Category Archives: Miami

Coral Gables / FPL Update

It seems FPL cleaned up the downed power lines yesterday, but has revised its estimate to turn on all the power in the area to Tuesday.  We’ll see if Coral Gables goes through with its threat to impose fines.

I was out for a brief drive to the library today (Comcast still hasn’t fixed the internet, and the library has wifi) and saw a lot of electricity trucks working in the area. Hard to know, but maybe that letter from the Commission had an effect; or maybe it’s just our turn.

Posted in Coral Gables, Weather With a Name | 2 Comments

Coral Gables Commission Orders FPL to Restore Power by Sunday 11:45pm Or Else

In this resolution the City of Coral Gables purports to order Florida Power & Light to restore our electricity by Sunday night on pain of … wait for it … $500/day fines if it doesn’t (plus the some dubious threat of additional higher fines under state law).

Does a city have the power to order a state-regulated utility to restore power by a set date after a hurricane? Given the relationship between cities and the State of Florida, I’d be a little surprised if the answer were yes, at least in the absence of clearly dilatory or unreasonable behavior, although I am certainly not an expert in local government law. The resolution cites two authorities: § 2-203 of the Coral Gables code and Florida Statutes § 162.09. The Coral Gables code section is about cease and desist letters:

Sec. 2-203. – Penalty for failure to obey cease and desist letter.

(a) The city attorney is authorized to issue cease and desist letters for violation of the City Code, Zoning Code and any other applicable law where such violation causes harm to the city, its residents or its businesses.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to disobey the demand made by the city attorney or his/her designee, on behalf of the City of Coral Gables, in a cease and desist letter.And And

(c) Failure to obey the demand made in a cease and desist letter shall result in the issuance of a code enforcement citation, punishable by a fine of $500.00 per day.

(d) A violator who has been issued a citation for failure to comply with the demand in the cease and desist letter, must elect to either comply with the demand in the letter and pay the fine or request an administrative hearing before a special master, as set forth in chapter 101, article VI, division 3 of the City Code.

(e) As a cumulative remedy, the city attorney is authorized to file a civil action to enforce the cease and desist letter, the city is entitled to an injunction and the violator is responsible for attorney’s fees and costs incurred. Such proceedings shall be expedited by the court.

(f) The city, as well as its elected and appointed officials, employees and agents are immunized from civil or criminal liability for actions taken in accordance with this section.

(g) Subsection (a) of this Code section shall be incorporated into section 2-201 of the City Code as subsection (13).

As for the state statute, I see authority for “$15,000 per violation if the code enforcement board or special magistrate finds the violation to be irreparable or irreversible in nature.” But is failure to repair quickly enough really a zoning violation? Maybe at some point yes, but a week after a hurricane? Surely there is some implicit (and in the case of the state law, fairly explicit) reasonableness limit operative here?

As to the Coral Gables ordinance, I sort of wonder how it applies–does FPL have a legal duty to the city under zoning law that is enforceable in this manner? (I honestly don’t know.) Does it make sense to talk of ‘cease and destining” from failure to deal with a public emergency? (It might.) More to the point, though, even if the legal answer is yes, can you really make FP&L do anything in these post-hurricane conditions? (Not as far as I can see.)

Perhaps prudently, therefore, the Commission’s resolution only demands that the power be back by Sunday at 11:45pm (although it demands downed power lines blocking streets be cleared today). As FP&L has publicly said it will have all the power back on the east coast of Florida by Sunday unless your house is destroyed or it would be dangerous to turn it on, at least as to the power restoration this may be more sound than fury.

Then again, I suppose there could be litigation: this is the same Coral Gables Commission that recently sued Facebook and Instagram to find out the identity of a public (and until the lawsuit, very obscure) critic. The legal theory in that case — trademark and irreparable harm to the city — was maybe tenable enough not to be risible (but I’d say on balance not even that). More to the point the suit looked to me like a SLAPP suit, and seemed very very unwise, in terrible taste, and probably outright unconstitutional.

So who knows, maybe my tax money will be spent on a suit about this too.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no love for FP&L, even if they did get my lights back on a couple of days ago. Having had no power for five weeks after Andrew, and having everything in my fridge just spoil, I understand how awful it can be to be without it — and that it is even worse for people who depend on medical equipment.

