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Front Page » Communities » MiMo association sues city over murals

MiMo association sues city over murals

Written by on August 20, 2019
  • www.miamitodaynews.com
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MiMo association sues city over murals

After the City of Miami Commission granted an appeal for a set of murals at a business in the MiMo Historic District, a community organization that sets out to preserve the integrity of the district has filed a lawsuit against the city.

The MiMo Biscayne Association filed a petition this month against the commission’s decision to approve an appeal for murals at the Organic Bites restaurant after the city’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board found that the murals were not in compliance with the district. 

The lawsuit states that the commission departed from the law by reversing the HEP Board’s decision and allowing the murals to remain in the MiMo district “when the governing Code and Guidelines expressly prohibit artistic murals.”

“The City’s HEP Board, as well as the City Commission, are limited by Ordinance to rule in conformity with the governing Code and Guidelines,” the petition reads. “This Case is brought to the Court to demonstrate that the Professional City Staff and HEP Board correctly tracked this mandate and the governing Code-based factors, but the City Commission did not.”

It goes on to say that while the code allows the commission to affirm, modify or reverse the HEP Board’s decisions, the commission is limited by ordinance to rule in conformity with the established code and guidelines.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of another contentious decision by the city commission on a large Puerto Rican flag painted on the façade of La Placita restaurant. In that instance, the commission sent the item back to the HEP board for further review, effectively dooming the flag and forcing the business to create a design that adhered with the district’s code.

The MiMo District, short for Miami Modern, running down Biscayne Boulevard from roughly Northeast 50th to 77th streets, is known for its neon lights and specific color palate. The code pertaining to the MiMo district does not allow for murals without prior authorization from the HEP Board.

Paul Savage, the association’s attorney on the matter, said that while the commission can act on an appellate capacity, the commission must operate within the code.

“Saying something is MiMo-ish is the definition of departing from the code and ruling on opinion or other factors,” Mr. Savage said.

In an email response, City Deputy Attorney Barnaby Min said that the attorney’s office disagrees with the allegations in the lawsuit. He said the city commission always has the authority to amend the city code and is hopeful the city and other interested parties can amicably resolve the issues.

He said that he does not anticipate the commission taking up the issue again unless mandated to do so by a court.

The city commission voted on the item at a June meeting well past midnight, with Keon Hardemon, Wifredo “Willy” Gort and Manolo Reyes voting in favor of the murals. Mr. Hardemon said that the murals agreed with the aesthetic of the MiMo District, noting that the murals depicted women with neon-like hair.

“It still looks like the MiMo district. It doesn’t show anything to me that is offensive to the MiMo District. The MiMo District does allow murals with approval,” Mr. Hardemon said. “We are a body that can give approval. Even the images that are put on this building are very MiMo-ish.”

MiMo Biscayne Association President Alisa Cepeda had asked the commission at the meeting if Organic Bites could be made to add neon lights to the murals to be consistent with accommodations that have been given to other business owners in the area. However, Mr. Hardemon said he would not ask that of Organic Bites.

Ms. Cepeda told Miami Today that the reason the association has taken legal action is not to send a message to the district but to preserve the integrity of the district.

“We really wanted to have a second look at this,” she said. “The decision to appeal is the vehicle that is available to us.”

She said that the association doesn’t want to deter business from coming into the area, and the association was willing to find a compromise that would be acceptable to the parties involved.

“We feel that we have something very special here,” she said. “We don’t want to lose sight and vision of all the things we’ve built in the last 10-plus years.”

13 Responses to MiMo association sues city over murals

  1. Gumsandals Reply

    August 21, 2019 at 10:24 am

    The hair doesn’t look like neon at all unless, of course, you’re tripping out on LSD. In the future, why not have all new MiMo businesses go through the Association FIRST before going through the city?

  2. Will Reply

    August 21, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    The association attorney is a political activist and is constantly stirring up trouble. The city commission has the right to approve. The association is just that.. an association.

  3. Jorge Reply

    August 22, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    The MiMo District is nothing but a big joke, especially after the 35 Feet Height Construction restriction was imposed by Elvis Cruz, the Morningside Civic Association and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to stop mid-rise buildings in the area. After almost ten years of this arbitrary law being imposed the Upper East Side is nothing but a collection of vacant lots and empty storefronts. Now the MiMo Association wants to attack one of the few businesses that have survived the area’s decade-long stagnation just to get the Puerto Rican Flag removed.
    Shame!

    • Elvis Cruz Reply

      August 25, 2019 at 10:09 am

      Hi Jorge, and thanks for the shout-out.

      We’ve never met, but you routinely mention me in public comments where you criticize the 35 foot height limit in the MiMo Historic District.

      It appears there is much about the 35 foot height limit that you are not familiar with.

      As I’ve replied to you several times before, I will be happy to meet with you and explain the 35 foot height limit and the many benefits it has brought. I would be even happier to do this in a public meeting, with a large audience present.

      Contact me anytime, Jorge, to let me know when you’d like to meet. 305 754 1420.

      As for the vacant lots and empty storefronts in the Upper Eastside, please know that those exist even outside the MiMo Historic District, not just on Biscayne Boulevard but all over Miami and across the country, and did so long before the MiMo Historic District and the 35 foot height limit were established. Those vacancies in the MiMo Historic District are mostly caused by higher rents and the overall depressed retail industry caused by internet shopping.

  4. J. Reply

    August 22, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    LOL. Those guys need to find a new hobby. It’s a tastefully done mural and was approved by the city. They are just wasting time and money.

