Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are Community Redevelopment Agencies a Big Fat Scam? By Geniusofdespair

Also read the Crespogram (Al video-taped the preseentations)
County Commissioner Xavier Suarez made the Keynote Address. Seen here with a member of his staff, Sarah Odio.

The way I see it the County Commission --on occasion --sends Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava back to the drawing board with her proposed legislation ---they didn't send Linda back with her famous FENCE ordinance they just passed it. I think it is a stalling tactic to put off the good work of our new Commissioner who is so polite they are trying not to offend her.  She brought up, at the Economic Prosperity Committee, proposed CRA legislation for future CRA's to prevent their abuse: Namely to focus their mission and make sure the investments go to the communities they are done in and to benefit the residents. I think they sort of...put her off on that one. I was NOT there and I am just offering an opinion. But the money is so often diverted to developers, it is a joke. The community never prospers, they just gentrify the community and hope the disadvantaged move out. They do.

I noticed Mary Cagle, our Inspector General, who has yet to prove herself, was at the Miami Center for Architecture And Design Meeting last night (Sponsored by the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES), FAU School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP), Co-Sponsored by the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami (UEL),“Miami After Dark” Radio Program, WZAB 880AM, and Grand Central).

Cagle was listening as students from CUES outlined CRA mismanagement and the diversion of funds to other projects in the CRA zone, besides the blight they were meant to address. Perhaps Cagle can find some way to sunset CRA's that are running the wrong way like the one in Homestead. When a devastating audit comes in on the CRA, like the one in Homestead, something should be done about it you can't wait for the damn thing to sunset. As Frank Nero said, CRA's were meant for blighted areas, taking money out of General Funds to fix them. The last thing the money is going to is blighted areas. Too much money is coming from general funds for these boondoggles. I think Mary should formulate ideas for stopping this. The commissioners are not going to stop it. I think they are just stalling Daniella Levine Cava. Cagle you have subpoena power: Use it here. Get all these CRA's audited too. As Blogger Al Crespo says: "For those who care about all of this, the revelation that all of these CRA's in the County have a debt commitment of over ONE BILLION DOLLARS before they sunset should ring alarm bells."

Daniella Levine Cava, a speaker at the meeting.
There needs to be a penalty for mismanaged CRA's get rid of them. I spoke to a student on the side,  boy they dont like CRA's very much after their research projects. Maybe now they can help write the fix???

Graduate Students from CLUES
 The Homestead Audit I wrote about in February 2010.

Read the Crespogram report --- same topic. He was there last night video taping.


Anonymous said...

Barbara Jordan thinks she can manipulate Daniella she is in for a surprise. She is very polite to her and not to others. The demon in jordan is at bay....for now.

Anonymous said...

Eventually the CRA cash for phony "projects" comes back to those who voted for the phony "project" as campaign finance. Ever read about Homestead Concrete and Drainage overbilling the city for sidewalks they never installed?
The key is to have a cooperative administration as well as crooked elected officials.
The Homestead CRA has been funding police, code enforcement and Florida City projects for years. More audits are needed because nobody is watching. In the scheming minds of politicians a buck is a buck, they do not care where it came from or what it's intended use is supposed to be. If they can buy a few votes from people who think they are being helped it was well worth it.

Anonymous said...

From the Watchdog report
"Daniella Levine Cava has been on the dais for five months she noted last week and said that she is learning the County Commission lingo and procedures of being a county commissioner and she has brought a breath of fresh air to the dais and asks good questions during the Commission deliberations. And Xavier Suarez is also learning the ropes of being a County Commissioner but Levine Cava is making an effective low key impression on the 13 member commission."

Anonymous said...

Like everything else in Miami Dade County - the CRA concept has been twisted for corrupt and inappropriate purposes. What do you expect from the fraud Capitol of the US?

Anonymous said...

What was really distressing is when Commissioner Levine said there is nothing that can be done about the disbursement of millions in the Omni and Overtown CRAs to developers and for other questionable expenditures (like $1 million for a makeover to the Peoples barbecue and another $1 million for a "supper club" in Overtown and of course the hundreds of millions to the develop of luxury condos marketed to the Chinese millionaires). This is taxpayer money that could have been employed in the public interest for the public welfare. How many parks could have been built? Public libraries? Job training programs? Affordable housing and infrastructure improvements like reps bed roads with street trees and bike lanes? Really pathetic what corruption and ineptitude has done to this city and how it is hurting real residents.

