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MINUTES OF GMCA ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

NOVEMBER 17, 2011


The meeting was called to order at 11:10 a.m. by President Pio Ieraci.

Board Members present: Ieraci, Berkowitz, Glickfield, Freismuth, Hamaker, Nesbitt, McBride, Bindler, Blanchard, Erb, Forte, Friedman, Gallagher, Katkin, Katz, Pyatt, Solewin and Vega.

Guests present: Bruce Roberts, City of Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner; Major Raul M. Diaz, City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department; and Officer Andy Pallen, City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Approval of Minutes - Minutes of the October 20, 2011 Advisory Board meeting were approved.

Old and New Business

Pio introduced Bruce Roberts, City of Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner:

  • Spoke about how the County and its municipalities are negotiating shared dispatch costs and other issues

  • Expressed his appreciation to Chepo Vega for his commitment to block maintenance

  • Will help with insurance dilemma stemming from FEMA’s remapped flood zones. Pio explained that since association properties historically located in the low-risk “X” flood zone are being remapped into high-risk zones (“AO”, “VE”, etc.), federally-backed lenders will require associations and their mortgaged unit owners to protect their properties with flood insurance. Associations can be “grandfathered” – charged the lower rate paid prior to being remapped into the high-risk zone – if they don’t allow their insurance to lapse or by documenting compliance with the code requirements in effect when the structure was built. If the association’s insurance agent agrees that it’s eligible for a grandfathered rate, the coverage it purchases should also satisfy the flood insurance requirements for individual unit owners with federally insured mortgages. If unit owners are unable to demonstrate that their units are covered under the association’s master flood insurance policy, their federally backed mortgage lenders can force place flood insurance coverage charged to the individual unit owners for their respective properties. Since a 90-day appeals period and many months of bureaucratic housekeeping will consume about a year before the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County officially sign off on the new maps, it is estimated that they will become effective in December 2012. By instructing their insurance agents to secure a grandfathered rate, associations can avoid the expense of being remapped into a high-risk zone. However, if we can demonstrate to FEMA that their new association zone designations are incorrect and we belong in an “X” zone, insurance levels will no longer be dictated by lenders. The City and the County will have an opportunity to help with this; Bruce said he would address this at the next City Commission meeting.

  • Discussed the fast-growing homeless demographics in the city and along the Galt Ocean Mile

Pio introduced Major Raul Diaz and Officer Andy Pallen of the City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

  • Responding to questions about a police response to the growing homeless community in the Galt Mile neighborhood, Major Diaz explained the difference between actionable offenses such as solicitation and passive panhandling, which is considered constitutionally protected free speech. While his patrols will actively encourage participation in available homeless programs, panhandlers can only be arrested for a solicitation violation if an officer personally witnesses the infraction. After arresting homeless people and holding them for a few hours, they will invariably return to the Galt Mile as long as residents continue giving them money. People who think they are being charitable are actually enabling a very dangerous lifestyle. Instead, they should give the money to legitimate relief programs and charities that also address the root causes for homelessness. In addition to inadvertently inviting a larger homeless community, they are attracting those who prey on the homeless, who will opportunistically victimize anyone nearby who appears vulnerable, including the vast majority of Galt Mile residents.

  • There is an increase in Broward County burglaries (thefts in a home when the victim isn’t there) and items stolen from vehicles that are left unlocked. These are crimes of opportunity that are mostly perpetrated by kids or amateur thieves (they take the change from a dresser and leave the flat screen television and/or laptop). The Fort Lauderdale Police Department will be holding community meetings to discuss these issues. Major Diaz informed us about a crime trends website called RAIDS Online that’s used by every police department in the nation. In the scaled-down version offered free to the public, crimes presented on an interactive map are sorted by type, location, date and time. Go to Raidsonline.com and click on Florida, then Fort Lauderdale. Every button on the map is an incident. When you click the button, a tab pops up with a summary of the essential data.

