New Vacation Rental Regulations Coming to Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade County recently passed a new ordinance targeting vacation rentals, which would affect hundreds of active short-term rental properties including those listed on the popular websites AirBnB, HomeAway, and VRBO. This ordinance comes on the heels of several months of sparring between the City of Miami and AirBnB. Earlier this year, AirBnB sued the City over its regulation of short-term rentals. The new ordinance, which goes into effect 3 months from the date of passage (October 17, 2017), establishes zoning regulations for vacation rentals in the unincorporated areas of the County. Those seeking to rent their properties on a short-term basis will have to obtain a certificate of use, among other requirements. Vacation rental properties will also be subject to an inspection to ensure compliance with all applicable code requirements. Continue Reading

City of Miami Voters to Decide $400 Million Bond For Sea Level Rise and Affordable Housing

By August 30, 2017, Irma had transformed from a mere tropical storm system off the coast of Africa into a Category 5 Hurricane with South Florida appearing in its sights.  With only days before possible landfall in Miami, the entire city, its people, businesses and property owners shifted from their normal daily lives to making rushed emergency preparations for a major hit.  Even though Miami-Dade did not suffer a direct hit, damage to property was wide-spread and significant.  Such is life here in South Florida with the threat of extreme weather events and hurricanes recurring every year.

But as development continues to surge along the coast despite these risks, city and county governments are increasingly looking for answers about how to plan for inevitable impacts from severe weather events.  In particular, local governments are asking how they should not just plan for, but also, pay for smarter, more resilient public infrastructure – such as stormwater drainage systems, elevated roads, and public spaces.  In some coastal cities, like the City of Miami, questions are being raised about how to pay for these kinds of  infrastructure improvements in anticipation of more than just extreme weather, but also sea level rise, and predictable flooding problems linked to “King Tides.” Continue Reading

Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). When does it Expire? Will it be reauthorized or changed?

One of the most significant land use issues facing Congress this year is reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  The NFIP is a FEMA managed program that provides flood insurance, analyzes and improves floodplain management, and develops flood plain maps (called Flood Insurance Rate Maps or “FIRMs”) showing different types of flood zones.  The NFIP was created in 1968 as a national effort to respond to an ever-increasing need for flood disaster assistance and to give private property owners a way to get flood insurance in places where private insurance companies did not and would not offer flood insurance coverage.   With a previously set expiration date of September 30, 2017 looming and major hurricanes wreaking havoc on U.S. states and territories, Congress recently passed a short term extension of the NFIP with a new expiration date set for December 8, 2017.

Update December 26, 2017:  Congress has again extended the expiration date of the National Flood Insurance Program by including it in the latest continuing resolution federal budget “stop-gap” measure just before the Christmas holiday to fund federal government operations through the beginning of next year.  The new expiration date is January 19, 2018.

Update December 8, 2017:  The helpful staff at U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s office have confirmed that the December 8 expiration date has been briefly extended to December 22 along with a two-week spending package that Congress has passed in order to keep the government operating through December 22.  Continue Reading

“Florida 2070”: What Florida’s Land Development Patterns Could Look Like In 50 Years

What do land development growth patterns across Florida look like over the next 10, 20, or 50 years?  That’s a question local governments, developers, and property owners of all types consider when planning for the future and investing in real estate development projects. Understanding those patterns, where they will occur, and in what intensity are driven by statistics and data about population growth trends, as well as having an in depth understanding of an area’s capacity to adequately accommodate growth. Knowing where growth will come, leads to other more detailed questions about adequacy of roads, sewer, water supply, schools, public facilities, and a community’s quality of life. Where will people work and live? Will important agricultural lands be kept in production or converted to other land uses? Land development regulations, environmental law, and growth management policies all affect these growth patterns.  Continue Reading

Sea Levels Are on the Rise: Is Florida’s Coastal Development Rising to the Challenge?

King tide and rain storm inundates Brickell Avenue, Miami on October 5, 2017.

A recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that sea levels are rising in certain areas of Florida by a third of an inch per year – or more. Not just the actual level, but even the rate of sea level rise is increasing. This is happening while the population of Florida continues to grow, including in the city that is considered most at risk for sea level rise – Miami. While population and real estate investment continue to swell in Florida, many cities are putting their energy and resources toward a new kind of development, one that is more resilient.  In particular, the City of Miami Beach is investing millions of dollars in elevating over a hundred miles of roads and installing more storm water pumps .

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Zoning for Residences with Disabilities: Old Principles Apply to New Scenarios as the Opioid Epidemic Spreads

Florida, like much of the U.S., is struggling with a mounting opioid epidemic. Governor Rick Scott recently declared the epidemic a public health emergency in Florida. A study by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Florida Medical Examiners states that the number of deaths in the state directly caused by opioid use in 2015 numbered 2,538. The same study reported that another 3,896 deaths, while not directly caused by opioid overdose, revealed that opioids were at least present in the deceased person’s body. This is a stark increase in numbers of deaths related to opioid overdose from prior years, which had already been seeing a steady rise in these unfortunate statistics. The largest numbers of deaths are coming out of southeast Florida. This crisis affects not only the individual addicts and their families, but it also affects our communities and residential zoning districts.

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