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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

No incentive to change

Miami’s Planning and Zoning  Department has admitted  recently to allowing more than a dozen instances where they have issued permits for homes  in the South Grove that do not conform to  the zoning laws.

Included in  the list structure with “mistakes” made by Miami’s Planning and Zoning are 4039 & 4049 Ventura Ave in the South Grove. Amongst the variances approved without the warrant process is the construction of a third level that exceeds height limits of NCD3 3.6 **.

This is a “case in point” of the whole problem. The P&Z director has the power to order this addition demolished (Miami Municipal Code sec 2108). If he were to do so it would send a powerful message to the developers and the City that an end run around the rules could be costly.

But, in the absence of any reprimand of  city personnel or financial consequences to the developers who make extra profit profits from their oversize  structures that displace our trees there will be no incentive for them to change.

I don’t assume that publishing this make make a huge change, but it might help.

Glenn Patron
Coconut Grove

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Have a milkshake or craft beer - in 1986

There's a new place opening next door to LoKal, the burger place, called Vicky's House -Milkshake Bar and Tasting Room. It's part of LoKal. You go down Grand Avenue, make a left at the post office and enter the 1980s.

The new location is 30-years-old. It is May 1986 to be exact, according to the calendar on the wall, and the decor. It's right out of The Goldbergs. This new place is the waiting area for LoKal.

It's the time of Ronald Reagan and the Golden Girls and it's all genuine. Matt Kuscher, owner of LoKal and Vicky's House, got the items from his mom, Vicky, the namesake. The harvest gold kitchen appliances, the lights, wallpaper, linoleum floor - all genuine. "She never threw anything out," says Matt. There's even an old cuckoo clock on the flower covered wall along with a harvest gold slimline, landline, telephone.


Vicky's House will serve ice cream shakes, but those new kind, with all the stuff on top like candy and nuts and things like that, and they'll have coffee and craft beer in the can and wine. It's a great place to wait until your table is ready at LoKal. Imagine a Golden Girls flavored milkshake which includes cheesecake. Or cereal on top of a chocolate shake. Ice cream sandwiches include Cookie Monster or Secret Vegan for $6 each.


Shakes can be simple, too, like there is plain Vanilla, Chocolate and Bananarama for $7 each or the more extravagant for $12 like ET Goes to the Movies to Watch the Goonies or The Breakfast Club, which has peanut butter, Captain Crunch, maple syrup, bacon and so much more - all in one shake! May I suggest adding Egg Cream's to the menu?


There will be tastings the first Wednesday of each month, hence "tasting room" as part of the name, this is from 5 to 8 pm and that's all about local craft snacks and beverages.

They honor 3:05 cafecito, and because of that, they use "family owned" La Llave coffee. 

Vicky's House is set to open next week. They are located at 3190 Commodore Plaza.


 The floor.

The wallpaper.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

More on AirBnB

I was thinking about this AirBnB thing. It seems sort of silly to sue AirBnB because people are using it as a tool to rent out their properties. I watch this old western on tv often, "Have Gun. Will Travel." Paladin, a gun fighter, is hired by people from all over the old West. They get his information from his business cards, which seem to make the rounds. He lives in San Francisco but ends up in Oklahoma or Wyoming or New Mexico, all because of his business cards. People contact him and he takes off for a job wherever it leads him.

What is to stop me from leaving business cards around New York City? What if I posted cards that say, "Rent my condo?"


Who would be sued then, the business card printer? 


I have stayed in a few AirBnB places in New York City, I think once in New Orleans, too. In New York, the rates really aren't that much lower than hotels and in the end, I preferred to stay in hotels for amenities and safety reasons. I noticed that in all the places I've stayed in New York, the keys were old keys that have been used for years. There was a key to the front entrance of the building, usually a brownstone, and then the key to the main apartment. I was concerned about someone having the keys duplicated and just going and burglarizing people each time a new person stayed there. You know, maybe just taking one or two small things without people realizing things were missing.

One lady owned the whole brownstone where I stayed once - four or six units. She had full maid service daily. I really didn't realize she owned the whole building until I asked her about staying there another time and she said that the apartment I was in was going to be occupied but I could stay in another apartment in the building. Every place I have stayed in you could tell that people didn't actually live there because there was nothing in the closets - no food, no clothing, nothing that people would have who lived there full time.

