South Miami’s mayor Mr. Stoddard is certainly a conflicted ruler. Recently he and other commissioners protested the development of a South Dade Pineland Region waving “Save it, Don’t pave it” banners. But in his own city he promotes “Pave it, don’t save it!” It is plain to see, by the current development frenzy, loss of canopy, increased car traffic and dozens of denuded lots, that this mayor is a pawn for developers. He lost interest in preserving the hometown character desired by the residents he serves. Stoddard has been on the Commission for almost six years and alleges that he follows laws and therefore cannot help the residents who have pleaded for reasonable zoning solutions. If existing laws need changing, why was Stoddard apathetic and lacking appropriate initiative during that time? Mayor Stoddard is now resorting to hurling baseless accusations at women activists (see his letter in Soapbox on 2/1/15), bullying and intimidating his constituents and fellow Commission members to fortify his contradictory leadership.
Stoddard and his cohorts could study how other cities deal with similar zoning issues. Coral Gables, for example, rarely approves, without legal problems, the lot-splitting South Miami leaders rubberstamp on a regular basis. Our archives are replete with records that prove Mr. Stoddard wrong and Mrs. Fischer and Beckman, and many others right. Thanks to community activism, there is ample evidence of harmonious development during the pre-Stoddard era. This resulted in higher property values and a decent quality of life, even though the developers were just as eager then. Why does Stoddard want to spoil a good thing? South Miamians are suffering the consequences of reckless action by our elected officials. Stoddard and several “yes-man” commissioners together with a lawyer who lacks zoning expertise and a (hand-picked by Stoddard), developer friendly, manager demonstrate disregard for the democratic process and thwarted communication. The majority wishes of constituents should be paramount again. This is America and it’s the law!
Yvonne Beckman, South Miami
Mayor Stoddard has denounced me and Mrs. Beckman regarding our criticism of the Commission for recent lot splitting. I would like to clarify our position and answer the charges that have been leveled against us.
Apparently the Mayor feels the need to defend his administrations actions re. decisions they have made.If some of the decisions resulted in significant costs and financial loss to the city, it is a lame excuse to place the blame on the citizens, the taxpayers of the city they were elected to represent.
We have a clear understanding of the law. We have observed, with great dismay, some very undesirable lot splittings which could have been done in ways that would have been more acceptable to the surrounding neighbors. Mayor Stoddard has held office for more than five years and has not taken needed action to change our Land Development Code (LDC) until after the aforementioned lot splittings. These were done so poorly and will permanently mar our neighborhoods. The recently enacted tree ordinance and the ordinance that protects the character of the neighborhoods regarding lot size are both important, and good steps in the right direction. Mayor Stoddard fails to acknowledge that it was the level of our involvement as activists that prompted these changes. We have communicated with our Commission and our fellow residents without surcease regarding the urgent need for those improvements and others. We have a right to be critical when our Commission fails us. My neighborhood is blighted and devastated.
We are environmentalists and walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Commissioner Welsh and Vice Mayor Harris know that they can count on me to show up for rallies and protests for the environment more often than not.
I have not been dishonest. It is my duty and right to challenge the status quo when needed.
There is no conspiracy to “short” the residents. They are simply the victims and suffer the collateral damage of an agenda to increase density and the inaction of our Commission to protect us from undesirable lot-splits.
That’s how I see it.
Antoinette B. Fischer, South Miami
How to sound off
To submit your letter, email alipman@MiamiHerald.com. Letters must address a specific LOCAL issue and must be signed with a name, city or neighborhood, as well as a telephone number for verification purposes. Letters more than 350 words will not be accepted, and writers are limited to one letter every four weeks. Letters will run as space allows and may be edited for length, style and clarity. The deadline for letters is noon Wednesday.