Plenty Of Room For “Granny Flats” In Backyard Of Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich’s Million Dollar Home

In June 2018, Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich joined AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) CEO Michael Weinstein for the unveiling of his plans to build a sixteen-story building filled with 680 “micro units” near downtown Fort Lauderdale. Rich’s support of the highly controversial plan should come as no surprise. Even though she represents Weston and small portions of West Broward, Rich is a huge proponent of “affordable housing” for the homeless in the downtown area.

Rich was a driving force behind the Housing Trust Fund measure on last year’s ballot. In a Sun-Sentinel editorial, Rich claimed the fund would create a “lock box” to secure affordable housing. She wrote, “It takes a strong coalition of non-profits, the business community, municipalities, and advocates like you to solve the affordable housing crisis for thousands of Broward County’s renters and homeowners.” The fund passed with 73 percent of the vote.

REDBROWARD revealed Commissioner Rich’s office is using official County resources to promote the AHF/Healthy Housing Foundation project dubbed “Trantalis Tower.” Rich’s County Commission Aide Stephanie Rosendorf used her County e-mail account to promote a January candlelight vigil organized by AHF. Rosendorf and AHF Legislative Director Ebonni Bryant a members of the progressive New Leaders Council (NLC) which supports the AHF project.

Last weekend, a Sun-Sentinel story described the sudden popularity of “granny flats.” These shed-like buildings are being promoted by left-wing groups as a solution to the affordable housing crisis. Their theory behind “granny flats” is there is plenty of land in peoples backyards to accommodate the placement of these “mother-in-law cottages.” These groups hope to change local laws which ban theses “alternative dwelling units.”

Commissioner Nan Rich told the Sun-Sentinel it is time to change the law. “To solve the affordable-housing crisis, we’re going to have to use multiple options,” Rich said. “Just because it hasn’t been done here yet, it’s not a reason for us not to try.”

Last year, Commissioner Nan Rich acknowledged there was no “silver bullet” solution to the affordable housing crisis. Instead, Rich endorsed a controversial multi-level plan pushed by County officials. The plan would drastically reshape the South Florida landscape.

The Nan Rich plan included the creation of the housing trust fund. The plan would allow for giant apartment complexes along major roads if the developers promised to charge lower rent to residents. The Rich plan allows the County to buy land which would then be given to developers if the build affordable housing on the land. Nan Rich even called for “Encouraging…golf courses and big-box centers be transformed into projects that combine commercial space, offices and mixed-income residential units.”

WELCOME TO WESTON?

The official Broward County Housing Plan states, “People of all income levels, in all of Broward’s communities, should have a range of housing options, and should have access to quality, affordable housing.”

One Broward city with an abundance of golf courses and big-box centers is Weston. It has access to fantastic public schools, parks, and medical facilities. It’s located near healthy food options and shopping. Located at the intersection of I-75, the Sawgrass Expressway and I-595, Weston has lots of transportation options for residents. Why should the homeless and those at-risk renters be forced to deal with all that downtown traffic? If they live out west they can save money shopping at Sawgrass Mills mall instead of overspending on the couture found at the Galleria and Las Olas.

Some say Weston would be the ideal for huge affordable apartment complexes.

According to Broward property records, Commissioner Nan Rich’s million-dollar estate is the perfect place for Granny Flats. Located on the greens of the exclusive Weston Hills Country Club, Nan Rich’s 4,000 sq. ft has plenty of room for the tiny homes. Satellite photos show the golf course behind the Rich home could accommodate dozens and dozens of granny flats.

Surely Nan Rich would agree the well-off members of the Weston Hills Country Club should give up memberships to help solve this crisis. After all, there are plenty of public golf courses around Broward, right?

BEACH FRONT LIVING?

If you are an affordable housing crisis victim who prefer the beach to the Everglades it is your lucky day. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis owns plenty of land on the eastside of town.

According to property records, Trantalis owns rental units near the 17th Street Causeway. Hopefully he is changing next to nothing in rent! A Trantalis owned building in Wilton Manors is currently home to a restaurant/bar. Surely, it could be repurposed to house the homeless, right Dean?

Like Nan Rich, Dean Trantalis’ Fort Lauderdale home has lots of room for granny flats. Google photos show the front yard could easily accommodate two units. Since the home is waterfront, residents would enjoy the ultimate peace and tranquility.

But if your solution to the affordable housing crisis includes beachfront living then Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Steve Glassman can help.

