PLANNING AND LEGAL ANALYSIS
On October 8, 2019, the Historic Preservation Board discussed the matter and recommended that the City begin the process of posting the addresses of properties that have an active unsafe structures violation and have been referred to the Miami-Dade County Unsafe Structures Board by the Building Official on the City website. The Board also recommended that this information be available on either the Building Department or Planning Department page.
Planning staff and the City Attorney’s office have researched and discussed other options to address demolition by neglect in historic districts. The following is an update and summary of these efforts:
1. Fines. The way properties are currently fined is general and not specific to the size of the building. The administration and the City Attorney’s office have researched the concept of proportional fines and it appears that it is not pre-empted under State law. The administration and the City Attorney are exploring potential amendments that would result in more proportional fines for larger buildings.
2. Building Registry. The Building Department is researching and evaluating a method to establish a building registry process.
3. Amendments to chapter 118, Article X of the LDR’s. A presumption clause is proposed, in the event that a contributing structure is demolished, for any reason, including, but not limited to demolition by neglect. The following is a draft amendment to section 118-503:
Sec. 118-503. - Scope, policies and exemptions.
* * *
(1) After-the-fact certificates of appropriateness for demolition. In the event any demolition as described above or in subsection (b) of this section should take place prior to historic preservation board review, the demolition order shall be conditioned to require the property owner to file an "after-the-fact" application for a certificate of appropriateness for demolition to the historic preservation board, within 15 days of the issuance of the demolition order. No "after-the-fact" fee shall be assessed for such application. The board shall review the demolition and determine whether and how the demolished building, structure, landscape feature or the partially or fully demolished feature of the exterior or public interior space of a structure, shall be replaced. The property owner shall also be required, to the greatest extent possible, to retain, preserve and restore any demolished feature of a structure until such time as the board reviews and acts on the "after-the-fact" application. In the event the property owner fails to file an "after-the-fact" application for a certificate of appropriateness for demolition to the historic preservation board within 15 days of the issuance of an emergency demolition order, the city may initiate enforcement proceedings including proceedings to revoke the certificate of use, occupational license, any active building permit(s) or certificate of occupancy of the subject site, whichever is appropriate. Additionally, this article may be enforced and violations may be punished as provided in section 114-8 of this Code; or by enforcement procedures as set forth in the Charter and penalties as provided in section 1-14 of this Code.
(2) Replacement of existing structures. The policy of the City of Miami Beach shall be a presumption that a contributing building demolished without obtaining a certificate of appropriateness from the historic preservation board, shall only be replaced with a new structure that incorporates the same height, massing and square footage of the previous structure on site, not to exceed the FAR of the demolished structure, and not to exceed the maximum FAR and height permitted under the City Code, with no additional square footage added. This
policy presumption shall be applicable in the event a building permit for new construction or for repair or rehabilitation is issued, and demolition occurs for any reason, including, but not limited to, an order of the building official or the county unsafe structures board. This policy presumption shall also be applicable to any request for an "after-the-fact" certificate of appropriateness. This policy presumption may be rebutted, and the historic preservation board may allow for the addition of more square footage, where appropriate, not to exceed the maximum permitted under the City Code, if it is established to the satisfaction of the historic preservation board that the following criteria have been satisfied:
a. The proposed new structure is consistent with the context and character of the immediate area; and
b. The property owner made a reasonable effort to regularly inspect and maintain the structure free of structural deficiencies and in compliance with the minimum maintenance standards of this Code.
(3) Replication of demolished contributing structures. The historic preservation board shall determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether the replication of an original, contributing structure is warranted. For purposes of this subsection, replication shall be defined as the physical reconstruction, including all original dimensions in the original location, of a structure in totality, inclusive of the reproduction of primary facade dimensions and public area dimensions with appropriate historic materials whenever possible, original walls, window and door openings, exterior features and finishes, floor slab, floor plates, roofs and public interior spaces. The historic preservation board shall have full discretion as to the exact level of demolition and reconstruction required. If a building to be reconstructed is nonconforming, any such reconstruction shall comply with all of the requirements of chapter 118, article IX, of these land development regulations.