Currently viewing the category: "Commissioner Marc Sarnoff"

We often hear that Miami is becoming a world-class city, but the sad truth is that Magic City is quickly becoming the country’s first gated city. What’s even worse is our elected officials are championing and using public funds to build walls and fences along the public right-of way, reducing mobility options for the general public and dividing communities in a futile attempt to reduce crime.  This type of reactive urban planning is being used by elected officials to appease their constituents, but the truth is there is no evidence that gated communities are any safer than non-gated communities.

Meanwhile, Miami has one of lowest police–to-residents ratios of any major city in the United States.  I’ve lost count, but we’ve had at least 2 or 3 police chiefs in the last four years.  The city has failed to provide enough officers to patrol the streets of Miami and now the city is scrambling to add 33 officers to the police force this year.

A few years ago, the city coughed up about $1,700,000 to build a wall for the Coral Gate community.  Here are the pictures of our elected officials celebrating their ugly tax-payer funded wall.  What’s even worse is that these pictures are posted on the city of Miami’s website as if this is something to be proud of; it’s not. Quite frankly, it is an embarrassment. A world-class city should not support gated communities, much less pay for them.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of. Especially when the city foots the bill.

About 6 months ago Commissioner Sarnoff ponied up another $50,000 for Belle Meade to build a fence. See for yourselves how ridiculous and infective this fence is:

Now Morningside residents are considering a fence around the perimeter of their neighborhood as well. No word yet if the city will pay for Morningside’s fence too.

No elected official should be proud of this piecemeal ineffective urban planning strategy.  Quite the contrary, the city should not even allow walls or fences to be built.  I’m not sure why the city’s Planning Department allows this to happen.

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Ladies and Gentlemen- Let’s get Ready to Rumble!

It’s the fight of the century. David vs. Goliath

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Legion Park

6447 NE 7th Ave
Miami, FL 33138

I have a feeling we may see a couple of Superfly Snukas from Upper EastSide residents and businesses at this event. FDOT better come prepared.

 

We received this  letter last week which was addressed to City Commissioner Sarnoff, County Commissioner Barreiro and FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego. You can also send an email to them by clicking here.

Dear Commissioners Sarnoff and Barreiro and Mr. Pego,

I am writing to you this morning regarding a matter that is very troubling to me and one that I hope you will consider as part of your agenda: PEDESTRIANS IN THE URBAN CORE. As you are well aware, Miami is trying to become an urban city where people live, work and play- like Chicago or New York. In so doing, it needs to be an urban center that is thoughtfully planned so people can walk safely any time of the day or night. We should be able to walk our dogs, go to the market, or take a stroll to dinner. When you live in an urban core, like Brickell, where my family lives, you cannot be expected to take your car out for every little errand or just to go a few blocks. However, being that walking in the Brickell area is so difficult and dangerous to navigate, I feel like I must do so-compounding the traffic problem and the pedestrian problem. I am sure you agree that we need to make our urban center a place where all can feel safe to walk the streets. However, this is not the case at this point in time. Since I moved to Brickell I have been dismayed at the lack of attention and care given to pedestrians by drivers, construction workers, and city planners. 

Walking from Brickell to Downtown. The other day I was walking to downtown from Brickell where we live. A group of us crossed the bridge, then were challenged to cross the street using two cross walks where cars dart at you around the curve where Brickell becomes Biscayne. We need better signals for pedestrians there. A cross walk is not enough; we need bright lights that signal when a pedestrian needs to cross (like is found in front of the FRESH MARKET in Coconut Grove on S Bayshore Drive). Even though we have the walk signal, cars still feel they can turn right on red without stopping. I have observed people run across that cross walk because cars were coming at them so quickly. Then as you continue to walk on 2nd ave and (a) there is no side walk because of construction of the Whole Foods-we actually had to walk on the street between downtown distributor and SE 2nd Street, and (b) there is no cross walk at the intersection of 2nd ave and SE 2nd Street!!! You literally run for it so you don’t get hit by a car. Enough is enough! This is one example of many. I invite you to walk along Brickell Ave and see how challenging it is to walk in a straight line (like you do in NY or Chicago) and feel safe, without having to navigate barricades and other obstacles in what is really an obstacle course.Transitmiami.com has done a wonderful job of highlighting what they called the Brickell “deathwalk” : http://www.transitmiami.com/category/places/miami/brickel    

