Item Coversheet

Ordinances - R5  L




COMMISSION MEMORANDUM

TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Alina T. Hudak, City Manager 
DATE:March  27, 2023
 

First Reading

SUBJECT:

LDR AMENDMENT - SQUARE FOOTAGE FOR FAR INCREASES

AN ORDINANCE OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, AMENDING THE CODE OF THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH, SUBPART B, ENTITLED "LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS," BY AMENDING CHAPTER 142 OF THE CITY CODE, ENTITLED "ZONING DISTRICTS AND REGULATIONS," ARTICLE I, ENTITLED "GENERAL TO ALL ZONING DISTRICTS," BY CREATING SECTION 142-5, ENTITLED "REQUIREMENTS FOR PROPOSED INCREASES IN ALLOWABLE FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR)," TO ESTABLISH A REQUIREMENT TO IDENTIFY THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF FLOOR AREA THAT COULD BE APPROVED IN CONNECTION WITH A PROPOSED FAR INCREASE; AND PROVIDING FOR CODIFICATION, REPEALER, SEVERABILITY, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE. 


RECOMMENDATION

The Administration recommends that the City Commission approve the subject ordinance at First Reading and schedule a Second Reading public hearing for April 28, 2023.

BACKGROUND/HISTORY

On October 26, 2022, at the request of Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, the City Commission referred a discussion item (C4 O) to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee (PSNQLC). This discussion item pertained to providing supplementary information, where permitted by law, illustrating the actual amount of additional square footage of floor area on properties that would benefit from a ballot measure proposing an increase in floor area ratio (FAR).

On December 7, 2022, the PSNQLC discussed the item and recommended that the City Commission refer an ordinance to the Planning Board that would codify a requirement for identifying increases in actual square footage associated with proposed increases in FAR prior to approval of a ballot question. Additionally, Commissioner Alex Fernandez agreed to become a co-sponsor of the proposal.

On February 1, 2023, the City Commission referred the proposed ordinance to the Planning Board (Item C4 F).

ANALYSIS

The impacts of an increase in maximum floor area ratio (FAR) can vary, depending upon the actual increase in intensity proposed. For instance, the ballot question approved in 2020 that created additional exceptions to FAR (stairs above the roof, bike parking and FPL vaults) had little to no impact on the intensity or massing of a building. However, the FAR increase approved in 2017 for the North Beach Town Center (TC-C) area had a much more significant impact, as the maximum FAR for a larger, defined area, was increased to 3.5, from the previous FARs of 1.25 (TC-3), 1.5/2.0 (TC-2), and 2.25/2.75 (TC-1).

The City Commission can request, as needed, an intensity analysis that would show the visual impact of future FAR increases. It is important to note that smaller FAR increases may not always result in new building mass being visible from the street or sidewalk. However, for larger FAR increases, massing studies would clearly show how much additional square footage would be allowed and provide a good comparison to the existing regulations.

The attached draft ordinance creates Section 142-5 in the Land Development Regulations of the City Code (LDRs) and would apply to a proposal to increase the maximum allowable FAR within any zoning district. As recommended by the PSNQLC, the proposed amendment would require that prior to approval of a ballot question, if required pursuant to the City Charter, or in advance of First Reading of an applicable amendment to the LDRs, whichever comes first, the maximum square footage associated with the proposed increase in FAR shall be identified, to the greatest extent possible.

Additionally, a provision has been added that would allow for these requirements to be waived by a 5/7th vote of the City Commission, for any reason.

The Administration believes that the proposed ordinance amendment is not necessary as the identification of square footage associated with increases in FAR should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Currently the City Commission has the flexibility to decide which FAR increases may need to have such an analysis, prior to being placed on a ballot. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Administration would be supportive of the proposal moving forward, provided the waiver provision described herein remains.

PLANNING BOARD REVIEW
On February 28, 2023, the Planning Board held a public hearing and transmitted the proposed ordinance to the City Commission with a favorable recommendation (7-0). Additionally, the Planning Board recommended the following modifications to the ordinance:

1. In addition to the quantitative FAR analysis, massing studies associated with all proposed FAR increases should be provided.

2. The proposed waiver provision should only apply when the proposed FAR increase cannot be quantified, and not for any reason.

The modifications recommended by the Planning Board have not been incorporated into the proposed ordinance for First Reading, and the Administration does not recommend that either recommendation be included. In this regard, massing studies, which are costly and typically not budgeted, can often be very misleading, as they do not account for the different ways that additional building mass can be articulated, nor do they effectively illustrate architectural expression.

If the City Commission desires massing studies for any proposed FAR increase in the future, as a body it can certainly require such studies, at its discretion. However, a requirement for massing studies should not be mandated for every proposal to increase FAR. Additionally, the subject waiver does need to be for any reason, as currently drafted, in case there are timing issues with regard to approving ballot language and should not be limited to those proposals that cannot be quantified.

SUPPORTING SURVEY DATA

N/A

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

No fiscal impact is anticipated. 

CONCLUSION

The Administration recommends that the City Commission approve the subject ordinance at First Reading and schedule a Second Reading public hearing for April 28, 2023.

Applicable Area

Citywide
Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
Yes No 
Legislative Tracking
Planning
Sponsor
Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Commissioner Alex Fernandez

ATTACHMENTS:
Description
Ordinance