In the end, I felt I got better deals and amenities at hotels, in New York, anyway.

About 15 or 20 years ago, I used to rent a place in California from a couple. It was a renovated garage apartment, but it was truly first class. It had a kitchen, living room, bedroom, quite a nice, and large place. I think they charged me $89 a night. I did this for a few times, maybe a few years, and then they said they had to stop it, too many neighbor complaints. They did tell me at the time that if anyone asked who I was, I was to tell them I was a cousin visiting.


So even before there was an AirBnB, this was of course going on.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Progressive Miami meeting is Tuesday

Coconut Grove has it's own political group, "Progressive Miami," working to resist Donald Trump's agenda.

They, and the hundreds of group's like them, scored a huge victory when Trump's health care plan was shot down last Friday. These groups organize massive phone calls, mail-outs, protests, and visits to local congressional offices to influence politicians.

Progressive Miami is having its next meeting on Tuesday, March 28, and the public is invited. It will be held in the cafeteria at St. Stephens Church, 2750 MacFarlane Road.

The meeting will begin at 7 pm.

For more information, contact Glenn Terry at bettermiami1@yahoo.com.

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Women's Happy Hour is Monday

Special Guests from HATCH Miami, Caroline Parker Santiago, Amanda Sica Lecours and Tere Negrete will be part of Monday's Women's Happy Hour at the Mayfair Hotel.
     
HATCH Miami is committed to showcasing and supporting Miami women who are the entrepreneurs, innovators and artists making our community a stronger, more sustainable — and creative — place to live. They will bring together vendors of vintage goods, handmade/homemade arts and crafts, small-batch and artisanal food and provisions, as well as local performers — bridging communities, genres and areas of interest to highlight what makes Magic City women truly magical.

The event is March 27 from 5:30 to 8 pm. Enjoy happy hour prices on drinks and complimentary nibbly things. 

Women's Happy Hour is the last Monday of each month at the Mayfair, 3000 Florida Avenue.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hey, Lisa!

There's such a great article on our own Lisa Remeny, Coconut Grove artist in the Miami Herald. You can see it here

Lisa is one of those people I love seeing and hanging out with. She has a special spirit.

I did a 10 With Tom with Lisa not long ago, you can see that here.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Kids Easter Brunch at CocoWalk

CocoWalk has a Kids Easter Brunch on Sunday, March 26 from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. There will be live entertainment, interactive games, lite bites, arts and crafts, an all bunny petting zoo and an appearance by the Easter Bunny.

The event is free for the whole family.


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City Commission goes back and forth over AirBnB

At Thursday's City Commission meeting, the City Commissioners went head-to-head with Mayor Tomas Regalado. Commissioner Francis Suarez used the word "embarrassing" to describe the Mayor's resolution to make AirBnB illegal in the City of Miami. The Mayor was not amused.

Commissioner Suarez felt that the current zoning laws already prohibit AirBnB's practices of allowing for short term rentals on a continuing basis by residents and felt that the job was for zoning and law enforcement to enforce the law. In my own neighborhood we've been trying for months to have an illegal sign removed and zoning has been falling all over themselves to avoid the issue. The City does not enforce zoning codes in my humble opinion.

Commissioner Keon Hardemon said that people have been renting out properties for short term usage for years, long before there was AirBnB and an internet. He said that whether the resolution passes or not, it will still be business as usual unless the law is enforced. He said, "It's about money and profit for property owners."

Commissioner Suarez said that he does not receive complaints from residents about AirBnB being in their neighborhoods. The Mayor said that he does receive complaints.

There are about 1000 AirBnB "hosts" in residential neighborhoods according to Tom Martinelli of AirBnB, who was at the meeting. They are acting illegally according to most commissioners. Suarez asked if the city could sue AirBnb, which brings back the subject of Code Enforcement not doing their job - if the neighbors are breaking the law, why would you sue AirBnB and not the neighbors who are breaking the law?

Contradicting himself, Suarez said the platform itself is not illegal. It's the end-user who is breaking the law.

Commissioner Ken Russell described the whole AirBnB thing as "people sharing their homes." And when you think about it, what if a homeowner had friends visiting once a week or once a month but they weren't charging their guests. Would it be the same thing? Would it be illegal? I visit New York quite often, I stay in hotels up to maybe 50 days a year, although I have stayed at AirBnB locations a few times, but I could easily stay at my cousins' homes and I did many times over the years when I was younger - for as long as a month at a time sometimes. Were they breaking the law? Was I? I wasn't paying them, but I was going through the motions.