With the taxes we pay to live in the Brickell area, we must have the pedestrian walkways we deserve and have paid for-ones that you would want your grandmother or children to walk down. We need representatives like you to stand up for us and think creatively about ways we can emulate cities like Chicago, where I previously lived and always felt safe as a pedestrian. As the Brickell area becomes more populated with CitiCenter and other developments, this will become more and more of a   moral imperative.  People are getting hurt and people’s lives are at stake here. As citizens and taxpayers, we should be able to walk the streets-elderly, children, groups, etc- without fear of tripping on obstacles or being hit by a car. This is a very serious matter or moral proportions that deserves your immediate attention.I will be forwarding this email to Felipe Azenha of Transit Miami.com and will also bring up the issue at the board meeting of Icon Brickell.I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing about the ways you can alleviate this dangerous problem.

Sincerely,

Carlos Abril

 

Transit Miami friend, Bricen, sent us the following email:

As a mother of 2 young children that needs to be heard, I look to you Transit Miami for help.  We live in a quaint neighborhood right smack dab in the middle of US1 and Tigertail Ave.  When you are here roaming the residential streets of the North Grove you don’t even feel as if you are surrounded by the bustle of an urban city.  Living here we are very blessed to have Marjory Stoneman Douglas Mini Park in our backdoor.  The park is a Miami Dade public park (playground really) that is frequented by many.  There are kids EVERYWHERE in this hood.  Enter 22nd Ave connecting US1 and Tigertail Ave.  You would think this small strip of street was part of the Indy 500.  Crossing 22nd Ave to enter the park has become a very scary game of red rover red rover.  There is a ancient stop for pedestrian in crosswalk sign that NO ONE sees or much less pays any attention.  In the 8 months that we have been living here, we have been to the park nearly everyday, sometimes twice a day.  On two occasions, yes TWICE, have I had a car actually stop to let me cross with the kids.  The real fat kicker:  BOTH of these times that we were waved across, here comes maniac driver PUNCHING the gas to quickly go around the stopped car letting us cross!  Hello SCREAMS, FREAK OUT, FREEZ IN SHOES WHICH WAY DO I PULL THE WAGON, SLAM ON BREAKS, KIDS CRYING, WE ALMOST DIED moment.  What the heck is wrong with people.  Seriously.  Long gone are the days when people actually pause, enjoy the scenery, and just wait.  Wait for a mother, father or nanny with kids, babies and strollers to safely cross the road.  Just last week someone stopped to let a nanny and baby by and that act of goodness ended in a 3 car accident!  God forbid a child actually escape the arms of a caretaker and run right out into this death trap. It is something very scary that we encounter daily.  Please City of Miami  a speed hump or two is all we ask for.  If you could throw in a flashing yellow cross light that would be icing but come on, this is a neighborhood, these are our kids, and probably up to 30 kids that reside here walk to that park daily. The 22nd Ave crosswalk is somebody’s nightmare waiting to happen.  I pray to God every single day that it’s not mine.

 

Although the City of Miami owns this road, we are being told by Transit Miami sources within the city that any time the city adds signs, pavement markings or change to traffic patterns they must get approval from the County.  The reindeer games between the County and the City needs to come to an end.  The County and the City must to do what is right for the all the residents. You can send City Commissioner Sarnoff and County Commissioner Xavier Suarez an email by clicking here.

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A few weeks ago we wrote about the abysmal pedestrian conditions along SE 1st Avenue.  We met with William Plasencia from Commissioner Sarnoff’s office after we posted this article and he promised us that the Commish would respond. Well it looks like Commissioner Sarnoff has delivered some small improvements.

Inexpensive, but effective traffic calming.

Just this past weekend I saw these “Yield to Pedestrian” signs in the middle of the road along SE 1st Avenue. The impact of these signs can be felt immediately.  On Saturday I witnessed dozens of cars moving more slowly along this street and drivers even stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalks. This is a perfect example of inexpensive traffic calming, that can be easily implemented and will save lives.

