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HOA controversies, Surfside’s new mayor, spring break Narcan street team

Two people stand in front of the Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial. Flowers, photographs and votive candles cover the wall and curb in front of it.
Verónica Zaragovia
People came to mourn on July 2, 2021, for loved ones who died in the Champlain Towers South building collapse.

The Hammocks has the largest homeowner’s association in the state. And, it’s embroiled in cries of fraudulent elections and financial misbehavior. We meet the new mayor of Surfside. Plus, a group in Broward is trying to stop spring breakers from accidentally overdosing.

On this Monday, March 28, edition of Sundial:

HOA controversies

There are a lot of homeowners associations in South Florida, and they can hold a lot of power over homeowners. In some cases, the people running them break the law.

You turn to WLRN for reporting you can trust and stories that move our South Florida community forward. Your support makes it possible. Please donate now. Thank you.

The Hammocks Community, located in Kendall, has the largest homeowners association in the state. It also has an association with a history of criminal activity.

That association is once again in the spotlight for bad reasons.

First there was a recent election that was mired in controversy after the board decided to end the election early and count a small number of ballots as official.

Then the board raised fees between 300-400 percent for homeowners.

Some of the residents are considering taking legal action. We spoke with the Miami Herald’s Linda Robertson about the basics of what’s been happening. She said some residents in the community are worried about whether they can continue living there.

"People felt there was no warning, nor was there any justification, explanation, analysis for raising these fees," Robertson explained. "So they're just kind of mystified as to why they were raised. So in a lot of cases, if you were paying $80 or $90 a month, it went up to, you know, nearly $400 a month."

More of her reporting on the issues in The Hammocks can be found here.

Then, the attorney for the association board, Hilton Napoleon II from law firm Rasko Klock, joined Sundial to share the board members' point of view: he argued the fees hadn't been raised for years.

"A lot of people in homeowners associations, they really don't pay attention to what's going on until they get a raise in fees," he said.

Ana Danton, a Hammocks homeowner, was a board member between 2000-2007. She took issue with some of what the current board's attorney, Napoleon, had to say:

"COVID has been an excuse for everything that this board is doing against the homeowners of The Hammocks," Danton said. "There was an election, it was not a process, we wanted to vote… that's all we wanted to do… we haven't been able to put this board out for the longest time."

Robertson, from the Herald, argues that, based on her reporting, the system of homeowners associations writ-large are "ripe for reform."

"They're almost created to be dysfunctional," she said. "You have your own neighbors, who are volunteers, running a huge community."

HOA controversies

Surfside’s new mayor

There is new leadership in the Town of Surfside.

Voters recently chose Schlomo Danzinger to be their new mayor, ousting Charles Burkett, who held the post when the tragic condo collapse happened at the Champlain Towers South on June 24, 2021.

The partial collapse of the 12-story structure killed 98 people.

Danzinger joined Sundial to discuss his priorities as mayor.

Surfside’s new mayor
Workers for HistoryMiami bag items to be preserved from the Surfside memorial on Monday, August 30, 2021.

Spring break Narcan street team

Spring break is coming to a close.

Some of the issues brought to the forefront by this party season are not exclusive to this time of year.

We saw the widely reported fentanyl overdose of six college students in Wilton Manors. Just days later, four others were hospitalized for overdoses in Fort Lauderdale.

Most recent state statistics, for 2020, show that fentanyl deaths in Florida rose 63% from 2019.

John Glover is with the South Florida Wellness Network. He is leading a street team outreach initiative to educate people on fentanyl overdoses and using Narcan as a life-saving measure.

“We started coordinating our efforts to target individuals that were out there actively using and putting the Narcan in their hand. Because being a person in recovery, we can relate to each other. We can talk to each other,” said Glover, who is a person in recovery, just like some of the other staff and volunteers in the street team.

Spring break narcan street team
Closed restaurants and bars on Ocean Drive after the City of Miami Beach imposed a curfew.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.