Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of HB's North Beach and southern Hollywood Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Over a year later, where are the positive results of the City of Hollywood's new Vacation Rental ordinance? How's the compliance rate? About what WE expected and less than the city promised.

Because I am the way that I am and interested in the sorts of myriad things that I am, and write and Tweet about a LOT, including the #GigEconomy and #Airbnb and public policy, I mention this in case you are interested in some things that touch on all of these things.
Just got this in the mail today:
Rebecca Stone, Skift Research: The Roadblocks Airbnb Must Tackle on Its Way to Possible IPO: Skift’s Latest Research

As of today I plan on doing an updated blog post sometime in the next two weeks that'll seriously examine and re-examine what I believe to have been the completely ineffective changes the City of Hollywood made last summer to their Vacation Rental ordinance.

Those of you among the public and the press who attended that afternoon might recall that I spoke towards the very end of that Hollywood City Commission meeting on whether to give the city more aggressive (regressive!) tools to enforce the city's new changes to the existing ordinance, after many representatives of the Vacation Rental, real estate and Small Business industry spoke, including Tom Martinelli, Airbnb's Florida Government Relations Director based out of Miami.

I spoke after people from Airbnb, individual Airbnb or VR hosts and other industry members spoke had the chance to articulate their frustration with the city's refusal to work in good faith with them, to say nothing of many of the City Commissioners NOT understanding that they could NOT simply go back on contracts and MOU's with individual hosts and give the city personal confidential information.

Among other things I said that it was, sad to say, yet another example of a South Florida municipality putting its faith in the power of a govt. bureaucracy rather than empowering responsible Vacation Rental hosts, in this case, in Hollywood -where I live and know many such hosts- and trusting human behavior, and actually making it easier for Vacation Rental hosts to comply.
A win-win scenario for everyone.

BUT to do so on terms that did NOT open hosts up to what could be unlimited and unwarranted intrusion by city officials (or their hired hands) looking to play gold prospector and recoup money for the city's coffers for its own past failure to have adequate code compliance in place and be able to catch additions made to houses at the time they took place 20, 30 or 40 years ago, rather than try to go after current owners or renters.

Many of the latter have invested in their future by renting houses in Hollywood that would otherwise be empty if not dowdy, but which are now much-improved by their interest in making it as attractive as possible.

In many cases, better taken care of than if the city itself owned them, as hearings I attended earlier this year regarding the city's attempt to sell some city-owned parcels proved 
conclusively, when a mirror was held up to the city's owned homes and the eyesores many of them have remained in many neighborhoods.

It was also hard not to notice that there seemed to be a very lackluster effort shown by the city to go after the repeat offenders that cause a majority of the complaints that are both valid and intrusive to their neighbor's Quality of Life. 

The fact that the city and the person running the program for it, Lorie Mertens-Black, seemed to fail to invite several responsible and articulate Airbnb hosts who were in compliance to speak at their July dog-and-pony show weeks before,


Updated: A veritable trainwreck of a public meeting. Wednesday's embarrassing 

Vacation Rental Ordinance Amendment presentation at Hollywood City Hall was 

not a pretty sight by any stretch of the imagination

gave me plenty of angst and ammo for what happened when the City Commission voted. 

As we all saw to our exasperation when we saw how my logic and common sense was received last summer. Badly.
After all, there was money to be made!

I predicted that the compliance rate would be much less than what they expected or had been led to believe by vendors, and would... well, to quote myself:
"As long as the city makes it about meting out individual and collective punishment
and making money via fees, based on what I have personally seen and heard at city
meetings and in conversations with many successful Airbnb and Vacation Rental
hosts in Hollywood, I see little prospect that the city's compliance rate will ever get
much over 40% with the proposed changes."

That's still my perspective as I start cobbling together that new post, and no facts or
evidence I have seen or received from the city of late shows me that I'm wrong.
The fact that this was so predictable doesn't bring me any joy. 

