Spotlight email 240605 Trees Run Club Biscayne

In the Spotlight,

  • City Laws Weaken Tree Canopy
  • Run Club Sets the Pace
  • Visiting Biscayne National Park, and more

Find the latest Spotlight reporting anytime on our website.

Coconut Grove’s lush tropical foliage is an ecological and economic resource that residents prize and outsiders covet. Why is it disappearing?

by David Villano

The Martin residence, under construction in North Coconut Grove, where 71 trees were removed without a permit.

Amie Hertzig had a hunch her leafy South Coconut Grove street would lose some of its tree canopy after the century-old bungalow across from her sold last year to a developer. What she didn’t expect was the new owner’s blessing from City of Miami officials to virtually clear the lot of its trees – 33 in all, including a number of mature tamarind, mango, black sapote, mulberry and many others.

“I was in shock,” says Hertzig. “There’s all this development and tree removal all over the Grove, and then here it is, right here, so close to home.”

Hertzig’s Linden Lane neighborhood is no exception. Across Coconut Grove, as modest single-family homes give way to far larger structures, the tree canopy is shrinking.

Between 2016 and 2020 – the last year for which data is available – total tree cover in Coconut Grove declined nine percent, to just under a third of the total area. An even higher rate of decline is expected in the four years since.

Despite the myriad and well documented benefits of urban tree canopy, most of those declines are traced to City of Miami-issued tree removal permits. Over the past year and a half, as a red-hot real estate market has spurred demand for high-end luxury homes, the city has granted requests for the removal of 894 trees within Coconut Grove.

City records obtained by the Spotlight reveal

Social media, savvy marketing and celebrity endorsements draw thousands to free community runs along the Grove’s scenic waterfront.

by Grecia Pacheco

Jake Paul leads a 5K run at the Coconut Run Club in January 2024. (Photo courtesy of @coconutgroverunclub)

On a steamy Wednesday in Coconut Grove, about 200 people clad in athletic gear are milling around Peacock Park preparing to sprint. They are young and old, male and female, slim and stocky.

And like the Grove, they have grown quickly with the help of celebrity participation, edgy social media and clever marketing. In just a short time, the run club has attracted over 2,000 runners, more than 12,000 followers on Instagram, and a reputation that has rolled like a tidal wave across South Florida.

“I think its marketing is insane,” said Brandon Chang, a Miami runner who discovered the club through its social media posts. “That’s why it has grown very quickly.”

Daily boat tours from Coconut Grove’s Dinner Key offer access to one of South Florida’s most inaccessible natural treasures.

by Kimberly Peters and Anna Trinidad

The Stingray (photo by Kimberly Peters/Caplin News for the Spotlight)

On a recent Saturday morning, 23 people including a captain, a naturalist and a dozen pale tourists set sail on board the Stingray from Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove to explore Boca Chita Key in Biscayne National Park.

The boat was underway – the destination set – when the day’s sightseeing plans were interrupted by a surprise visitor.

Splashes were heard. Heads spun.

“Holy crap!” cried out a 10-year-old kid from Ohio. “Look, there’s a dolphin!”

Soon, a second dolphin appeared and everyone on board crowded the rail.

Armour Dance armourdance.org
In response to community pressure, the City of Miami agrees to spend an additional $3.2 million to deliver a deeper pool and more aquatic programming.

by Alexandra Howard

District 2 Commissioner Damian Pardo asks residents who are in favor of the new pool design to raise their hands. (Alexandra Howard/Caplin News for the Spotlight)
District 2 Commissioner Damian Pardo asks residents who are in favor of the new pool design to raise their hands. (Alexandra Howard/Caplin News for the Spotlight)

The hands of nearly 50 West Grove residents shot into the air on Wednesday evening at Elizabeth Virrick Park on Plaza Street after Miami District 2 Commissioner Damian Pardo asked if they agreed with the city’s new plan to build a deeper pool at the park.

Since early 2023, shortly after construction began, community members have been demanding that the City of Miami modify the pool design to allow for a full complement of aquatic sports, including water polo.  

On Wednesday, city officials presented residents with two options during an on-site meeting at the park: stay the course and construct a pool with a maximum depth of 5 feet 3 inches, or delay the project and increase the budget to deliver more depth.

Overwhelmingly, residents chose the second option – a pool with a maximum depth of 7 feet 10 inches.

Thoughts on Valet Parking in the Grove?

The Spotlight is keen to hear your opinions and experiences regarding valet parking in Coconut Grove. Whether you love it or hate, we’d like to hear from you.

  • What do you think about the current valet parking services in the Grove?
  • What do you think about the current valet parking services in the Grove?
  • How does valet parking impact your visits to local businesses?
  • Do you have any interesting experiences or anecdotes?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improvement?

Please send your comments to [email protected]. Please include your full name and a phone number in case we’d like to follow up. Your name will not be used without your permission.

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