Florida’s Riviera. Home of World-Class Resorts and Dining. Pristine Beaches. Named #1 of Top Ten U.S. Destinations by Tripadvisors Travelcast. Exclusive. Swank. Luxurious. Distinct. These are just a few descriptions of our Beautiful City of Sunny Isles Beach and some of the reasons why Vice-Mayor Lewis J. Thaler originally championed the effort to obtain a unique ZIP Code for Sunny Isles Beach in 2007. However, for the reasons discussed below, the first attempt was unsuccessful, and on June 21, 2012, our City Commission passed Resolution 2012-1922 authorizing the re-application to the United States Postal Service for a ZIP Code exclusive to our City. While we are all aware of the issues presently confronting the USPS, they should not be a reason to not forge ahead with our request.
ZIP Code 33160 has historically been identified with the City of North Miami Beach. Currently, the approximate boundaries of 33160 include Golden Beach, parts of Aventura, Eastern Shores, portions of the areas east and west of Biscayne Boulevard and west of West Dixie Highway, south to 151st Street and north to Miami Gardens Drive. Although the USPS has adjusted its database so that Sunny Isles Beach is identifiable within 33160 through the use of a “preferred last line” in the address, the City has exponentially grown and changed, particularly as to property values and exclusivity, since its incorporation in 1997.
In addition to the unique characteristics of Sunny Isles Beach that distinguish it from other areas within 33160 such as those mentioned above and its natural geographical separation all of which merit ZIP Code individuality, ZIP Codes misaligned with municipal boundaries may cause higher insurance rates; confusion over voter registration; misdirected property and sales tax revenues, advertising, jury duty notices and emergency service; and diminishment of housing values when a shared ZIP Code places a municipality in a less prestigious community.* Further, as our street addresses lack directional indicators—SE, SW, NE, NW—mail is misdelivered and, hence, delayed. Presumably a change in ZIP Code would redirect our mail through the Post Office at Government Center, in which event the residents of and businesses located within Sunny Isles Beach would no longer be required to travel to the Post Office on 164th Street and West Dixie Highway which is inconvenient and can be difficult, particularly for the elderly. Because of the inclusion of Sunny Isles Beach within 33160, many companies are unaware that our City exists as the entire area within 33160 is designated as North Miami Beach in their information systems. This is obvious when you speak with some customer service representatives and from the inability to choose Sunny Isles Beach as a city on many websites. Not being able to identify Sunny Isles Beach as a separate city is also damaging to our tourist industry.
Once the application for the creation of a unique ZIP Code is received by the USPS, the USPS operational effects of changing the ZIP Code are examined. If the USPS agrees to move forward at that stage, a survey of those who will be affected by the change is taken. As we are requesting a unique ZIP Code for our City (although the USPS does not have to agree to limiting it to our City or grant it at all), if the USPS does agree to that limitation, only those within Sunny Isles Beach would be surveyed through a meeting or meetings. This is the stage where the 2007 application failed as only a handful of persons attended the survey meeting and those who did speak spoke against it, perhaps as a result of not having received enough information to make an informed decision. As the City recognizes its shortfall in that respect, the City will hold a series of town hall meetings in the north, south and central areas of Sunny Isles Beach to meet with its citizens and businesses to understand their concerns. Any meetings held, however, will not be considered in the official survey conducted by the USPS, so it will be extremely important for a meaningful and representative cross-section of our City to attend the official survey meeting or meetings.
Assuming the application is approved and a new ZIP Code assigned, everyone will have a full year to notify appropriate parties of the change in ZIP Code and make other adjustments that may be required.
It is obvious that there are a number of practical and potentially financially important reasons why having our own ZIP Code will be beneficial to each of us and our City in addition to the foremost desire to continue to brand the City as an exclusive place to live and as a world-class tourist destination. In fact, we have approximately 1,000,000 visitors annually in our small corner of the world whose monetary contributions help us continue to improve and maintain Sunny Isles Beach, Florida’s Riviera. It should not be so difficult to find it.
Jennifer Levin is Chairperson of the Special Projects Subcommittee of the City of Sunny Isles Beach Advisory Committee and a resident of Sunny Isles Beach since 1994.
*Stevens, Nye, Specialist in American National Government, Government Finance Division, Changing Postal ZIP Code Boundaries, Report for Congress, Congressional Research Service-The Library of Congress, June 23, 2006.