topics and how they are relevant to our South Miami-Dade Communities. Please take the time to check a few out. It is all about my transparency. I am about preservation of Palmetto Bay. That means thinking differently, saving the 22 acres of the rapidly deteriorating Pine Rocklands at the Palmetto Bay Village Center.

Finally, on a silly, but fun note, no special day is complete without viewing Google's special Earth Day animated doodle on the Google site.

Happy Earth Day – 2021!

Eugene Flinn

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

POD - "Knoxville's Famous Bike Arch" - Public art that I like

This archway entrance to a pedestrian bridge is made of old bicycles. 

It is located in a Park in the Hill Avenue lot on the corner of Volunteer Landing Lane and E. Hill Street. CLICK HERE to view the Roadside America post concerning this piece (here this information was gathered.

A sign immodestly calls it "Knoxville's Famous Bike Arch" and credits its creation to local artist Kelly Brown in 2012. This is public artwork, an arch to a pedestrian path that is made of dozens of old bikes and bike parts. The comments on the website (Roadside America) claims that this art is "less colorful now then when it was new in 2012."

Photo Credit: Alex Flinn, 4-21-2021

This photo was taken April 21, 2021 of "Knoxville's Famous Bike Arch". 

Art is personal. I like the recycled bottle sculpture on many different levels, including how it evoked some strong reactions by others (good art will do that). CLICK HERE to view the relevant prior posts on the Eco Art - formerly of village hall, formerly of the 168/82nd traffic circle and who knows where it lies now.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Facts are Facts. Who is responsible? The mayor and council are responsible. They are responsible for researching and immersing themselves in the facts, not engage in a superficial, sloppy, half-baked charade that leads to character assassination.

Three members of the 2017 village council voted to purchase 2.0 (+) acres of the eastern end of the Shores property that was specifically described as “… essentially the school site and OTHER ROAD RIGHT-OF-WAYS ….” (emphasis added). It is very clear. Only the spin and lack of research (or honesty) is being put out there.  As the Hon. Dexter Lehtinen, the village attorney who negotiated and approved the transaction, would say: read the property deed if you want to know what was purchased.

Please review the entire resolution. CLICK HERE to view village resolution 2017-142.  Facts are facts. Get the facts.

This is not the first time .  Read my prior post of 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. It appears that lightning does strike twice in regards to this mayor and council, as once again, I find myself reminding this current mayor and council:

Don't blame staff, the Village Manager or the Village Attorney. Neither sets policy. The bottom line – the council has always been kept up to date. Council Members can pick up the phone can call or personally meet with any Charter Officer about any item of concern. They were told at all time – were always kept in the loop. As stated by Attorney Lehtinen, it is the council who votes – and they have the responsibility to listen to what they are told; to read and understand what they are voting on.

Only the substances of the controversy changes. But then again, “a leopard never changes its spots”. It continues to be apparent to me that drama, chaos and lack of civility from members of this current village council remain the preferred method of official business in Palmetto Bay.

Oh, and a very, very interesting aside – please CLICK HERE to view Palmetto Bay Development Order from a 2014 zoning hearing where then Mayor Stanczyk and the 2014 council APPROVED a 1,400 seat charter school on part of the site later purchased by Palmetto Bay in 2018. (Note that this charter school could not be eliminated once approved, but it was later reduced by 400 student stations under me in 2015.) The Stanczyk council determined in this order that "... based on substantial competent evidence in the record, that the application for the charter school is consistent with the Village of Palmetto Bay's Comprehensive Plan and the applicable Land Development Regulations." 

The facts are facts that the purchase of these 2.0 acres of school site and right of way saved Palmetto Bay from the Stanczyk approved charter school as I placed a covenant in the land that remained under the Shores ownership that prohibits a charter school. The current mayor, village council member and village staff appear to be silent on that important fact, but then again, they retain credit regardless of where that lies and cast blame upon anyone but themselves. Shame on them.

Wow. Facts are facts. I believe that the current mayor, vice mayor and other members of the Village Council owe a retraction and an apology to former Manager Silva.

The subheading should be: "The property purchased approved by (then) village attorney Dexter Lehtinen." 

The current mayor and village council really appear to love drama. Drama and distraction. I suggest that their time would be better spent working on important issues such as the 87th Avenue Bridge and budget issues. But hey, those are losing issues. So why not distract with internally created distractions created out of thin air; irrespective of the facts contained in materials that are posted on the Village's own website?  Facts are facts and here are some facts presented here: 

The following factual response was posted by former manager (and long time Village resident) Ed Silva:

This Council continues to refer to the appraisal done by a private resident to claim that we didn't get the correct amount of land in the downtown area. I'm providing a copy of an appraisal with the letter of authorization in which the appraisal company has been directed to only appraise the .98 acres of land. Look closely at the document and you shall see that the appraisal authorization letter clearly states that this subject property is a part of a larger 2.27 acre site. Ironically the appraised value for just the .98 acres was $2,050,000. There was no instructions to provide a value for the bigger right of way parcel. Now again ask yourself why having these documents the Council has elected to question the integrity of the Village Attorney and Village Manager who both are no longer associated with the Village? Seems a bit vindictive doesn't it?

Here is a copy of part of that appraisal:

Please watch the Video posted below where the Hon. Dexter Lehtinen explains the facts relating to this purchase. Please take note that this village council knows better than to attack Mr. Lehtinen in regards to the purchase.

 FUTURE POST: A relevant Resolution of the Palmetto Bay Village council (2016-2018). What was the council buying? It is all there, that is if the current members of the village council choose to read the materials. And then there is another reminder of Dexter Lehtinen advising the council that it is there responsibility to read the materials relating to what they vote on. 