Let me leave you with a sweet teaser of things to come: The city's VR licensing program
is now so inaccurate that it shows properties on its site that may not even be in compliance
any more, since it is accurate as of... Sept. 30th.
"The map illustrates all approved Vacation Rental Licenses that will expire on September 30, 2018."

Why should it even be more than a week inaccurate if the whole point of it is to BE accurate? Also, HOW and WHY would any out-of-town traveler go to the city's website, a site that they wouldn't even know exists? They wouldn't. 

But the city acts like people would do that.

Yet again, completely ignoring human behavior when it comes to this subject.

> @firstnameTomhttps://twitter.com/firstnameTom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@firstnameTom> Over a year later, where are the positive results of #HollywoodFL's">https://twitter.com/hashtag/HollywoodFL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HollywoodFL's new #VacationRentalhttps://twitter.com/hashtag/VacationRental?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#VacationRental> ordinance? 🌴🏖️🌊
How's the compliance rate?
Predictably, about what WE expected and much less than the city thought.https://t.co/puA6nvpDbUhttps://t.co/puA6nvpDbU">https://t.co/puA6nvpDbU> #HollywoodFLhttps://twitter.com/hashtag/HollywoodFL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HollywoodFL> 🌴🏖️🌊— HallandaleBeachBlog(@hbbtruth) October">https://twitter.com/hbbtruth/status/1050489440483852293?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018


Saturday, September 29, 2018

The newly-revised version of “To Kill A Mockingbird” that takes into account developments within the #MeToo movement and the #Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My 9/11 memory in Washington, D.C. - "Be careful what you wish for."

I've seen film director Paul Greengrass's wonderful film United 93 about seven times by now. It always gets me where I live. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475276/

Every time I see it, I think back to my friends and I at work on Pennsylvania Avenue the morning of September 11th, ten blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, across the street from the FBI headquarters and the Dept. of Justice.
And unlike most of you, I wonder if not but for the bravery and heroism of the United 93 Passengers & Crew, would I even be alive?
Or, alternatively, actually been an witness to the plane's descent into the Capitol building in an attempt to decapitate it, killing thousands of people and demoralizing the country even more than had happned by the attacks on the World Trade Center?

United we stand...

The symbol that was all over Arlington, Virginia in the days and months after 9/11. 
Including on my front door.

Thoughts on The Pentagon and 9/11
Let me relate a 9/11 anecdote that gives you some sort of insight into me, and informs my posts here. I lived for about 15 years in Washington, D.C., and while there, worked on behalf of some of the top law firms and business groups in town, doing all sorts of things on both Capitol Hill and along the K Street corridor. 
While doing so, I was fortunate to meet and befriend lots of very talented, committed and impressive people, including lots from the media, think tank and public policy sectors, as well as the diplomatic community.

On 9/11, I was a few weeks into working on a project for Crowell & Moring on behalf of our client, General Electric's Aviation division, for an upcoming federal trial that would take us to Dayton the following week for what was expected to be 6-8 weeks.

C&M is an international law firm headquartered in DC, and I worked at the main office on Pennsylvania Avenue, right across the street from the FBI headquarters and the Dept. of Justice, and adjacent to the Naval Memorial. 
After the initial reports of the attack in New York and on the nearby Pentagon just minutes after I walked into the office just after 8:30 am with my gym bag, in last time then we realized,  from our vantage point on the large wraparound patio balcony overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue that we had access to from the main reception lobby, we could see past the Old Post Office across the street to our west, and could clearly see the smoke rising up from The Pentagon to our southwest, where many of my neighbors in northern Arlington worked. 
The smoke from American Airlines flight 77 out of Dulles, bound for Los Angeles.

Being slightly closer to The White House than to the U.S. Capitol -but located high enough in the building to be in a position to have seen any attack on either- once we received word right before 11 am from the building's management company to evacuate the building because a plane within range of D.C. still hadn't been counted for and landed as ordered to -what we would all later all know as United Flight 93- I decided to forego playing the starring role of a sardine in a can on the always-crowded Washington Metrorail, and decided to walk the 7-plus miles to my home in north Arlington.