This is a big first step, but there is plenty of work yet to be done on this street. There should be crosswalks at every intersection of this road.  There are still intersections where the crosswalks are non-existent.  We’ll give Commissioner Sarnoff a solid “C+” for effort and a Transit Miami Shout-Out. Well done Mr. Sarnoff, but there is plenty of room for improvement still.

We are still trying to get Commissioner Sarnoff to commit to a Brickell field trip with us. Hopefully he will take us up on our offer.

Please send Commissioner Sarnoff an email thanking him and his office for being proactive. We need to give credit where credit is due.

 

Last week I posted an article showing unacceptable conditions for pedestrians around Brickell. Twenty-four hours later the conditions improved slightly.

It took a week, but eventually this sidewalk was temporarily repaired after we wrote about it…

Voilà! Things seem to only get done in this town through the shaming process…

Why does it take a blog to get things done in this city? Shouldn’t the City, County and the FDOT do these types of things on their own volition?

We don’t have leadership in Miami when it comes to complete streets or public transit for that matter.  Not at the City, County, or State (the FDOT District 6) level. Unlike visionary Mayors Michael Bloomberg, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Rahm Emanuel not one of our elected officials is taking charge to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists or think of alternative plans for our neglected ½ penny transit tax.  The leadership that we have is entirely reactive- hardly anything seems to get done until we begin shaming government to do its job or someone is killed or critically injured. (i.e. Brickell Avenue, Coral Way, South Miami Avenue, Rickenbacker Causeway, Biscayne Boulevard- Transit Miami has been at the forefront of advocacy for improvements. Sadly it seems like we are the leaders and our politicians simply react).

Those of us that write for Transit Miami have full time jobs and we write for this blog because we are unsatisfied with the current status quo of complacency that is so pervasive in South Florida and we know things could be much better-we won’t tolerate mediocrity. We don’t have the time or the resources (we don’t get paid) to shame our elected officials to design every street so that they are suitable for people to walk and bike.

We shouldn’t have to make these demands-government should unconsciously make streets safer for everyone. Instead County elected officials are wasting their time creating an online registry for dangerous dogs. Meanwhile Miami Dade County averages about 75 pedestrian fatalities and 10 cycling fatalities a year.  An additional 1500 pedestrians and another 500 cyclists are injured every year.

I’m throwing down the gauntlet; I challenge any elected official to champion a complete streets campaign. Our community is begging for safer streets and better public transit, yet our elected officials don’t grasp either concept-they simply turn a blind eye. Leadership is clearly lacking in Miami Dade County. Miami will never become a “World Class City” until both of these issues are adequately addressed.

 

 

Today the Miami Herald published this editorial:

I commute from Fort Lauderdale to Miami every day on I-95 which, as most of us know, is one of the most dangerous highways in America. I’m an excellent driver and don’t take chances. But, every single time I become a pedestrian anywhere around Brickell Avenue the ante is upped. I seriously fear for my life.

A woman in an SUV roared north around the bend south of me looking straight at me, but ignoring the fact that I was in the pedestrian crosswalk. I put my arm out to alert her to my crossing, but she didn’t slow until the very last moment — and then she flipped me off, angry that I had the audacity to impede her progress.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to literally run out of clearly marked crosswalks to escape being hit, like the time a woman who was busy texting nearly smashed into me as I crossed at the same location, or the time I ran from the path of a Brinks armored truck near Mary Brickell Village. The scene created quite a stir among other pedestrians, who asked if I was OK.

It’s utterly ridiculous that somebody can’t do something. Where are the police? Where is the notion that keeping people safe has some importance in urban planning? Flesh and bones are no match for several thousand pounds of steel going well over the speed limit. Lowering the speed limit has been suggested, but won’t have an impact on Miami’s drivers, who are aggressive and, essentially, autonomous. There are no funds for hiring cops to enforce the law, remember? It’s a free-for-all out here, with tragedy literally right around the corner.

