The Mayor delivered an historic, encouraging speech today at the State of the City Address yesterday. Among the major items mentioned by the Mayor, there was a heavy emphasis on becoming a greener, more sustainable city. In support, he mentioned that Miami 21, the Streetcar, higher densities, green buildings, and an improved parks system are crucial to accomplishing these goals. The Mayor even went so far as to challenge everyone in the City to change their traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent ones, which save loads of energy and subsequently cut down significantly on CO2 emissions. As you can see from these statements, as well as quotes below, the Mayor was very critical of sprawl and clearly understands the dynamics of sustainability:

  • “We will move away from government policies that invest in sprawl”.
  • “Cities (incl. Miami) have been planned around cars and not people - well, not anymore. We need to move away from government policies that invest in sprawl”.
  • “Make no mistake, the low density suburban sprawl the characterizes growth in South Florida is the true enemy to sustainability…the cure for sprawl is a return to the core, bringing people together so they can live, work, shop and play close to where they live”.
  • “The message will be clear, you either build green (in Miami), or don’t built at all”.
  • “We need to invest in a streetcar system today, like the one we used to have. And, we must do it while we can still afford it. Rather than wait years and Miamians (wonder) why we failed to act, a streetcar system is an inevitable solution - Miami can either pay for it now, or pay for it later - leaving future generations to pay a much, much higher bill to ensure sustainability”.
When he made the last statement above about the streetcar, I shook my head. Both publicly and privately, I’ve been using almost that identical line for at least a year now to help explain the value of going through with the streetcar project. Miamians should be excited that they finally have a Mayor that gets it. People need to start looking at what has/likely will be accomplished under his terms:

Considering that Miami was a nearly bankrupt, sprawling, quasi-urban mess with a junk bond rating just 10 years ago, it puts into perspective the historic legacy of Mayor Diaz and you’ve really got to give props to what he has done for the City, at least from an urban planning and livability perspective.

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Related posts:

  1. Letter from Mayor Diaz on Miami 21
  2. Join Mayor Diaz at the Green Mobility Network Meeting, Tonight!
  3. Miami Streetcar Update
  4. Is Miami Becoming a Park n’ Walk City?
  5. A Giant Leap in the Right Direction

12 Responses to Miami’s First Green Mayor

  1. rising from the ashes says:

    The streetcar issue takes me back about 4 years ago when the city brought up the idea and asked City of Miami Beach what they thought. I remember all the older residents were up at arms about the whole thing, much like the Kendall people were about the train issue. I would LOVE to see all of Dade county using some of the concepts of New Urbanism and for all of us to have more sustainable practices, but unfortunately there are many who do not want to be inconvenienced with the change.

    If only we could make them see how much better it would be for everyone and that the mild inconveniences they will have to suffer for the short term will pay off in the long run, not only for them but for future generations.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The entire county went through a building boom over the last 10 years. The Mayor allowing the unbridled development is what has led to the overbuilding, excess inventory and depression we are in now from it, and which is and will take years to get out of. He’s hardly responsible for the 20 year perf arts getting finally completed. And, the streetcar is way to expensive for a bus on tracks, which will be stuck in the same gridlock we’ll be in, in our cars. Miami’s 20 years behind progressive American cities and since most people here aren’t from other US cities, they think it’s modern.

  3. Ryan says:

    anon, could you please elaborate on the “depression” you speak of. And, I would like to see some evidence to support your claims regarding the streetcar. Thanks.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope the “Village Idiot” Sarnoff doesn’t derail the streetcar project.

  5. Anon#2 says:

    I think it’s fairly obvious that the streetcar will be stuck in the same traffic as everyone else.

    Rail in Miami should be separate from surface roads, not part of them
    A#2

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Greening of Mayor Manny Diaz
    How Terribly “Convenient”

    Apparently our very own Mayor Manny Diaz has recently begun to champion the environmental cause, preach the gospel of “Global Warming” and promote more energy efficient green buildings and vehicles.

    It looks like he finally got around to seeing Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It was released last year so apparently it recently arrived at the Diaz home via Netflix.

    Is it possible that our very own Mayor Manny Diaz has recently had an epiphany, and “Gone Green?”

    Was this some sort of a Biblical style environmental conversion that resulted from staring too long at a Sylvania energy saving florescent light bulb?

    Did he recently take a pilgrimage to a Toyota dealership and inhale the hybrid car vapors at the Oracle of Prius?

    Did he have a miraculous experience that revealed a face similar to that of Al Gore in the entrails splattering of gravel and cement dripping from a cement truck?

    Did he wonder for forty days and nights through the cement canyons of Miami amongst all of the cranes, bricks, scaffolding and undocumented immigrants (illegal aliens) and then return with tablets carved in cement declaring the 10 commandments of “Green Is Good?”

    The big oil companies have caused most of the carbon pollution in our environment and now they are professing to help make things better but researching and possibly developing alternatives energy source.

    President George W. Bush has and his family has been a significant partner in the oil industry for decades and now he too declared that America is dangerously addicted to oil.