Mostly via K Street, up to M Street in Georgetown, and finally cross the Key Bridge over the Potomac river to Lee Highway in Arlington, and then west for a few miles.
Which is to say, along some of the most densely-populated real estate in the greater Washington DC area.

All along the road from Rosslyn going west, there were city, state and federal police cars everywhere because the fear was so great that there was a second surprise element of the attack that would take place before the end of the day, so police were on high alert for anything unusual, including attempts to blow up bridges.

When I got a few blocks away from the office after our evacuation was made mandatory and was near Metro Center, the middle of the Metro system in downtown DC, literally one of thousands of people walking down the street, as if an NFL football game had just ended to both my east and west, whom do you suppose I walked right into, but the one man, whom, IF things had fallen differently, might've played a much larger role that tragic day, and be a name that most of you would know now?

(As I walked and walked, it was while listening on my Sony AM/FM/TV portable radio, via ABC News' Good Morning America -the same program that had informed my entire floor for 90 minutes after we gathered en masse around my radio with the great sound quality that also allowed us to listen to VHF TV signals in our floor lobby area, maybe 60 of us- that I first learned that some of the planes involved in the attacks had left out of Boston's Logan Airport.
That news made my heart sink, and made the already-long walk home seem far longer than it normally would, since one of my recent former housemates in Arlington, Jennifer Dugan, a wonderfully sweet, thoughtful and immensely adorable University of Rhode Island grad, was, in fact, a flight attendant for the then-US Airways, working out of... Logan Airport. I listened to that radio the entire time I walked home, very fearful of what else I would hear.)

That man I'm referring to is George Terwilliger, then of the DC office of McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe LLP, whom I knew from 1627 Eye Street, the home of the New York Times' DC bureau, a place that I spent A LOT of time at over my last 11 years there, which explains why I personally know some of the high-profile people I do, including many Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters and columnists, and DC insiders whose names you would recognize.

Mr. Terwilliger was the man that much of the Washington press corps and Beltway Crowd was reporting was the likely first choice for President George W. Bush to be the new FBI Director, and a person that many of my friends at 1627 had an enormous amount of respect and admiration for, even if they disagreed with him politically. 

When I saw him in passing on the sidewalk near a CVS, with a concerned and pensive look on his face, and he looked at me and shot me a look of recognition, even more than nearly everyone passing us on both sides and spilling out onto the road, all I could think to myself was, "Be careful what you wish for."

As most of you know, President Trump was at the Flight 93 National Memorial 

This is a beautiful but sobering memorial and I urge any of you ever heading across the country to try to see, especially in the Fall. maybe after seeing Gettysburg, another favorite place of mine that never disappoints and always leaves you feeling smaller -and full of gratitude.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

City of Hollywood's Park Avenue RFP has potential to transform southern Hollywood & SE Broward County, adding a truly dynamic element to area's multi-use real estate devlopements . SFBJ's Brian Bandell asks the question best: "What will the city prioritize, the most money possible from a real estate transaction, or a project that will generate the most economic activity or community benefit?"

City of Hollywood's Park Avenue RFP has potential to transform southern Hollywood & SE Broward County, adding a truly dynamic element to area's multi-use real estate developments. SFBJ's Brian Bandell asks the question best: 
"What will the city prioritize, the most money possible from a real estate transaction, or a project that will generate the most economic activity or community benefit?"

South Florida Business Journal Real Estate reporter Brian Bandell's article is at: https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2018/08/15/four-developers-have-different-visions-hollywood.html

Today's blog post is below the two follow-up tweets to Brian's initial tweet.

