Miami Dade County Community Forum

Friday, October 30, 2009

To all the Jimbo's lovers in the world... by Jack King

The city of Miami and its minions never cease to amaze me. City Manager Pete Hernandez, who seems to think he is Fidel Castro and Miami is actually Havana, ordered the parks department to start charging people $5. per car for entering the Virginia Key Beach area. On its face there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with that, but like everything in Miami there is a back story from many years ago.

About 15 years ago, the city decided to charge for Virginia Key parking and everybody was on board with that program, but there was a hitch. Jimbo's, the venerable waterfront eyesore that has the best smoked fish and the coldest beer,and has more history than all of the rest of Miami, would be severely impacted.

Then Commissioner J.L. Plummer suggested, and the commission adopted by resolution the city allow anyone going to Jimbo's a waiver on the parking fee. It has been that way for years--until this year when our esteemed city manager decided to collect $5 from everyone even though the city commission never changed the resolution. In other words, the city manager overrode the legal will of the commission, and even worse than that, he did it on August 1, fully knowing that the commission would not meet again in regular session until the second Thursday in September. That way the move would be in force for at least 1 1/2 months.

This is not the first time that Hernandez, a Mayor Manny Diaz personal minion, has overruled or ignored commission action. Commissioner Tomas Regalado has been complaining about it for years, but the commission itself has had no spine to do anything about it.

And just for good measure Hernandez threw a red herring into the mix. He ordered Jimbo's to clean up the place and come into code compliance or be shut down, although no one is quite sure what the zoning on Jimbo's is.

I agree that the place could use a little cleanup, but this is Hernandez and it is not about cleanup. It's about harassment. He could have just as easily sent a city official over and had a talk with Jimmy to see what could be done and worked it out quietly. With his arbitrary move Hernandez might have opened a can of worms that he cannot close. And considering the fact that he might not be city manager much longer as mayoral candidate Tomas Regalado, leading in the polls, has vowed to get rid of Hernandez.

What Hernandez doesn't seem to know is that Jimbo's, owned by Jimmy Luznar, and his shrimp boats were a fixture at the old docks behind the property when the Miami Herald bulding sits. The city wanted to redevelop the property in 1954 and summarily ran Jimbo's off without even a kiss. Unfortunately for the city, many of the area's heavy hitter politicians, lawyers, businessmen and movers and shakers bought their bait from Jimbo's before heading out into the ocean for a day's fishing. They were none too pleased when their favorite bait shop was run off by the city.

A group of attorneys, one of whom was the late U. S. Senator George Smathers took the city to task and after several legal rounds where the city was slapped silly, agreed to let Jimbo's set up shop where they are today on Virginia Key. The other part of the deal was that Jimbo's would be give the first shot at a lease on Watson Island when the city developed that property.

That was 1954. 55 years later, Watson Island sits mostly undeveloped. I guess Jimbo's hasn't gotten the call from the city about their new lease on Watson Island.


  1. Harry Emilio GottliebOctober 30, 2009

    Jack & UEL: Thanks for all of your help in speaking out for our beloved Jimbo's.

    Possible Solutions To Jimbo's Dilemma With $5 Toll Booth Entrance Fee To Virginia Key. There is no need for a Toll Booth and operator.
    I doubt that he has much to do all day and doesn’t even collect enough to pay his own salary.
    1. Move Toll Booth to entrance of beach parking lot and only charge those wishing to attend the beach.
    2. Remove Toll Both and don’t charge fee, just like there is no charge to use beach on Rickenbacker Causeway or even Miami Beach.
    3. Have Jimbo’s provide some kind of validation stamp that reduces the parking fee or returns the fee to the person upon departure.

    Remember, Saturday, November 14th, Jimbo's friends are meeting at the toll gate at the Virginia Key Road to show there support and help clean up. If you want to help in this civil and polite demonstration, pass the word that it's time for all good friends of Jimbo to stand up and be counted.

    Bring a sign. Bring lawyers, guns and money. Call your friends, call your city commissioners. Call the mayor and city manager. Let them know you support Jimbo's right to operate his business.

    Event: Stand Up For Jimbo - Stop The $5 Fee
    Date: Saturday, November 14, 2009
    Time: noon to 1pm
    Location: Virginia Key Toll Booth

    Suggestion: Bring a sign that says "Save Jimbo's" or "No Fee For Jimbo's"

    Afterwards: Volunteer Cleanup
    Jimbo's friends will volunteer to clean up the area around the shrimp shack and have a small celebration. Food and drinks will be provided by sponsors.

    For any questions please conctact:
    Robert A. Burr

  2. It's about time that Jimbo cleaned up his act. I've known him personally and have been going there to play bocce and drink beer since the mid-seventies and think the deal he cut with the city is great for him but it does not excuse him from maintaining an environmentally sound operation. His handling of oil products, garbage and debris scattered about, burn pits, derelict boats dumping raw sewage into the basin is unacceptable. It will be a significant cost or burden for him to clean up and require those that visit do the same. It is a minimum standard that we should all adhere to. I'm all for Jimbo to live out his tenancy-at-will but we should not turn our backs on the impact that his tenancy exacts on the environment. The clean-up plan is a great idea but he will need to follow through and make it a daily commitment.