If Miami cops can hand out 47 tickets in just over one hour, on just one Brickell intersection to drivers ignoring the rights of pedestrians as reported in the May 30 article, Miami cops crack down on Brickell motorists who won’t yield to pedestrians, then doing a lot more of the same throughout the Brickell financial district just seems to make good financial, and common, sense — at least to this shell-shocked pedestrian!

Laura Parker, Oakland Park

 

Non-Existent Brickell Sidewalks

Why is it so difficult to put down a temporary piece of plywood so that women in heels, mothers with strollers and handicap people in wheel chairs don’t need to go off-roading in the Brickell Financial District? This is embarrassing. Actually it’s pathetic.

 

And Miami is a “World Class” city right?

Invisible Crosswalks

SE 1st Avenue must be one of the worst roads for pedestrians in the Brickell Financial District. SE 1st Avenue is a two lane, one-way road where cars move uninterrupted for 5 blocks from SE 8th Street all the way to SE 13th Street in excess of 40 mph. Needless to say the deck is stacked against pedestrians crossing to and from the Brickell Metrorail Station. It is also worth mentioning that there is an elementary school just a few blocks away and I see parents with children trying to cross this death trap on a daily basis.

Please help us identify the invisible crosswalks on this street. Why is it so difficult to get some paint in this town?  All we are asking for is the most basic level of safety and service for pedestrians-proper crosswalks.
This is a City of Miami Street

What crosswalk?

A recipe for disaster.

Between the lack of enforcement and planning and a growing Brickell population conditions are getting worse for pedestrians with each passing day.

Under construction for over a week? How are parents with strollers and the disabled expected to navigate safely through Brickell. This is not a third world country!

Please send Commissioner Sarnoff an email and ask him if he thinks these are acceptable standards for a “World Class City”.

 

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.

 A press conference was held this afternoon at 1450 Brickell Avenue to announce changes to the upcoming FDOT resurfacing project.  Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff were present to make the official announcement that FDOT has agreed to reduce the speed limit to 35 mph from Southeast 15th Road and the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway. In addition, a new marked crosswalk in the 1400 block of Brickell will be added and all existing incomplete crosswalks will be completed so that pedestrians will have marked crossings on all four corners. Bike sharrows will also be added, but at a cost; FDOT plans to widen the roadway to accommodate sharrows. We love bike sharrows, but the roadway should not be widened to accommodate sharrows.  We are advocating for the opposite; travel lanes should be narrowed to calm traffic.

The press conference was very encouraging.    All of the elected officials present acknowledged that more needs to be done for all users on Brickell Avenue and noted that the improvements are only a first step. (We agree.) FDOT went further and said they would be willing to add more crosswalks if the Miami DDA agreed to pay for them, which the DDA agreed to pay for on the spot.  There were even whispers of raised crosswalks being thrown around and the strong possibility that the speed limit would be cut even further to 30 mph.  A 30 mph speed limit is more appropriate and would connect seamlessly to Biscayne Boulevard’s current 30 mph speed limit. 

PS. We put the Transit Miami Eye to work yesterday looking for an instance of 30 mph limit on US1 in a Central Business District, and we didn’t have to look far.

A speed limit sign on Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street shows very clearly an instance of a 30 mph limit on U.S. 1 in the Central Business District… looks like a precedent to me.  It also means that this line in yesterday’s Herald article is incorrect:  : “That will make the entirety of Brickell 35 mph — the same speed as the connected Biscayne Boulevard to its north.”  More to come…

The City of Miami could be a skateboard mecca. Some say it already is. After years of work by local skateboarders, savvy citizens and dedicated politicians (Sarnoff), the Biscayne Skate Park still has not broken ground. The land just sits there, empty, next to Temple Israel. This historic religious center is also the temple of choice for some vocal opposition. Among them are those who claim active sports leads to marijuana consumption, the unquenchable desire to rob your neighbors and some new ability to do so (maybe all that exercise?), an addiction to loud music that cannot be turned down (magic volume buttons and kids who aren’t afraid of noise citations?). It all seems so bizarre.

Keep your eye on this one. Criminal.

