Letters to the Editor

On Miami Beach, historic districts are not death sentence

Historic designation is not a death sentence. It is a way of preserving the character of a neighborhood, and its affordable housing.

The historic districts distinguish our city from any other. The current battle in the city is to designate our National Historic Districts as local ones.

After two years, Dover, Kohl and Associates finally presented the North Beach Master Plan, a compromise between preservation and development. The plan recommended a height increase along 71st Street and added building square footage in the center of North Beach, and local historic designation of the National Historic Districts of North Beach.

This was a collective community effort, and thousands of residents participated in meetings.

I voted for a height increase in North Beach, based on the master plan. At the time, my commission colleagues promised they would approve the local historic districts as proposed and drawn by Dover Kohl. Because of the height increase, North Beach is not getting a 179-room hotel in what was previously a low-scale, low-density area.

A local historic designation does not mean that we cannot mitigate sea-level rise. It just means that any changes within a district go before the Historic Preservation Board. In South Beach Historic District, buildings that need upgrades get entirely redone. Sometimes, they only maintain the facade. This is the process of preservation and development.

No one denies that sea-level rise is the largest crisis facing our community. Residents are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in stormwater fees to raise seawalls and roads and create pump stations.

To use sea-level rise to “cherry pick” one specific area of Miami Beach that was promised historic designation by the commissioners themselves is just not right.

Let’s trust in our Historic Preservation Board and processes and let this designation to take place.

Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, commissioner, Miami Beach