I have a neighbor who has wild parties at least once a week. They are loud and there are lots of people there. He lives there full time. Is a quiet AirBnB visitor better than a noisy permanent neighbor? So many questions.


In the end the Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the Mayor's resolution to curb AirBnB, and the City Attorney will look into the issue of being able to sue the platform itself. Suarez and Russell voted against the resolution.

Even with the Mayor getting his way regarding the new resolution, I see it as words and nothing more. If our code enforcement people don't enforce the codes, it's all a moot point.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Smudging and crystals featured at event

There is a cross-over event when Celestial Treasures heads over to Kit & Ace to present a Smudging event on Friday, March 24 at 7 pm. They will show you how to smudge your home and show you everyday crystal use.

Wendy and Antonela will have live demonstrations and the experts will be demonstrating a varitey of smudging techniques and give a lesson in purifying your aura, they will explain what the different crystals are used for and will answer all your questions.

Receive 15% off crystals and smudging tools when you attend the event.

The event is free and open to the public.

Kit & Ace is at 3401 Main Highway. 

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Is this a solution to alleged post office crime?



So word has been going around about check washing allegedly going on at the Coconut Grove Post Office, we posted a letter from a reader last month about it.

I have been taking my snail mail to the post office at Coral Way and 18th Avenue because I am uneasy about the Grove post office.

At the Grove location, they changed the mail box so that you cannot reach in and grab mail, but I am concerned about what goes on inside the post office, in the back dark rooms. I don't have any facts, but I have heard too many stories of mail disappearing and then checks allegedly being washed. So I'm not sure if this new mailbox is the solution. Perhaps cameras on every section of the back areas of the post office are the answer.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Stories on Instagram

VideoCam is one of my favorite new iphone apps. I started playing with it during the Arts Festival weekend. It allows you to start and stop videos without really having to know how to edit. I use it all the time now.

I’ve had also been playing around with Facebook live and doing live videos and now I’ve gotten into the Story thingie on Instagram. It’s supposed to be like Snapchat, but I could never get into Snapchat, but I’m really enjoying Instagram’s Story feature where you add short videos which disappear in 24 hours.

I've been showing Coconut Grove scenes on the Coconut Grove Instagram page here: 
Instagram.com/CoconutGroveGrapevine and I’ve been showing some of my upcoming comics and the work I’ve been doing getting my Tomversation comic ready for publication at Instagram.com/Tomversation.
You have to follow on a cell phone, it doesn’t work on a computer or ipad, that’s the nature of Instagram.

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St. Hugh presents cellist Anna Litvinenko

St. Hugh-Steinway Concert Series continues its 2016-17 Season on Friday, April 28, at 8 pm with a recital by the remarkable Miami cellist Anna Litvinenko, shown here, with Artistic Director Roberto Berrocal, piano.  

St. Hugh-Steinway Concert Series is in its fifth season of vocal and instrumental concerts, presenting four concerts each year of both classical and popular music. Each concert is followed by a free wine & cheese reception in the adjoining hall to meet the artists attended usually by eighty percent of the audience. 

The church has a striking vertical interior with beautiful stained glass and excellent acoustics. The intimate 500-seat church has become one of South Florida’s newest concert venues.  

An American cellist of Cuban and Ukrainian heritage, Anna Litvinenko has captured the attention of audiences in venues throughout Europe and the Americas. At six she began the cello with her father Konstantin Litvinenko and from a young age gained attention at competitions, gave solo recitals, and appeared as a soloist with the Miami Symphony, the New World Symphony, la Orquesta Juvenil Teresa Carreño, and the Odessa Philharmonic. 

A Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award winner, a Sphinx Competition laureate, and a Young Arts winner, Anna has been invited to perform in chamber music performances throughout Miami, New York City, Washington D.C., and London. She has collaborated with musicians from the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and worked with Joshua Bell in “Joshua Bell – A Young Arts Master Class.”

While dedicated to the traditional classical repertoire, Anna has embraced new classical music styles. She  participated in the 8th Creative Dialogue Symposium, working with new music composers and exploring improvisation with Magnus Lindberg, cellist Anssi Karttunen, and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. In 2015 she  premiered Yuri Boguinia’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with the Aeon Music Ensemble.
 Anna completed her undergraduate degree at Julliard where she was a principal cellist in the Julliard Orchestra, and was awarded the John Erskine Prize for excellence. She prizes her cello study with Joel Krosnick, baroque cello with Phoebe Carrai, composition with Philip Lasser, and improvisation with Noam Sivan.

In the Fall of 2016 she began graduate studies in London on scholarship with Richard Lester at Royal College of Music. She is grateful for the generous financial support of her studies by the Jack Kent Foundation.

Atristic director Roberto Berrocal grew up in Bilbao, Spain. In 1996 he entered College of Charleston, South Carolina and made his professional debut at 18 playing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2. After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music, he has garnered rave reviews for his superb musicianship both as a soloist and an accompanist. 
In addition to his solo recital repertoire, Roberto has played the piano concertos of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Shostakovich, and Mozart in Europe, Latin America and the US. In 2015 he played Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in the St Hugh-Steinway Series at the New World Center, and in 2016 Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 at St. Hugh Catholic Church. In October, 2016 he performed the concerto with the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra.

In 2006, Roberto joined the Florida Grand Opera as principal pianist and vocal coach for the 25th, 26th, and 27th National Voice Competitions and Young Artist's Program. He has taught at The New World School of the Arts, and in 2007 became the Music Director at St. Hugh Catholic Church. He founded the  St. Hugh-Steinway Concert Series in 2011 with St. Hugh Pastor, Fr. Federico Capdepón.  

Tickets $45 and $30 are available online at www.sthughconcerts.org, by phone at 305-318-5008 or at the door.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Celebrating the Commodore's 166th birthday

Commemorate the life of one of Coconut Grove’s most charming and influential pioneers with a Bash on the Bay. Join members of The Barnacle Society in celebrating Commodore Ralph Middleton Munroe’s 166th birthday with a buffet dinner by Hy Vong, live music by Detour, and a silent auction on the scenic bay-front grounds of The Barnacle. 

The event is Saturday, March 25 from 6:30 to 9 pm.

$50.00 members & $60.00 future members with RSVP by March 21.

$70.00 at the gate for all.

$10.00 ages 10 and under.

For $25.00 more, enjoy early admission, silent auction preview, and a twilight tour of The Barnacle with complimentary champagne on the front porch.

Get tickets here.

Period costumes from 1851 to 1933 are welcome.

The Barnacle is at 3485 Main Highway.

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AirBnB; not in my back yard

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has reached an agreement with AirBnB regarding county resort taxes. AirBnB will now collect six percent county resort tax from hots and the money will end up with the county each month. It should amount to $8 million per year.

Some areas of the county like Miami Beach will pay a different tax a they have a four percent resort tax and Bal Harbour has a three percent resort tax. So this will be added to the taxes sent in by AirBnB hosts.

County Commissioners need to approve this and the tax collection will then start in right away.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine held a press converence Monday, they are both opposed to the whole idea of AirBnB.

AirBnB is one of those things where you love to use it when traveling, but you don't want it in your neighborhood, but you can't have it both ways.

One problem with AirBnB and places in the Grove like the Sonesta and Mutiny is that both of those locations have a situation where owners of units in each hotel/condo are able to rent out their units, but they would normally go through the hotel portion and they would split the fee that people paid to rent a unit. Now that is being by-passed by neighbors who go through AirBnB which only charges them a small percentage and is easier to navigate and use to advertise the properties. 

I feel that Regalado and Levine are just going through the motions to appease the hotel industry, because I don't see how they can control it. People have been renting their properties out forever before there ever was an AirBnB and I don't think it will stop.  Can the city regulate short term rentals? Can they regulate roommates or family members staying at locations for short periods of time? Other than rules placed by condo boards, I don't see how the city can stop people from renting locations out as short term rentals. Now as for Homestead Exemptions, I think that is quite easy to regulate. If a person is not living in the property full time, then of course, they would not receive a homestead exemption. AirBnB in this case would flush out people who are using the exemptions illegally simply by looking at their rental record. How often is the property rented out?

It's like Uber. This is the future. 

