Hammocks homeowners say community green space has turned into landfill

County inspector gives association until March 16 to clean up garbage

Article Courtesy of  CHANNEL 10 LOCAL NEWS

By Layron Livingston

Published March 10, 2018

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY - Homeowners in the Hammocks reached out to Local 10's "Leave it to Layron" team, hoping to get a massive pile of garbage cleared from one of their common spaces.

Eloina Quiros said she's been in her home for three decades and pays close to $300 every quarter in community association fees.

Quiros said the green space behind her home use to look like a resort.

"It was beautiful," she said.

That was, until last fall.

"Every morning, (from) my kitchen window, my family room sliding door, what I see is that: garbage, garbage, garbage," she said.

The little landfill sits just off of Southwest 157th Avenue behind a community pool.

The only thing that separated yard after yard of tires, tar buckets, toilet seats, timber and other trash from nearby Gilbert Porter Elementary, was a chain link fence. We saw mattresses and furniture. There was also the stench from rotting garbage and decaying wildlife.

A neighbor provided the LITL team with a copy of the community's association bylaws, which grants the board of directors power to "collect, use and expend the assessments collected to maintain, care for and preserve Common Properties."

The garbage pile left Hammocks resident Mabelle Jaramillo baffled.

"We have gone through all kinds of hurricanes, and this is the first time the association, in their wisdom, designated a site within the community as a dumpster," she said.

Neighbors have been documenting the dumping since October, taking photos and videos of different people in different vehicles -- some of them with "Hammocks" logos -- pulling up with trailers full of garbage in tow.

Jaramillo crafted a cease and desist letter in January and presented it to the board during one of its most recent meetings. Several neighbors signed the letter in an act of solidarity.

Jaramillo said she contacted the LITL team because her board could not tell her when the garbage would be cleaned up.

The association's general manager declined to speak on camera when the LITL team first dropped by the clubhouse.

We pulled up the board members' addresses and then went knocking.

When we tried the clubhouse a second time, a man in a Hammocks T-shirt ordered us off the property and threatened to call the police. He also said "the attorney" had been contacted.

When asked who the attorney was, and if that attorney could contact the LITL team, we were told, "no."

Interestingly enough, the LITL team did hear from Carlos Rodriguez, an attorney representing the Hammocks Community Association.

"Somebody is going to be unhappy when a site a chosen," he said.

Rodriguez said the common space that is now the dump site was selected because it could accommodate the debris from the approximately 6,000 homes that make up the community. He said it was also the most accessible site for the contractor, which was hired to clean up the site.

"It makes sense that the community's members would be happy that they haven't been issued a special assessment and they're still getting their bulk garbage picked up," Rodriguez said.

He said claims with both FEMA and the association's insurance company are still pending and the clean-up falls outside the realm of "regular maintenance."

He also said the garbage should be cleared in three weeks.

The day the LITL team spoke with Rodriguez, the team also contacted Miami-Dade's environmental services department, which sent an inspector to the site.

The general manager who wouldn't speak with us did speak with that inspector, and ultimately ended up signing the inspector's courtesy warning. The association now has until March 16 to clean up the garbage or be subject to a fine.