Miami Beach Referendum 5: Floor-area ratio in historic buildings

Miami Beach Historic

This post is part of our voter guide for the Nov. 5 local elections. Head to the main landing page for a guide to some other key races.

In addition to three commission races, Miami Beach voters will have to vote on six referenda when they head to the polls. The fifth referendum reads like this:

Floor area ratio (“FAR”) is the measure the City utilizes to regulate the overall size of a building. Currently, new floor area cannot be added to the interior of historic buildings that have no available floor area, unless the City’s voters approve an FAR increase, pursuant to Charter Section 1.03(c). Shall City Commission adopt an Ordinance authorizing the use of new floor area within historic buildings for the adaptive reuse of such buildings? 

Floor-area ratio might sound really wonky, but it’s not that complex, as it essentially refers to how big and tall a building can be (or, in other words, how dense it is). And this referendum is asking voters to allow certain kinds of historic buildings to go beyond the currently allowed floor-area ratio so that owners and developers can make adjustments and improvements without going above the legal limit.

Some examples the city mentioned in proposing this referendum include things like historic theaters and hotels that might have removed parts of their floors to create more space. 

Under the current law, those spaces wouldn’t be allowed to add something like new floor panels or make other renovations because those fixes or changes would go above the existing floor-area ratio limits.

And in case you’re curious (and want nerd points with your friends), here’s the section of the city charter that explains why this FAR change has to come before voters.

If you vote yes, you’re allowing for historic buildings to exceed the current floor-area ratio limitations (in certain cases)

If you vote no, you support keeping the current floor-area ratio limitations for historic buildings

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