(Image Source: Fate the Magnificent’s Flickr)
- Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower is calling to move forward with a plan to build a new convention center rather than the 50,000 SF addition proposed back in 2004. (Miami Today)
- After three years and $7 Million worth of renovations, Miami Beach’s historic City Hall (pictured above) is finally set to reopen. The refurbished building will house Miami Beach Police offices, the Miami design preservation league’s offices, and the MB Branch Court. (Miami Herald)
- Despite the huge economic downturn, MDM partners have secured a $250 million loan for the construction of MET 2 - a 750,000 SF office building rising in the heart of the CBD. (Globe Street)
- Contractual delays in the port of Miami tunnel could likely set back that project’s opening date to 2013. (Miami Today)
- NIMBYs try (and Fail) to keep a bus route from passing by their suburban Toronto home. Their arguments, typical of the NIMBY mindset, included: noise, pollution, added traffic, and a threat to children playing in the streets… (The Star)
- Surprise, surprise, apparently Sprawl may be the reason for a lack of civic involvement in Central New Jersey. (Princeton Packet)
- Voters in Minnesota will be deciding whether to spend $10 million to purchase a golf course in Eagan in order to prevent a developer from building more suburban homes. (Minesota Public Radio)
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Let me see if I am reading this sequence of events correctly:
- Miami-Dade County commissioners allowed development to occur adjacent to Kendall-Tamiami Airport.
- Thousands of cookie cutter homes were built, some in locations far too close to the airport boundary (you all remember how certain developers took certain commissioners on fishing trips to Mexico because they are so kind in exchange for a reduction in the airport buffer zone…)
- Knowing of the airport’s existence, families still moved into these houses.
- Residents are now complaining of the noise caused by the airport and want restrictions placed on flights.
I don’t know about you, but I’m left scratching my head on this one. How stupid are we? One of the proposed “solutions” is to move more of the training flights out to the Dade-collier transition facility in the middle of the everglades. In case you aren’t aware, in the late 1960’s some of our legislative geniuses laid the foundation to create the world’s largest airport (Everglades Jetport) in the middle of the Florida Everglades. Luckily, only one of the airports proposed 6 runways (a 10,500 ft behemoth nonetheless) was actually constructed before environmentalists (rather the cancellation of the SST aircraft, the main reason why the airport was conceived from the beginning) convinced the government that the airport would cause irreparable harm to the ecosystem.
I digressed as usual, but am I the only one in complete disbelief? This reminds me of the other geniuses in Kendall who never realized that existing rail rights-of-way like the CSX or FEC corridor could actually once again be used for regular rail service…
But residents are worried about the dangers associated with testing equipment in such a highly populated area.
It has even led homeowners to question whether it’s time for the Federal Aviation Administration to revisit airport guidelines now that the landscape around the airport has significantly changed from mostly empty fields to hundreds of homes.
Once again, this chain of events is the result of developers controlling our land-use regulations. Land-use planning is pro-active, why is it that in Miami-Dade County we’re always left cleaning up other people’s messes?
The swath of land centered in the image below was a former airfield in Pinecrest, forced to close due to encroaching development, could Kendall-Tamiami experience this fate one day? How about Homestead General Aviation Airport or even Dade-Collier?
The Not-In-My-BackYard syndrome rages on in Broward County. If there is one facility that seems calm, sedate, and most likely to be desired in one’s backyard, it would be a shared use path for bicycles and pedestrians. No engine noise, no fumes, no rushing traffic. Just some neighbors going for a leisurely stroll or a quiet bike ride. It sounds pretty relaxing, right? Apparently residents in Plantation Acres don’t think so.
The Sun-Sentinel reported last week that some residents near a proposed multi-use path that is part of Broward County’s Greenways fear it will cause a rise in crime. One resident even offered a long list of things that were recently stolen from cars in his neighborhood. The article points out some data supporting that bicycle paths do not cause rises in crime, but fails to point out common sense.
First, if there’s crime now, that doesn’t mean a shared-use path will increase the level of crime. If crime went up after a path was put in, it would be a post hoc fallacy to assume that because of the path the crime went up. But the residents’ reasoning doesn’t even go that far! The residents are talking about a future project and doing nothing more than expressing their paranoia. They are seeing a rise in crime in their neighborhood now. Naturally, this is creating a little nervousness for them. They happen to see a project that might bring outsiders into their neighborhood, so their nervousness increases. Normally there might be something to it, but not so if you stop to think about it.
