Letters to the Editor

Improving Miami Beach service levels

For years the business community has complained about how difficult, time consuming and expensive it was to obtain a building permit and a Certificate of Occupancy for a business in Miami Beach.

There seemingly, was endless red tape and inspectors often demanded multiple changes on projects that were already under construction with plans that were previously approved.

So one might ask, What has changed? The city has hired Mariano Fernandez as its new building director. He assumed leadership of the department about a year ago, bringing with him an open-door policy.

Fernandez has met with the Government Alliance Committee of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, listened carefully to the issues members of the business community raised, made himself and his team members available for discussions and was quick to make policy and operational changes that will benefit the city by establishing a more-effective process.

One example of Fernandez’s effectiveness is that he has created a written policy manual that identifies all procedural and substantive regulations for every process in the building department. He has also determined that it is in the best interest of all that only the original inspector on a job can approve a change and with that he or she must justify the reason to the director.

We have heard from numerous contractors, project managers and property owners who have raved about this welcome improvement.

The planning department also has been receptive to suggestions on how to improve service to our residents and businesses is the Planning Department.

Currently, the administration is considering a proposal to require a more substantial orientation for all appointed board members, who have the responsibility of making important decisions that affect projects throughout the city.

We have suggested that before each item is heard at a planning board, design review or historic preservation meeting that it would be helpful for the professional staff to clearly identify the issues that are within the purview of the board on the item to be discussed.

To the credit of City Manager Jimmy Morales and Mayor Philip Levine, department heads have been encouraged to find ways for the city to provide an excellent level of service at every opportunity.

This can-do attitude is now very obvious at City Hall, It has made all the difference, and it deserves kudos from everyone for all those involved.

Michael S. Goldberg, chairman, Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce

Matis Cohen, chairman, Government Alliance Committee, Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce