Venetian Way drawbridge has been on lockdown; it may stay that way most of 2016

You might not have noticed this, but even though Venetian Way has been open from Miami to Miami Beach since March 1,  the easternmost drawbridge — between Rivo Alto and and Belle Isle — has remained locked down.

Only the drawbridge between Biscayne Island abd Miami has been in operation. The eastern drawbridge closed in April 2015, due to a mechanical failure, and it hasn’t reopened with the rest of the toll road.

That’s meant a little less traffic disruption due to marine traffic for those of us who live on the Venetian.

But work on fixing the span is expected to start in June, Miami-Dade County says, assuming it gets a contractor in place. The job isn’t expected to be finished before the end of 2016.

According to the County: “Precluding any complications during the next step of the County’s procurement process, the County has begun securing a contractor projected to begin the rehabilitation in June 2016. Upon awarding the project, the contractor should complete the work within 180 days; however, the bridge will continue to be in the closed position to marine traffic intermittently until the contractor completes the project. As the major components of the bridge are installed and/or become operational, the contractor shall coordinate with all affected parties when closing or opening the bridge to vehicular/pedestrian and/or marine traffic.”  

Miami Beach approves West Avenue bridge; work could begin in 60-90 days

The Miami Beach City Commission On Wednesday approved a $9.9 million contract for construction of new bridge extending West Avenue across the Collins Canal and Dade Boulevard,  linking Sunset Harbour to the West Avenue corridor.The bridge will connect West Aenue over the Collins Canal.

Work could begin in two the three months. The project — and its attendant disruption between the Venetian Isles and the main part of Miami Beach — is projected to take about 10 months. The Miami Herald’s Joey Flechas has more.

The vote was unanimous. In addition to the bridge, the project includes raising part of Dade Boulevard — where the bridge will slope down to Sunset Harbour — as much as six feet above its current elevation.

Sunset Harbour condo-retail project goes to war with Beach Towing

Remember the proposed 90-foot-high mixed-use development on Purdy Avenue across from Maurice Gibb Memorial Park?

It’s landed in a nasty battle with Beach Towing. The Miami Herald has the story tonight.


Belle Isle Key fined $20,000 for short-term rentals

codeviolationbMiami Beach has cited the owners of the Belle Isle Key apartments for violating city restrictions on short-term rentals. The offense carries a $20,000 fine.

The Visa Mare website is shut down.

The Visa Mare website is shut down.

The city code compliance division ordered that marketing of the apartment units stop immediately. As many as 12 apartment units in the complex were being booked like hotel suites through the website for Vista Mare South Beach, as well as booking engines,,, and

The Vista Mare site, which was run by Jason Mamane, has shut down.

The problem with the short-term rentals was disclosed last month at a meeting hosted by the Belle Isle Residents Association, at which EuroAmerican presented plans to knock down the 120-unit apartment complex and replace it with two new buildings that would include 172 rental apartments and a hidden parking garage.

At that meeting, residents of the existing complex complained about the short-term rentals, which they said reflected onj EuroAmerican’s credibility.

In a followup to the meeting, the found the Vista Mare website,\ and spoke to Mamane, who said he had the owners consent to rent the units on a daily basis — and noted that he had been paying resort taxes to the city of Miami Beach, which he considered an assurance the short-term rentals met city rules.

But the  city’s website, under “Vacation / Short-term Rentals” says, “vacation/short-term rentals are prohibited in all single-family homes and in many multi-family housing buildings in certain zoning districts of Miami Beach.”

And Miami Beach Planning Director Thomas Mooney confirmed that 31 Venetian Way “is zoned RM-1 and does not have any special permit or approval to engage in short term rentals.”

Parking is in the left building in the middle under the green.

Parking is proposed to be in the left building in the middle under the green. also revealed Airbnb listings for Belle Isle Key, from a different landlord.Those listings also are no longer available.

After the complex was cited by Code Compliance, records show that Vista Mare South  Beach Inc applied for a short-term rental permit from the city. No action has been taken on the permit. The fines will be reveiewed by a special master.

Meanwhile, EuroAmerican is scheduled to appear before the Miami Beach Design Review Board on May 4 with its renovation plan.

The proposal calls for two five-story buildings. The existing complex is three stories tall.


O Miami brings restorative meditation and poetry to Belle Isle.. in the year 2100

Jillian Mayer leads participants to the Standard pool (Photos courtesy of O, Miami/Farah Diba Cristina Yamini)

Jillian Mayer leads participants to the Standard pool (Photo courtesy of O, Miami/Farah Diba Cristina Yamini)

Your Belle Isle was traveling last week, and missed the big O, Miami poetry event at the Standard.

But our correspondent (and Belle Isle Residents Association board member) Lisa Palley provided a report:

On April 6th, the standard at the The Standard was raised a few notches by O Miami’s poetry missionaries.
The mission of O, Miami Poetry Festival is to give every human existing in our city a poetic encounter. This particular encounter, Current, created by Miami based artist/filmmaker Jillian Mayer, and executed by her band of humanoids, gave Miami a glimpse of how restorative transcendental meditation will look like… in the year 2100.
So, this is underwater poetry?

So, this is underwater poetry? (Photo courtesy of O. Miami / Farah Diba Cristina Yamini)

(Photo courtesy of O, Miami/Farah Diba Cristina Yamini)

First thing you need to know–it happened underwater. Second, it was called the “art of virtual sight recognition,” amongst other things. For the techno-conservatives in the reading audience, please, rest assured, this meditation was a perfect marriage of  ancient wisdom and futuristic innovation.

