Friday, May 20, 2011

Surf and Turf

Luther Campbell bumper stickers flooding Dade County roads. Uncle Luke is a candidate for our times because sadly Blow-Fly is too old to run for Mayor of Miami. The county has already lost its shirt, now is the time to roll with Luke's Luck, we have nothing to loosen but our pants.

For many longtime residents, South Florida living has always percolated along irrespective of the slurry of political news from downtown and from afar on teevee or the grapevine. Folks are like that all over the world but Miami is #1 for pervasive oblivious apathy.

The Town of Surfside was incorporated 75 years ago. Soon after the town Social Center was established. No doubt it catered to a "select crowd" of whites only.

Some years later, the town Social Center moved and changes its name to the Community Center. As decades unfolded, an new policy of accommodation and inclusion fostered understanding among residents, their guests and visiting tourists eager to enjoy our beautiful sun and surf. We had our very own Library. Children took swim classes . National holidays were celebrated. At election time, we voted there. Grilled cheese sandwiches were $1.50.

Several years ago, a decision was made by devious politicians to demolish the building before funding was secured for new construction. The ill conceived blunder not only destroyed the classic modern architecture but also tore apart the fragile symbiotic social fabric of our community. Sadly without a central meeting place, I have no idea who our neighbors are today.

As the wheels of progress grind slow with the drag of bureaucratic sludge, three years have passed. Two administrations later, the town is poised with pride for the much anticipated grand opening of our paired down new state of the art social center.

Hispanic workers that built this ultra-fancy structure must have wondered what on earth the architects were thinking when they designed this parabolic pagoda of glass and concrete. I think at least one senior at the firm is a big star-trek freak... and that's a good thing.

Here is a sneak peek of the of the aquatic features formerly known as pools. The basins are wedges that taper from a tarmac as if to mimic the oceans shore. Trouble is, they put the pool on the south end of the site where it will be in the shade of the neighboring condo tower for most of the winter months.

The facility is essentially a giant table about the size of a soccer field with a "blow-away" glass underside. The old place had something of a rooftop deck. Perhaps the new place will make use of the increased square footage for Trump to land his helicopter.

All smart new construction must have a round thing and plucked palms.

Surfside is a well kept secret. We tolerate the multitudes of mainlander beach crowds that trash North Shore Park and Haulover Beach, we begrudgingly accept the overdevelopment of Sunny Isles, the snobbery of Bal Harbour Mall and Aventura, we flick a finger at the thievery of North Bay Village and their red-light cameras. It has become increasingly difficult to maintain the level of tranquility and quality of life that made this place our blessing. But Surfside is primed to usher in a new chapter in its quiet history. We welcome you with SPF 75.

Trouble is, every time something gets build, there is more concrete and less green.
The swamp has been paved over and over.

Pleasing to look at and offering shade, a palm is not a tree. Palms are part of the grass family.

Site of the old Surfside Six Motel where a new proposed hotel issue is in the final throws of a controversial confrontation between developer and 600 residents. This you can read about in the local news.

The Miami Herald

The article, "Surfside approved controversial hotel project" by Angel L. Doval, in the Sunday, May 15 Neighbors section omitted critically important information and a very compelling presentation made by attorney Tucker Gibbs and zoning expert Mark Alvarez, given at the behest of the Surfside Residents Association (SRA), and therefore only told half the story. Documents and a PowerPoint presentation allege that the Town of Surfside 2004 Charter Amendment 4, that passed with a 92 percent voter approval and which limits a development’s height, density and intensity was “broken”, thus calling for a “vote of the people” via referendum.

To my great disappointment, the most controversial item to appear in front of this commission to date had two absent members; Mayor Dietch and Commissioner Karukin. Mr. Dietch, a strong supporter of this project, was the town’s planning and zoning chairman for four years and not only missed the opportunity to cast his vote, but also the liberty to challenge the presentation as well.

The vote taken on a matter of such importance, with only three members of the commission present, represents a sad day for Surfside governance.

Joseph “Joe” Graubart

Vice mayor, Surfside

The business end of Surfside. Perfect everyday.



  1. I love that town

  2. That's a slice of Old Style Florida in a new style way. Over developed yet somehow quaint and tucked between bigger spots.

  3. Surfside’s hidden methods and agendas are unraveling. Oficials are starting to realize that the public really did have a right to know all along and that right was trampled. So was residents' right to vote on big zoning increases. Little known but true that departing town employees are being forced to sign non-disclosure agreements to keep their mouths shut about Town Hall dealings. In 2011 Surfside Florida seems to be ‘leading the nation’ as a web of undisclosed conflicts of interest and ethically impaired government.

    There are paper trails to examine of records independently posted on government and publicly accessible web sites. A connected group with friends at Town Hall started work in 2006 and continue working today. They asked Surfside officials to change zoning laws to enable a far more dense project with more units, smaller units, less parking, more mass of building, more height, and changes in permitted uses, for a group of 5 lots at 92nd Street & A1A across from the ocean. All without the referendum required by the Town Charter. They got together with some hired guns with bought and paid for 'opnions' to say that there was no Charter violation even though it was there to be seen if anyone really looked.

    The developer is represented by a particular law firm, which proposed zoning changes to the “Town Planner”. The Town Planner is a company, an outside contractor. This same company has obtained numerous contracts from the Surfside Administration with no competition. Dozens of no-competition contracts for millions of dollars of public funds. The “company” assigned one of its employees to act as Surfside's “Town Planner”.

    The developer’s law firm made proposals for zoning changes which were presented to the “Town Planner” in a series of private, closed door meetings. Simultaneously they conducted dozens of scripted, controlled “public meetings” with pre-set agendas giving no public notice of the major changes being made, and with no actual public participation other than full fledged members of the ‘plan’, all marching towards manipulated and predetermined outcomes.

    The same lawyers represent both the developers and the Company that is the “town planner” – and those same lawyers are former partners of the Town Attorney. How's that for an inside job?
    And the same company is also the "Town Engineer" doing a 16 million dollar project to expand water and sewer capacity to allow for more and more and more overdelopment. Cozy?