- The next phase of the Metrorail extension hasn’t even broken ground and already the cost overruns have begun. This time Parson’s is looking for an additional $13 million in “Consultant fees.” I’m not specifically implicating that Parsons has something to do with this, but, I find it intriguing that nearly every project they’ve worked on locally (Miami Intermodal Center, MIA North Terminal, MIA South Terminal, PAC, Boston’s Big Dig, etc.) has come in way over budget. Is there something we don’t know, or is it really that easy to bilk the county out of money once you’re hired to do contracting/engineering/management work? I guess choosing the French construction giant Bouygues Travaux Publics, wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
- Top issues for Kendall this year? Forget Cityhood, how about congestion, lots of it. It’s only getting worse too as years pass and opportunities for real transit come and go (Tri-Rail Kendall link anyone?) If the Kendall community fears Tri-Rail trains traveling down an existing ROW behind their houses or an “unsightly” elevated rail down Kendall drive is going to lower their property values, just wait and see the nose dive congestion will cause. At least the recent efforts have paused (momentarily) foolish FDOT hopes of expanding Killian to 6 lanes west of 137th Avenue. Perhaps Kendall residents are beginning to realize that the car isn’t a viable solution…
- Like him or not, Manny Diaz has a Vision. We’ll dig into this much more in depth soon…
- FIU is attempting to lure MLS to campus, we’ll see what effect, if any, this has on the plans to build a new stadium at the OB site.
- I’m liking the looks of a final panel report on the UDB. Key part of this would require 3/4 of commissioners to move the line for projects and would bring in an outside firm to redraw the line.
- Live Nation is set to bring yet more events to Bayfront Park. Can’t a Park just be a Park? I’m not arguing against the Museums, those are neccessary, but why does Bayfront need so many attractions to make it successful? I think the park would induce more local use if there was less cement and far more shade trees, just a thought…
- The Federal DOT has given MDT a grant to purchase 16 hybrid express buses for the new HOT lane project on I-95. The buses will travel from downtown Miami to Ft. Lauderdale. Now can we please modernize the system and implement farecards (and new machines) that are transferable on all 3 local agencies?
- Don’t ride Transit, Buy a BMW…No seriously, Norman Braman wants you to buy a BMW and skip out on urban life…Oh, more on this soon…However, please follow this link for some laughable signs of hypocrisy…
- Gasp! This first paragraph says it all: “The [Palmetto Bay] Village Council approved a special permit allowing a new commercial development to put all of its parking spaces on the street at a zoning hearing Monday.” Note: A special permit. I know this is a young, incorporated bedroom community and all, but seriously, can we get some logical planning oversight around there? (In Case you missed it, we’re glad to see the use of on street parking in this and other bedroom communities…This shouldn’t be a special instance, but, rather the norm….)
- Watering rules in effect now till forever. Green lawns aren’t a necessity folks…
- Everything is bigger in Texas, especially carbon pollution…Take that Environment!
- Cape Cod wind farm moves one crucial step closer to disturbing a bunch of rich folks’ “pristine” views…
We haven’t learned from our mistakes, that’s for sure. Henry Ford launched the model T, in an effort to make vehicles affordable to more people. Recently, Indian carmaker Tata Motors launched the world’s most affordable car, whatever that is, with a base price tag of just $2500. Shocking, I know. Ratan Tata touts the Tata Nano, pictured above, as “The People’s Car” and as
“Most of all, it would give millions of people now relegated to lesser means of transportation the chance to drive cars.”
“The potential impact of Tata’s Nano has given environmentalists nightmares, with visions of the tiny cars clogging
’s already-choked roads and collectively spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air. India
Industry analysts, however, say the car may soon deliver to
and the rest of the developing world unprecedented mobility.” India
I would like to ask these industry analysts what sort of mobility do they expect if
The car culture of the
Remember the debacle which erupted in
The plan came to a halt two years later when a federal judge sided with environmentalists and ruled that the project’s potential environmental impacts hadn’t been adequately studied. Under deadline pressure, commissioners moved the Scripps Florida headquarters to a smaller, urban site at
‘s MacArthur campus in Jupiter. Florida Atlantic University
Somehow, the voice of reason prevails over absurd westward development, even if it was for a monumental institution; this project had absolutely no reason to pave over thousands of acres of farmland.
More than four years after the county bought the 1,919-acre property with a sprawling Scripps
science campus in mind, commissioners are taking steps to usher in a new reality: suburban home development. Florida
Suburban home development? How is this environmentally friendly? Well, it isn’t but they have some ideas which are actually worse:
County administrators want to use about 100 acres for a landfill, set aside land for water marshes and environmental improvements and package the rest for home builders.
