The Biscayne Times

Jul 18th
Letters May 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Written by BT Readers   
May 2017

Call the Commissioner

bigstock_Mail_Button_1727945Erik Bojnansky’s piece in your April issue (“Thinking Big Triggers Big-Time Fears”) talks about the proposed Eastside Ridge project and some of the troubling facts about the family behind it all, the Podolskys of New York City.

It is my fervent hope, shared by many others in the community, that Commissioner Keon Hardemon and his colleagues will reject the Special Area Plan.

• It would severely displace low- and moderate-income renters, both within what is now Design Place, and in the surrounding neighborhood. The pricing structure of the thousands of new units will be much more expensive than current Design Place units. The starting price for “workforce housing,” which will be maybe just five percent of the units, will be hundreds of dollars more for a one-bedroom. And when a luxury tower like this goes up, nearby landlords raise their own rents.

• Homeowners will be pushed out if they can’t afford the increased property taxes that come with rising assessments. They’ll be forced to sell, likely at a discount rate that deprives them of the profit that the new, wealthier homeowners will enjoy when they eventually sell.

• Luxury developments and gentrification incursions into working-class black neighborhoods lead to greater police activity, aimed at removing “undesirables.” This dynamic is exacerbated in a heavily immigrant neighborhood like Little Haiti in the era of Trump. Recently the Food Not Bombs sharing in Lake Worth was raided by ICE/CBP agents, and a human being was hauled away for being brown, looking poor, and speaking on a cell phone in a foreign language. It’s not a huge leap to see that happening here on a big scale.

• Little Haiti sits on higher ground than many of the surrounding neighborhoods. As climate change progresses, the wealthy of this city will try to situate themselves in areas with the lowest flood risk and, in so doing, push poorer black and immigrant populations into the higher-risk areas. If we’re committed to social, racial, environmental, and economic justice, we must resist these attempts.

• The traffic impact on the neighborhood will be enormous. Ric Katz has tried to sell the project to the public by saying there may be a local and regional train station in our future, but there’s no guarantee of this.

I hope, for the community’s sake, that neither Commissioner Hardemon nor any other commissioner has had any kind of contribution or arrangement for a future contribution from the contemptable Podolsky family, and that if they have, they will nonetheless do right by their constituents and vote the project down.

I encourage your readers to call Commissioner Hardemon’s office at 305-250-5390.

Bean Blackett
Owner/Artist, The Colorblock Miami
Member, South Florida Democratic Socialists of America


Aesthetics Over Accessibility

“Cynical amusement” best describes my reaction to John Ise’s article about Miami Shores (“Look How Far We’ve Come,” April 2017), at least as far as making it more pedestrian friendly is concerned.

In January 2009, when the sidewalks along NE 2nd Avenue were still under construction, I met with city manager Tom Benton about downtown and Biscayne Boulevard between NE 96th Street and the Publix at NE 91st Street. I might as well have vented to my spaniels.

“Why are there no ADA-compliant ramps crossing the avenue?”

“We don’t want people crossing except at a traffic light.”

“What about the plan to turn downtown into an area where families will come in the evenings?”

“We don’t want people crossing except at a traffic light.”

Our discussion about Biscayne Boulevard was similar. There’s a bank, a church, and two bus stops on each side of the Boulevard along that stretch, but you need a machete to cross the median, and if you’re in a wheelchair, you’re not going to get over the curb.

Mr. Benton apparently believes that people ride the bus all the way around to get on the right side of the Boulevard. Or maybe there’s a subtext that users of public transport aren’t welcome in the Shores.

Thanks to former council member Jesse Walters we have a turn lane in the middle of NE 2nd Avenue, but the landscaping has filled in, making it difficult for drivers and pedestrians to see each other.

In the Shores, beautification is an absolute necessity, and form doesn’t necessarily follow function. Enhancing safety is optional.

Michael Taylor
Miami Shores


Creative and Amazing

I absolutely loved Janet Goodman’s latest “Pet Talk” column (“She Sees Angels,” March 2017). She is so creative, always finding fascinating subjects that are off the beaten track, and amazing for your articles.

Thanks to Janet for sharing her wonderful insights.

Phyllis Barash
Miami Beach


Hurray for the Free Press

Everyone is entitled to their own political beliefs, and I respect that, but I feel the need to comment on the letters (“Letters,” March 2017) condemning Jack King’s column.

To Yveline Andrieu: If you were so moved by the article on the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, donate directly to them or volunteer to help.

To B. Brian Paran and “Name Withheld”: Not everyone feels the way you do.

I love reading your magazine and enjoy all the columns.

Thank God for the free press!

Martha L. Martinez
Miami Shores


Racial Comparison Neither Fair Nor Sensible

I’m writing in response to Helmut Hauser’s letter (“Chinatown? Why Not?” March 2017) in which he compares the situation of so many American blacks with the entrepreneurial spirit of among Haitians and other immigrants.

I proffer that this is not a fair or sensible comparison. Some immigrants have money to invest from unique sources that Americans, white or black, do not.

I have walked through the loan and the business development process with a black person a few times and witnessed the rejection event that in many situations made no business sense. The lesson is, if you don’t have 100 percent in liquid assets to guarantee a loan, you won’t get a loan. Of course if you were in that position, you wouldn’t need a loan.

Those business plans that this black person had developed were later developed by other people -- all whites who received loans based on the value of the finished development and those projects are lauded today as great visionaries. While I don’t know the details of the development finances, you can bet they didn’t have 100 percent collateral.

I don’t fault Mr. Hauser. The environment we live in breeds the disconnect of the American races.

Richard Mason
Miami Gardens


Blame the Commissions (Those Other Commissions)

John Ise’s first hypothetical was crazier than his second, although either is a non-starter in his January 2017 column, “It Takes a [Bigger] Village.”

Of course, the Village of Biscayne Park isn’t going to try to annex Miami Shores Village and the Village of El Portal. But neither is the Shores going to annex the smaller municipalities.

You could figure this out either by noting that no one has, in all these decades, tried this, or simply by asking the electeds and/or old-time residents of Miami Shores.

As Ise correctly summarizes, Biscayne Park has overwhelming fiscal problems. If Miami Shores absorbs us, our problems become yours. Pretty easy arithmetic there.

Ise got one “fact” wrong. Biscayne Park doesn’t have “sky-high taxes.” We have a sky-high millage (although not the highest in the county).

One of the differences between the Shores and the Park is that property values in the Shores are, for whatever reasons, much higher than they are here in Biscayne Park, and the very same structure and lot size here generate considerably less money than they would be in Ise’s burg, just several blocks away.

But I’m happy to say we’re working on our fiscal problem. We’re trying to improve the neighborhood. It’s my hope that someday we’ll have a Village Commission and a Parks and Parkways Board that will look, as Ise did, at our generous array of medians, and decide that they should look as lush as the Shores’s do.

This kind of development (and leadership), like improved private properties and public art, will class up the Park, and encourage more devoted commitment. Already we’ve had some very impressive sales and renovations, and I feel sure that if we can see in ourselves what Ise sees in us, we will greatly improve the neighborhood, and increase property values.

But at bottom, John Ise is right to summarize our situation as fiscally not good. Absent annexation, we don’t have, and will never have, the commercial component upon which almost all municipalities depend for revenue.

Fred Jonas
Biscayne Park


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