This past weekend, while out-of-town, I finalized my, ahem, analysis of the City of Hollywood's five-member Evaluation Committee's initial comments and concerns regarding its very important Park Road site that sits off of very busy Pembroke Road, which is less than a mile from 1-95. 
The four proposals ran the gamut from Alpha to Omega in terms of painting a pretty picture on what could emerge on that city-owned site, a parcel that many of you longtime readers of this blog know from numerous conversations I've had with you over the years, or via lots of fact-filled emails, that I've long believed that it, if done correctly, quite literally, transform that part of southern Hollywood and southern Broward County.
As you can tell, though, I did not get this blog post up by Noon yesterday as I'd planned. :-(

Also, a few pages of my comments got lost on a memory card that somehow got corrupted -no seriously- so I'm afraid this is necessarily much shorter than I'd originally planned.

The developer's oral presentations start at 8 am tomorrow morning in Room 215 at the City of Hollywood City Hall.

For reasons not worth getting into here, I will not be at the meeting. :-( 

But expect that quite a few well-informed friends and civic activists I know will be sending me reports during the meeting and during breaks.
As of the other day, the idea was that each developer would get roughly 90 minutes to present their view of the future.

Each respondent developer's proposal was several hundred pages and it was slow slogging at times, but on the other hand, many pages were extended pubic relations-friendly versions of the developer's own website, variations of previous RFP propsals to other cities or govt. entities throughout the U.S., or lots and lots of commercial real estate-style photos.

So, I did NOT read every page, especially if the page or section was not really that germane to this proposal, per se, or seemed like extended schmoozing by other means, like copies of newspaper aticles for projects completed in other cities and patting-themselves on the back.

There is an awful lot to think about and talk about in considering if the City of Hollywood is going to get the interesting dynamic change which I think it needs there, or will accept something considerably less!

On Friday, via a tweet to me that I didn't respond to because I'd already logged off by then, Brian actually asked the most important question that I believe is actually hanging over this project, and asking it in such a clear way that I'm going to say it again here:

"I'm interested to see what you think. Two developers proposed zero payment for the land. What will the city prioritize, the most money possible from a real estate transaction, or a project that will generate the most economic activity or community benefit?

I tweeted a thread of some early thoughts of mine about this project a few weeks ago at:


On the morning of Thursday July 19th I attended an often-fascinating, often-slow-moving five-and-a-half hour public meeting at the City of Hollywood City Hall regarding what the City is calling their Park Road Redevelopment RFD. 

Located at a city-owned site at 1600 S. Park Road, it’s better known by most of us living in southern Broward County as the northwest corner of Park Road and Pembroke Road, across the street from the city-owned Orangebrook Golf Course on the north side, and right near the very large local Coca-Cola Bottling plant on the south side, with its longtime huge replica of an iconic Coca Cola-filled glass bottle near its entrance. 
Conveniently that intersection is also less than a mile to 1-95, which is both its blessing and its curse.

The south side of the street is actually the City of Pembroke Park, not Hollywood, and in either direction, is home to lots of nondescript commercial development but very little of the sort that would ever cause anyone from immediately outside the area to ever swing by and see what’s new: i.e. a large number of gas stations and lots of smaller warehouses that are home to all manner of auto and mechanical repair shops, small manufacturing, offices or retail storage units.

To be honest, there's nothing very exciting on the south side of the street and the north side of the street is nothing to brag about either, going in both directions for a bit. There is almost no pedestrian activity to be found there because the sorts of larger retail stores like Target or dine-in or fast food restaurants in the immediate area are located farther north on Hollywood Blvd. in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of the city.

The city’s current Police Dept. HQ occupies a pretty nice tract on the southeast corner of Park and Hollywood Blvd., opposite all that busy retail and upscale professional office activity I spoke of, with a good amount of pedestrian activity, so as the city is hoping to get voter’s to approve a bond issue this Fall that might fund the construction of a new Police HQ, if the city relocates the Police HQ, that good-sized corner tract suddenly becomes one of the most desirable pieces of real estate in Hollywood.

I say that because besides the high amount of passing automobile traffic, there’s also nearby neighborhoods with a large number of upper middle-class apt. and condo complexes within a ten minute walk that could make that a good investment IF it’s something unique or, dare I say it, original.

