Vote is tomorrow! What happens in Miami doesn’t STAY in Miami

Vote is tomorrow! What happens in Miami doesn’t STAY in Miami

Graphic: DNA

“The Mayor of Miami thinks it’s OK to disregard downtowners’ opinion…

Yesterday, we [Downtown Neighbors Alliance in Miami] received word from the Mayor’s office that he has no intention of pulling the ordinance he’s sponsoring to fill downtown with giant LED billboards…

There are currently several multi-million dollar billboard companies working behind the scenes to turn our neighborhood into a mini-Times Square. With millions of dollars at stake, they have worked with select Miami politicians to change the City Code, in a way that would allow dozens of ultra-bright, 10,000-square-foot LED billboards to pop up overnight in downtown.

This would be a disaster for residents’ quality of life. Those who live here are already being affected negatively by much smaller LED signs.

DNA won a big victory getting an unanimous negative recommendation against this ordinance at the zoning board level.

Now it goes to the Miami City Commission for a vote this Thursday, July 27 at 9 a.m.

The Downtown Neighbors Alliance Board of Directors is asking you to SIGN THIS PETITION and show up at Miami City Hall next Thursday, July 27 at 9 a.m.”

Photo: Miami DNA President James Torres showed up at Miami City Hall with receipts. Using data and info that even the City didn’t have, he convinced the Zoning Board to reject an awful LED billboard proposal – DNA

“Why this matters?

The proposed ordinance change will allow an excessive number of LED billboards to saturate our beautiful downtown. While there may be potential monetary benefits to our City budget, these gains pale in comparison to the negative effects on our City’s aesthetic appeal and reputation.

Miami cannot succumb to the overwhelming presence of billboards; we are not Times Square in New York, Piccadilly Circus in London, or the Shinjuku District in Tokyo.

The proposed illumination standards would allow HUGE 10,000-square-feet billboards to glow with an abusively high brightness of up to 5,000 nits. That would be twice as big (and nearly as bright) as the LED video display boards found in many Major League Baseball stadiums. An apartment across the street and directly facing the billboard would never have to turn on the lights again — the illumination from the billboard shining through the windows would make the inside of that apartment about 20,000 lux, or TWENTY TIMES as bright as the sunlight reaching the inside of an apartment on a clear day. Even blocks away, apartments facing the billboard would be unable to open their blinds or shutters without having the interior of their homes immediately illuminated as if all the lights were on…

Additionally, the proposed legislation would allow LED billboards to remain anchored to buildings during hurricanes, posing a significant safety hazard that cannot be justified.

This is a terrible ordinance, and we need our city leaders to scrap it, with community involvement at every step.”

— James Torres, President of the DNA

Organizations across the state are in support of DNA efforts including Scenic Miami, Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance, Scenic Florida and others.

Visit DNA’s petition here

“City of Clearwater touts new Coachman Park as destination spot”

“City of Clearwater touts new Coachman Park as destination spot”

Video: Bay News 9 Tampa

Clearwater’s new Coachman Park opened to the public June 28.

“‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ said Mayor Brian Aungst, Sr. ‘It’s phenomenal, and I really do think people are going to gravitate here.’

‘It’s a game changer. It’s a catalytic project that’s going to spur more activity downtown, which we need and we’re already seeing,’ said Aungst.

Catherine Corcoran started with the City of Clearwater 10 years ago as in intern. She’s now overseeing the project as the Senior Landscape Architect.

The new concert venue called The Sound can seat 4,000 guests under the canopy, and up to 5,000 more on the lawn…

The Sound will be host to more than concerts.

‘The chairs are removable, specifically so we can have flexible use of this space,’ said Corcoran. ‘We can do things like yoga on the lawn or an art show when there’s not an event happening here.’

A space providing something for everyone, with or without a concert ticket. Family fun can be found at the playground, splash pad and picnic pavilions.

Creatives can admire pieces from local artists celebrating art and diversity.

The new Coachman Park opened June 28.”

— Melissa Eichman, Bay News 9 Tampa

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Much more about this waterfront project here


Anonymous Complaints Ban – More Fallout “A Tampa mystery: Who’s making code complaints in this man’s name?”

Anonymous Complaints Ban – More Fallout “A Tampa mystery: Who’s making code complaints in this man’s name?”

Photo: Douglas R. Clifford

“The first phone call last November confused real estate agent Jason Papi. Why, the angry stranger wanted to know, did Papi submit a code complaint against his home?

