TAKING CONTROL: Miami-Dade County is moving to take control of tourist-development room-tax proceeds that now flow automatically to the City of Miami. A fifth of all collections from the 2% room tax levied countywide except in Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside now go to the city for use at the Orange Bowl Stadium and James L. Knight Center. But a memo to the county commission from County Manager George Burgess last week noted that the county has spent tax proceeds on the Performing Arts Center, AmericanAirlines Arena, Coconut Grove Playhouse and more and the county wants to make decisions on how the proceeds are spent in the city. The commission passed the change on first reading last week and sent the issue to its Internal Management and Fiscal Responsibility Committee, scheduled to meet April 12.
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
SHORING UP: Miami-Dade County is seeking $2 million from the Florida Inland Navigation District for an upgrade of the deteriorating seawall behind AmericanAirlines Arena on Biscayne Boulevard. The rest of the $4.4 million project would be funded by $1.4 million from the county's capital outlay reserve funds and $1 million from the General Obligation Bond issue, approved in 2004, earmarked for a baywalk. County commissioners voted 10-0 last week to seek the state grant, which has a March 31 application deadline.
ARTFUL WORK: The Performing Arts Center Builders will oversee resurfacing of roadways, replacement of curbs and gutters, installation of storm drains and other street upgrades around the new center before the halls' anticipated Aug. 4 completion at a cost of up to $741,000, the Miami-Dade County Commission agreed unanimously last week. The county expects to be reimbursed for the work by the City of Miami. The city is to furnish decorative light poles and handle the rest of the road and sidewalk improvements.
ZONING IN: Miami-Dade's Infrastructure and Land Use Committee is to hear a proposed ordinance April 10 that would have the county commission handle zoning applications for properties in municipalities in some circumstances. The proposal cites as an example "requests for relief from zoning regulations in lands adjacent to public airports." The county would hear applications when it has jurisdiction because of zoning regulations, municipal charter or an interlocal agreement. The commission adopted the ordinance on first reading last week.
FOCUS ON THE BEACH: Miami Beach is asking business owners and residents to participate in focus groups scheduled for April 4-6 to pinpoint problems needing attention. "We are trying to spread the word about the focus groups so that as many people participate as possible," said Nannette Rodriguez, a city spokeswoman. Topics might include safety in the evening, at night or in business areas; the pace of new construction; and whether more cultural or special events are needed. The groups are a followup to last year's survey of attitudes about city services and quality of life. Details: (800) 776-0652 or www.miamibeachfl.gov.
SOUND SYSTEM: A new Miami Beach noise ordinance designed to balance community concerns with business needs clarifies what constitutes "unnecessary and excessive" noise and sets up a fine and penalty system. People can track the status of a complaint about noise through the city's Web site. Penalties range from $250 for a first offense to $5,000 and a two-week suspension of the noise-creating activity for a fifth. After that, violators will be termed habitual and face stiffer penalties, including revocation of an operating license. The city commission is to review the ordinance in a year to consider any changes.
TOWERS PLAN CHANGING: Little Havana Associates LLC, Amefra Corp. and New Rabar Corp. asked to defer its item on last week's Miami planning and zoning agenda to build two 202-foot, 19-story towers with 395 residential units, 33,000 square feet for retail, 34,000 square feet for commercial use and 660 parking spaces at its Intown Village development. Simon Ferro, attorney for the developers, asked commissioners to defer the item because it was going back to the city's zoning board for modifications to its major use special permit. Intown Village is at 45 SW Eighth Ave.; 715, 717, and 735 SW First St.; and 702 and 720 W. Flagler St.
GROVE TOWER WINS OK: Developers Bird Ventures LLC and H&H Development Co. received a major use special permit last week to build The Bird Road Project at 3760 Bird Rd. It's a 197-foot, 17-story tower with 254 residential units, 67,800 square feet for offices, 19,600 square feet for retail and 631 parking spaces. City commissioners granted requests to amend the city's master plan to change the Coconut Grove site from general commercial to restricted commercial use and to change zoning from liberal commercial to restricted commercial.
ENDING STANDOFF: After Doral officials agreed to abort their efforts with the Legislature to end mitigation fees they pay to Miami-Dade County for being allowed to incorporate, the county commission voted 9-2 last week to set up a seven-person Mitigation Adjustment Policy Review Task Force to be appointed by Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who introduced the measure as chairwoman of the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee. The task force is to recommend to the commission within 60 days "an appropriate policy for the adjustment of mitigation payments made by the Town of Miami Lakes, the Village of Palmetto Bay and the City of Doral." Ms. Seijas is to name the task force chairman. Commissioners Sally Heyman and Katy Sorenson opposed the measure. The county has set a moratorium on new incorporations until the issue is resolved.
A-PLUS FOR TRANSIT: Bonds Miami-Dade County plans to sell April 11 to raise $195 million for transportation projects to be repaid by the half-cent sales-tax surcharge voters approved in 2002 received an A+ grade from Fitch Ratings this week. Fitch's report said it considered the county's revenue-growth assumptions of 5.65% from the tax aggressive and said that in the past 10 years, the sales-tax growth rate here has been 4.5%. The report also said that similar to other transit agencies', the percentage of Miami-Dade Transit's expenditures covered by fare revenue declined from 31% in 2000 to 20% in 2004. The report notes that Miami-Dade plans to invest about $4.1 billion in transit projects over the next decade.
TAYLOR MADE: By a 7-2 vote, county commissioners last week renamed the Miami-Dade Police Department Headquarters the Fred Taylor Miami-Dade Police Department Headquarters, honoring the man who served as county police director from 1986 through 1997. Commissioners Dennis Moss and Katy Sorenson opposed the change.
CAPITOL ACHIEVEMENT: Miamian Sallye Jude, a founding member of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, has been chosen to receive the Mary Call Darby Collins Award for "a volunteer whose passion for historic preservation has forever changed the face of Florida," Secretary of State Sue M. Cobb announced Tuesday, citing Ms. Jude's contribution to the preservation of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.
NOTEWORTHY: A happy hour combining business and classical music is on tap today (6/30) when musicians from the New World Symphony are to perform 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Sky Lobby of the Bank of America Tower, 100 SE Second St. The free performance is the idea of David Steinfeld, a tenant broker at Holly Real Estate and chairman of the New World Symphony Patrons Society who believes the orchestral academy is a great venue for entertaining clients. "I work on Brickell, and I found it interesting that there wasn't awareness in the business community about the New World Symphony," he said. "It's a great alternative to some of the other choices for entertainment when building client relations."
WE'LL DRINK TO THAT: County commissioners voted unanimously last week to declare April Water Conservation Month in Miami-Dade.
LUCKY 13: With fewer than 200 days to opening, the Miami Performing Arts Center has announced 13 more hires. The $446 million venue, which is scheduled to open 189 days from today (3/30), on Oct. 5, has added technical director Dana Aluzuri, staff accountant Keith Benjamin, payroll clerk Randy Breiter, CFO John Burnett, show marketing manager Leah Davis, subscription manager Humberto Echevers, receptionist Elena LaMaide, grant writer Emily Madison, education and outreach administrative assistant Rita Martin, graphics designer Yasmina Padron, database and application administrator Phil Ribeiro, assistant box-office manager Dana Sorenson and marketing administrative assistant Claudia Villar.
CORRECTION: Last week's article on the Port of Miami tunnel project listed an incorrect Web site address. The correct address is www.portofmiamitunnel.com.