Miami Beach commission moves to limit size of houses

5446 North Bay Road
The home at 5446 North Bay Road prior to demolition on the left, and the lot’s new spec home on the right (Credit: Aerial Photography Inc. via Todd Glaser’s website)

The Miami Beach commission on Wednesday moved toward limiting the lot and unit size of new single-family homes being built on Miami Beach.

Voting 6-1 against Mayor Philip Levine, commissioners largely supported a measure proposed by Commissioner Joy Malakoff that would reduce maximum lot coverage from 30 percent to 25 percent in all single-family districts, as well as scale back the maximum unit size on a lot from 50 percent to 45 percent.

Under the new rules, a developer planning to build a 5,000-square-foot home on a 10,000-square-foot lot would have to reduce the house’s size by 500 square feet.

The vote was taken on a first reading, and several outstanding issues have to be resolved before it becomes law, including a proposed increase in setbacks — from 7.5 feet to 10 feet — and the length of balcony overhands. Commissioners will vote again on the measure in January.

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The commission also approved an amendment sponsored by Malakoff that would exempt lots of less than 6,000 square feet from the ordinance.

Three new commissioners Ricky Arriola, John Elizabeth Alemán and Kristen Rosen Gonzalez — supported the proposed ordinance in one of their first official votes as commissioners. Commissioner Michael Grieco voted for the proposed ordinance, but said he did so with strong reservations.

With their vote, the commissioners rejected a recommendation of the Miami Beach Planning Board to reject the proposed ordinance. The board argued that not enough time had elapsed since the city last reduced lot and unit size in 2014. But Malakoff on Wednesday said those restrictions, while helpful, had not gone far enough.

“There are homes all around that are incompatible with our neighbors,” she told commissioners.