- Sunrail special session update: seems like the powers that be are going to meet in December to discuss funding for SunRail and TriRail. “…every leader in Tallahassee has been told by the federal government: you’re not getting any money until Tri Rail gets a funding source,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Jeff Koons, chairman of the board that oversees Tri-Rail. Good to hear. CSX has also agreed to revisit its liability demands. (Orlando Sentinel)
- Check out this cool tribute to architecture and urbanism guru Vincent Scully (one of my former professors from UM). (Hartford Courant)
- Great editorial from Friday’s Herald about the Port of Miami: “As the closest U.S. port to the Panama Canal, the Port of Miami has much at stake. The port serves more than 20 shipping lines that call on more than 100 countries and 250 ports across the world. It contributes $17 billion annually and 176,000 direct and indirect jobs to the local economy.” Duh. Then why aren’t we serving the people who work and travel to the Port with adequate mass transit?
- Glad someone is paying attention: Katy Sorenson is sponsoring a resolution to establish the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact between Palm Beach, Broward, Monroe, and Dade Counties. (Miami-Dade)
- Win for citizen involvement: Bruno Barreiro is sponsoring a resolution to direct the Mayor to develop a web-based application for legally required public notices or ads to appear on the County web portal. (Miami-Dade)
- Today the County discussed today ending the costly and moronic appeals of the last round of UDB lawsuits (brought on by the State’s rejection of the expansion). Katy Sorenson, always the voice of reason, sought a motion to end the appeals, but was shut down by Chairman Moss. Katy will now be proposing a resolution (at a subsequent meeting) to end the appeals. I hope she is successful. Why they are continuing to spend money we don’t have on this (while cutting important services) is beyond me. Kudos to Mayor Alvarez and the members of the commission who see this as a waste of time and resources. Sigh.
- The tentative date for the yearly Transit Summit is November 18th, from 5-8 pm. Ysela Llort described the format of the meeting as one where we discuss “living within our means.” I’m skeptical of what will come out of this meeting given the content of the recent Transit Development 10 year plan. (More on this in a separate post).
- Warren Buffet is making a big bet on the future of rail in the US, expanding his rail holdings of Burlington Northern Santa Fe. (NYTimes)
- I heart Katy: The MPO approved a resolution sponsored by Katy Sorenson that requires ghg’s to be taken into account when preparing transportation planning assessments. “The MPO is responsible for planning our transportation system county-wide, and the choices we make now will be felt for generations,” said Commissioner Sorenson. “Factoring carbon emissions into the choices the MPO Board must consider in weighing mass transit and road projects is a good first step toward a sustainable transportation system for our County.” (County)
- Awesome: 119 Acres are being added to the South Dade Wetlands Project through the EEL Program (total land saved so far: 19,577 acres).
A few of this weeks news:
- A bill to authorize a major deal between CSX Railways and the State of Florida to provide 61 miles of commuter rail around Orlando is trying to get through the State legislature today before the session ends. This would be a great move in the right direction for Central Florida. It also revives hope of a statewide rail system that could connect major urban centers and connect to local commuter rail. It is a boon for regional transit, and a great opportunity for rail lines throughout the state to really consider the benefits of public-private partnerships with municipalities as a way of providing mass transit. I for one want to see a line along the FEC corridor from downtown Miami to Ft. Lauderdale and points beyond. Then we’ll be cooking with gas.
- Surprise surprise, we are again in the top 5 cities with the worst traffic. It’s no wonder Miami is the cleanest city in the country, nothing gets dirty if everyone stays in their car…
- Not to beat a dead horse….I was trying to make this UDB fight a little less frustrating by being optimistic about the future of planning in Dade County when I read a couple of letters in the Herald today from Katy Sorenson and Natasha Seijas. Kudos to Commissioner Sorenson! You really get what this is about. Shame on you Commissioner Seijas! Your blatant disregard for the environment is clear from your leadership record on this issue. You claim that the UDB has been around since 1983, but according the Planning Department documents, the UDB was an implied line that was enforced by land use policies and maps since 1974. According to these same documents, based on an influx of 30,000 people a year, we have enough residential capacity until 2018, enough commercial until 2025, and industrial until 2029. I find it hard to understand why, given the best judgment of the county planning department, basic good planning principles, and negative recommendations from two different regulatory bodies, you wold move forward with this obviously backward decision. If, as you say, you are awaiting a report from the EPA, why not delay these decisions until then? Please save your platitudes for your constituents, and don’t patronize us by pointing out that the land use policy outside the UDB is just as bad as it is in. Thanks. If you really were really interested in solving these issues you would work on fixing these issues, and not touch the UDB. Here’s a suggestion, how about some creative thinking about our agricultural land and where we get our food. For example, if local agricultural interests worked to supply Dade County Public Schools with part of their dietary needs, you would find reduced shipping costs, and increased demand for local produce. I’m sure if you put your thinking cap on you could think of some win-win solutions (to quote Kordor). Incidentally, I made a little graphic that shows how commission votes were divided geographically across the county (green is against expansion and pink is pro), and what it shows is that the commissioners who voted no are predominantly in areas that are at risk of facing future UDB fights (Districts 8 and 9) or facing a backlash of overdevelopment (District 4). Commissioners Sorenson and Moss cover a great part of the developable land outside of the UDB. Interesting…
West Kendall Baptist Hospital plans…
What irks me most is the marketing ploy to promote the
fought for the plan — arguing that developer David Brown promised to build a long-sought road connecting Martinez Kendall Driveto a nearby residential complex. It was a job, said, that the county couldn’t complete. Martinez
Sorenson took exception: “Should we make policy decisions based on what developers are going to do for us? Seems to me we ought to be making the policy.”
The Lowe’s vote commanded the most attention. Twice since 2003 representatives of the home improvement giant have tried to convince commissioners to let them build outside the UDB; both times they were denied.
Tuesday they cracked through — even as dozens of people lined up to speak against the plan to build on 52 acres at Southwest Eighth Street and 137th Avenue.
Said Julie Hill: “Further sprawl will exacerbate climate change in South Florida.”
Added John Wade: “We should have a water recycling program working before there’s any attempt to move the UDB.”
But Humberto Sanchez, who lives about 25 blocks from the proposed Lowe’s site, told the story of a recent shopping venture to buy light bulbs. “It took me an incredible amount of time to buy light bulbs at Home Depot.”
Interesting side note: you would not believe how difficult it is to find pictures of Sprawl and suburban office complexes despite how common they are in the American Landscape. Just further proof that we keep building places that aren’t photographic, let alone even livable. Finding a decent picture of a Lowes parking lot was just as difficult because as common as they are, who the heck would want to photograph one?
Uh Oh, apparently there is a UDB vote today…
”If we’re starting to get serious about water, climate and environmental issues, the most important thing we can do is prevent urban sprawl,” [Katy Sorenson] said.
The debate will surely pit opponents to further development in Florida’s most populous county against business interests that say the projects are needed.
One applicant wants to build a Lowe’s retail store near Southwest 138th Avenue and Eighth Street; another plans to create office and industrial space in an area in Doral near Beacon Lakes; two others aim to convert agricultural patches off Kendall Drive near Southwest 167th Avenue to business and office space.
But Martinez, the county commissioner who oversees a large portion of Kendall, believes some of the applicants have an upside. Though the Lowe’s would be built just outside his district, he said the company has promised to build a bridge over Southwest 139th Avenue that will actually “alleviate traffic.”
Alleviate traffic? Thanks Martinez! we weren’t aware of your experience in traffic engineering, do you care to elaborate how sprawl will reduce congestion throughout the county?
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