If you ever spend time in Downtown Miami on the weekends, you’ll see kids from as far away as Stuart who come here with their friends to skate. While it is cool to see them do tricks, you might expect a business owner to freak out at the threat of possible lawsuits and the obvious wear-and-tear to entryways, plants, ADA-required ramps and so on. Usually, taxpaying business owners have more sway in local politics but here we have some non-taxpaying folk, with an already stated disconnect from reality, fighting the use of public space by the public.

South Florida has a tradition of wealthy neighbors who want control of their local neighborhood and streets without the responsibility of paying to maintain them. The responsible among them simply give in and pay for those streets (Bay Point). Others think that just because they have so much money, they should be allowed to dissuade all politicians from providing equal access to the parks or roads everyone pays taxes for. (See bike lanes on Euclid for just one recent example, the failure of Baylink or innumerable subway extensions as others)

A movement is growing in Facebook land to do something about this and GET OUR SKATEPARK! (Full disclosure: I live right down the street and passing by the unused space regularly is just sad. Plus, I’m one of those ‘Skateboarding is not a crime’ people.) We spoke to organizer Seth Levy, who says they are going round the neighborhood with petitions next week. He seems convinced that most neighbors are already in support of a public park and from my own anecdotal experience, I think he’s right.

For more information, visit them on Facebook here or check them out on Twitter (twitter.com/biscaynesk8park)

Even if you do not ever get on a bicycle, it makes sense to promote better, safer, increased bicycling for transportation. Bicycles don’t lead to massive road and bridge reconstruction projects or the massive parking towers that are all over the City of Miami under our current zoning code. Did you know: The average car parking space costs somewhere around $14,000 to produce and provides prime real estate that serves no function or purpose but to house a car, sometimes. Parking anywhere is ugly, right? Not necessarily - Miami21 promotes what planners and developers call ‘lined parking garages.’

Examples of parking garages built with the spirit of Miami 21 include:

Denver, Colorado

Celebration, Florida

Downtown Miami, Florida (Everglades Residential Towers)

You can’t see the parking - but it’s there! The photos above are indeed of parking garages that provide space for hundreds of cars. Each of these developments lined their parking garages with retail, office and/or residential space, making the entire block more amenable to pedestrian activity and in line with the requirements of Miami 21.

In other news, the City of Miami Commission is considering a new parking garage just a few blocks to the north in the Downtown/Omni area. Aesthetics are given consideration in the form of two 200′ tall media tower LCD screens that would allow for digitally projected advertising that can be seen from I-395, Downtown and residences near the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. What do you think?

City Square Renderings: Proposed 8-story tall Parking Garage with 200' Media Towers for Downtown Miami

City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, citing the obvious affects such a development would have on neighbors, has called for a town hall meeting with developers and residents to discuss the project planned for Biscayne Boulevard and 14th Street. The meeting will take place tomorrowWednesday, May 5th at 6 PM at the ZIFF Ballet Opera House inside the Peacock Foundation Studio. I think the Commissioner deserves a TransitMiami.com shout-out for bringing this to the attention of residents. If you have questions, you can call Commissioner Sarnoff’s office at 305.250.5333.

Much has been said lately about the changes proposed by Commissioner Sarnoff regarding height restrictions in the MIMO historic district. I have had several exchanges with area residents who oppose further development along this (and other corridors). Recently Commissioner Sarnoff issued a letter to Commission Chair Sanchez over the false fear of Burt Harris property rights litigation, and makes some good points. I can’t argue that taking property rights will open the city to litigation (it might, but as the Commissioner points out, the city has a strong case). The question is not whether the city is within its rights to do so, but whether it is good policy. It isn’t. With all due respect to local residents, I think that capping development in this area at 35′ is bad planning. The Commissioner cites traffic and lack of mass transit as part of his reasoning:

This is an important City of Miami historic district that exists on an FDOT [rated] ‘F’ roadway. The added density or often intensity of T5 or T6 planned for sections of this historic road will only casue a collapse in a system that has already seen its mass transit funding diverted by the County.