Galt Mile Web Site – Newsletter – Eric Berkowitz -

  • October Web Site Stats: 667,115 hits; 14,713 unique site visits (first timers)

The past month’s articles:

  • October 20, 2011 - Roberts: Projects, A Pilot Law & Property Code - Along with the issue updates in his October 2011 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts reviews a number of key local projects in various stages of comprehensive, often contentious, long-term negotiations. If successfully concluded, several promise to ply the local economy with tax dollars and jobs while providing quality of life dividends to both visitors and residents. How the city finalizes plans for Bahia Mar, Lockhart Stadium, the Aquatic Center and the Sun Trolley could either alleviate - or inflame - the regional economic instability. In addition to commenting on the City Budget, assorted venues for expanding the Visioning Process, a plan to regulate street people who dodge traffic while adorned in sandwich boards and a home-grown source of money-saving coupons, our City Commissioner describes a proposed ordinance that will force lenders to maintain properties frozen in foreclosure while dumping dollars into city coffers.

  • October 30, 2011 - The Monster in the Elevator - After sweating out an eight-year assessment threat from a statutory fire sprinkler retrofit requirement, Ellyn Bogdanoff’s 2010 Omnibus Association bill gifted relief to unit owners in thousands of Florida associations. One of the lesser known provisions in Senator Bogdanoff’s landmark bill delayed the need to comply with a law requiring associations to upgrade their existing elevators by adding “Phase II Firefighters’ Service”, a questionable safety measure with no historical justification and an Olympic-size price tag. The “upgrade” was considered so fiscally egregious that similar provisions in three different 2010 bills - postponing its implementation until 2015 - were simultaneously enacted into law. At the October 3, 2011 GMCA Presidents Council meeting, District 91 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis and association attorney Donna Berger discussed the funding burden that the measure would place on unit owners. When Berger announced, “estimates run from hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions,” you could hear a pin drop.

  • November 8, 2011 - Annual Condo Crunch by Housing Feds - Our Federal Housing agencies are experiencing their annual break with reality. Every year, the FHA, HUD or congressional stepchildren Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac pass seemingly well-intentioned rules that wreak havoc on the housing market. It’s no accident that their favorite fiscal piñatas are community associations, preferably in South Florida. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently revised eligibility standards for Associations in which buyers and sellers hope to qualify for favorable FHA-insured financing. Enigmatically, thousands of associations that meet the tightened fiscal requirements for condo budgets, insurance levels, occupancy ratios, reserve funds, etc. are being systematically rejected for “technical” reasons or because volunteer board members are hesitant to risk 30 years imprisonment for incorrectly guessing future delinquency rates. Simultaneously, HUD is prosecuting discrimination cases against “no-pet” associations that inadequately accommodate requests for companion animals... or service animals... or assistance animals... or therapeutic pets... or emotional support animals, etc. Associations that capriciously neglect to consult with their attorneys about this hot-button issue could be inviting a 600-pound gorilla to dinner.

  • November 14, 2011 - New FEMA Flood Maps Soak Associations - For the first time in 14 years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is preparing a comprehensive review of Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) flood zones throughout Broward County. To enable consistent comparisons of land and water elevations across the nation, the agency is using a more accurate mathematical constant, or “vertical datum” to calculate floodplain elevations. Federally regulated mortgage lenders require homeowners who live in high risk FEMA-designated flood areas to carry expensive flood insurance, which is erratically provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Depending on the zone that FEMA assigns to an association property, its members could see their insurance costs skyrocket and a fat new assessment in next December’s budget.

Galt Roving Patrol

Five buildings have not paid their dues. Meetings will be set up with Major Diaz to meet with the individual buildings.

Other Business

  • There was a lengthy discussion about the processes and policies used by our associations to approve “service” animals, “companion” animals or “emotional support” animals as mandated by the two Federal laws (ADA and Fair Housing) that govern these options.

  • After years of use for our organization, Eric Berkowitz’s computer needs replacing. Pio made a motion to provide Eric with a new computer; the motion was seconded by Ralph Hamaker and unanimously approved.

Treasurer’s Report - Leah Glickfield

The treasurer reported that we have a balance of $12,674.69.

Next Advisory Board Meeting - The next regular Advisory Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, December 15, 2011 at Nick’s Italian Restaurant.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Fern McBride
Fern McBride, Secretary

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