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The Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is hosting the following workshops to solicit public feedback on the future of transportation in Broward County. For more information on Commitment 2040 watch this video. You can also submit feedback online by following this link to a survey.
Broward MPO Commitment 2040 LRTP Update Workshops


Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?

Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:

“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”

So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.





For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.

Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown. 

In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.

The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.

Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:

  • San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
  • Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
  • Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct

While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.

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TransitMiami can’t help but give a great neighborhood bar, The DRB, some unsolicited praise for its ingenious selection of an otherwise neglected downtown office building for its new location.

By choosing to site its new bar in the part of downtown dominated by boring institutional land-uses, The DRB chose to bring some vibrancy and character to an otherwise lifeless part of downtown. The very phrase itself — “lifeless part of downtown” — is an unfortunate contradiction, an oxymoron of a poorly planned urban milieu.

The building in question — situated on NE 5th Street and 1st Ave. — is surrounded almost exclusively by  institutional land-uses (occupied by, e.g., federal courthouses, a community college, a church, etc.) and lots of shamefully vacant and/or completely undeveloped, prime-for-mixed-use-development downtown parcels.

When New Urbanists and other community design-oriented folks refer to the evils of homogeneous land-use configurations, the image most typically invoked is that of miles upon miles of single-family residential land-use. Indeed, monolithic residential land-use embodies the notion of ‘urban sprawl’.

Elected officials, planners, and developers must also recognize, though, that large areas of homogeneous institutional land-use in the downtown core is at least as toxic (if not more so) for our city as sprawling single-family cookie-cutter houses along the periphery.

We need more transit-oriented development (TOD) in Miami’s de facto government-institution district. That area already has a great combination of Metrorail, Metromover, and Metrobus access. We must augment this healthy transportation configuration with a healthier land-use configuration.

And we must certainly continue to push our elected officials to expand the public transit network. However, we must also push them to better incentivize more commercial in-fill near the highly viable sections of public transit we already have, especially in downtown. It’s the hustle and bustle of downtown that build’s a city’s personality.

Kudos to you, Democratic Republic of Beer, for selecting a site so wonderfully accessible by transit, foot, and bicycle. Now all those bureaucrats and college students have a nice neighborhood spot in which to enjoy one of your exotic specialty brews from one of the corners of the globe.

(This author recommends the Sri Lankan Lion Stout.)

Please Register Online by:
February 8, 2013
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YL Haven Notice Feb 12 (2)



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Earlier this week, the Vero Beach City Council joined Indian River County’s decision to exclude themselves from the Southeast Florida regional plan initiative, Seven50 (Seven counties, 50 years). The reason being: fears of a correlation to the 20-year-old “Agenda 21.” Local groups like the Taxpayers Association of Indian River County and the Indian River Tea Party conveyed their concerns in the council chambers that this is a federal government plan that would eventually force undesired regulations, with ideas from the UN. While some of their concerns may be valid, the solution is not to pull out of the plan, but to engage with it. Growth will happen whether we plan for it or not, but by planning and communication we can influence how and where that growth takes place.

Seven50 Roadshow

Local citizens working together to plan for their community’s future at a Seven50 Roadshow event

The Second Summit for Seven50 is being held in Miami on January 24. What should we expect? Why should we attend? How should we feel about such an event happening in our neck of the woods?

Let Our Voice be Heard. With citizen engagement as a key factor in this regional plan, we should jump at the opportunity to give our input. Who else should know more about our communities? Lets take advantage of this regional planning process and voice our opinions.

On the Local Level. The people best equipped to plan for the future of our region is a motivated group of locals and community individuals that both know the area intimately and want the best for future growth.

Less Waste. Lets face it, regional investments happen with or without our input. By compiling a cohesive plan together with our neighboring cities and counties, we can decide together. Determining our future investments out in the open will lead to smarter decisions and less waste of funds.

The Second Summit is quickly approaching to give each of us the opportunity to share our ideas, opinions, and plans for a better Miami. We know we have plenty to say about our communities and the county. Make sure to register and even bring some friends. This is our regional plan, and this is our time show it!


Transit Miami attended this year’s Walk 21 conference, combined with EMBARQ’s International Walking and Livable Communities Conference, in Mexico City. This is the first of several posts sharing what we learned in the conference and experienced in the city, and any applications they might have for Miami.

During Tuesday’s keynote session, Jim Walker, President of Walk 21, shared London’s success story of preparing for a multimodal London Olympics. London set about accommodating people’s trips to and from the Olympics, not simply accommodating traffic. This approach incorporated transit, bike, pedestrian, and auto modes-but merely as choices in the main goal of getting to their destination. Rather than splitting planning efforts into approaches for one mode at a time, London’s planners and advocacy groups focused efforts on trips to be taken by Olympic athletes, workers, and spectators in addition to citizens of London going about their daily business. Through this process they effectively created an atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable using transit. “Games lanes” were created to reassure those who felt that the automobile was the only method that would get athletes and VIPs  to their games on time, but it was reported in several sources that some athletes did feel comfortable using transit. It seems that London came close to their goal of no additional car trips due to the Olympics by accommodating so many on public transit, on foot, or on the bike.

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Coral Gables Advertisement - The Miami News - Aug 23, 1925

Coral Gables Advertisement - The Miami News - Aug 23, 1925

87 years ago today, an advertisement ran in the Miami Daily News promoting the sale of property in the Biltmore and Country Club VI Sections of Coral Gables. This ad offers a unique view of Miami’s first planned community, Coral Gables, designed by George Merrick during the 1920′s land boom. Coral Gables was developed entirely upon the City Beautiful movement, featuring grand civic spaces, public monuments, and prominent architectural symbols such as the Biltmore Hotel.

While at the time of publishing the Coral Gables Trolley line already linked the suburb with Downtown Miami via Flagler Street, Merrick had grander transit visions:

“These two fine sections will be linked inseperably with the center of Miami, and with the Riviera Section of Coral Gables, by the proposed Coral Gables Rapid Transit Electric Line which will run through the center of both sections.”

The Rapid Transit Electric Line was eventually built, and offered a faster route, along Coral Way, into Central Miami. Perhaps what is most interesting about this advertisement is to read Merrick’s vision for Biltmore Way:

“The outstanding feature of the Biltmore Section is Biltmore Way - an impressive 100 foot Boulevard leading off from Coral Way, at its Northeast corner and running into DeSoto Boulevard, the main drive to the Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club on the West.”

“Biltmore Way from Coral Way to Segovia Street is traversed by the rapid transit rail line. It is one-half mile in length and is planned as the Fifth Avenue Business Street of Coral Gables.”

“Biltmore Way is planned as the shopping center for the discriminating women buyer or Coral Gables and Greater Miami. No stores in the Metropolitan district of Miami will excel in beauty or display the stores to be established on this boulevard. …such a thoroughfare could well be a composite reproduction of Fifth  Avenue of New York, Michigan Avenue of Chicago, Rue de la Paix of Paris, and Old Bond Street of London.”

Merrick’s Vision is brimming with optimism. Influenced by grand boulevards across the world. Its no wonder that property in Coral Gables today remains one of the more sought after in the region. While Biltmore Way never achieved its full potential, he laid the foundation for a community that could grow and adapt to future growth, which is more than can be said for the current development ailing our urban fringes.

Biltmore Way, Coral Gables

Biltmore Way, Coral Gables



Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center is seeking community input regarding FIU’s 2005-2015 Campus Master Plan. The center is soliciting feedback as part of its evaluation of the plan.

Dario Gonzalez, a research associate with the center, has set up a Facebook discussion board to encourage an open exchange on this plan and to help develop and identify major issues,
This discussion board will encourage comments on a new topic every few days. Gonzalez will also post related questions concerning the topic.

The Campus Master Plan provides a vision for the future development of the university and reflects the planned growth of the physical spaces at Biscayne Bay Campus, the Engineering Center and Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Metropolitan Center researchers are tasked with determining, in part, its efficacy.

“We’re working closely with the university’s Worlds Ahead Strategic Plan as part of this process,” says Gonzalez. “Now that the strategic plan has set the goals for the university, we need to make sure that the Campus Master Plan will take us there.”

“Comments can begin their own conversations. As long as they’re relevant to the topic, we encourage them,” says Gonzalez. “The goal is to inform and be informed by the FIU community.”

The first topic for discussion is housing. FIU currently houses close to 10 percent of full-time students on-campus. The number of full-time students is projected to grow by 5-6 percent annually for the next decade. Currently, the Campus Master Plan has a goal of providing housing for nearly 7,000 students by 2015. Gonzalez wants your perspective on this question: What obstacles could keep FIU from reaching this goal?

Gonzalez says every comment will be noted. Later, the comments are grouped by theme. After that, personal interviews with university leaders will be conducted. The feedback will culminate in an urban studio scheduled tentatively for fall 2011 that will be open to everyone.

In addition to Facebook, you may leave comments at the end of this news post that pertain to this discussion.

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Hey everyone…sorry for the long hiatus, I’ve been in El Paso for the past couple of weeks participating in an exciting planning project for the city. The city of El Paso hired a team of planners led by the local Miami firm of Dover Kohl & Partners to develop plans for Transit Oriented Developments around three new BRT corridors the city is implementing (and to update their Comprehensive Plan). Yours truly was invited as a transit/planning/bike consultant and I am excited about the work going on here.

Proposed Sun Metro BRT Routes

El Paso is a cool city (22st largest in the country) with a lot going for it. Great architecture abounds, and the mountains are really stunning. Like most American cities, they have had a torrid love affair with highway building, but their newfound commitment to transit is an encouraging sign of things to come.

Historic Union Station Watercolor by Kenneth Garcia

Historically, El Paseños were blessed with one of the most extensive network of streetcars in the USA (which also extended into Juarez, Mexico), and was also one of the first to draft a Comprehensive Plan (compiled way back in 1925 by pioneering landscape architect George Kesseler).

Historic streetcar map

It is nice to see other cities investing in transit. Too bad our own County Commissioners can’t get their act together to provide adequate transit to the residents of Dade County. As the rest of the country advances toward multi-modal transportation, our own transit plans continue to stagnate with no end in sight.

If you want to check out more of the work being done in El Paso, go to (I’ll Be back in Miami soon!)

By: Sam Van Leer (
Executive Director and Founder, Urban Paradise Guild (Miami, Florida)


The Village Green has a special place in America: an agricultural space within the Village that belongs to everyone. In times of external strife, it is used by the Villagers to feed themselves. It was often the center of Village life. Overtown Village Green is all this and more.

A Park that grows plants also grows people. The nursery that provides fruit trees and native habitat plants to nurture people and wildlife is also an experience that can change kids and adults. These are among the missions of Overtown Village Green (OVG), which opens windows to new activities and careers.

Brad Knoefler is a local resident and businessman with a great idea: Use the Old Miami Arena Site as a temporary park, provide kids with safe recreational space and fight the Urban blight of demolition and vacant lots around Overtown. He approached Urban Paradise Guild (UPG) for a concept that could achieve this. We’ve been developing this plan for nearly a year. (Brad also spearheaded the creation of a greenway along the FEC tracks last year).
OVG’s purpose is to create a temporary park that enables permanent community transformation. It is a mixture of:
* community nursery: grow FREE native plants & fruit trees for Overtown
* personal garden plots for local families and groups
* food forest (permaculture growing methods)
* education for kids
* economic development for the community
* playing field for kids (football or soccer) which becomes a
* performing arts venue in the evening
* most infrastructure is intended for re-use at the next site of OVG
* public/private partnerships fund operations and control costs
* UPG Programs for the Overtown community
* UPG manages the space

Trees can be part of the transformation of a neighborhood. They have been proven to raise property values. Their shade makes sidewalks endurable under the blazing summer sun, and lower the electric bills of residents and businesses. The UPG Community Nursery at OVG will be operated by Volunteers, especially neighborhood kids. The trees will be planted by these same Volunteers, who will ensure that they are not forgotten. They will be free to Overtown residents.

Personal garden plots are not currently offered in Overtown. They create a way that people can be directly involved in improving their own lives. Fresh organic vegetables provide high quality nutrition. Growing them offers new opportunities for exercise and engagement in the community.

Public / Private Partnership
The mission of Parks in America is to serve the public. That is why Parks have always been funded from our tax dollars. The phrase “run it like a business” makes a nice sound-bite, but expecting Parks to do so ensures that they will fail in their primary mission of public service.

At the same time, we recognize that in an era of ever-tightening budgets we must find new ways to stretch every dollar. A public/private partnership does this.

OVG is a public/private partnership. Revenue for operations is generated by sub-leasing space to for-profits to provide parking, a café, solar power demonstration, and other compatible uses. Revenue generated through rental of the venue and sales of organic produce will be used to enhance public programming.
The address is 700 Miami Ave, 5+ acres along the FEC railroad. It is across the street from the Overtown Metro Station and M-D DERM offices, just 2 blocks north of MDC Wolfson Campus and 2 blocks West of Biscayne Blvd. MDC and DERM are both important UPG Partners, and MDC Service-Learning Interns and Students will be important parts of OVG.

Support from the City of Miami and CRA
UPG has already created successful Parks Partnerships with Florida State Parks at Oleta River and Miami-Dade Parks at Matheson Hammock. These government entities understand that as their budgets shrink, their needs for high-impact Volunteers expands. UPG has been asked to take responsibility for all invasive exotic plant eradication at Oleta, an 1,100 acre park, and is coordinating UPG, Park and third-party resources for maximum strategic impact. A similar arrangement exists at Matheson. UPG has become the go-to group for mobilizing the public in such innovative programs, and we hope to form a Partnership with the City of Miami.

Mayor Regalado demonstrated his commitment to the environment for years as a City Commissioner. The Miami Parks Department’s highly successful Habitat Restoration projects at Simpson, Virginia Key Hammocks, and Wainwright Parks might never have happened without his support. He understands the critical value to the community of native trees, habitat plants and fruit trees. He shares UPG’s vision of growing trees for City residents and providing them at no cost.

Last Tuesday, Brad and I had a very productive meeting about OVG with City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and members of his staff. UPG, Brad and the OVG Partners are deeply appreciative of Mayor Regalado’s support and efforts on behalf of OVG and the environment. We hope that it will be enough.

The Overtown/Park West CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) exists for the sole purpose of fighting the causes of Urban Blight. They are funded by taxes on local properties. Anyone reading this should drive through Overtown today, and ask themselves if the CRA is succeeding.

A fresh approach is needed. We believe that OVG offers a new vision and direction for Overtown, and we hope that the CRA will embrace Overtown Village Green.

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From the Official City of Miami Agenda:


This agenda item is being sponsored by Mayor Regalado, who only days ago confirmed to Transit Miami that the administration would not seek to delay implementation. What ever happened to transparency and honesty in government Mayor? What happened to “implemented on schedule”? Unfortunately, the lone Miami Herald article to cover this important topic over the past few weeks (by Chuck Rabin and Andres Vigglucci) was inaccurate and one sided, laying most of the responsibility on the commission, without acknowledging that that there is no commission sponsored agenda item on the subject. The only item related to implementation is this sneaky discussion item (sponsored by the Mayor). (Andres and Charles - what are you guys thinking??) The fact is that if this item does not get heard, then the commission does not need to do anything and the code becomes effective on the 20th of May.

Insiders have told Transit Miami that the last minute blitz by attorneys in reaction to the overreaching MNU amendments has re-energized both sides - and that another delay might be likely. In spite of the high probability of legal and economic consequences for our already cash strapped city, the mayor and the special interests that are pushing this last minute blitz may be looking to repeal the code altogether. I wonder if they have considered the profound economic impact of leaving our city with no effective zoning code while the commission, mayor and special interests get their way. Lets not also forget that the State of Florida, upon approval of the state mandated comprehensive plan that corresponds to Miami 21 (back in October of 2009), gave the city one year to make its zoning code compliant with the comprehensive plan. That deadline will lapse in October leaving the city in direct noncompliance with State growth laws.

