Alright, I couldn’t allow such a monumental city resolution to pass by unnoticed any longer. The city commissioners of Hialeah should be commended (yeah, I never thought I’d say that either) for their recent decision to reurbanize and re-zone five key districts, incorporating denser mixed-use development while keeping in line with better urban design principles. The plan calls for the establishment of five key business districts which would require mixed-use buildings (commercial on the ground floor with residential above) in higher density format and up to 7 stories in height. I have not been able to dig up any more information on the plan to find out if greenspace, parking, transit, sidewalks, building heights, etc. will be incorporated into the plan. The city website (mainly in Spanish) hasn’t been updated since September 2006 and the Herald article digressed to cover some of the more amusing aspects of politics in Hialeah:

Business owner Robert Morell called for Spanish-speaking residents to learn English — and was booed by the crowd.

”I am a little bit appalled because if you travel to any other city it looks like they’re going into the future. Some of us still want to live in the past,” Morell said. “I speak Spanish, even though my whole family is American. I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t learn the [English] language.”

Tomas Martinez, a regular at council meetings, where he addresses members in Spanish, approached Morell as he left the podium and an argument ensued.

As the men stared each other down, Robaina and City Council President Esteban ”Steve” Bovo threatened ejection from the meeting or arrest for anyone causing a major disturbance.

Ignoring Morell’s suggestion, resident Randy Carter said he would address the council in Spanish.

”I am going to speak in Spanish because when you do your political campaigns you do them in Spanish,” Carter told council members in Spanish.

Members of the audience laughed and applauded.

Despite the fact that this plan is perhaps the best thing that could happen to the zonal mess of Hialeah (this city must have invented spot zoning and strip malls while completely ignoring any sane citywide development plan,) many residents attended the meeting last week to protest the decision:

Some residents said they feared being displaced from their trailer homes or that historic landmarks would be dwarfed by seven-story buildings.

I find it amusing that the largely Cuban audience (who typically spends time lamenting over how great a city Havana was) would try to defeat a plan which could potentially bring some of Old Havana’s urban planning charm (by charm I clearly mean the old Spanish, walkable, non-autocentric, dense, ground floor commercial with residences above, covered walkways, etc.) to the city of Hialeah… Like the photo above/below, minus the decay of the past sixty years…

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7 Responses to Havanaleah

  1. Steven says:

    Unfortuantely it is meetings such as this one in Hialeah which lead people from other parts of the country to believe that Miami is like a third-world country.

    The city website alone should be presented in its entirety in both english and spanish (with English being the default). Additionally, meetings should be provided in English and if someone speaking at the meeting is presenting in spanish, then an interpreter should be provided. It is little things like that which are alienating the English-only-speaking people from the communities and government.

  2. Dayngr says:

    “I am a little bit appalled because if you travel to any other city it looks like they’re going into the future. Some of us still want to live in the past,” Morell said. “I speak Spanish, even though my whole family is American. I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t learn the [English] language.”

    Tomas Martinez, a regular at council meetings, where he addresses members in Spanish, approached Morell as he left the podium and an argument ensued.

    As the men stared each other down, Robaina and City Council President Esteban ”Steve” Bovo threatened ejection from the meeting or arrest for anyone causing a major disturbance.

    Ignoring Morell’s suggestion, resident Randy Carter said he would address the council in Spanish.

    ”I am going to speak in Spanish because when you do your political campaigns you do them in Spanish,” Carter told council members in Spanish.

    Members of the audience laughed and applauded.”

    What an embarassment. How appalling. I will definatlely be writing to these council members.

  3. Robert says:

    The Hialeah city web site is about 90% English from what I saw. Only a few press releases were in Spanish and they were also presented in English. Fair is fair.

    As far as the comment from the business owner: if you’re going to make a snarky comment like that in a city where the population is over 90% Hispanic, what do you think the reaction would be? Some people like to play the role of the poor innocent victim, when they’re actually being mean-spirited. There are plenty of places to do business where he doesn’t have to hear Spanish all the time.

    Hialeah is an ugly city with ugly strip malls and endless factorias, but they have produced their share of sharp and high-achieving professionals, and the crime rate is nowhere near as high as the neighboring area to the east of Douglas Road (Brownsville/Liberty City).

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yea the website is fully english i didnt see anything in spanish except some press releases that were in spanish but every big city does that.
    I go to hialeah atleast two times a week and i dont think its as ugly as people make iot out to be. it has an emerging downtown district and 49th street has nice roads with lined palm trees. its probaly not maintaned as well as it should but it only has a couple of horribly ugly parts. the rest of the city is just like anyother suburb with the strip malls and small side walks.

  5. citizen477 says:

    Hialeah is an ugly city with ugly strip malls and endless factorias, but they have produced their share of sharp and high-achieving professionals, and the crime rate is nowhere near as high as the neighboring area to the east of Douglas Road (Brownsville/Liberty City).

    If you are going to be comparing city crime rates, why don’t you study the nature of the crimes taking place before you go rattling of ridiculous comparisons. What does comparing Liberty City & Brownsville have to do with the city council meeting in Hialeah. I don’t care if Hialeah is 90% Hispanic, it is still a part of the UNITED STATES. English first, other languages are secondary. It worked for the Italians, the Haitians, the Greek and almost EVERY other ethnic group where English was the 2nd language. Why do South Floridian Hispanics/Latinos (particularly from the older generation) feel that they should be treated any differently?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why does it bother you that people want to continue to speak Spanish? (And by the way, you are making a sweeping generalization…most “South Floridian Hispanics/Latinos” are bilingual. And from my experience most Whites are not)

    I suppose you don’t want to feel alienated or othered.

    Oh wait.

    Yeah, it’s OK if you alienate OTHER people. God forbid the ruling class ever knows what that feels like.

    I’d say that this is a democracy…but then again, that means “majority rules” and they are the majority there. So they should be able to speak whatever language they want.

    I can’t resist one more point…

    I suppose if you believe that the mostly elderly population of Hialeah has the time, money, and means to learn English, it says a lot about your reasoning skills.

    I’d say it’s easier for younger people (who are in school)to learn Spanish if they want to interact completely with people in this city. But like a previous commenter suggested, there are plenty of business opportunities in other non-Spanish speaking cities, and lots of other places to live.

    However, your view is a beautiful example of colonialist thinking.

  7. Steven says:

    I think I should make a quick comment to what the Anonymous poster said. Making people speak the same language as the majority within a country is not colonialist thinking. Colonialist thinking is if the United States were to have a facility in another country and force the natives of that country to speak English. Last I checked, Hialeah was part of the United States (unless you are a certain Colorado Senator who is now running for president) where a majority of the populace speaks English. Saying that residents of Hialeah and the City Commission should conduct city business in English is not ridiculous and definitely not colonialist thinking. It is common sense.

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