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Police task force on homestead fraud reaps results

Deploying police detectives from nine local cities to bolster homestead fraud investigations in Miami-Dade County is reaping fast results, according to the property appraiser.

Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera said with the extra police muscle, $6.2 million in violations were identified across Miami-Dade for September and October, compared with $3 million during June and July before the task force got started.

In July, nine cities each committed one detective to the effort initiated by Lopez-Cantera, with a goal of nailing property owners who were receiving tax breaks they didn’t qualify for, thus eventually generating additional property-tax revenue for their city coffers.

The cities are Coral Gables, Hialeah, Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Gardens, Pinecrest, South Miami, Sweetwater and West Miami. City detectives trained for the effort for a week during August. They joined the county’s ongoing investigative team, which includes six detectives and a sergeant at Miami-Dade Police Department and seven investigators and four others staffers in the Property Appraiser’s Office.

“There is clearly an increase in productivity we attribute to the increase in manpower,” Lopez-Cantera said. “The numbers are showing results.”

Lopez-Cantera, who ran for office last year on a pledge to crack down on homestead-exemption violations, is continuing to urge other municipalities to participate and intends to tout the early results to the Miami-Dade League of Cities “at the next opportunity provided.”

Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez, an executive board member of the local League of Cities, said the board is expected soon to consider a resolution encouraging other municipalities to join the effort. “It’s a no-brainer for each city to commit a police officer at a cost of $50,000 to $100,000 a year,” Suarez said.

The property appraiser also made it easier for the public to report homestead fraud by adding an online form front and center on its website at http://www.miamidade.gov/pa/. “It can be anonymous. It’s up to the person,” Lopez-Cantera said.

Major Ariel Artime, who runs the economic crime bureau at Miami-Dade Police Department, said the website option is generating leads. “I think it’s people that are fed up. They have a reporting platform, and they’re utilizing it,” Artime said. “It’s not for people who are disgruntled to get back at their neighbors. It’s everyone working together.”

While police conduct investigations, the cases are typically handled as civil matters in which homeowners face the loss of homestead status, back taxes, penalties and interest. When violations are identified, the property appraiser sends homeowners a notice of intent to lien. Obligations must be paid within 30 days to avoid a lien against the property.

A homestead exemption excludes $50,000 from the taxable value of a property used to calculate property taxes (except on school taxes where the exemption is $25,000). But that is small beer compared with the tax savings many people get under the Save Our Homes cap.

Under the Save Our Homes state constitutional amendment, which took effect in 1995, the taxable value of homestead property can rise no more than 3 percent a year, no matter how much the market value goes up.

Over the years, the cap has created large tax disparities between similar residences, with some homeowners facing double or triple the tax bill as a neighbor with a similar home who locked in the Save Our Homes cap at a low level.

That disparity has motivated many homeowners to obtain homestead status on properties when they aren’t eligible, for example on rental properties or second homes that aren’t a primary residence.

“We go above and beyond to make sure people who deserve exemptions get them, but we need to make sure those cheating the system are dealt with,” Lopez-Cantera said.

From The Miami Herald - Oct. 14, 2013











Golden Beach


A city of many lovers

A narrow strip stretching about 1.8 mile, on the barrier island between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, Golden Beach, at the Northernmost tip of Dade County,  is only about four blocks wide, and an exclusive luxury-home area. A bit closer to  Fort Lauderdale's than Miami's airport, Golden Beach borders with Sunny Isles Beach, Hallandale Beach, Aventura and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean.

Golden Beach is a gated city. Access through its pretty guard-house gives residents a sense of security and belonging.


Golden Beach Real Estate:

A total of about 370 homes can be found in Golden Beach. I will classify the rich mix of Mediterranean, modern, and traditional architecture of Golden Beach Homes, ranging from relatively small homes to imposing mansions, in three types:


Directly on the Ocean – Of all Golden Beach homes, the ocean-side houses are the most valuable. If having your "own" beach is not enough to make you ecstatic, just imagine the unending view of water, sand and horizon from your window when waking up every morning.




Golden Beach Intracoastal and Canals Waterfront Homes.

Across the street from the Oceanside Homes, the Golden Beach homes on the Intracoastal waters appeal to boaters.  They have all private docks with ocean access. Docks are generally on deep canals and can accommodate anything from typical fishing boats to large yachts.



The non-waterfront homes.  Not all homes in Golden Beach have a direct access to the canals. However they share the same amenities, private beach, and community life. The fact is a sizable amount of Golden Beach residents do not make the boating option their priority, but are rather attracted by the beautiful environment of Golden Beach, and its quality of life.

Regardless of which you choose, or which you can afford, Golden Beach should certainly be at the top of your list if you are looking for an upscale, posh, and convenient place to live.


Multiple amenities add to the enjoyment of Golden Beach residents.  Basket Ball court, Tennis Courts, a Ball field, Kids' Playground, Picnic and recreation areas with public restrooms.  A special mention to the nice (historical) beach pavilion.

Quite a few celebrities are said to own homes in Golden Beach, if that can add to its attraction and make some prospective residents happier.   

Golden Beach is certainly an exciting place; but it is also a very family-friendly city. You can notice it by the children freely biking and skating on its streets, the careful speed of passing cars, and the general air of prosperity and good, peaceful life.  Many communal activities and celebrations take place regularly and those who live in Golden Beach seem quite proud and happy to belong to the city. 

No commercial activity is allowed in Golden Beach. You won't see shopping centers or stores here. No condominium buildings, no new developments. And it seems as this will not change in the future. Construction codes and remodeling of homes are also strictly regulated in Golden Beach and this is an additional guarantee.  

If we should believe the statistics out there, counting the 25-years-and-older population,  96.4% of Golden Beach residents have at least a high-school education. 60.1% a Bachelor's degree, 27.0% have a Graduate diploma. Golden Beach Unemployed?  1.3% - Is that funny? 328 of Golden Beach residents are foreign-born, which is higher than Florida's general percentage. (23.4% of these are from Latin America).

Why Golden Beach?

Golden Beach is a unique location in South Florida where you can have a home directly facing the ocean, or alongside a canal. But there is more:

A private beach, for the exclusive use of the 920 or so residents of Golden Beach. (On your left: a photo of the historical beach pavilion).

Everybody agrees that Golden Beach is a boaters' choice. On the Intracoastal, and about 20 minutes from Haulover Inlet and the access to the open ocean, you can keep your yacht or more modest fishing boat right in your backyard. It can be a status statement and some people would choose to limit their use to the occasional onboard drink with their guests, while breathing the breeze on the quiet waters; but who said that this is not enjoyable?

For families with kids, access to excellent public schools adds to the appeal of Golden Beach.

Then there is the great shopping factor. Bal Harbour is about a hundred blocks away, or ten minutes drive. Aventura is across the Lehman's causeway, and this can nicely complement your outdoor activities. Good restaurants abound North and South. The city's private Beach is delightful, but just in case you like more company, you can try Hollywood Beach or Sunny Isles Beach. In this last city, large high-rise buildings contrast with the Golden Beach way of life, but the options of entertainment, dining, and shopping are also a magnet.

Willing to drive some more?  South Beach perpetual party is right on Collins, One hundred more blocks South of Bal Harbour.

Much closer is the Hallandale very pretty Village at Gulfstream with its shops, restaurants, casino and race track; Let's not forget the Diplomat shopping center, the Diplomat Golf Course, and the Greyhound Track.

The unique Hollywood Beach is an appealing option, for a pleasant walk right alongside sand, restaurants, bars and shops. Downtown Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale Beach are some other possibilities of enjoying South Florida if you live in Golden Beach.  We're talking just a few more minutes drive. Not the least expensive alternative, but definitely one of the best if you are in search of a South Florida Waterfront Home.