Are these people really in charge of our city? With all the other problems that the city is facing, why are they going back and opening a can of worms that will cost the city dearly in lost time, economic development, and improved quality of life?? Remember what happens next Thursday at election time folks. The institutional memory of this commission might be short, but the civic memory of its constituents is not.

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Special News Regarding Miami 21 From the City of Miami Hearing Boards Department:

Hearing Boards will accept Planning and Zoning public hearing applications under the current Ordinance No. 11000 until Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm. Please note that pursuant to Section 1304.2.2 of the Miami Zoning Ordinance No. 11000, no application shall be deemed to have been filed unless and until the application shall have been completed.  All pertinent and accurate information/documentation; i.e., the plans, reports or other information, exhibits, or documents required, shall be presented at the time of filing, in addition to the paid receipt(s).

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I received this email this morning from City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado regarding my previous post on Miami 21:


On the May 13th Agenda the only item relating to Miami 21 is a discussion item regarding the future amendments to Miami 21. As you may know Miami Neighborhoods United was left out of the process and they requested several amendments that this administration has been placing in different agendas. Some have been approved and some were deferred by the Commission. The ordinance is not in the agenda and neither the administration nor the City Attorney have any intentions to place it on the agenda. Miami 21 is for the residents and will be implemented on schedule.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns

Tomas P. Regalado

Thank you Mr. Mayor!

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Its official - Regalado will try to delay implementation of Miami 21 for another six months. I received this draft ordinance from an inside source:


WHEREAS, the City Commission, by way of Ordinance No. 13138, extended the effective date of Ordinance No. 13114 from February 19, 2010 to May 20, 2010; and

WHEREAS, the City Commission, after careful consideration of deems it advisable and in the best interest of the general welfare of the City of Miami and its inhabitants to extend the actual effective date of Ordinance No. 13114 from May 20, 2010 to January 2, 2011; and also to extend the repeal of Zoning Ordinance No. 11000, to January 2, 2011;


Section 1.  The recitals and findings contained in the Preamble to this Ordinance are adopted by reference and incorporated as if fully set forth in this Section.

Section 2.  The City Commission hereby amends Ordinance No. 13114, passed on October 22, 2009, adopting a new zoning code, to be known as the “Miami 21 Code”, for the entire City of Miami, Florida, in order to extend the effective date of Ordinance No. 13114 from May 20, 2010, to January 2, 2011; and correspondingly to extend the repeal of Zoning Ordinance No. 11000 to January 2, 2011.

Section 3.  Correspondingly, the City Commission extends or repeal, however applicable, any ancillary ordinance impacted by the adoption of Miami 21 and the repeal of Zoning Ordinance 11000.  If any section, part of section, paragraph, clause, phrase or word of this Ordinance is declared invalid, the remaining provisions of this Ordinance shall not be affected.

Section 4.  This Ordinance shall become effective thirty (30) days after final reading and adoption thereof.

Can’t say I’m surprised. Given the many problems facing the City of Miami (and there have big problems) its a wonder to me that the Mayor would pay so much attention to a law that was already voted on and which has profound implications for the future of our city. Why reopen this wound now? This delay is not only bad planning, it is fiscally irresponsible. It will further destabilize land values, and push our city deeper into economic malaise.

Don’t think so? How can any real investment take place in a city where you as a landowner cannot be sure whether the city commission will suddenly decide to down-zone your property? Why would I invest in the City of Miami, where my property rights are based on the whim of the mayor’s judgment. No sir, I would rather take my dollars elsewhere - like Coral Gables, or South Miami, or any of the other dozen cities we have in Dade County. Or maybe I won’t bring my money here at all.

Commissioners:  Miami 21 has been vetted. It has been vetted to death. Let it pass. By now, thousands of business owners and residents have made their mark on this code. It already belongs to the city. You will never get everyone to agree because our city is diverse - but we can stand by basic principles. Our code should prioritize walking, provide for active streets, and provide for better transitions to neighborhoods. Miami 21 does these in a way that 11000 cannot. For the simple reason that Miami 21 is a huge improvement over 11000  it should be implemented now.

Please contact your commissioner and let them know that Miami 21 is what our city needs.

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