NewsBank NewsLibrary

Paper: Miami Herald, The (FL)


Date: October 9, 1986

The attractions that brought Al Capone and Damon Runyon and the Guru Maharaj Ji are the same for the Kipnis family: seclusion, waterfront living and quick access to downtown Miami and Miami Beach.

"If you're going to live in Miami, these islands are the place to be," said Donald Kipnis The reason, he says: "Location, location, location."

Safety is another. Five years ago, islanders voted to tax themselves to support a guard service. Uniformed guards man a gate at the entrance to the islands, writing down license plate numbers of nonresidents. Nowadays, improving the guard service is the biggest topic of discussion at homeowner association meetings, followed only by controlling loose dogs and planting new shrubs.

Now and then, a new name emerges from relative obscurity. Bregman remembers when agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, making a background check, quizzed residents about attorney A. Jay Cristol, who was about to be appointed to the federal bench. Islanders have grown to live with the attention their better-known neighbors have attracted.

The Guru Maharaj Ji, spiritual head of the Divine Light Mission, had his own armed guards. In 1979, he rented a Palm Island home for $8,800 a month that served as a gathering place for his followers.

"A lot of people were hanging around," Bregman recalled. "What do you call them? Flower children? Love children? They would sit around on the grass, very nice. Sometimes they were covered with paint."