Tag Archives: Miami Beach United

Miami Beach activists start forum series on Thursday

Miami Beach United, the activist group launched last year, starts a series of presentations on what makes a city great with with a forum Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at the Miami Beach Public Library, 22nd Street and Collins Avenue.

The first forum focuses on street design, and how to coordinate cars and bicycles. The speakers include Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer, Lower North Bay Road Homeowners Association president Mike Hammon, architect and community activist Mihaly Lenart, and city of Miami Beach traffic coordinator Jose Gonzalez.

On Nov. 20 at 6 p.m., architect and urban planner Jaime Correa will present on sustainable development at Miami Beach Golf Club.


Amid scandal, rental of city commission chamber, the Miami Beach activists are getting restless

Miami Beach activist Frank Del Vecchio says he is organizing a protest rally in the wake of the city of Miami Beach code enforcement corruption arrests.

And Miami Beach United is calling on city commissioners to reverse their decision to let a private developer — Russell Galbut of Crescent Heights– use the City Commission chambers for presentation on the property he controls at the MacArthur Causeway entrance to Miami Beach (the old South Shore Hospital site on Alton Road), where he’s proposing an outlet mall and residential complex.

You don’t have to look far to see angry residents on Miami Beach, whether they are frustrated over the sluggish construction on the Venetian Causeway to worrying about how the city will handle the upcoming Memorial Day weekend crowds.

When the commission decided to let Crescent Heights use the city commission chambers to present its proposal, letters started firing toward city hall.

Activist Jo Manning fired this missive:

“Since when do third parties — private parties that do not serve the public — get the use of our Commission Chambers for gain and to attract potential investors to their projects?

“…There are public venues a-plenty for such a presentation, if it once again needs to be presented. (Among them, the Botanical Garden, the public library, even the Shelborne Hotel.) Holding this in City Hall gives it tacit approval from the City of Miami Beach, whether or not you argue that it does not.”

Galbut told The Miami Herald the meeting will be used to air different possible uses of the property, one of the largest on South Beach available for development.

But architect Arthur Marcus wrote:

“I am appalled and quite dismayed – to say the least – that you are looking to rent out the City of Miami Beach Commission Chambers to a private developer to promote a private development. This is not at all for the public good as has been argued.  This illegally legitimizes one private development and gives it the ‘perceived’ stamp of government approval.”
And code enforcement corruption arrests–which involve charges that inspectors extorted $25,000 out of a South Beach nightclub owner — prompted four city commissioners to call for a special meeting to vent and discuss possibly fire the city manager.
Four city commissioners have called for a special meeting to discuss the arrests, including two who told The Miami Herald that Gonzalez should resign or be fired.Del Vecchio called for a protest — he says in a letter to commissioners — because the city has been unresponsive to complaints about lax code enforcement. “It took the FBI to uncover the plot,” he says.
The rally is supposed to happen at noon on Thursday, April 26, at City Hall.

New Miami Beach citizens group has roots in Belle Isle

A new Miami Beach citizen advocacy group, Miami Beach United, plans to announce itself at a press conference Wednesday at 6 p.m. in front of City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr.

Three key founders live on Belle Isle — former Miami Beach Commissioner Nancy Liebman (9 Island Avenue resident), Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer (Belle Plaza), and Belle Isle Residents Association board member Herb Frank (Grand Venetian).

Another activist key to its formation is activist Herb Sosa, leader of the Unity Coalition, who helped draft the new group’s its mission statement:

Dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Miami Beach residents, managed and measured growth for our city, and ethical leadership of government — for a vibrant city root in history, its people, resources and neighborhoods, with focus on the future.

The group has been organizing for several months, and met in February to go over key goals and develop a strategy for raising money through donations. The non-profit says all donations will go “right back into efforts to improve the quality of life for all in Miami Beach..”