The second call, weeks later, was jarring. Papi’s team leader with Keller Williams Realty asked if he had maliciously squashed a colleague’s sale by submitting the same type of complaint to the city of Tampa.

Days later, there was a third call. Another stranger spewed profanity.

‘I didn’t know what they were talking about,’ Papi said. He went looking for answers and describes what he discovered as alarming.

Someone, Papi alleges, has been fraudulently filing complaints under his name through the city of Tampa’s website.

City records show that from Oct. 5 through March 27, “Jason Papi” made at least 50 complaints against 48 homes owned by 44 different property owners. Each had enough information for the city to investigate the claims.

‘I did not make a single one of those,’ said Papi…

Each code complaint was reported to the city through its online portal. They were typically for work done without permits, prompting investigations of the homes by the construction services department that oversees such violations.

The properties span Port Tampa to the Busch Gardens neighborhood — and most of the homes turned out to have legitimate violations.

Twenty-seven of the investigations have been closed and, of those, at least 18 concluded that there was a problem. At least three had violations for work completed years earlier by a previous owner.

At least 44 of the properties were for sale or rent — or recently sold or rented — at the time of the complaint. At least 28 are owned by investment property companies…

How to stop complaints?

On Feb. 7, Papi sent a letter to the city maintaining that he was not behind the slew of complaints. In November, according to the letter, he called the Code Enforcement Department and asked that it stop taking complaints in his name. The letter reiterated the request.

‘I fear that a disgruntled individual will show up to my home one day to harm myself, my wife, or our dog,’Papi wrote. “We would like to live our lives in peace and work on starting our own family once we feel safe in our own home again.

City spokesperson Adam Smith said that since the letter was received any code complaints bearing Papi’s name would have to be made via notarized letter. But city records show that one for a dilapidated fence was submitted via the code enforcement website on March 27. It prompted an investigation without a notarized letter.

Smith said that 12 complaints made in Papi’s name since Feb. 7 have been dismissed without an investigation because they were submitted online.

Looking through Tampa code enforcement records from the last year, the Tampa Bay Times identified two possible fraudulent names.

From Sept. 12 through Oct. 6, ‘Isaac Booth’ made at least 25 complaints via email spanning the city and mostly against investment properties. When the Times sent a message to the email address listed on the complaints, it bounced back. And, according to the property manager of his listed residence, no one by that name has ever lived there.

From April 12 through May 15, ‘Louis Hernandez; made at least 13 similar complaints through a mix of email and the city’s website. But the home address listed was for rent during that period, according to its property manager’s website. The property manager did not respond to a Times call. There was no reply to a message sent to the listed email…

According to Magill, it looks like someone is combing through online real estate listings, comparing current photos to those from past listings and looking for changes, then checking to see if permits were pulled for that work — public information available through the city’s website.

‘How else would they know what work was done inside the house?’ Magill said.

Of the complaints made in Papi’s name, at least 21 include interior work and some of those reference a Zillow listing. Whoever is behind them, Magill said, she estimates it took the complainant 15 minutes to acquire the information.

‘It’s pretty easy,” she said. ‘All it takes is a computer and some time…'”

— Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay Times”

Read entire article

Related article on Panama City’s code department experience with new law

“Residents Protest Clearwater’s Plan To Cut Down Hundreds Of Trees”

“Residents Protest Clearwater’s Plan To Cut Down Hundreds Of Trees”

Photo: Denise Buttacavoli

“The Clearwater City Council put a hold on its city tree ordinance after 4,000 healthy trees were tagged for removal.”

“When Denise Buttacavoli left for work that morning, her front yard was fully shaded. When she returned home, she discovered that the city had cut down every tree in her front yard.

Patricia Kirby, a 20-year resident of Clearwater, confessed that she broke into tears when she returned home from work and saw the condition of her neighbor’s yard.

That morning, Denise Buttacavoli’s front yard at 1660 Magnolia Ave. was filled with mature, healthy camphor trees that provided a canopy of shade and sheltered a host of wild critters.

When Kirby returned home that night, she said Buttacavoli’s yard was a barren wasteland. Every shade tree in the yard had been cut down by city of Clearwater tree service contractors.

A former federal park ranger, federal forest ranger and an independent contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency for more than 20 years, Kirby said she’s spent her career trying to protect the environment and the wildlife that call it home.

‘This kind of thing hurts my heart,’ she said.

Kirby displayed before and after photos of Buttacavoli’s front yard on the overhead screen at the Clearwater City Council meeting Thursday night.