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Playhouse meeting at City Hall - April 4

There is an upcoming meeting regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse on Tuesday, April 4 at 3 pm at City Hall (3500 Pan American Drive)

At this meeting, the HEPB (Historic and Environmental Preservation Board) will consider the masterplan submitted by Miami-Dade County and Florida International University for the Playhouse property.  The County and FIU are asking the HEPB for a Certificate of Appropriateness, a key step in the process of addressing the site’s historic status and having GableStage bring great theater to the Playhouse. The plan submitted for the HEPB’s consideration was shared with the public in December 2016 and is now under development by the design team led by Arquitectonica and historic preservation architect Jorge Hernandez.

You can see the materials submitted to the HEPB, including the latest project drawings, at www.miamidadearts.org.

Your actions can help keep everyone on track for a Grand Re-Opening - your show of support at this meeting is essential. 

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Hy-Vong pop-up benefit dinner

The Woman's Club of Coconut Grove and Hy-Vong owner Kathy Manning and Chef Tung are presenting the famous Hy-Vong pop-up restaurant benefit dinner on Friday, March 24 to raise money for the Woman's Club. 

The evening starts at 7 pm, Miami Musicians Band will be part of the event. 

Cost is $65 per person, price includes five station buffet dinner with complimentary beer and wine.

There are spring rolls and spicy ribs, beef, rice noodles, fish, chicken shrimp and so much more.


Tickets may be purchased here.

Menu may be seen here.

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The Industrialization of Coconut Grove

This letter was posted to the Nextdoor website by a fellow Grovite, he gave me permission to re-post it here:

Yesterday (Saturday), after returning from the cold but quiet northwest city of Bellingham, WA., I was awakened in the early morning by a loud truck and raucous workers preparing to disrupt a peaceful morning with construction noise. Shortly after that, the never ending renovation started down the street. Never mind that the weekends are supposed to be the time for working people to relax and recharge. Or, that retired people like me, would enjoy a respite from the daily din from leaf blowers, construction noise, and various other unpleasant sounds that pervade our neighborhoods. 

It is time we stop this INDUSTRIAZILATION OF THE GROVE. Our neighborhoods should FEEL AND SOUND like a quiet neighborhood - NOT A LOUD INDUSTRIAL AREA. 

LEAF BLOWERS: 

It seems like most people are offended by the irritating, noise and pollution emanating from the leaf blowers. Yet, few have taken the initiative to talk to their yard maintenance people. If you know that YOU are offending your neighbors, don't you have a responsibility to do something? How about, "My neighbors are offended by the noise you are making. Could you please do your cleanup without using leaf blowers." If your lawn people can't do it, there are plenty of others that can. (Before the advent of the leaf blower, all yard work got done without them. ) 

It seems that many of our neighbors are oblivious to how their yard people are offending us. Many are at work during the week and don't have to suffer the indignity. However, if you are offended, you can drop a note in your neighbor's mailbox to, say, simply, "The noise and air pollution from your yard peoples' leaf blower's are really unpleasant and offensive. I would appreciate if you would ask them not to use them." 

If enough people take action, we, like many communities, can eliminate the unnecessary, insidious leaf blowers from our neighborhood. 

CONSTRUCTION NOISE. 

It never ends! No sooner does one McMansion get completed after months (or probably years) of loud construction noise, heavy, noisy trucks - taking our guest's parking spaces, with constant deliveries of supplies, together with the food trucks to feed the construction crews - that another house is demolished and the cycle starts again. 

We must be diligent in opposing this process. Our beautiful neighborhoods, verdant, with beautiful peacocks and other birds, magnificent palms other beautiful tropical folIiage, and classic architecture (what's left of it), are now overridden by THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF THE GROVE. 

The developers will not stop if we do not stop them! The yard maintenance people will continue to ruin our peaceful and clean neighborhoods if we do not stop them! These are our neighborhoods. These are our homes. We have the right to enjoy them in peace. Join me and others like me in working together to TAKE BACK OUR NEIGHBORHOODS! 

David Newman 
Coconut Grove

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bingo at Grove Woman's Club

March Madness Bingo is at the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove on Thursday, March 23, doors open at 6:30 pm.

Admission is $5 for adults, free admission for children under 12. 

$1 per card minimum of five gmes.

There are free refreshments and snacks. Prizes are new and exciting and there are gift certificates. The last game will be a $1000 cash prize with full bingo card of 46 numbers called.

All proceeds benefit the club.

The Woman's Club is at 2985 South Bayshore Drive.

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