Jillian’s vision anticipated all the challenges for a 2016 you–and the future “you”–living in the year 2100. Issues like social anxiety due to super-population, inability to focus due to super-stimulation (thank you, perpetual pinging gizmos) and other anxieties… like not being superhuman due to our inability to be productive and perfect 24/7. This interactive performance and site-specific sound piece Current assuaged us, causing all of our anxieties to float away, far away.
To help with social anxiety, Jillian used coaxing imperatives in a serene, half human, half borg voice “do not be disturbed if you come into contact with somebody.” For our compromised attention, those jumping monkeys in our brains, she used sensory isolation and had participants use black painted goggles, as waterproof blindfolds. That way we could focus on the poetic collage of instructions that successfully tapped into our greater imagination. One particular meditation stuck with me, even til now, were these words of poet Mary Oliver asking, imploring us to think.. “What is it you plan to do/ with your one/ wild and precious life?”
Hmmm… how about experience a brilliant poem first hand? Visit and engage with poetry in a variety of ways during the remaining days of April, Miami’s O poetry season.



Might the Belle Isle flooding threat be back? It looks bad for Island Terrace.

How a small rise in sea-level would impact 5 Island Avenue.

How a small rise in sea-level would impact 5 Island Avenue.

At a Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce conference on sea-level rise, one of the many scientists in attendance pointed to Belle Isle as a Miami Beach location specifically threatening by seas rising faster than previous believed.

According to the Real Deal, Keren Bolter, research coordinator for Florida Atlantic University Center for the Environmental Studies, said specific buildings on Belle Isle are at particular risk.

Bolter said that in as little as 15 years, flooding in Belle Isle will grow much worse, especially at Island Terrace, a 16-story condo built in 1967. “It’s coming up not just at the sides,” she said while showing Lidar maps depicting future sea-level rise at Island Terrace and Belle Isle. “It comes up from underground.” That’s partly because the limestone that South Florida land is predominately made of us is extremely porous. Because of this, not even sea walls will stop the flow of water, Bolter added.

It’s interesting to look at how the recent project on sea-level rise by Florida International University projects flooding in our area.

It shows Island Terrace flooding with an increase of 1.22 feet of water.

Airbnb, hotel-style short-term rentals are reality on Belle Isle — but isn’t it against city code?

Want to rental in Belle Isle Key like a hotel? Here you go.

Want to rental in Belle Isle Key like a hotel? Here you go.

At Wednesday night’s presentation by the architect hired to design the replacement for Belle Isle Key, the apartment complex on Belle at 31 Venetian Way, tenants at the complex complained that the owner was leasing a portion of the units for short-term rentals.

Airbnb listing for Belle Isle Key

Airbnb listing for Belle Isle Key

The assumption by many at the meeting — including Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer — was that the city of Miami Beach prohibited short-term rentals of less than six months on Belle Isle.

Diffenderfer said he believed the only zoning exception was The Standard, which was grandfathered in.

The city of Miami Beach’s website, under “Vacation / Short-term Rentals” says, “vacation/short-term rentals are prohibited in all single-family homes and in many multi-family housing buildings in certain zoning districts of Miami Beach.”

The map indicates no exemptions on the north half of Belle Isle.

And Miami Beach Planning Director Thomas Mooney confirmed that in an email, “The subject property is zoned RM-1 and does not have any special permit or approval to engage in short term rentals.”

Airbnb listing for Belle Isle Key

Airbnb listing for Belle Isle Key

But residents said that the owners of the complex, EuroAmerican Group, are renting an inventory of units in the complex like hotel suites under the brand Vista Mare.

It only took a Google search to find the Vista Mare website, showing units available. You can book them through the Vista Mare site, as well as through other major travel booking engines.

The website lists Jason Mamane as its contact, and Mamane was very upfront about Vista Mare. He said he and a partner lease a dozen units at Belle Isle Key (one and two bedroom, garden or bay view), and live in two more.

He said “the owners of the complex” reached out to them about running their operation, and as far as he knows, it’s allowed on Miami Beach.

“The property owners came to me,” he said Monday morning. “I have leases for the units I rent. We pay state sales tax and city resort tax on the rentals. Everything we do is above board.”

Other booking engines market the units as well. At, four types of units are offered, starting at $195 a night: one and two-bedroom garden, and one and two-bedroom bay view.  It’s also on sites such as,, and, where it was posted as available by Jason M. in November, 2015. They show lovely exterior photos of the complex and Belle Isle, as well as photos of the units.

airbnbMeanwhile, on Airbnb, a “Superhost” named Kelly Montoya offers Belle Isle Key apartments (pets permitted with deposit) under the heading “So. Beach Condo Island Furnished.” The posting indicates, “one night minimum stay.”

Kelly is profiled as a “superhost: on Airbnb,com with this endorsement: “As the owner of four Miami Airbnb listings, Kelly is a highly-experienced host and is passionate about the services that she provides her guests.”

Mamane said he is aware that some units are marketed by Airbnb, but said those aren’t the ones he controls. “I’m not Airbnb. I’m here doing business the right way.”

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Belle Isle Key residents complained of poor behavior from some of the short-term guests, including a group that partied drunk at the pool late at night “in their underwear.”

Diffenderfer said he believed it was “not acceptable to rent anything short-term, not anything under six months. If it’s true we need to know and we need to have code enforcement on it. It’s not okay.”

Postcard shows Venetian Isle Motel at 20 Venetian Way.

Postcard shows Venetian Isle Motel.

Belle Isle used to be home to a couple of hotels. The site of the Grand Venetian used to be the Venetian Isle Motel.

And the Standard started in the 1950s as the Monterey Motel, and later became the Lido Spa.