There was an audible gasp from the audience when Kirby showed the photo of Buttacavoli’s yard after the trees had been cut down…

She said the problem with the city’s tree ordinance, as outlined by Dan Mirabile, director of the city’s public works department, at Tuesday’s city council work session is that the ordinance doesn’t take a tree’s health into consideration.

Mirabile said the city is divided into five zones and each zone is inventoried every six years by an arborist at a cost of $30,000 a year.

This year the arborist tagged 4,000 of the 20,000 trees in that zone for removal using a rating system from 0 to 6.

He said trees are rated based on their species, diameter, health, whether power lines are overhead and whether they’re home to nesting birds and other wildlife.

Under that rating system, said Mirabile, if a tree is rated a 3 or below, it is subject to removal. As a result, he told council members, the city has needlessly cut down healthy trees.

‘I lost 100 percent (of trees) — 100 percent of the natural beauty, 100 percent of the wildlife connection, 100 percent shade and comfort and 100 percent of the joy,’ Buccavoli said.

She urged the city to amend its tree ordinance and ‘model your new policy after a city who’s doing the right thing.’

At the very least, said Kim Begay, vice president of the Clearwater Audubon Society, property owners should be notified in writing before the city cuts down a tree on right of way in front of their property so the residents can challenge the decision to cut it down…

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said the council already agreed following the work session to put a hold on enforcing the tree ordinance until it can be reviewed.

‘We have completely stopped the program and are going to reexamine it,’ he said.”

— D’Ann Lawrence White, Patch

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Key West: City recognized by Tree City USA ten times!

Key West: City recognized by Tree City USA ten times!

Photo: Chamber of Commerce showing Key West’s official tree: the royal poinciana.

“…’Your community should be proud to live in a place that makes the planting and care of trees a priority, and you should be proud of a job well done!’ wrote the Tree City team in a letter announcing the recognition.

Karen DeMaria, the City’s Urban Forester, says she’s grateful for the recognition, one that the City has received ten times.

‘Our island’s canopy is vital to the quality of life of our residents and visitors,’ said DeMaria.

Each year on Arbor Day, the City urges property owners to plant a tree.

‘Trees on publicly and privately owned property within the city are economic and aesthetic asset to the citizens,’ says DeMaria, ‘because of their important and meaningful contribution to a healthy and beautiful community.’

Key West achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters…”

— Key West Chamber of Commerce

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Advertising in the rain? Arriving across the country in 2022: “Rentbrella Keeps The Drops Off Your Head – For Free If You Return It In Time”

Advertising in the rain? Arriving across the country in 2022: “Rentbrella Keeps The Drops Off Your Head – For Free If You Return It In Time”

Photo: Rentbrella in Forbes

“If you’ve ever left the house, you can relate: It starts to rain and you don’t have an umbrella.

You can find something to shield yourself (the ol’ coat over the head). Or grab the umbrella you brought with you. Whoops, you forgot it? Maybe you can find one at a local store, before you’re soaked to the bone.

Or if you’re in Manhattan, New York City, you can grab one from a Rentbrella share station. Use the umbrella to free for 24 hours or keep it for an extra $2 per day. After three days, you’ll be charged $16 and can keep it forever.

Besides Manhattan, where there are more than 35 Rentbrella sharing stations in high-traffic areas, Rentbrella also has 400-plus sharing stations with 40,000 umbrellas across São Paulo, Brazil, where it got its start in 2018. And the mobility and technology company has plans for many more locations.

‘We have an ambitious expansion plan with the goal of expanding to dozens of cities across the U.S. and Europe over the next few years,’ says Freddy Marcos, who cofounded Rentbrella with Nathan Janovich.

‘In the United States, we see cities like Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Boston, among others,’ Marcos says. ‘In Europe, we’re starting in London in the first half of 2022 and then moving to other rainy and highly populated cities….’

So how does Rentbrella make money if its umbrellas are potentially free?

‘Our revenue model is based on brand advertising and sponsorship on our umbrellas,’ Marcos says. “In Brazil, our umbrellas are sponsored by the country’s biggest insurance company, Unimed…’

The idea for Rentbrella was born as cofounder Janovich was getting off the subway, Marcos says.

‘There were hundreds of people huddled at the door because it was raining, and as he saw a shared bike passing by, he thought: ‘If no one needs a bike of their own to get around, why need an umbrella?’

‘At that moment, he called me, and I suggested using the umbrellas as a new advertising vehicle that brings mobility and protection for users and a high impact media experience for brands.'”

— Jeff Kart, Forbes

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