On February 12, the Miami Beach City Commission voted to approve a new ordinance that was originally intended to preserve historic homes in the city. Last minute changes to the ordinance stripped from the law the original protections for pre-1942 homes
The result will be an acceleration of the widespread destruction of architecturally significant homes in the city.
The new ordinance eliminates a sliding scale for lot coverage in favor of an across-the-board 30% lot coverage for all residential properties without public review. This change will encourage more demolition by giving owners of homes built before 1942 greater incentive to demolish their houses because of the increase in allowable building.
Sadly, this new ordinance will set back historic preservation in Miami Beach by decades. The loss of the cultural and historic heritage of the city will be incalculable.
“The Mayor and Commission have enacted a new ordinance that turns its back on the city’s history and cultural heritage and embraces the concerns of developers and property owners who are simply interested in making a profit,” said Charles Urstadt, chair of MDPL. “Future generations will be unable to understand or appreciate Miami Beach’s wonderful history with the loss of so many important homes. This is not the way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Miami Beach.”
Despite this serious set back, MDPL will press on in its efforts to help preserve the architectural heritage of Miami Beach’s fine homes.
The Miami Herald featured this on-going effort in a May 3rd article titled “Battle To Save Miami Beach’s Old Homes May Not Be Over.”
In the article, MDPL Public Policy Committee chair Daniel Ciraldo summed up the stakes:
“We’re a small town and we have our symbols. And when certain symbols are lost, it kind of gets a community together and makes us think, ‘What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?’ ” Ciraldo said. “Somebody’s got to do it. It’s important to the city.”