How are crimes committed? How do criminals get away with the loot? Generally, not by bicycle or on foot. If they want to steal electronics and weapons from cars or houses, they will need a vehicle to stash the goods. It ensures a quicker getaway without attracting attention. So where could anyone even get the idea in their head that a path for bicycles and pedestrians will make it easier for criminals to enter their neighborhood?
I honestly cannot figure out why the Sun-Sentinel even bothered to publish an article based on the opinion of a few paranoid people! To make it even more ironic, they point out that Plantation Acres is an equestrian community. Broward County’s Greenways page makes it clear that the paths are for equestrian use as well as bicycle use. These people will have a chance to ride their horses across the county on this and connecting trails, yet they still rise up against it.
It looks like FDOT will be installing fences to quell the fears of these residents. If the residents have any sense, they will take the time to install their own fences now to avoid the crime issues that are happening now. Their crime problems are happening now, and they have no reason to take out their frustration on one of FDOT’s better projects.
She writes, “Its true zoning codes are difficult to write. And no one wants to minimize the important role that government plays in assessing the public’s needs and translating them into hopelessly complicated, impenetrable legal gobbledygook. But there has to be a better way.”
Now, as an urban planner and architect I agree that the language can be difficult at times, but the fact is that anyone with a high school education can figure it out (not to mention that all of the terms used are defined in the first chapter). Part of the problem is that we have to translate good urban design (which is a field that lends itself to drawing more than writing) into legal ‘gobbledygook’ so that land-use attorneys and developers don’t find loopholes in otherwise straightforward regulations.
Codes (Miami 21 or any other land use code) have to be written in language that is not simplistic, and that will hold up to scrutiny in court. Menendez quotes from the code:
Lots facing streets on more than one (1) side shall have designated Principal Frontage(s) and may have Secondary Frontage(s). Unless otherwise designated by a Special Area Plan, a Principal Frontage shall be that facing the street of higher pedestrian importance or intensity (i.e., traffic volume, number of lanes, etc.)Which is another way of saying that you define the front of a corner lot as the one that faces the busiest street, but you can’t say that in a legal document because if you did then you would have all sorts of follow-up questions like:
- How do you define which street is most important?
- What do you call the other less important front?
Unfortunately, I think that this criticism of Miami 21, along most others, is less about the code than about blaming it for things that are beyond its control.
-> “Miami 21 is the first urban application of a smart code in the US. It is an experiment that has never been tested.”
Actually, Miami 21 is not the first form based code to be applied to a major urban center, Philadelphia is in the process of passing a form based code, and I think we would all agree that as far as successful urbanism is concerned Miami pales in comparison. Form based codes have actually been around for a long time. Think of any good city (Chicago, New York, Philly, Boston) and their downtowns were developed with codes that were form based (as opposed to use based).
-> “Miami 21 is hated by architects and urban planners.”
Actually, having been written by urban planners and architects this one is not really true. The Herald loves to point out that architects dislike the plan, but really only a vocal minority of self-crowned celebrity architects dislike the code as a matter of ego than of substance. One architect in particular (whose name will remain anonymous except to say that it begins with Z and ends with h) says that the code infringes on his creativity by imposing height restrictions. Without going into some lengthy discussion on aesthetics and philosophy, lets just say that where this designer is concerned, creativity is overrated. Miami 21 holds faithful to some pretty basic premises (active street fronts, eyes on the street, etc.) and allows a lot of latitude after that. If you need your building to stand out like a huge phallic symbol, go to Dubai. Never mind that the the latest draft of the code has all but relaxed the height restrictions in certain T-Zones to be what they are in the existing code.
-> “Miami 21 will not allow me to rebuild my house if it gets destroyed.”
First of all, as with any zoning rewrite there will be nonconformities. The whole point of the code is that the existing code is allowing some pretty awful stuff to get built, and the new code will make some of that illegal. That’s the nature of any zoning code. I live in a 1940’s med style house that is illegal by today’s code because its too close to the sidewalk. Go figure. At any rate, the new draft of the code explicitly states that nonconformities in R1 zones will be grandfathered in. Period.
-> “Developers hate Miami 21.”This one is my favorite. Developers love Miami 21 because it gives them greater development rights than they had before. The code was drafted using the existing regulations as a base. That means that all of the development rights have been preserved or augmented. All the code does is say that you have to meet the street in a way that will promote healthy urbanism. It’s not complicated.