Keep digging. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Happy Be Kind To Lawyers Day (Tuesday, April 13, 2021)

First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
William Shakespeare

Seriously - today (April 13, 2021) is "Be Kind To Lawyers Day" - We all should be kind to everyone every day. But sometimes people aren't kind and there are some cases where lawyers are called upon to resolve that situation.

So who is buying me lunch today? No flowers please.

In lieu of flowers, I suggest a donation be made to your favorite (or local if you do not have a favorite) pet rescue group.

HISTORY: “Be Kind To Lawyers Day” is celebrated the second Tuesday of April
Hey, I'm not making this up. Check it out on the Internet.

HOW TO CELEBRATE “Be Kind To Lawyers Day”: Suggestion posted below taken verbatim from “Days of the Year dot com”:

The best way to celebrate is to ensure that the lawyers in your life know how much you appreciate their tireless efforts. Take some time to really understand the struggles they face, and maybe send them a card or gift basket to make sure they know you empathize with their struggle.

Have you had a lawyer help you in a child custody case? Or in sorting things out with an unruly neighbor? Then maybe Be Kind To Lawyers Day is the time to make sure you send a little remembrance of what they’ve done.

It’s nice that lawyers now have a day. Thank you.

Eugene Flinn, Esquire

Monday, April 12, 2021

Want answers on the land purchase? Michael Miller interviews Dexter Lehtinen on April 12, 2021

Is there a reason why the current mayor, village council members, charter and officers and other staff failed to ask questions of those with the answers prior to the recent council action?

(Video credit: Community Newspapers - not claim made to their original work)

Friday, April 9, 2021

CONSTRUCTION ALERT - Howard Drive Shared Path project. Construction scheduled to commence July 12, 2021. Details and background provided

Here is a true “in the loop” update on the Howard Drive Shared Path project. Construction is scheduled to commence July 12, 2021. Details and background are supplied below.

Not much has been heard about the MEGA sidewalk since the fireworks erupted late in 2020. I have been provided a timeline from County sources that I am releasing here. CLICK HERE for background blog posts or review: September 29, 2020, Seeking updates on the SW 136th Street MEGA sidewalkproject. Is the grand Photo Op ceremony still on for Friday, October 2nd (SPOILER ALERT – it was cancelled and I am not in the loop as to whether it will ever take place). Also see October 30, 2019, Pinecrest Wins, Palmetto Bay loses. Pinecrest Council discusses material changes to 136 St Bike Lane. Palmetto Bay may be home to a 10 foot MEGA sidewalk instead of a shared project.

July 12, 2021: Anticipate commencement of the shared use path. The initial work will start Howard Drive Elementary in order to minimize any disruptions of class schedules for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

Both Palmetto Bay and Pinecrest were notified on March 4, 2021, by Miami-Dade County that the start date for construction of the shared used path was July 12, 2021. The County anticipates the project will last 300 days – with substantial completion in 240 days.

All this flows from various meetings, including those listed below:

A November 7, 2019 meeting was held where Mayors Corradino and Cunningham both met with representatives from the County to review the project.

There was an October 23, 2019, meeting where the Pinecrest Public Works Director met with County representatives to discuss the issue with tree removal along the Pinecrest side of the right of way. The result of this meeting was that the County agreed that the trees on the Pinecrest side of SW 136 Street will not be disturbed.

September 23 and 25, 2019: Pinecrest Public Works Director met with Miami-Dade County and Palmetto Bay to discuss plans for the shared-use bike lane on SW 136 Street. Discussed centered around a revised approach that would involve construction of a shared use path along the entire length of 136 Street on the south side (Palmetto Bay) and nothing on the Pinecrest side. 

Further updates will be provided when and if received.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

I'll admit it. I laughed out loud when I read the answer. Truly funny. Aaron Rodgers Final Jeopardy!: "Who Wanted to Kick that Field Goal?" + E...

When you are fully vaccinated. Now what? CDC provides updates on What you Can Start to Do & What You Should Keep Doing

 Here is the official information from the CDC (CLICK HERE to view the official CDC info page):

What You Can Start to Do

If you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.
  • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
  • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.
  • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
  • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
  • However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

What You Should Keep Doing

For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are:
  • You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
  • If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.

Friday, April 2, 2021

World Autism Awareness Day: April 2 - Light It Up Blue campaign

April 2 the day that people across the country and around the globe commemorate World Autism Awareness Day. It is a day of promise and a time for us to lend our hearts and minds to all who live with autism.

Living with a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects the entire family—parents, siblings, and in some families, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Meeting the complex needs of a person with an ASD can put families under a great deal of stress—emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical.

See one of my prior posts regarding past participation in World Autism Awareness Day: April 2 - Light It Up Blue campaign - for World Autism Awareness Day.
My time in a dunk tank at past Palmetto Bay picnic to raise money for Autism Speaks .
Palmetto Bay Village Hall - Lit up in blue for World Autism Day
The Light It Up Blue campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of autism. The initiative is generally associated with Autism Speaks (CLICK HERE to view the  "Light It Up Blue / Autism Speaks campaign site). It is intended to raise international awareness of autism in support of both World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month in the United States.
#autismspeaks #autismawareness #liub #lightitupblue #palmettobay

Thursday, April 1, 2021

POD - Slowing down to appreciate the little things. Photos of bees enjoying their morning wild coffee in Palmetto Bay

Another post for the series: Remember and live by Rule #32 (Zombieland):

"Enjoy the Little Things”.

I wonder if the honey that is eventually produced will have the slight taste of coffee?

Sometimes you just have to stop and look at the blooms. Not all are as dramatic as the giant flowers such as Hibiscus or various orchids. They are no less important, and are quiet nice to view for those who slow down and "enjoy the little things"

CLICK HERE to read source material relating to Wild Coffee located in South Florida.