    Mayor Diaz has almost single-handedly been the driving force for the over building and glut of unnecessary homes, condos and offices in our community. This has resulted in the total disregard for our zoning codes, destruction of neighborhoods, disrespect for citizens, increased traffic, increased demand on potable water, electricity, sewage and flood control systems.

    How “Terribly Convenient” of Manny and his developer, attorney and lobbyist pals to now jump on the band wagon of environmental issues!

    According to columnist Michael Vasquez of The Miami Herald;

    ‘I’m getting e-mails all the time from people, `Hey, I heard about your Green Commission. I want to be on it,’ ” Diaz said with a laugh. “It’s become the hottest ticket in town.”

    “Today, Diaz will host an invitation-only environmental event — the PODER New America Alliance Green Forum. The forum was initially planned for Miami City Hall but was relocated to the Miami Museum of Science Planetarium because the list of attendees kept growing. Those attendees include Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Wal-Mart Vice President Andrew Ruben, and the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker himself — former Vice President Al Gore.”

    I wonder how many VIP’s will be fighting over the front row seats at this “Hot Ticket” event. With all of those many folks responsible for spot-zoning, up-zoning, variances and special permits, which include developers, lobbyists, attorneys, City of Miami and Miami-Dade County elected officials, it cold get petty nasty fighting over those precious front row seats.

    The reason for all of this “Going Green” is because that is the color of money.

    Harry Emilio Gottlieb
    Coconut Grove

  7. Verticus S. Erectus says:

    Streetcars won’t work. That’s why Miami got rid of them over 70-years ago. If they’re on the street, they are part of the problem. Elevating mass transportation off the grid is the only thing that will work. MetroRail, MetroMover, and a Disney-style monorail are the only solutions that will work. Thus Spaketh Verticus

  8. Steven says:

    Streetcars came about thanks in part to the power companies. They built the systems as a way to distribute power and gain money for having wires run all over the place. The same is true for the ice companies. As the power companies started gaining more and more money from power generation and technology became more efficient for power generation and distribution, power companies began to abandon their side businesses (in Florida, FPL dumped its ice company, natural gas company, and Miami streetcars).

    As municipalities took over the operation of the streetcars, they had already been running for several years and in many ways were already obsolete. When it came time to replace the streetcars, the municipalities instead decided to take the federal funding to encourage use of the busses produced by the auto industry rather than pay the money to purchase newer rail operating streetcars.

    It is because of the auto industry lobby in Washington that we do not have streetcars running in our streets today, not because they are inferior to busses or heavy rail. Europe did not have the same national subsidies for busses and for that reason you will see more and more streetcars there than anywhere in the United States.

  9. Anonymous says:

    >it is because of the auto industry
    >lobby in Washington that we do not
    >have streetcars running in our streets today

    No, it’s because postwar America was dramatically more affluent than prewar America, and people who drove quickly became the majority of voters. Streetcars (a.k.a. rolling roadblocks) took up as much space as two lanes of traffic, and did little but annoy America’s new, powerful, rapidly-growing middle class. Everyone knew buses were inferior… they just didn’t care, because only poor people rode them anyway.

    That’s the root of the problem behind people deluded enough to think BRT is anything besides a complete waste of money. For the most part, discretionary riders (people who don’t HAVE to rely on transit) who’ll consider using rail won’t look twice at BRT, and people who’ll endure standing in the aisle on a train will go back to driving the moment they have to do the same on a bus.

    BRT is a transit cookie thrown at the poor by people who think transit is irrelevant and worthless anyway, so they might as well cut their losses adn go with the cheapest and worst option (BRT). No matter how hard anyone tries to pretend BRT is anything besides a bus… at the end of the day, it’s still a bus.

    BRT or trolleys with statistically no discretionary riders to speak of is an extravagant waste of money. A subway or aerial rail line costing twice as much or more, that actually goes to useful places and consistently attracts tens of thousands of discretionary riders per day is worth every penny. If most of the people on the transit line would have ridden a bus anyway because they have no real choice otherwise, money spent on the transit line was wasted.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Streetcar will be beneficial to Miami, not because it’s going to alleviate traffic. Very few things will. Traffic congestion is something Miamians are going to have to learn to live with. It’s because it will give a more convenient and attractive way of travel that could encourage redevelopment in one of the few areas of Miami that has the potential to become densifiead and become a real city, not just a bunch of highways with a few houses in between, like the rest of the county.
    It is true that grade separated systems will be more efficient for moving people. But if you look at the current trends, the feds are not financing heavy rail, elevated systems because they are too expensive. Miami does NOT have the density that could generate enough ridership to warrant heavy rail, elevated systems.
    We will be very lucky if we get funding for the North South corridor and for the East West corridor, so don’t dream about more heavy rail, elevated systems.

  11. Anonymous says:

    i was under the understanding that we already HAD the money for a North corridor and the MIC connector. So whats all this about not getting money for it?

  12. Anonymous says:

    As far as I know, we have funding for the connection to the MIC, and we still have to get the funding for any other. What we have is the matching funds that the feds require to apply for funding.

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