-> “Miami 21 will allow tall buildings next to single family residences along Biscayne in the NE part of town.”This one is true much to the chagrin of community activists such as Elvis Cruz who have long protected the area. Unfortunately they aren’t entirely using their thinking caps as to what they get in return for this extra height. Along parts of Biscayne you can build a 3 story building that would reach a height of 50’+ that would be adjacent to 30′ homes.
There are two parts to this that people need to understand.1) We are trying to encourage pedestrian friendly development along in this part of Biscayne and part of that involves defining the street as a public space. With a street as large as Biscayne is, you need something more than two stories to make that happen. I don’t think that 50′ is all that egregious a transition to a single family neighborhood (especially in comparison to what is allowed now).
2) We need to start thinking of our eastern edge as the place where more intense development needs to happen. We cannnot hold the UDB line and be NIMBY’s at the same time. Saving the Everglades means that growth has to be in someone’s backyard. Biscayne Boulevard deserves buildings that are more than 3 stories.
Remember this: Miami 21 is a lot better than the existing code, and if we let this opportunity pass we are the ones who suffer. This is not some abstract concept in a book, this is about the kind of city in which we want to live and raise our families. I for one will not give up.
- Palmetto Bay NIMBYs are fighting an unlikely foe: Palmer Trinity. When residents turn their backs against school expansion out of a fear of more traffic, there is something critically wrong… (Miami Herald)
- Despite the overwhelming success of the Coral Gables Trolley, plus numerous reports and independent studies which underline the very basic point that the transit system reduces city congestion and the need for 713 downtown parking spaces, Vice Mayor William Kerdyk is still having trouble finding a steady funding stream for the Coral Gables Trolley… (Coral Gables Gazette)
- The Sunpost, has become the latest newspaper to publicize Norman Braman’s efforts to hoodwink the community into thinking that streetcars, tunnels, and public works projects are a sham… (SunPost)
- The Public Works department has made a recommendation to cancel the 104 street widening project in west Kendall. (Community Newspapers)
- Damien Goodmon proposes the most asinine reason why a Light Rail Line should not be built in Los Angeles: Kids leaving school will get hit by the passing trains… (L.A. City Beat)
- Is Suburbia the natural evolution of development? Nope! (Planetizen)
- Phobia of Public Transportation? Have no fear Stagecoach has prepared a manual for Britons who have become too accustomed to personal vehicles, explaining the intricacies that come with riding a bus. (Telegraph)
- The Air Car: The world’s first fully air powered, zero emission vehicle to go on sale by summer 2009 in India and some other select countries. The $12,700 CityCAT is powered by 340 Liters of compressed air at 4350 psi, can travel up to 68 mph, and has an estimated range of 125 miles. (Popular Mechanics)
- Photographs of the BMW X6 sport utility coupe. (It’s Knuttz)
- A Funeral Dinner on a subway. (Oddity Central)
Anyone who travels down SW 32nd Ave/McDonald Ave (probably by car, given that sidewalks are non-existent) is moving down one the most unambiguous demarcations of poverty and wealth in any major American city. However, instead of the entire Grove community choosing to deal with these socioeconomic imbalances, the wealthier Center Grove has largely chosen to barricade itself from the West Grove’s problems. One gets the feeling that Center Grove residents are just waiting for well-off, private regarding urban pioneers to venture across McDonald Ave, gentrifying the West Grove parcel-by-parcel, block-by-block until it merges with its equally well-fortified South Grove neighbor.
The point is, the infamous gates and walls that have sprouted up like weeds in recent decades are cancerous to civic life and public spaces, as is evident by the astonishing segregation of these two neighborhoods despite their close proximity. We can and should do a better job building inclusive neighborhoods that are critical for democracy, social progress, and high quality civic life. It’s a delusion to think these easily traversable gates and walls provide any legitimate means of security. Thus, instead of barricading ourselves and turning away from the West Grove, it’s opening up to the street and being inclusive that gives the best opportunity for the whole community to be a safer, more democratic place.
- The Houston MTA has voted to use LRT on all of its upcoming 5 rapid transit routes.
- How do you resolve a budget deficit of $29 Million? You spend $102 Million to build a streetcar of course! This method is being pitched by Cincinnati’s City Manager, who argues that the added benefit the streetcar will bring will more quickly pull the city out of economic recession.
