September 26, 2014
Taking a brief detour from the lofty infrastructure and land use questions of the day, Miami planners are seeking to address a problem much closer to the ground: dog poop.
The city’s Planning & Zoning Department is looking at mandating areas where pet owners can let their four-legged friends out to do their business in new multifamily buildings.
The issue was raised Monday at a meeting of the city zoning board after a resident of the Shenandoah neighborhood complained some mid-rise residents along Southwest 22nd Avenue use her front yard as a “doggie park.”
“The challenge is how we can assist with the problem pointed out to us, which is there are some pet owners that are less responsible than ideal whose pets actually relieve themselves in the front yards of other property owners,” Planning and Zoning director Francisco Garcia told the Daily Business Review. “It happens, and we know it. So the point that we brought up today is in the case of higher density buildings, residential towers that allow for pets, would we not do well to provide for those pets to take care of their necessities on site?”
While the idea is still in its infancy, Garcia said his department could propose a code change that would give the city “the ability to require it for any new multifamily residential building that is going to allow pets to then have on-site provisions for those pets.”
“I think it’s a brilliant idea, and frankly we haven’t addressed it yet so we’ll get to work on that,” Garcia said.
Planning for the necessities of pets has been a near-total afterthought during the pasttwo construction cycles in Miami. None of the dozens of pre-construction projects being marketed in the city specifically highlights perks for animals, even though the initial declaration of condominium documents in many cases explicitly provide for pets.
In terms of municipal services, the city maintains three dog parks, but two of them are in the Coconut Grove. In other parks where pets are allowed, such as Margaret Pace Park in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, lack of fencing and lax enforcement of so-called pooper scooper ordinances have turned public green areas into havens for scofflaw pet owners who live nearby.
In one of the most notable cases, preservationists who fought to save the Miami Circle historical site on the south bank of the Miami River at Biscayne Bay, cobbling together $26.7 million to buy the 2000-year-old Native American landmark from its previous owner, have been horrified to see the site overrun by frolicking pets.