I’m all for getting tough with FP&L on solar power, on burying power lines (on which, let the record show, Coral Gables wimped out long ago), and even on harrying them to fix the power. But is this the right way to go about it? I am not convinced. FP&L may not do a great job of pre-hurricane hardening, but large-scale post-hurricane restoration is something they seem fairly good at, if only because they have practice and get massive help from out of state.

I’d much rather see Coral Gables get tough with FP&L about pre-hurricane preparedness, like burying power lines, than this post-hurricane spasm — whether it is sincere or a publicity stunt. (I should emphasize that it could be either for all I know. Normally I would call up and try to interview some Commissioners about this, which I think is the right thing to do when writing about people. But I expect that they have better things to do immediately post-Irma than talk to me and I’m not about to bother them.)

Posted in Coral Gables, Weather With a Name | Leave a comment

Do I Have a Date With Irma?

Looks like Hurricane Irma might (but also might not) be coming to Miami next Friday or next weekend.

The thing about hurricanes is that, unlike most other natural disasters, you usually have a lot of warning before they hit–and of those warnings, a significant fraction turn out to be false alarms. (False alarms in the sense that the hurricane dies out, goes out to sea, or goes and hits someone else.) The National Hurricane Center does a great job of telling the public what we know, and don’t know, about strike probabilities. But even so, during most late summers and early Fall, we here in Miami usually have a number of hurricane alerts of varying degrees of alarm. Irma sounds like it would be a strong — maybe even very strong — hurricane by the time it makes landfall somewhere, but there are many variables, not least the possibility that it goes over Cuba. That would be very bad for Cuba, but could be good for Miami in that storms going over land tend to weaken while storms going over warm water tend to strengthen.

It used to be that storms (potentially) coming meant that I had to dig out the ugly, sharp-edged, metal hurricane shutters, and then decide when to put them up. Put them up too early and you can sit in the dark for days as happened once when a hurricane stalled just a little bit offshore and spent days deciding where to go. Wait too long and you end up putting them up in the rain as the advance bands of the storm start roiling the weather.

But that’s history: several years ago we did a big renovation, and as part of that we replaced all the windows with hurricane glass, which is terrific stuff. Allegedly you could throw a brick at one of the windows and it wouldn’t shatter, although I have not put it to the test. In any case, the glass changes the whole hurricane experience: instead of huddling in the dark wondering what is going on out there, you can see it. And when the power goes out, as it inevitably does since FP&L refuses to bury our power lines, you at least have natural light to live by during the day.

So now the question becomes whether/when to lay in some extra water and fill up some gas containers to be able to run the little generator (to keep stuff in the fridge from spoiling), and whether it makes any sense to buy any other hurricane supplies given we could surely live a few days off the cans of beans and soup and other canned stuff in our cupboards. There probably isn’t much reason to buy canned spam or other foods which we’d otherwise never eat, but it’s an effort to look at those photos and do nothing.

Posted in Global Warming, Miami | Leave a comment

Life in South Florida (II)

I see this ad frequently in the Miami Herald too — oddly it’s often near the car ads; even stranger, the link takes you to an all-Spanish-language site.

Haven’t been tempted to try it, though.

Posted in Miami | Leave a comment

Life In South Florida (I)

Do you get one of these ads every day in your paper?

Posted in Miami | 3 Comments

Economic Impact of LeBron James on Miami

Abstract:

We study the local economic spillovers generated by LeBron James’ presence on a team in the National Basketball Association. Mr. James, the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft, spent the first seven seasons of his career at the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then moved to the Miami Heat in 2010, only to return to Cleveland in 2014. Long considered one of the NBA’s superstars, he has received the league’s MVP award four times, won three NBA championships, and been a part of two victorious US teams at the Olympics. We trace the impact a star of Mr. James’ caliber can have on economic activity by analyzing the impact his departures and arrivals had on business activity close to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat stadiums. We find that Mr. James has a statistically and economically significant positive effect on both the number of restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments near the stadium where he is based, and on aggregate employment at those establishments. Specifically, his presence increases the number of such establishments within one mile of the stadium by about 13%, and employment by about 23.5%. These effects are very local, in that they decay rapidly as one moves farther from the stadium.

Taking My Talents to South Beach (And Back) by Daniel Shoag, Harvard Kennedy School & Stan Veuger, American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Posted in Basketball, Econ & Money, Miami | Leave a comment