- Seattle voters will soon be heading to the polls to vote on a massive transportation bill which will simultaneously expand LRT service and widen highways…
- Alesh provides a run down of how to use Public Transit. Plenty of good points, particularly: the environment, exercise, reading time, and money. The only thing I’d add to the list is social interaction…
- Earth to these people…Lowering the parking rates at the Sonesta will CAUSE MORE PROBLEMS… If anything, parking meter rates should increase to discourage people within walking distance of the grove from driving around in search for a parking spot. If you need help on how to get around without a car, see Alesh’s post above…
- Michael Lewis provides us with some much needed insight on the former fountain in Bayfront Park once dedicated to Claude Pepper…
- Rail apparently isn’t a viable option to connect to the port… We still disagree…
Here’s the quote by Ed which really inspired me to write to them again:
”This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It’s total insanity,” said Kendall Community Council member Edward Levinson of what he believes will become a traffic nightmare at the intersection of Kendall Drive and 97th Avenue.
That’s right folks…We’re going to scrap the cheaper LRT on existing tracks and ROW, because of possible traffic tie-ups along Ed’s commute.
You wouldn’t trust a gambling chimpanzee with your life savings, so why would you allow special interest groups and homeowners associations to plan a transit system around their vehicular needs? Sound foolish? I hope so. But that’s precisely what’s happening at the Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee’s Subcommittee meetings in Kendall where plans are underway to design new public transit for area residents.
Various homeowners associations, backed by Kendall Community Council member Edward Levinson, are working to garner public opposition to a plan that would make the Kendall community more accessible to area residents by using the existing CSX rail corridor.
The group opposes the proposed light rail transit because of possible congestion the at-grade crossings could create for vehicular commuters such as themselves. Not to mention, many of them believe that their homes (built along the previously existing rail corridor) will decrease in value due to added rail transit; this belief has been disproved statistically nationwide (Source: APTA.)
The Kendall community is at a crossroads. The inability to embrace alternative forms of effective transit is disconcerting, particularly in a region currently choking on the congestion induced by its own unchecked growth and sprawl. It is typical of the mentality fostered in this particular region and has been cultivated by our addiction to the automobile.
It is of paramount importance that our citizens educate themselves on the benefits of proper public infrastructure and urban planning before they take up such a bold position against reasonable measures which would help steer the future growth of our community.
A cheap shot from Tom Falco of the Coconut Grove Grapevine insinuates that we’re the “whiners” up ahead. For the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce to assert that the downtown is full of whiners is downright absurd. It’s actually comical that our area NIMBY’s have decided to complain about other people complaining…
“I know one purpose of the Metrorail was to have development around to allow people to use mass transit, but Metrorail really doesn’t go where people want to go,” Tom Falco, a blogger for CoconutGroveGrapevine.com, wrote in an e-mail to the SunPost. “The development will do nothing but add traffic and congestion to the area.”
That silly Metrorail line, the obvious way to incite people to use it is build as little as possible around the stations? Hmm.
What really irks us about this billboard and especially its predecessor is the way it takes advantage of a neighborhood within the same municipality. The cannibalization that the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce has committed with these billboards continues to dissect and fragment the City of
“Very good marketing. It has led to comment, which is the goal of advertising.”
The billboard has met its objective, it has led us to comment and take notice of the fallacies portrayed through it, but it also begs the question: what is the objective of the CG Chamber of Commerce when so often residents mobilize against prospective urban commerce?
“A massive development called “Dadeland Breeze” is being proposed for our neighborhood. This development will demolish the 3 story apartment buildings at N. Kendall Drive & S.W. 77 Ave. in order to construct a complex of 8 condominium towers up to 8 stories high with nearly a 100% increase in the density of the existing buildings. This proposed construction project is clearly incompatible with the low-rise scale of our “
East Kendall” residential neighborhood…”
I’d like to speak to the person who reasoned that an 8 story building was “out of character” with the neighborhood, but the Palmetto expressway, expansive parking lots of Dadeland Mall, or the gargantuan 6 lanes of Kendall drive just blended in seamlessly with the surroundings. The fact that most
“…It will worsen our already bad traffic, further burden our over-capacity schools, and have a negative impact on the quality of life of our families.”
Yahtzee! “Impact on the quality of life” Now, what impact precisely is anyones guess, but a change that will have us living a more vertical, sustainable, and likely healthier life doesn’t sound so bad, that is, unless you like idling in traffic along US-1 or Kendall bouncing around from parking lots to fast-food drive-throughs.