  5. MARK BAKER-LOVETT Reply

    August 22, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    THIS IS JUST ANOTHER REASON THE MIMO ASSOCIATION HAS BEEN A DETERRENT TO BUSINESSES COMING TO THIS NEIGHBORHOOD. THEY ALLOW BUILDINGS TO BE PAINTED AND NOT ONE MEMBER OF THE ASSOCIATION HAS EITHER VISITED TO WELCOME OR CONTACTED THE OWNERSHIP TO SEE WHAT THEIR PLANS ARE AND IF THEY ARE COMPLIANT WITH MIMO STANDARDS. THE ENTIRE EASTSIDE OF THE BLOCK FROM 76TH STREET TO 77 STREET ARE NOT PAINTED IN MIMO COLORS. ARE THEY GOING TO MAKE ALL THOSE BUSINESSES REPAINT?
    THEY HAVE NO EVENTS, THEY DON’T HAVE ANY BANNERS ON ANY LIGHTPOLES DESIGNATING “MIMO DISTRICT”. THERE IS
    NO “WELCOME TO MIMO DISTRICT” STONE SIGN LIKE EVERY OTHER DISTRICT OR VILLAGE IN MIAMI. NO BEAUTIFICATION, NO BOULEVARD OR TURNING LANES, NO TROLLEY, NO ACTIVITIES PLANED IN LEGION PARK.
    YET, THEY SHUT DOWN THE BUSINESSES THAT ARE TRYING
    TO THRIVE HERE.
    REACTIVE AND NOT PROACTIVE.

  6. jorge sanchez Reply

    August 25, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Mr. Cruz. I would probably dedicate a minute of my time to meet personally with if you were at least a democratically elected member of our local government or anything of that matter; but since, as far or my concern you are a just a standard taxpayer like the rest of us, I don’t think I would include that meeting on my calendar.

    You probably are right regarding mine not knowing all the details of the arbitrary 35 Ft Construction height construction, especially when it comes to how it was negotiated with the City of Miami commissioners. However, one thing I’m 100% sure of, is that is proven it isn’t working. After almost a decade of this antidevelopment ruling being imposed, the population growth in the area is close to zero, the new jobs created is minimal, and the number of businesses that haven’t survived the area’s total dependency on automobile traffic is overwhelmingly high.
    Regarding you intention of justifying the total failure of the 35 ft Height Restriction, by mentioning that other areas outside of the MiMo District also deal with perpetual vacant lots and a large number of unleased storefronts; beside it being incorrect (please refer to what is happening in other comparable areas like The Citadel in Little Haiti, Allapatha, or even Little Havana), it is also unacceptable, simply because the second most important reason to create the MiMo District was to help economically revitalize an area that had the potential to become one of Miami’s most attractive commercial and residential districts. in Miami. And please I recommend avoiding the internet argument because restaurants and cafes are strongly benefitting from it.

    • Elvis Cruz Reply

      August 26, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      Yes, Mr. Sanchez, restaurants and cafes can benefit from the internet. Brick and mortar retail is harmed by it.

  7. Jorge Sanchez Reply

    August 28, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Mr. Cruz, please stop insulting people’s intelligence by blaming the stagnation in the MiMo corridor to the internet. Restaurants are also suffering because the lack of pedestrian traffic. Your arbitrary 35 feet construction restriction is the biggest reason why in almost a decade OUR corridor went from being Miami’s next South Beach to a Dead Town. It is almost impossible for any business to survive in an area with one of the lowest population density in the city, forcing them to basically depend on automobile traffic where parking is already limited and public transportation does not exist.
    The 35 Feet Restriction is proven to be a failure, and it must be replaced to allow 4-5 stories mix-use commercial residential live-work development.
    Remember This is the XXI century.

  8. Elvis Cruz Reply

    August 28, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Actually the 35 foot height limit has been quite successful.

    You make a number of statements that are factually incorrect. For one, there is plenty of public transportation up and down Biscayne Boulevard.

  9. Jorge Sanchez Reply

    August 29, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Sr. Cruz
    1-Can you give some concrete examples of why you consider the Arbitrary 35’ feet construction height restriction quite successful? Obviously it is appreciated if you don’t include the eternal vacant lots, the dark streets, and the Closing business as part of that list.
    2- Regarding the public transportation on the Biscayne Corridor, I hope you are not referring to the archaic Miami Dade Bus system as the mass transportation system that would mobilize the customers needed to help increment the pedestrian traffic in the MiMo corridor. As a said before, please don’t insult the intelligence of the Miami Today Readers.

  10. Keni Chow Reply

    August 29, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Dear Mr. Cruz

    Some of the restriction makes no sense. I do not see what is so special about MIMO which is a bunch of run down hotels and buildings that should be torn down and they are eye sores. As far as the height is concerned, no one is suggesting sky scrapers, only to add a couple of floors up. What is the big deal. It can improve the image of MIMO and let it be more welcoming to visitors. We are in Miami that depends on tourism.

    Let’s be constructive instead of destructive.

    Thanks

    Keni Chow

    Oriental Decor
    7226 Biscayne Blvd
    Miami, FL 33138

  11. MS KENI CHOW Reply

    August 30, 2019 at 8:21 am

    MR CRUZ

    PLEASE BE REASONABLE. DO YOU OWN ANY BUSINESS IN MIMO? YOUR EXCUSES DO NOT MAKE ANY SENSE. WE NEED JOBS, NOT JUST TO ENTERTAIN A SPECIAL GROUP OF RESIDENTS WHO WANT THEIR PEACE AND TRANQUILITY AT THE EXPENSE OF ALL THE BUSINESS WHO ARE TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING.

    KENI CHOW
    A PROUD BUSINESS OWNER

    ORIENTAL DECOR
    7226 BISCAYNE BLVD
    MIAMI, FL 33138
    http://WWW.ORIENTALDECOR.NET

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