Thursday, April 23, 2015

We're Good Enough, We're Smart Enough But Dammit, People Don't Like Us

Businesses choose neighborhoods just like real estate buyers do.  They look for location, safety, a place where they can grow and a place they will enjoy to spend their time.   It's not really that different.  

When we talk in North Bay Village about the lack of "quality" businesses - chains like Starbucks, independent businesses, banks, professional offices - we consistently get the same reply from the commission.  They've asked around but the demographics don't work for the retailers.  

That's a cop out.  In fact, North Bay Village is uniquely situated to be a retail and business dream.  It's set among an upscale urban mix, is convenient to all the major roads and public transit and uniquely is the only one of the four causeways between Miami and Miami Beach that has a commercial strip.  Neither the Julia Tuttle, the Venetian nor the MacArthur have what we have.  We funnel a lot of cars through the Village.  

Again, we have the demographics.  A relatively affluent population in short distance to the retail locations.  Retail geographers go well beyond the simple demographics though.  They also study how many loyal customers there are, the mix of car traffic, public transit traffic, and walk-in traffic, the availability of other retail destinations and how well the municipal government supports business development and the truth is, the only thing we have are the demographics.  

North Bay Village is not a pedestrian friendly environment.  For all the millions spent and to spend on the Causeway, not once has making the sidewalks walkable been considered.  Stores don't like to see their customers killed by vehicular traffic and know that people won't go where they are not safe.

North Bay Village has never executed on the many marketing plans to attract business.  We've allowed prime real estate to sit vacant while we ask nothing of developers to help create the business environment we need.  It's more important to get the campaign contributions impact fees that are in turn spent on repaying other campaign contributors never realized projects.

North Bay Village makes parking impossible where it is not merely difficult.  

And finally, we have a long reputation as a "pay to play" municipality.  Our business code is confusing, contradictory and our inspection process is designed to thwart honest businesses.  Ask anyone who has opened a business here. 

So the big stores, the Starbucks, the Publix, go where they can open with less risk and nobody else really moves in here.  It's not the people who live here, it's the people who govern here.  

Kevin Vericker
April 23, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why Not Park The Cars On the Bay Walk?

It's been over a month since I last posted.  Most of the activity is happening on the Facebook page:  North Bay Village Residents Speak and this is seeming less useful, other than for complicated issues.  For tonight's commission meeting we have two such issues, Access to the Bay and Harbor Island Parking, so it seems like it's worth the trouble.  Let's start with Bay Access.  

The following buildings are required by the terms of their approvals to provide a bayfront walkway open to the public:  

Bayview at 1625 JFK Causeway
Bridgewater at 1881 JFK Causeway
360 at 7900 Harbor Island Drive
Eloquence at 7928 East Drive
Cielo at 7935 East Drive
The Adagio at 7939 East Drive
Blue Bay at 7927 West Drive
Space 01 at 7934 West Drive

And of course the new projects:

Moda at the end of West Drive.
The new projects on Treasure Island. 

Each of these buildings (with the exception of Blue Bay) had their certificates of occupancy approved by the village without recording the easements and none have opened the required baywalks.  

In fact, the 360 briefly opened and then closed the access, with Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez quoted in the Miami Herald:  

Read more here:
 Gonzalez was of course lying.  There was a clear path to a solution - establish the rules and regulations from the commission and actually do the assessment.  

This issue was first brought up to the village in 2012, many times.  In February 2013, a memo detailing the problem was prepared by the village clerk, distributed to the administration and it was brought to the commission's attention in March 2013, brought up again during the campaign, and our commission have ignored it until tonight.  

It's not that unusual in North Bay Village that Certificates of Occupancy are granted without anyone checking to see if they were right.  A large condo on Treasure Island was issued a CO without inspections of the units.   If you want to ignore the law in North Bay Village, you slip campaign donations and party favors around generously and the village will overlook anything that you find inconvenient.  Remember when it turned out that nobody had inspected the deck at Shuckers for 40 (Forty) years?  And there were no repercussions?  And the owner gave generously to the  mayoral and Gonzalez campaign?  Connections, anyone?

Anyway, tonight the issue is back on the agenda.  In spite of this being known by the commission and recorded in memos for over two years, I am certain that Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of A Gun Village Manager Frank Rollason will blame the previous managers and Mayor Dazed and Confused will act like it's the first time she's heard this.  And the issue will die unless we demand that it get fixed.  

Regarding parking, Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of A Gun Village Manager Frank Rollason will present the decal program.  It is simple.  If you have no parking, 2 decals.  If you have 1 space, 1 decal.  If you are supposed to have adequate parking in your building, no decals.  Guest parking by application at the PD.  It's the usual half assed approach and he's taken two years to even get that far.  It will pass and it will fail.   

Kevin Vericker
April 14, 2015