Property records show Glassman lives in a luxury beach condominium with amenities galore. Does Glassman and his neighbors really need a pool when they live on the beach? Let’s tap that housing trust fund “lock box” to fill in that pool and replace it with granny flats. Since the beach near the building is not a tourist destination, let’s put up some beachfront granny flats.

Why should our political leaders keep the homeless penned up in sixteen-story towers filled with 200 sq.ft apartments? They have every right to enjoy all of Broward County.

AstroTurf: Progressive Group Shills For AHF’s “Trantalis Tower”

While a diverse cross-section of Fort Lauderdale residents and business owners joined forces to oppose the sixteen story project dubbed “Trantalis Tower,” proponents of the affordable housing project by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) appear to employees of AHF and members of a progressive group of young Democrats. On Monday evening, Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen hosted a meeting to discuss the AHF/Healthy Housing Foundation plan to build 680 micro unit apartments in Fort Lauderdale. In early December, Michael Weinstein, the controversial CEO of AHF, held a disastrous press conference in Fort Lauderdale. Weinstein refused to answer questions from the media after accusing residents of the nearby Rio Vista neighborhood of making bigoted remarks. Weinstein’s performance caused local leaders like Mayor Dean Trantalis withhold their support of the project.

Monday night’s meeting was AHF’s latest attempts at damage control. Last week, a local supporter of the project announced a candlelight vigil would be held before the meeting. In her email, Robin Haines Merrill mischaracterized opposition to the project. Like Weinstein, she tried to paint local residents as villains. Merrill wrote, “Unfortunately there is unexpected resistance to this marvelous project. It comes from local business owners and some neighbors who feel that their property values will be affected, or that poor people are criminals that they don’t want in their neighborhood. A very strong campaign has been mounted to stop this affordable housing project.”

Attendees were told they would receive t-shirts for the vigil at Fort Lauderdale City Hall.

Instead of an outpouring of grassroots support, AHF loaded up two buses with employees of AHF, members of affiliated groups and even young Democrat Party leaders. Two black Volvo buses drove about 100 people from the AHF offices to City Hall. The low energy group was made up of AHF employees, leaders from Sunserve, individuals from People Helping People, a girls dance team and even the AHF project architect. The vigil was nothing more than a made-for-local-television event orchestrated by AHF legislative affairs director Ebonni Bryant.

Ms. Bryant passed out shirts and signs to the protestors. She delivered AHF talking points to local television reporters. In a post-meeting Facebook message, Bryant thanked several fellow members of the New Leaders Council (NLC) for their support.

According to their website, New Leaders Council (NLC) is “the hub for progressive Millennial thought leadership.” The group claims its training program “equips our leaders with the skills to run for office, manage campaigns, create start-ups and networks of thought leaders. NLC leaders take their activism back into their communities and workplaces to impact progressive change.”

Stephanie Rosendorf, another NLC alumnus, helped spread word of Monday’s vigil by sharing Robin Haines Merrill’s e-mail. Rosendorf is the aide for Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich. Commissioner Rich attended the June AHF press conference announcing the tower project.

Why is a Broward County Commission aide using her official County email address to promote an event in support of a private real estate development?

According to the NLC website, Chadwick Maxey is the director of the NLC Broward chapter. Maxey, a senior property manger with Diversified Realty Development, spoke at Monday’s meeting. Maxey said he was troubled by the lack of affordable housing south of the New River. He gave alleged information on rental properties from the Apartments.com website. Even though he never revealed his affiliation with NLC, Maxey sat with Ebonni Bryant and other NLC members at the meeting.

In January 2018, Maxey ran for the Fort Lauderdale Commission seat currently held by Steve Glassman. Maxey received two campaign contributions from Jason King, the former AHF lobbyist/legislative affairs director. In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel, Mayor Dean Trantalis called King his “plus 1” and said King introduced him to AHF CEO Michael Weinstein.

If “Trantalis Tower” is such a philanthropic endeavor, why did Michael Weinstein declare war on Rio Vista residents?

Why do AHF supporters continue to make false claims about the opposition to the project?

Why is anyone opposed to a private housing project a bigot or racist?

Why did “supporters” need bus rides and free dinners to come to city hall?

Why are local progressive activists running the AHF initiative like a political campaign with shills and earned media?

Is this really about helping Fort Lauderdale residents or is it all about taking “activism back into their communities and workplaces to impact progressive change?”