Anonymous said...

CRA's are not very efficient in improving their defined areas. They seem to have improved the bank accounts of a variety of characters both in and out of a CRA.

Anonymous said...

The CRA's in Homestead and Florida City is another way of falsely getting property through liens, code enforcements and later give to their development buddies.
When Homestead is applying for grants they visit the black folks neighborhood. When the money comes in the Homestead officials develop and show improvements in other places.
The CRA's are cash cows and need to be done away with forever. This is the most land grabbing program around. Its clearly, right now corrupt.
These CRA'S need auditing.

Anonymous said...

The CRA in South Miami is a complete joke. They are all complete jokes. Nothing is going to happen until the state changes the law and eliminates them.

Don't expect that anytime soon because the main purpose of CRAs is to funnel money to big money developers and the legislature and Scott are beholden to them. Funny how the party of "small government" doesn't have a problem with CRAs

Anonymous said...

On the topic of bogus CRA's...

Convention-center deal would briefly ease Miami-Dade budget gap
Plan backed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez extends key taxing district in Miami Beach to boost dollars for expo and headquarters hotel.
07/03/2014 7:39 PM 07/03/2014 8:04 PM

A plan to use Miami-Dade property taxes for an expanded Miami Beach Convention Center is helping county Mayor Carlos Gimenez narrow a looming budget gap.

As part of a complicated swap with Miami Beach, Gimenez wants to delay paying $18 million in property taxes to the resort city this year and another $14 million in 2016.

In exchange, Miami-Dade would add about 20 years to the life of a special taxing district around the Lincoln Road area — which is forecast to cost Miami-Dade about $800 million in diverted property taxes during the extension through 2045.

By resetting the current 2023 retirement date of the City Center taxing-district, Miami-Dade would allow most of the diverted taxes to go toward a $580 million redevelopment of the decades-old convention center.

The deal, reached between Gimenez and city leaders in recent weeks, offers the county short-term relief from a budget squeeze that has Gimenez warning of layoffs and service cuts without union concessions.

What was once a $210 million revenue gap has slowly dwindled. The latest estimate from County Hall hit $64 million, thanks in part to the $18 million windfall from the Miami Beach deal.

But the deal also dramatically increases Miami-Dade’s long-term obligations in Miami Beach, since the City Center taxing district (known as a CRA) is set to expire nine years from now. Miami Beach leaders have pressed Gimenez to extend the CRA in order to back up city funds for the long-sought renovation, but had not received a formal commitment until now.

“It gives us additional revenue in the future, and it allows the county relief with their budget in the short term — and that’s what all sides needed,” Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said.


CRA's to combat poverty? Screw the poor neighborhoods. Screw the promises. Lincoln Road will have its CRA extended as a "slum area" when Pottery Barn cannot even afford this area's rent and has to leave.
$342 million sale of six properties on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road closes
Terranova Corp. and its investment partner Acadia sold their six-building portfolio at a record price for South Florida retail properties. Terranova becomes managing member of the new partnership with Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing.
08/19/2014 5:43 PM 08/19/2014 5:57 PM

A new era for the evolving Lincoln Road
Lincoln Road is in transition as it sees an influx of new capital from New York institutional investors. Prices for properties and rents are reaching new heights as the pedestrian mall attracts more international and national retail tenants.
06/15/2014 7:00 PM 06/16/2014 10:24 AM

Stroll down Lincoln Road and, as you shop, dine and people-watch, you’ll find an urban metamorphosis taking shape.

New York-based institutional investors are buying up properties at record prices, and tenant rents are skyrocketing. Major national and international retailers are setting up shop, with a huge, two-story Gap store about to open on Friday, and Athleta and Intermix alongside it. New sites are under construction for Apple and Zara. Soon, Lululemon will open, as will Zadig & Voltaire and Kiko Milano, an Italian cosmetics brand. Bebe, Kiehl’s and Melissa Shoes will move to new spots. And more eateries will emerge, like the Las Vegas-based Sugar Factory and the Argentine gelateria Freddo, while Ladurée, the fancy French macaron shop, will add an ice cream and champagne bar with outdoor seating.


Anonymous said...

I believe Miami Beach started the original scam. Convention center, and South Pointe are two historically tainted areas. Miami Beach even tried to place a private condominium on top of a public parking lot a few years ago. Only a few people figured it out. The backers who are behind redevelopment are all in the tourist or condominium industry. Lots of streetscape renderings and plans are a tip off. Many times cities will do the streetscapes as a gift to developers. The alley behind club space cost $800,000.

