Jade Winds is, in many ways, a typical South Florida mid-rise condo complex. Located off Miami Gardens Drive in North Miami Beach, Jade Winds has 916 units – and these days a bunch of very angry residents.
So angry they held three demonstrations at the front gate last month as part of their four-month-long battle with management.
"Our protests were very peaceful, there was no violence, in fact the police was present throughout all these protests and no incidents were reported," said Jade Winds resident Xochitl Alvarez, the demonstration leader.
Miami-Dade Police confirmed that fact. Nonetheless, Jade Winds management sent letters to every unit, calling the demonstrators "hoodlums," accusing them of vandalizing the property and fining those who took part hundreds of dollars for allegedly violating the bylaws of the condominium association. The protesters say their constitutional rights to free speech have been violated.
"The tenants, whether they be residents or whether they be renters, are being harassed constantly by the management and the security guards," said Ramiro Del Valle, another Jade Winds resident.
So what's driving the animosity? Parking fees. Jade Winds charges every visitor three dollars to park, cash only, no change provided, and drivers get a permit but no receipt. If a guest is staying overnight, the charge is $11. Residents told NBC 6 they suspect management is lining its pockets with tax-free money.
"The IRS needs to know about this," Alvarez said. "To me, this is a fraud, no receipts given, only accept cash, they don't give you cash back, this is a perfect recipe for some type of fraud or embezzlement coming from the board."
Alvarez estimates that about 90 cars a day pay the fees, which she says probably raises at least $300,000 a year in cash.
"However, the money is not being accounted for," Alvarez maintains.
She claims the management company reported that Jade Winds only took in about $70,000 from parking fees last year.
NBC 6 knocked on the management office door but no one answered. The property manager and the president of the condominium board did not return calls seeking comment.
A Jade Winds board member who does not wish to be identified told NBC 6 that nothing nefarious is going on, the parking fees are properly accounted for, and those fees have uncovered several people living illegally on the property.
Alvarez is calling for police to take action.
"I want a criminal investigation because I'm tired, along with my neighbors, of hearing that this is a civil matter," Alvarez said.
But according to Miami-Dade Police, many of the issues at Jade Winds are indeed civil issues under Florida's condominium statutes. However, the police are still looking into the parking fee situation, and it is possible that they will launch the criminal investigation Alvarez is hoping for.