Those same existing apt. and condo complexes and their well-heeled residents are also the same people who’d be the nearest neighbors of any new project built at the city’s RFP at Park Road and Pembroke Road. That central fact, good access to I-95 and plenty of upper middle-class consumers within a short distance makes me think that it’s hard to conceive of a situation where the Hollywood City Commission would prefer an industrial park, however functional and attractive, to a fun and consumer-friendly multi-use complex that not only draws local residents to it, but also draws consumer dollars from other cities within a 10-20 mile radius, something not currently true of any place I can think of on Pembroke or Hollywood Blvd.

Also, there is currently on the books approval for 600-plus new homes  will be built nearby at what is a former golf course.

There are a few nice restaurants in the immediate area, a place I know very well, but are they truly special, unique, or something that genuinely causes a degree of excitement? Well, not so much.

Think about that as you read my description of the developer proposals an the city’s five-member evaluation Committee that has people on it from various city departments and with an array of disciplines to try to give the Hollywood City Commission two very good proposals for them to decide between in the coming months.

For people who live in the area or just west of there in Miramar or Pembroke Pines, it's also well-known for being the home of some hellacious traffic jams because so many people use it to get to 

The site is currently the headquarters for the city’s Dept. of Public Works (DPW) and is more accurately known by most longtime area residents as a brownfield that once was home of the city’s incinerator. So, the first thing you need to know is that there's residual waste in the soil that means that some degree of remediation will be necessary to make it suitable for more general public purposes.

I have long been personally interested in that site because of all the places in Hollywood that were not on the beach, near Young Circle or Downtown, that was the site that I thought was best suited for being the hoe of a #tech village, but that seems unlikely to materialize as I once hoped.

So, on with the show, including some selected pages from the four proposals, including cover pages.

The first proposal discussed and analyzed by Eval Comm. -but with no scoring yet- was from @Prologis, which was quite impressive, obviously, given their size, global marketing capabilities, experience in dealing with environmental challenges, an important consideration given that the site is the former site of Hollywood DPW's incinerator.


The second bid was from a team comprised of (Louis) Birdman Real Estate Development of Hallandale Beach, Collarmele Partners of Fort Lauderdale and Meyers Real Estate Group. The group contact person is, I believe, the same guy who was VP at the Diplomat Golf Course in Hallandale Beach.


The third proposal came from ImmoCorp Ventures of Aventura, i.e. Gilbert Benhamou, who has been involved in developing many upscale retail areas throughout the U.S. I'm personally familiar with, including in Charlottesville, VA, home of UVA, where one of my nieces went to college.
To be honest, their proposal is the one that I liked best in the early-going because their team includes many people that I am familiar with, including architect Kobi Karp, who has had some projects in Hallandale beach.
To me, frankly, it seems the most creative, transformative, and shows the most potential to draw consumer dollars to that area of Broward. 
But will that be what most appeals to the Hollywood City Commission long-term vs short-term benefits? 
I hope so, but who can really say months in advance?


The fourth proposal came from Bridge Development Partners of Miami, who proposed two Class A office buildings. There seemed to be a consensus within the Evaluation Committee that the firm has managed to consistently have a "quite compelling" tenant mix in their past projects that came to fruition. 

But the one thing that stood out most to me from the many comments made during the Evaluation Committee's discussion of this group's proposal, one voiced from the rep from DPW and echoed by others on the Comm. as well, was that this proposal seems to NOT have really come to term in their first effort to address the problem/solution to the city's DPW facility there. Keep facility, build a new one there or relocate and build new HQ elsewhere in the city?

I should mention that I thought that Paul Bassar, the Director of Procurement & Contract Compliance for the City of Hollywood, who ran/moderated the July 19th meeting I attended, did a very good job of keeping some very smart and very opinionated people on-track, like a good railroad conductor, so that the meeting didn't run even longer than the five-and-half hours it actually took from beginning to end, counting breaks after each discussion.