Elected Officials of the City of Miami:
The City of Miami is at a crossroads, poised with an opportunity to transpose the status quo from municipal mediocrity into a vibrant, livable community for generations to come. At a time when cities have reemerged at the forefront of urban innovation, Miami’s indolent city commission is struggling with the decision to approve a zoning code that will merely bring us in step with modern planning theory.
Miami 21 is a justified proposition – evidence of its future impact abounds. Our streets are congested and dangerous. Transit is ineffective. Development adheres to suburban zoning codes, promoting unsustainable lifestyles. Our tree canopy is nonexistent. Condominium towers loom high over single family neighborhoods, and our industrial lands are being transformed as jobs are shipped out of Miami. The bottom line is that Miami 21 is not a luxury; it has become a necessity.
Now is the time to act. As Miami recovers from the recent onslaught of development, we must take proactive measures to ensure that any future development in this city heed sound planning principles. The painful recession, caused in part by speculative overdevelopment, should be viewed as our opportunity to regulate market inefficiency through sensible planning for a healthy future.
The truth is Miami 21 isn’t perfect – no plan is. Every planning initiative will face its fair share of detractors; this is the essence of a democratic planning system. Planning is a conciliatory process between community, business, and municipal needs. Grove residents learned this firsthand in the protracted big box saga and are now living with the consequences of a failed zoning and redevelopment policy. To deride Miami 21 for its shortcomings is to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Miami 21 is about establishing urban conformity and regulating development to match community needs. Miami 21 establishes a level of predictability into our zoning code, ensuring that future growth heed constraints set forth by a sound citywide plan. Transect zoning establishes human-scale development, designing spaces around people, not vehicles. It stipulates that future development create safe, healthy, sustainable neighborhoods – oriented to residents – with an added emphasis on green public spaces, multi-modal solutions, and creating a sense of place. Miami 21 also ties together a number of congruent city initiatives namely the Master Plans for Parks and Open Spaces, Coconut Grove, Museum Park, and Virginia Key; the redevelopment of the Orange Bowl site; and transit solutions including the proposed trolleys and streetcar. Together, these initiatives will help reduce traffic, improve livability, and serve as economic engines for future municipal growth.
Contrary to the public misconceptions, proliferated by an ill-informed vocal minority, Miami 21 will change the rules by which developers will abide in our favor. Moreover, the primary source of professional opposition (namely the architects responsible for the most recent slue of dreary edifices dotting the skyline), kindly reminded us that Miami 21 would inhibit innovation and diversity. Not such an appalling proposition when you scrutinize the bland structures that rose when creativity wasn’t “inhibited.” Twenty story parking garages compound our congestion issues, do little to make our streets safer, and promote unsustainable, unhealthy lifestyles.
The City of Miami has spent $2.2 million of taxpayer money directly on Miami 21 and millions more on indirect costs. Millions of hard earned taxpayer dollars – spent in vain if this item is not voted upon by the city commission. There have been over 60 public hearings over the past four years, more than enough time for residents and commissioners to become intimately familiar with the new code. If ever a decision should be made it is today!
Time is of the essence. We cannot sit back and allow such a pivotal proposal wither away because of political differences. Miami residents and businesses will not sit for such costly inaction. The time for more input and clarification has long passed – it is now time to set aside self-interests and enact measures that will help our wonderful community flourish for generations to come. In trying times, successful leaders take action. Only the timid hedge their political futures on inaction.
Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal
The Rickenbacker is the heart of South Florida’s recreational bicycle scene. Indeed, a recent Saturday morning count found 950 bicyclists entering the Causeway from the hours of 6:30am - 9:00am.
And while recent bicycle lane improvements have done much to improve safety along the Causeway, it’s entrance/exit at the Miami Avenue-Brickell-Avenue-South Dixie Highway-Southeast 26th Road intersections remain perilous for almost all users. The diagram that I made below reveals just how complex the environment is for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicle drivers. If you know the area’s traffic patterns, many of the necessary maneuvers forced upon bicylists and pedestrians, or taken by choice, are illegal and unsafe.
We now know the County is looking to improve traffic flow so that there is less automobile congestion. Yet, any “improvements” in motor vehicle flow will have to be met with a commensurate improvement in pedestrian and bicycle safety. Otherwise, it will be one step forward, and two steps back.
Hats off to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff for working with Coconut Grove residents, business leaders, and advocates for pushing the livable streets agenda forward. Starting on July 4th, Commodore Plaza will be closed to cars and opened to pedestrians, cafes seating, and live music. Each closure will take place for five consecutive weekend from Saturday at 6pm to early Sunday morning. This pilot project will help determine whether or not closing Commodore more permanently is feasible. Please contact Commissioner Sarnoff (My Commissioner tab above for more info) to let him know that you appreciate the effort. More importantly, go out and experience the urbanism!
A street mural being chalked on Commodore Plaza during the early hours of Bike Miami Days.
Using data collected from 2005-2007, Floridaroads.org is a new website that visually displays whether traffic congestion is increasing or diminishing along major thoroughfares. Click the hyperlink to see how a street near you is performing. For livable streets advocates, those roadways experiencing a decrease in congestion may be candidates for future “road diets.” Similarly, the data could be used to fight expansions along roadways that are not experiencing significant increases in congestion. One good example: Miami’s Lower Biscayne Boulevard, like other streets in downtown, have seen a significant decrease in traffic (14%). This may be attributed to construction, higher gas prices, transit behavior changes, and likely, the slow influx of new residents who no longer have to drive to their place of employment.
A large standing room only crowd of 80 100 people gathered tonight at Jose Marti Park for the city’s first Bicycle Summit. While it certainly was great to see so many familiar faces in the crowd — many of who have had a critical role in pushing Miami to become more bicycle friendly — it was even more heartening to see dozens of new faces participating.
After all of the presentations and neccessary speeches, attendees were able to track routes, danger areas, and opportunities for increased bicycle parking by covering maps with notes, dots, and hand-drawn routes. Thanks to all who participated and thanks to Commissioner Joe Sanchez and Suzanna Valdez of the Mayor’s office for their great support. We look forward to showing you detailed plan proposals in August at the second summit. More details to come on that in the coming weeks.
This is just a friendly reminder that Miami’s first public Bicycle Summit, an event tied to the city’s first Bicycle Master Plan, will take place today at Jose Marti Park. Click here for all the details and here (if you have not already) to fill out a brief 11 question Miami bicycle survey. Many thanks to the more than 200 who have already responded.
We hope to see and hear from you tonight!
Attire pictured above not required.
A faithful Transit Miami reader recently attended a zoning change hearing for a proposed mixed-use tower called Civica Tower, located at 1050 NW 14th Street in the Civic Center district. According to the reader, Miami’s Planning Advisory Board didn’t event question the developers new proposal, allowing an additional 650 parking spaces beyond the 800 gratuitous spaces already granted. The justification? The developers are nixing the tower’s hotel component to provide more retail and office space.
This utter lack of vision made on behalf of the city is unacceptable. Not only is there ample transit coverage in the district (three Metrorail stops, a myriad of Metrobus lines), there are newly planned trolley routes aimed at making one of Miami’s densest employment centers more walkable, transit friendly, and urbane. This decision, which follows a long standard of poor choices in the city, will continue to undermine the transit investment meant to improve the area, and the city at large.
Shame on the PAB.
Thanks to all who have filled out the Miami Bicycle Master Plan survey. We received 100 responses very quickly!
Unfortunately, the free Survey Monkey service capped us at 100 responses. Thus, I have upgraded the service to allow up to 1,000 responses over the course of the next month. If you have not already, please follow this link to take the quick, 11 question survey. If you have already taken the survey, please pass it along to any bicyclists you know who have not.
On Monday, June 15th, the City of Miami invites you to the first Miami Bike Summit at Jose Marti Community Center to discuss Miami’s Bicycle Master Plan. Meet city leaders, planners, cyclists and neighbors and learn about some of the ways Miami is becoming a more bicycle-friendly city.
From 6pm-9pm, learn about Sharrows, the benefits of bicycle parking, and what a central bicycle facility might mean for the City of Miami. To get a better idea of what the City is already doing, you can read the Bicycle Action Plan or email the Bicycle Coordinator, Collin Worth, here.
SAVE THE DATE:
- Monday, June 15th.
- Jose Marti Community Center (351 SW 4th St- Downtown Miami)
There will be maps of the city and markers so you can mark exactly where you think our city needs bike lanes, parking, signage… Note: this is the first of two public meetings that will take place to help guide the development of Miami’s Bicycle Master Plan. If you can’t make it, contact Collin Worth with your ideas and stay tuned for when they schedule the next one.
The Bike Miami Days Team will be on hand (of course) and we always want your ideas about us, too- Thank you and see you on June 15th!
Heard on the C bus from the Beach to Downtown this afternoon, 5 o’clock:
English tourist: “I am trying to get to downtown Miami, will this bus take me there.”
Bus Driver: “Oh honey, there ain’t no reason for you to go there after 5pm. There isn’t anything to see!”
While I slightly disagree with the well-intentioned driver, is this the kind of downtown we want, the one where the bus driver discourages anyone from going?
Brickell has made great improvements in nightlife of late, however downtown still lags behind. What type of nightlife would you like to see in downtown Miami?
Regurgitating some news here-mostly from the Herald- and adding a layer of commentary.
- Bicycle Advocates, led by the Green Mobility Network are inserting themselves into the planning process in South Miami. Click here to catch up with the effort to make Sunset Drive more amenable to bicyclists. This is a worthy initiative, and one that has some direct spin-off from the work being already accomplished in the City of Miami. Realtor Lisa Fox is states “We should be doing things like what the mayor of Miami did,” referring to Bike Miami Days as a potential event alternative to widening Sunset for Bicycle Lanes. Agreed, but South Miamians should not be distracted, this street needs better access for bicyclists with lanes that could transition into shared use lane marking once entering the core of the city’s commercial district.
- FPL’s attempt to place high voltage lines in South-Dade is inspiring opposition. Beyond being a real blight on the landscape, and promising potential adverse health impacts, the present plan places the lines along the M-Path/Metrorail corridor. Yes, just what we need after finally getting some funding to fix this long neglected recreation corridor…I can see it now, the M-Path gets fixed only to be torn up by power line construction. Stay tuned and involved on this issue, its bound to be big fight. A “Residents Against FPL Transmission Lines” has been set up on Facebook.
- It seems a large chunk of Miami-Dade’s stimulus money ($87 million) is going to be spent on maximizing the size of the Dolphin/Palmetto Interchange. This one really gets under my skin. If you read the story(warning: the before and after images are shocking), the plan is to spend nearly 600 million dollars on fixing an interchange that when first built was ill-designed. While I agree the original design is dysfunctional, I am not a whole lot more confident that this time around the result will be any different. Indeed, years and years of research demonstrate that by adding capacity only induces demand as users who sought alternatives return to the system sensing it will be improved for the long term-a classic problem with conventional traffic engineering thought. Once completed, look for congestion to return within a year of completion. Oh, and the $180 million they spent on right-of-way acquisition likely takes formerly tax positive land uses off the roles. That means the cost is even greater for the taxpayer in the long run. Surely that money could be better spent on projects thatactually increase tax dollar revenue, improve access and mobility, and which do not further promote the unchecked use of fossil fuels. A few underfunded transit projects do come to mind, alas…
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