My apologies for being slow in reporting on events of February 27—the Miami Beach Planning Board's mockery of a public hearing on the Monstrosity, the 140,000 square-foot slab of uglitude slotted for the parking lot between Pine Tree Drive and Sheridan Avenue, fronting on 42nd Street. In brief, in sum, and in short, the neighborhood got shafted, betrayed by the planning department staff and by six of the board's seven members, including the absent Cathy Leff. Of the remaining six members, only one, Ted Berman, voted for the neighborhood, against granting the project the 'conditional use' permit needed for structures over 50,000 square feet, including parking. Without that permit, the project could not have proceeded.
- The hearing was the end of a complete and total capitulation—call it a betrayal—of the neighborhood and a thumb in the eye to all the citizenry, not to mention the City Commission, which had twice voted unanimously for 50,000 sq.ft. Why this surrender to the money and bullying of Cabi Developer occurred is an open question. We heard weeks ago the city staff had no intention of defending 50,000 sq ft, a report confirmed by events. But why and how staff managed to negotiate not a reduction in size and mass but an increase from the initial, unacceptable plans remains a mystery, especially in light of a design review board staff report indicating continuing problems in that regard—problems said at the Planning Board hearing not to exist. Kafkaesque is an understatement.
- Whatever other explanations hold true, irrefutably the planning department staff is too cozy with Cabi's lawyers and architects. Behind closed doors they engaged in intensive negotiations , shutting the neighborhood out—even though the meetings were ostensibly about the Monstrosity's relationship to the neighborhood, or more precisely, its failure in all regards to be compatible with the neighborhood. Jorge Gomez and his staff seem to have forgotten, in their haste to please developers--it's a sado-masochistic relationship with contortions so that each side is both master and slave, abuser and abused--that they serve the people.
- Forgotten? I'm being too kind. The Design Review Board is set to consider this project for the first time on March 6 and Gomez and staff are recommending approval, despite continuing, major problems with the design and traffic analysis, despite the fact that in violation of the board's own rules. The plans do not include full floor plans, dimensions, or cumulative measurements, among other omissions. Staff wants approval so that it can remove the project from all citizen review. It's that simple, and it's that wrong.