“I still believe it’s somewhere in Miami visible by plane. I’ve seen Miami out of a plane before and it looks just like that photo.”
To be continued…
Today I’d like to introduce Drive Score, the anti-walking, pro-sprawl, and guaranteed laziness application which uses incredibly flawed methods to create a map of vehicle accessible areas. One would think if you ranked poorly on Walk Score, you’d rank high on drive score, right? Not necessarily. Just for fun, I entered a highly walkable Manhattan address to see how “drivable” this program claims the city to be and came up with an 88! You know, never mind the bumper to bumper traffic, lack of dedicated parking, or any sane analysis, this program spews out pure gibberish…
We some how bypassed this article last week, but, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez vetoed commission recommendations to approve a number of projects outside of the UDB. The veto will likely stand given that the commission lacks the 2/3 majority to override the mayor, presuming that none of the commissioners switch sides…
“If Miami-Dade moves outside the UDB, it will affect our delivery of services and strain already taxed resources,” Alvarez wrote. “Police and fire rescue services would be spread over a greater area, resulting in longer response times due to greater distances and road congestion.”
Meanwhile, on the losing end of the veto, Lowes’ attorney Juan Mayol laments about not having short drives to buy plywood:
“We are hopeful that the county commissioners will continue to recognize that these hard-working families are tired of overcrowded schools and long drives to buy such simple things as plywood or a garden hose.”
How often are people in
Throughout the report, the researchers discuss two scenarios; the first, known as “rapid stabilization”, is the most optimistic scenario in which global emissions decrease at least 50% by 2050 and U.S. emissions decline at least 80% by the same period. The second scenario, referred to as “business-as-usual”, is a pessimistic scenario that projects the damages to our state if we continue to take little action.
Some of the reports noteworthy conclusions in the “business-as-usual scenario”:
- Within vulnerable zones:
- residential real estate now valued at over $130 billion
- half of Florida’s beaches
- 99% of Mangroves
- Sea level could rise by as much as 23” by 2050 and 45” by 2100
- 70% of Miami-Dade would be under water
- 99.6% of Monroe would be under water
- The Everglades would be almost completely inundated by salt water, and effectively destroyed
- Heat waves will become more severe and more common, with new record temperatures and a gradual decline in nighttime cooling. The average heat index in summer will increase by 15-20% in much of the state. Miami will become several degrees warmer than Bangkok (probably the world’s hottest, most humid major city today) and daily highs in many Florida cities will exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit for nearly 2/3 or the year.
- Annual statewide economic losses (that’s right…this is per year)
- $92 billion by 2050
- $345 billion by 2100
“The highly porous limestone and sand substrate of Miami-Dade County (which at present permits excellent drainage) will limit the effectiveness of widespread use of levees and dikes to wall off the encroaching sea.”
However, even if levees and dikes did present a viable option for fighting rising sea levels, it would be inordinately expensive to build such infrastructure in a state with over 1,200 miles of coastline (this doesn’t even factor in Lake Okechobee and other vulnerable watersheds).
This is serious business we’re talking about here. If we don’t start taking swift action to fight climate change, we all lose. Environmentalists lose for obvious reasons, business interests suffer as insurance rates skyrocket, tourism declines, and billions of dollars tied up in real estate become threatened. If you’re indifferent, you’ll still suffer from unprecedented heat and humidity, extremely high costs of living due to insurance and energy price hikes, and more frequent major hurricanes that threaten the lives of us all.
This makes the recent vote to move the UDB line all the more disgraceful. If there is any place that should be leading the fight on climate change, it’s South Florida and Miami-Dade County. Few places are as vulnerable geographically and no other region on Earth can lay claim to an ecosystem like the Everglades. However, this hasn’t stopped self-interest and incompetence from making South Florida one of the most sprawling, unsustainable regions in all of North America.
Click here to download the full report, “Florida and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction”.
West Kendall Baptist Hospital plans…
What irks me most is the marketing ploy to promote the
fought for the plan — arguing that developer David Brown promised to build a long-sought road connecting Martinez Kendall Driveto a nearby residential complex. It was a job, said, that the county couldn’t complete. Martinez
Sorenson took exception: “Should we make policy decisions based on what developers are going to do for us? Seems to me we ought to be making the policy.”
The Lowe’s vote commanded the most attention. Twice since 2003 representatives of the home improvement giant have tried to convince commissioners to let them build outside the UDB; both times they were denied.
Tuesday they cracked through — even as dozens of people lined up to speak against the plan to build on 52 acres at Southwest Eighth Street and 137th Avenue.
