Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trader Joe's opens in Pinecrest - Clueless cops and elected officials fall asleep at the switch

Actual un-retouched photo of the
Pinecrest Police Department in action

last Friday at Trader Joe's.
Trader Joe's opened in the tiny, 7.6 sq. mile Village of Pinecrest last Friday.

For those of you not familiar with that neck of the woods, the new store sits at the intersection of busy South Dixie Highway and Dadeland Boulevard, directly across from Shorty's Barbecue and the Dadeland South Metrorail station - an intersection that is one of South Florida's busiest and most congested.

But the opening - which has been the subject of scores of stories in the South Florida media for months - quickly turned into a public relations nightmare for Trader Joe's, the Pinecrest Police Department and at least one Pinecrest elected official. This, after tow trucks started showing up and towing the cars (see entries here @ 9:25, 10:19 & 10:48 am) of Trader Joe's customers within minutes of the store's opening.

It appears that inept Pinecrest cops and and their clueless mayor were blissfully ignorant of the store's cult following and hadn't prepared for hundreds of Trader Joe's fans showing up, eager to be among the first to stock up on Two-Buck Chuck and pumpkin butter.

From today's Miami Herald:
Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner
and Trader Joe's managers celebrate
the store's opening last Friday.
(Click to enlarge.)
Pinecrest police said 55 cars were towed around Trader Joe’s over the weekend at the request of property owners. The California-based chain opened its first South Florida outlet at 9205 S. Dixie Hwy. in Pinecrest on Friday.

The chain has a national cult following, and the local store was mobbed all weekend, much to the distress of neighboring businesses.
“We were aware it was opening, but it was almost like a cult following,” said [Pinecrest] Detective Alexandra Martinez. “There’s no way we could have anticipated this. It’s the first time we’ve seen this amount of attention for this kind of store.”
“You don’t require extra parking based on popularity, that’s not in the zoning code,” said Mayor Cindy Lerner, who expects the rush to die down by the end of the week. “We have to treat everybody on an objective criteria, and that criteria is based on square footage.”
Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner is exhibit "A" of why people despise politicians. Stupid politicians, anyway.

Had Lerner put down her copy of Pinecrest's zoning code and picked up a copy of the Herald once in a while, she might have learned that Trader Joe's wasn't just another grocery store.

From the Miami Herald, Jan. 5, 2013:
Fans usually flood in on opening day. The Naples Daily News reported that hours before the store’s opening last February, hundreds waited in a line that snaked around the entire back of the shopping center. Some people traveled from other cities and stood in line as early as 5:30 a.m.

Pinecrest officials believe parking won’t be an issue. The city requires the store to provide at least 56 parking spaces – and the store is planning to have 89, [Pinecrest Planning Director Stephen] Olmsted said. [Emphasis mine.]
Last night, after reading the Herald story, one Kendall resident told me:
What a BS response from the mayor and the detective. Two clearly short-sighted people. I predicted this fiasco two years ago.
As it is now, I'm not going to ANY of these places for fear of having my car mistakenly towed. Was already a hassle. This Trader Joe's is going to kill the neighboring businesses.


  1. It's quite simple: Don't illegally park your car and it wont get towed

  2. So the blogger's point is what? That the mayor should have denied Trader Joe's permission to open at that shopping center because it would be popular the day it opened?
    1. A mayor cannot legally deny occupancy to Trader Joe's because they might be more popular than Publix.
    2. The mayor has one of 5 votes on the village council.
    3. Opening day rush is not typical of traffic at a store.

    I normally don't shoot the messenger, but the blogger (1) doesn't understand the law, and (2) advocates breaking the law, and (3) thinks an opening day rush justifies denying land use rights.

    Now, might the opening rush have been handled better? Is towing cars of 50+ enthusiastic customers the best way to handle an opening day parking issue?

    Next time, aim the hammer toward the head of the nail instead of your nose.

    your reader

    1. You don't read so well, do you, "reader?"

      Where does it say in my post that I advocated "denying land use rights" or "breaking the law?"

      I merely pointed out that had the mayor and police department been a little more connected with what's going on around them, then they would have known that this wasn't just another grocery store opening.

      This opening, by the way, was the subject of many stories in New Times, the Herald, TV, etc. Does anyone in Pinecrest take their heads out of their asses long enough to read a paper?

      Now about that hammer? Pot, meet kettle.

    2. Maybe you could introduce "your reader" to Lawyer Gerald. Just saying.

  3. They should follow Miami Beach corrupt style. Build public tax payer garages and waive existing zoning laws that require onsite parking. This only works for smaller establishments, but I know a way around that. I've got dozens of parking scams that I could create out of this location.

  4. That intersection isn't anywhere near "one of South Florida's busiest and most congested."

    Although I do have to agree, it was quite the cluster on Friday's opening day. Went again today, Wasn't so bad, but the parking is an issue. Trying to pull in was annoying as someone was sitting on the ramp to get into the parking lot, causing us to stick out on US-1. The lanes on the side are too close together as well. Almost saw to cars back into each other.

    Great place. Wrong spot.

    1. Well, I'm going to disagree with you a bit.

      I lived in that area not that many years ago and that intersection was pretty busy because of its close proximity to the Metrorail station and Dadeland.


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