Miami Beach

Miami Beach voters to weigh ballot questions

On Nov. 8, voters in Miami Beach will face two potential changes to the city’s laws and one straw ballot that won’t actually count.

One question centers around the requirements for architects and landscape architects who serve on the city’s land-use boards, such as the Historic Preservation Board, Design Review Board, Board of Adjustment and the Planning Board.

Currently, both types of architects are not allowed to serve on these boards if they have any business in front of the city. In simple terms, if they are working on a construction project in Miami Beach, they can’t serve on a land-use board.

This has made filling vacancies difficult, said Commissioner Joy Malakoff, who has pushed for the change for two years now.

The question asks whether the city should make an exception for architects and landscape architects so that they may be allowed to work on projects that come before land-use boards, so long as it’s not before the board they sit on. If approved, these two types of architects would be able to appear on behalf of building projects before boards of which they are not a member.

“It opens the door to more architects,” Malakoff said.

A second question involves cutting back the paperwork that is required of lobbyists.

Currently, anyone registered as a lobbyist in the Beach has to submit annual statements documenting all expenditures and compensation for the previous year, even if there aren’t any numbers to report.

Those who fail to submit statements are fined daily and reported to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust.

If a majority of voters vote “yes,” lobbyists would not be required to submit statements if they didn’t spend money or get paid to lobby during a year.

The change is supported by the Ethics Commission because violations take investigators’ time, and most violators end up being architects and other professionals who work on projects in a limited capacity and are not familiar with the city’s rules.

“I encourage voters in Miami Beach to do away with a minor provision in the lobbying rules that saps our resources and will allow us to focus on more important lobbying issues,” said Joseph Centorino, executive director of the Ethics Commission.

A third item will appear on the ballot but will be disregarded. Votes on a straw ballot question on whether the city should ban alcohol sales on Ocean Drive will not be counted after commissioners approved a 10-point plan to revamp the beachside street during the next several years.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech