Transit Miami recently sent out a list of questions to City of Miami District 2 Commission candidates to get their views on the issues facing District 2. Representing one of the most important economic and urban centers in our region, the District 2 commission seat plays a central role in supporting regional and local transit, and ensuring walkable, pedestrian friendly streets for city residents. The area included in District 2 includes those parts of the city that are best poised to take advantage of existing premium transit and walkable urbanism. We’ll be posting the candidate responses in the order they are received. Our first respondent is sitting District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.

How will you work toward the goal of expanding transit in District 2?

We (the City) are ordering and implementing the Trolley project scheduled to commence in December for the north/south Brickell - Biscayne Blvd. corridor with an east/west connection down Flagler. There will be a circulator in the Health District. These two districts won grants from FDOT to operate and AARA money to purchase. In addition there will be special service to events Trolley in Downtown i.e. Heat games and the Performing Arts Center that will operate during the scheduling of those events. The fees have not been set - some Commissioners do not want to charge for this service but the Trolley’s will run out of money if we do not charge. I prefer a 6o day no fee trial period, then a $1.00 fee to allow the operation to continue for the next 15 years with Cap X for new trolleys and maintenance.

Do you support the South Florida East Coast Corridor project to expand local and express rail service to downtown? Do you support a Tri-Rail option or a Metro-Rail option?

I support the project but not to the exclusion of the North South link by FEC, as far as we have learned Metro Rail is far too expensive and will not be viable for more then 10 years while we could commence implementing the Tri Rail option.

What are your views on expanding MetroRail along the East/West corridor from western Miami-Dade through the Airport to Downtown?

Metro Rail going to the airport is what we all thought it should be. It now goes somewhere that many users can enjoy that are not commuting to work.

Do you support a MetroRail Baylink connection?

Yes this should have been part of the 5 year plan at MPO 10 years ago. The Beach should have no fear of us.

Critics of Miami21 contend that the parking provisions of the code are excessively high, precluding the sort of neighborhood scale development that the code was meant to support. How would you work to lower the parking requirements of Miami21 so that the benefits of the code are realized?

I continue to support Miami21 and its present parking provisions. Changes to peoples habits is not a light switch - it takes time and we can not burden neighborhoods with people who will park wherever and whenever they can. This must be viewed as a process.

How will you ensure that upcoming mega developments, like the Genting Casino Resort, contribute to pedestrian friendly street frontage?

Through the review process and by ensuring the impact fees are used to create the walkable downtown that we all envision. This process - if Gen Teng commences building - will allow us the opportunity to create not only an east west corridor but a north south connection to BicentennialPark. The Gen Teng process is very amorphous and will present many opportunities for walkability.

The Transit Miami led coalition to improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions on Brickell led to the temporary lowering of the speed limit by the Florida Department of Transportation, but only a change in the design of the street toward a true pedestrian boulevard will impact driving habits. TM sent the FDOT a list of over 20 missing crosswalks and recommendations for travel lanes that will encourage lower travel speeds, which have been ignored to date. Will you join our coalition and fight with us to ensure that Brickell is reconstructed with narrowed lanes, permanently reduced speeds, and more abundant crosswalks?

There is a plan in place for 19 cross walks that we are finalizing with FDOT. The cross walks will be raised to create friction and naturally slow drivers down. We have lowered the speed limit on the residential part of Brickell to 30 MPH with FDOT to review and determine if it goes to 35 MPH (it was 40 MPH). We have written more than 5200 traffic enforcement tickets on Brickell to slow traffic ….so it’s working.

In the ongoing planning for the I395 reconstruction, the Florida Department of Transportation is pushing an elevated highway through Overtown that will dwarf the existing expressway that decimated the once vibrant Overtown community. Other alternatives include a tunnel option that will open up over 40 acres of prime downtown land, as well as an at grade boulevard option. Which alternative would you support as District 2 commissioner?

The second one however FDOT is not listening to local in put into this project. I suspect they are hell bent on the raised highway project a misuse of its power and money.

16 Responses to Miami Candidate Survey: Commissioner Sarnoff Discusses Brickell, Baylink and Casinos

  1. Chris says:

    I am really excited about the new trolley system. Sarnoff mentioned that it will go down Flagler but according to the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) the route will avoid Flagler completely. Here is the CTAC presentation on it. Perhaps, it is only a special events route to the Marlins Stadium? I live on Flagler just west of downtown and would love a stop west of the river. Or am I going to have to trek it under that god awful I95 overpass for 6 blocks? (I’ve done it for 7 years now…)

    http://www.miamidade.gov/mpo/docs/MPO_ctac_presentation_20110629_miami_trolley_program.pdf

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  2. Felipe Azenha says:

    Commissioner Sarnoff,
    Thank you for replying to our survey. I am glad to hear that you are very supportive of public transit.

    Unfortunately, we are making it as easy as possible for people to drive and park with the city’s current minimum parking requirements. We probably have the most overachieving tow truck companies in the country here in Miami, I don’t believe they will allow people to park wherever and whenever they can. (They even towed my wife’s car that was legally parked!) I don’t foresee parking Armageddon in Miami if we were to reduce or do away with the minimum parking requirements.

    Developers should not be forced to provide parking in certain locations. For the most part we should allow the market to decide if there is a demand for parking. By forcing developers to provide parking, we directly increase the cost of housing in Miami. We are also essentially encouraging people to drive by making it easy to park. I am willing to bet that there is a market of renters and buyers that do not rely on a car for transportation. A less expensive building without parking would be attractive to many people, especially those that live near mass transit or in densely populated areas (i.e. downtown, Brickell).

    By reducing or even doing away with parking requirements, the demand for public transit would also increase. We need to create more demand for public transit, not less. By forcing developers to provide parking, we are increasing our dependency on the automobile; thus driving down demand for public transit. This is not how we should build a walkable and pedestrian friendly Miami.

    At the very least we should reduce the current parking requirements.

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  3. Tony Garcia says:

    Well said sir.

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  4. B says:

    I for one am disappointed with the trolley system plans. The routes should be implemented as Metrobus “shuttle” routes-like Brickell Key Shuttle and South Beach Local. Imagine if you could pay 25 cents and get around most of urban Miami via these high-frequency (10-15 minute headway) routes, instead of paying $2 to go a half mile on a bus that comes every half hour-and then having to transfer to another bus?? The trolley system sounds too much like a tourist gimmick, though the downtown-midtown segment is probably useful, depending on the frequency and how often the trolleys get stuck at the Brickell drawbridge (which will be often…). Also, it sounds like you’ll have to pay the full fare, in cash, if you transfer from Metrobus:(

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  5. Tony Garcia says:

    Problem is you could never charge .25 cents for a MDT shuttle (unions, bureaucracy).By running the ‘trolley’ independently, Miami can do whatever they want with the eventual pricing scheme.

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  6. Felipe Azenha says:

    It’s interesting to hear that the FDOT is now considering raised crosswalks along Brickell. Why is it that Transit Miami is the last to find out about these progressive initiatives? We suggested raised crosswalks from the onset of our campaign to make Brickell safer for everyone. During a meeting at Simpson Park last November it was glaringly obvious that FDOT engineers didn’t even know what a raised crosswalk was.

    There is absolutely no outreach by the FDOT to engage Transit Miami. The FDOT doesn’t consider Transit Miami a legitimate news source and therefore we are not privy to any of their press releases.

    We would still like to take a walking field trip around Brickell with Commissioner Sarnoff and FDOT District Six Secretary Gus Pego. The invitation has already been extended to them.The ball is now in their court. Lunch is on us.

    Also, the 5200 tickets were issued during what period of time? I still see a ton of cars speeding along Brickell every day. Have any of these tickets been issued for failure to yield to pedestrians?

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  7. M says:

    Some people are excited about the trolley the city is doing. I am not, but perhaps I should be. I am a bus rider and I find it annoying and slow to sit in traffic on a bus. Essentially that is all a trolley is…a bus. If that is all we can get, then I suppose I will have to like it, but I would like more. I think of all the people downtown and in Brickell that would make the trip on transit to Midtown for ArtWalk, shopping at Target, etc.

    So, I had an idea…would it be impossible to extend MetroMover from its current terminus at School Board down Miami Avenue to Midtown? Miami Ave is pretty desolate and vacant in some parts and starting to come alive closer to Wynwood. I think MetroMover would spur some more (transit friendly) development along that street and make a nice transit solution for that part of town. It would still be useful even after a commuter line is built on the FEC. What do you TM readers think?

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  8. M says:

    Chris -

    I just looked at the link you posted for the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee. If Miami is proposing a “Classic American Trolley” like in that plan, I would ask them to reconsider. I ride the trolley in Coral Gables to get to work and those wooden seats are kind of hard. Plus, with all that wood, it makes me think the trolley would be really heavy making the gas mileage really bad. It would be cool if we got modern trolleys that were fuel efficient and showcased Miami as a forward looking, environmentally friendly city.

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  9. B says:

    Tony: Both the South Beach Local and Brickell Key Shuttle are 25 cents to ride. Last I heard they were considering raising the fare to 50 cents. Miami doesn’t need yet another Union contract and completely independent infrastructure/bureaucracy (parking, customer service/information hotline, ect.)-just work with what we already have, the MDT. Or preferably, let private jitneys run the route, and give them free choice to run where there is actual market demand.

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  10. B says:

    M: If you really wanted to showcase Miami as a forward looking, environmentally friendly city, wouldn’t you want to build a rail system, instead of a fossil fuel-based system? With some solar generators it would actually be pretty cool!

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  11. Tony Garcia says:

    good call B. Didnt know that. Re: Jitneys, saw this excellent article from the Atlantic about New York:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/10/the-illegal-private-bus-system-that-works/246166/

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  12. M says:

    B- Last I heard the city of Miami Beach came up with the money to keep the South Beach Local at 25 cents.

    And yes, I would want a modern rail system with solar generators, but I was trying to be somewhat realistic in that post and perhaps that is something we could actually request of the commissioners and make it happen.

    I think the closest thing to rail we are going to get there is Commissioner Suarez’s half-bus/half-train idea to run on Biscayne Blvd and the FEC. What ever happened to that idea by the way?

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  13. Tony Garcia says:

    I talked to Commish Suarez about it a few weeks back and he remains committed to passenger service along the FEC. Th train/bus idea was just something he was throwing around to do something in the interim. Nothing has happened yet. When I hear the latest I’ll let you know.

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  14. myangeldust says:

    Want more proof Baylink is dead? MB Commissioner Weithorn sent out an email about the Urban Beach event, saying “The Challenge: Constitutionally, we cannot stop people from renting hotel rooms and then walking our streets,” She suggested that the city better enforce its laws during the weekend, create another event, or even shut down causeway traffic when occupancy reaches full tilt. (Miami Herald: Beach commissioner’s Urban Beach email called “race baiting”).

    Guess which commissioner is NOT going to vote for a Baylink project. How many others feel the same way?

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  15. Mike says:

    Practical ideas are intelligible. I don’t see why when the monorail was first created that they didn’t think, or have a little foresight, that a link to beach would be such an important resource to its citizens and tourists. Miami lacks common sense sometimes. :(

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  16. author says:

    comment

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