Anonymous said...

What's up with CRAs funding CBOs also funded by the county? Seriously?

al crespo said...

Thanks for the reference. I've made a copy of the SEOPW CRA presentation and added that to the other two videos. For those who care about all of this, the revelation that all of these CRA's in the County have a debt commitment of over ONE BILLION DOLLARS before they sunset should ring alarm bells. In the next couple days a new scheme involving the SEOPW CRA, and several of the usual suspects that are attached to Commissioner Sarnoff and now apparanrly Commissioner Hardemon like sucker fish on a shark.

Seth Sklarey said...

The CRA's give money and tax increment financing to developers. The developers say thank you by contributing to their or their wife's campaign funds, PAC'S and foundations.
It is very cost effective for the developer who gets more than $60 million dollars in CRA money and tax increment financing and only had to pay $30,000 in contributions.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends;

Given all of the concern in the media over slums and blight in Liberty City and Little Havana, I thought that when I heard about a new CRA being proposed it would be for one of these two areas.
In effect, I was right. It is about Little Havana, but the reason is not about alleviating slum and blight conditions or providing affordable housing. It is about diverting General Fund Real Estate Tax Revenue into a tax increment trust fund legally mandated to be used for the alleviation of slums and blight and the provision of affordable housing, and use the diverted General Fund Real Property Tax Revenue instead SOLELY for the purpose of helping to assemble the site for a soccer stadium and to construct a people mover from Government Center to the stadium.

Really. I am not kidding.

And the proposed name for this new CRA: “Orange Sports Complex Community Redevelopment Area.”

Really. I am not kidding.

As I read Brian Bandell’s article, I was surprised to learn that it is ok to spend CRA dollars on the people mover: “Why not loop it into Little Havana and bring the people mover straight to Marlins Park?” Barreiro said. “If you look at the Omni Loop and the Brickell Loop, they were also funded by TIF (tax increment financing) from CRAs.”

Really. Quoted right from the article.

So many questions are raised. Just for starters—this area is in the incorporated City of Miami, and in fact if approved, would become another CRA District run by the Miami City Commission acting as the CRA Board of Commissioners. Is this what is planned as a way to successfully implement the “goals and objectives” of this limited purpose CRA? Will Keon Hardemon be in charge?

And, just one more question for now: why is a CRA needed? Could the County and the City just agree to provide the funds to purchase the lots (after all, the CRA has no legal ability to use eminent domain, and anyway, there are limitations on how eminent domain can be used for economic development or redevelopment purposes), and to build the people mover? Why set up another level of government and lessen the transparency of government decision-making?

It will be interesting to see what happens on March 3 when this Resolution to start a new CRA in Little Havana NOT to help all those who live there in blighted housing and in need of an improved living environment, but to assemble land for the wealthy and build a people mover so government workers can get to the soccer stadium quickly. Add that to the fact that on March 3 another proposed CRA will be on the agenda—diverting General Fund Real Property Tax Revenue to a tax increment trust fund to subsidize an amusement park (and other uses) near Metrozoo.

Really. I am not kidding.

Anonymous said...

To the above ano why are CRA's necessary, can t the city/county just use the property tax for those projects it deams worthy?
The main purpose of the CRA's is really to circumvent the voter approved millage cap rule that limits the property's tax. As such it's sole legislative purpose was deception of the voter will. why would it's administration be anything different?

Anonymous said...

And now the new Omni/Park West CRA proposal to give $5million to the developer of the twisted iconic media tower (billboard tower). Amazing. And to add insult to injury, the City has declared the developer can build "of right." But of course. The developer already gave $5,000 to Marc Sarnoff's wife, Teresa's campaign and the lobbyist for the project is the other City Commissioner Hardemon's sister. What has this City come to?

Anonymous said...

LED billboard tower? Clarence Woods and Keon Hardemon recommend a LED billboard tower? But of course. It is a stupid idea rooted in corruption and payoffs. Michael Simkins paying Keon's family member Barbara? Duh.

Anonymous said...

Just released at the last moment...a CRA item written in "code". No mention of LED billboard on the Agenda BUT low and behold ... Keon and Marc's massive LED billboard tower. CRA. Crime Really All-the-Time.