Mr. Commissioner, we should be so lucky to have ‘F’ rated roadways. You should know that as you increase the Level of Service for a road, you decrease the Level of Service for pedestrians and cyclists. Increased Levels of Service lead to greater flow, greater speed, and less safety. I hope you don’t advocate increasing Levels of Service along our roadways as a way of addressing the lack of mass transit. Alleviating traffic by preventing development is a red herring - it will not have any effect on the LOS of the roadway. Rather than being concerned with the false perception that limiting development will reducing traffic, you and area residents should be more concerned about designing the street with pedestrians in mind, slowing traffic down (by keeping a low LOS), and facilitating further mass transit opportunities.

And speaking of the lack of mass transit on Biscayne, you and others should read about the project to bring rail down the FEC corridor that runs right next to Biscayne. Part of the planning work they are doing for this project is to make sure that the local CDMP and zoning code increases density and pedestrianism around stations. Contrary to your claims that this is not an appropriate area for density, its proximity to a major rail corridor make it the most logical place for more density, and will help offer your constituents more transit alternatives. The timeline for the project is about 6 years (which started in January), so this is not some far off project but one that will be implemented in the short term. Funding will come from the Federal and State government.

Also, check out the editorial from the Herald today echoing the economic benefits of the plan, which I described yesterday.

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City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff sent out a newsletter to his constituents today responding to public outcry over the recent 2-2 vote on Miami 21. He hints that another vote could be held before the election.  Check out what the Commissioner had to say about the future of Miami 21 and his thoughts on potential property rights litigation:

There is a strong possibility Commissioners may get a second chance to make a decision at an upcoming meeting, where hopefully all five Commissioners will be present to vote.  The plan, while not perfect, offers a unique opportunity to redesign Miami into the pedestrian friendly community with wide walkways, and large green spaces that so many of our residents desire….

I do not simply accept what Development lawyers claim the law to be, that any change in the code which lessens their client’s development rights, results in an effective taking of property by the City. This is commonly referred to as a Bert Harris property compensation. The recent 3rd District Court of Appeals decision in Monroe County versus Ambrose, holds: “the mere purchase of land did not create a right (by the owner or developer) to rely upon existing zoning”. Equally, our City Attorney has opined there is no Bert Harris issue for height limitations. I have performed my due diligence. The threat of litigation and being sued is an omni present threat in Miami.  Most importantly I understand that we are no longer in the building craze and land values are depressed. The Bert Harris argument is least effective during these times. We have more lawyers per square foot than anywhere in the United States. I will never govern nor cast my vote because of a threat. I stood my ground when personally sued by the Mercy Developer for my vote against its massive 36 story, 3 tower project in the Grove, despite 2 other Commissioners and the Chairman voting over the District Commissioner.

We hope that he is right and that Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez brings the code back for a vote. The Chairman has a big opportunity to redeem himself with potential voters. He needs to do this soon, or lose any chance of becoming Mayor. I’m sure by now he has realized how big a mistake he made, and what it might cost him. It’s not too late Joe, do the right thing.

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!

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A street mural being chalked on Commodore Plaza during the early hours of Bike Miami Days.

Let us get something straight; the advertisements all over the city of Miami aren’t murals, they’re big ass ugly tarps. With their abundance and apparent ability to lobby to soften our elected officials, the big ass ugly tarp industry is apparently a lucrative one. Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has the right idea, attempting to restrict these banners to a smaller area, levy heavier fines on non-compliant ads, and reducing the number of legal advertisements. The other option, crafted by city administrators, would levy smaller fines and allow more banners in a larger area. The plans have been in the works since July and after 8 months of deliberation will finally soon come to a vote by the city commission.

“I’m disappointed after spending so much time with the administration,” Mr. Sarnoff said, calling today’s face-off the “first time the administration has really challenged me like this.”

Mr. Sarnoff blamed the influence of mural lobbyists for city staffers’ apparent change of heart, saying outdoor advertising proponents have their “hooks deeply in the administration.”

It is unfortunate that the city of Miami is bowing to special interests. This particular form of advertising contributes little substantial value to the city, degrades the view of much of the city, and undermines any efforts to create a legitimate outdoor advertising industry. Banners, such as the one pictured above (1 of 3 on this particular building), are placed without any regard for building use. This particular “hotel” is fully blanketed with a Budweiser tarp obstructing every window on the eastern façade, facing I-95 motorists…

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