Imagine that? The Four Seasons was once a 2 story bungalow. By now we surely would have paved clear across the everglades and into
An open letter reply to the East Kendall Homeowners Organization (EKHO):
It is disheartening to see such a motivated and presumably progressive group of individuals that comprise the East Kendall Homeowners Organization speak out so adamantly against a plan that would provide better access to most of the Kendall community. If we are to remain an economically viable community, we must embrace transit growth and the urban living that comes with it, rather than shun it with half-baked objections and trepidation towards drastic lifestyle changes.
The inability to embrace alternative forms of effective transit is disconcerting, particularly in a region currently choking on the congestion induced by its own unchecked growth and sprawl. It is typical of the mentality fostered in this particular region and has been cultivated by our addiction to the automobile. The mentality is further compounded by the opposition to the CSX corridor alternative, presented by Ed Levinson (Community Council 12) last week, which declared that transit along the corridor would only hamper vehicular traffic. This mentality will soon become our prime obstacle in creating a truly urban and sustainable metropolis.
Miami has to sever its addiction to the automobile. Public transit has failed in Miami not because a lack of effort, but because of a widespread opposition to change in community planning efforts and lifestyle changes on the part of our citizens. With regards to concerns on property value, studies conducted by the APTA (particularly in Miami) showed an “assertion that rail transit imparts value to residential property in districts where the population values the access provided by that transit service the most, regardless of the income of the district.”
A less troubling notion is that MDT continues to push costly suburban commuter rail lines, further justifying our city’s unremitting sprawl. MDT should scrap these plans to spread Metrorail across the county to citizens who obviously won’t even use it and should instead work to bring less costly Streetcars and LRT to our urban core. How can we justify suburban commuter trains when we lack the necessary mobile infrastructure in our densest regions?
It is of paramount importance that our citizens educate themselves on the benefits of proper public infrastructure and urban planning before they take up such a bold position against reasonable measures which would help steer the future growth of our community. It is with all due respect that I therefore ask the members of the East Kendall Homeowners Organization to think about what is best for the future of our community rather than themselves.
Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal
According to the Herald’s article, the project’s developer Carlos Rua has admitted his frustration with Grove NIMBYs, whom he has been trying to negotiate with for more than a year over building standards and specifications.
Now I know I have lambasted this project in the past for the incredible oversupply of parking being proposed, but as time goes by and this project continues to linger, I find myself disheartened by the lack of progress. I’m tired of looking at the large vacant parcel adjacent to the station as it sits fenced off waiting for the project’s groundbreaking. It’s really sad when you are forced to choose between bad urban design and vacant land, especially on such an important block.
I find it interesting, though, that of all the Grove NIMBY complaints, I haven’t heard any objections over the elephantine parking allotments that will surely contribute disproportionately to increased traffic congestion in the area.
Click here for images of the cutting edge building soon to be rising…
This billboard was recently erected at the corner of SW 27th Avenue and US-1 by the northern boundary of the Grove. What a bunch of garbage - it appears this sign is implying that true urban living (e.g. Brickell, Downtown) is inherently stressful, while the less urban nature of the Grove is some desirable suburban oasis that is stress-free. What is even dumber is that the Grove and Brickell/Downtown are all neighborhoods within the City of Miami; therefore, this billboard illustrates that Miami actually has it’s own neighborhoods competing against each other as if they were separate cities.
Amazingly, the bike lanes almost didn’t happen. One of Miami’s 387,962 NIMBY groups masquerading as a neighborhood improvement organization, the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association, had been a vocal opposition to the bike lanes on 16th. “I understand cyclists want bike paths, but why 16th Street”? Nice argument - I’m sure NIMBYs everywhere were proud.
According to the Sunpost, the real issue at hand is the right-of-way along 16th Street that would need to be taken back by the City in order to accommodate the bike lanes AND widen sidewalks. Similar to the Grove’s opposition over the quality 27th Avenue enhancement project, Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association members are concerned that the City will reacquire public right-of-way between buildings and the sidewalk that has been used for private means (e.g. landscaping). Commissioner Richard Steinberg took the stated position that “widening the sidewalks toward the buildings would not, in fact, encroach on private property, but in reality the private property was encroaching upon the city land”. It’s great to see an elected official embrace the public realm and what’s best for the city as a whole and not the private interests of a few NIMBYs.
photo courtesy of huwkan’s flickr account
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