Said Julie Hill: “Further sprawl will exacerbate climate change in South Florida.”
Added John Wade: “We should have a water recycling program working before there’s any attempt to move the UDB.”
But Humberto Sanchez, who lives about 25 blocks from the proposed Lowe’s site, told the story of a recent shopping venture to buy light bulbs. “It took me an incredible amount of time to buy light bulbs at Home Depot.”
Interesting side note: you would not believe how difficult it is to find pictures of Sprawl and suburban office complexes despite how common they are in the American Landscape. Just further proof that we keep building places that aren’t photographic, let alone even livable. Finding a decent picture of a Lowes parking lot was just as difficult because as common as they are, who the heck would want to photograph one?
Uh Oh, apparently there is a UDB vote today…
”If we’re starting to get serious about water, climate and environmental issues, the most important thing we can do is prevent urban sprawl,” [Katy Sorenson] said.
The debate will surely pit opponents to further development in Florida’s most populous county against business interests that say the projects are needed.
One applicant wants to build a Lowe’s retail store near Southwest 138th Avenue and Eighth Street; another plans to create office and industrial space in an area in Doral near Beacon Lakes; two others aim to convert agricultural patches off Kendall Drive near Southwest 167th Avenue to business and office space.
But Martinez, the county commissioner who oversees a large portion of Kendall, believes some of the applicants have an upside. Though the Lowe’s would be built just outside his district, he said the company has promised to build a bridge over Southwest 139th Avenue that will actually “alleviate traffic.”
Alleviate traffic? Thanks Martinez! we weren’t aware of your experience in traffic engineering, do you care to elaborate how sprawl will reduce congestion throughout the county?
The premise is simple, you enter an address and the system characterizes the neighborhood on a 0-100 scale based on how many destinations are within a reasonable (less than 1 mile) walking distance. Essentially any ranking below 25 is is impossible to walk around while scores above 90 signify dense easily accessible neighborhoods. The website takes schools, restaurants, grocery stores, shops, parks, and libraries among other items into consideration when calculating the neighborhoods walk score.
Walk score allows people to quickly find homes in areas where car ownership let alone full dependence on a vehicle is not a requirement. In playing around with the program for a little while you’ll quickly see the disparity between automobile based/designed sprawl areas and true urban neighborhoods. The importance of walking to destinations daily cannot be emphasized enough from a planning perspective or as new research shows as a matter of your health.
President Bush’s Crawford Ranch somehow attained the dubious zero rating. Let us know how your neighborhood compares…
There’s no question there’s a connection between obesity, diabetes and heart-related diseases and the built environment, specifically sprawl, said co-author George McKibbon. Air quality is an issue, too, especially for those who live near highways. We also found that if you’re in a car four to five hours a day, social cohesion is at risk.
The report’s authors go on to say:
Good urban form is functional, economically and environmentally sustainable, and liveable, in a way that promotes public health. These communities offer a variety of housing options, facilities and open-space systems. They are walkable, cyclable, and include transit-oriented development, and promote alternatives to the single occupancy vehicle.
The report takes a close look at the issue of childhood obesity and how patterns of large, spread out schools have contributed by not allowing kids to walk to school. According to OPPI traffic engineer, Nick Poulos, simply by letting kids walk to and from school, we’d be healthier, pollution would be reduced, and neighborhood traffic would be reduced by 15 to 20 percent.
This is just one more reason why Miami needs to become denser and more transit-oriented. Do you know how much money per year is spent on obesity-related illness in the U.S. right now? Over $100 billion, including $60+ billion in direct medical costs and $50+ billion in lost productivity. That, my friends, is the very definition of a health and spending crisis.
You are where you live — think about it.
Energy and oil is the dominant theme this week, however the articles about the Everglades and affordable housing in Miami are very troubling.
- NY Times: Efforts to save the everglades are faltering
- Newsday: Gas prices affecting community, car use
- NY Times: Rising demand for oil provokes new energy crisis
- KITV Honolulu: Gas prices have reached $5 per gallon in parts of Cali
- Miami Herald: Housing crunch (lack of affordable housing) hitting low-income residents hard
- NY Times: High gas prices and long commutes having an impact on the sprawl market
More specifically, Miami came in fifth with an average of 35 hours of television watched per week. If that isn’t bad enough, 60% of residents are obese or overweight. Really no surprise here - this is what you get when you live in sprawl. Let’s take a look at the the other cities and see if there is a prevailing theme here:
2) New Orleans
3) Las Vegas
7) San Antonio
13) San Diego
15) Oklahoma City
Photo courtesy of Forbes.com
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