Keep Normandy Shores public streets public!
Keep Normandy Shores public streets public!
Normandy Shores is a small island in North Beach. North Beach, in turn, is a section of Miami Beach. Miami Beach itself is but a small part of Miami-Dade County. All the streets, intersections, parks, tennis courts, and recreational equipment on the island of Normandy Shores are public property—available equally to all, residents and visitors alike. Despite being entirely public, however, the island of Normandy Shores is divided by three gates. Those of you who live on this island know them well: (1) the guarded gate at Biarritz and the two remotely-accessed gates at (2) Fairway Drive & North Shore Drive and (3) South Shore Drive & Ray Street. Despite these barriers, though, since 1993, when the gates were installed, everyone on Normandy Shores (actually everyone on Miami Beach—but that is another story, for another time), has been afforded, as they should be, open access through all three of these public intersections.
Sadly, those days of neighborly inclusivity appear to have come to an abrupt end with the new HOA leadership. Now, a vocal faction (the “Faction”) within the gated portion of Normandy Shores would like to prevent anyone but their own from using the two remote-access gates on North Shore and South Shore Drives (their petition can be reviewed by searching "Limit Back Gate Access"). The Faction claims this entitlement because they pay a special tax that funds the security guard and house at Biarritz, the gates themselves, and a camera system. The Faction believes that because they paid to erect these barriers, they can simply exclude the rest of us from using these public intersections. The Faction complains that some of us, the outsiders, disrupt the security, sanctity, and safety of their neighborhood. But their position is misguided and unavailing—for many reasons.
First, it is illogical. Simply erecting a gate across public property, regardless of whether one pays for it or not, does not give one the right to exclude other residents from using a public street—indeed, the Florida Constitution affords all its citizens equal rights to access public streets. Contrary to the Faction’s understanding, there is no constitutional carve out of this universal right just because a group of residents forms a taxing district. By way of illustration, one need only survey the other taxing districts in the county (e.g. Belle Meade, Morningside, etc.). Not a single one of those neighborhoods excludes other residents from accessing any of their intersections: the streets are either blocked off entirely, to everyone, or secured with a guard-monitored gate. Those are the legal options.
Second, the Faction only pays for part of these barriers. The rest of us, outside the gates, actually subsidize, through our tax dollars, over one third of the cost of constructing, maintaining, updating, and repairing all three gates—well over $2 million to date. Yes, we are paying, through our own tax dollars, for the Faction to exclude us from using our very own streets. (One might wonder why the community has not pursued installing a second guard booth, on the Bay Drive bridge, instead of the two clicker gates, but that, too, is a story for another time.)
Third, the Faction, sadly and absurdly, believe that their own neighbors, those of us who share the same tiny island with them, are a threat to their safety and security. But what the Faction fails to appreciate is that by taking such an aggressive stance against their very own neighbors, they are jeopardizing the already precarious existence of the clicker gates altogether—in other words, if the Faction continues their push, they risk losing the gates entirely (again, yet another story for another time).
And fourth, the remote-access gates were installed only as part of a community compromise, in 1993, to accommodate both the inconvenienced single-family home residents who lived right next to the gated intersections as well as the excluded residents of the island who objected, on both legal and moral grounds, to being prohibited from using their own streets and intersections. To be sure, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales himself has recently said, in a unifying message, “[A]nyone who lives on Normandy Shores, whether they live inside or outside of the gates, is entitled to come to the City and fill out the paperwork and receive a clicker for the gate.”
This, of course, makes sense. Why should residents of Normandy Shores have to travel off their own island, onto Bay Drive, continue down Normandy Drive (or Marseille Drive) for a mile, and then onto Biarritz Drive, just to drive back onto their own tiny island in order to access any of the island’s public amenities – including the club house where, notably, we all vote. Why should residents of South Shore Drive have to drive through standing salt-water puddles during King Tides instead of driving the other way, towards Biarritz, to get off their own island? Indeed, they shouldn’t.
The Faction would like to snap their fingers and magically transport themselves into a private, gated community. Unfortunately for them, their homes are sited on public streets. Fortunately for those of us on the “other” side of the gates, the Faction makes up only a part of the single-family home community—many of the other residents on the inside are also dismayed by the Faction’s brazen land grab. They understand that such an aggressive move may ultimately jeopardize the convenience of the remote-access gates altogether. Also fortunately for us, aside from being in the right, we have numbers. Please join us—Open Normandy for Everyone, or “ONE Island”—in sending a message to the City of Miami Beach by signing the ONE Island petition.
Time is of the essence – the Faction has mobilized and intends to present their own petition to the city on March 18, 2020, asking it to block us from using the clicker gates. Sadly, for our island, the Faction has chosen to act aggressively and unilaterally, rather than harmoniously and by consensus.
Rather than trying to unify us, the Faction seeks to divide us. Let’s fight that, together, and make sure Normandy Shores is and remains ONE Island. Please show the city that you believe ONE Island is the more prudent solution by signing this petition.