Recall the post where I had the opportunity to interview Miami Beach chief of Staff AC Weinstein? Good, because here are some thoughts I drew up on the conversation, many of which I commented directly to AC throughout our first of many discussions on the future of Miami Beach…

Now, the first question on development, I fear, may have been interpreted a little bit too literally, but that is what happens when you try to be so precise with the wording of questions. The intention was never to correlate the cranes in Miami ensure economic vitality, but rather insinuate how in such a difficult market would Miami Beach continue to grow in order to ensure a steady tax revenue stream and thus guaranteeing the future economic vitality of Miami Beach industry. I was also hinting that height restrictions and true urban density should not be so interconnected with increased congestion on the Beach and that absurd limitations would only hamper future economic options for Miami Beach.

I was disappointed (not surprised) upon hearing Mr. Weinstein’s reply regarding Baylink, but was utterly dismayed when discussing the reasoning behind it. The basic arguments presented against Baylink (by the Beach) have been: Hurricanes, Washington Avenue, the Flexibility of Buses, and now apparently Historic Character. Hurricanes, we’ve addressed, this is a moot point considering all wires and structures will be built to hurricane standards and underground wires are not out of the realm of possibilities. Coincidentally, the reconstruction of Washington Avenue occurred at time when Miami Beach officials were beginning to object to Baylink (remember the famous quote around then: “Baylink will further enable those people to readily access the beach?“) Baylink would only further enhance the Washington Avenue streetscape, requiring only insertions of tracks while leaving much of the rest alone. My Favorite: “Flexibility of buses.” Miami Beach is like what, 11 blocks wide where most of the streetcar will be traveling? I doubt selecting any of these two streets will pose a problem when the streetcar will be virtually within a 4 block walk of nearly every address South of the Bass Museum. You really can’t go wrong. As for the Historic City comment, please look below at the Miami Beach Streetcar Map in 1928, or click here for some solid video evidence.
My qualm with the whole Baylink discussion was that the office of the mayor has yet to provide a legitimate alternative transit solution to handle the city’s current and upcoming demand. The reports I’ve seen both indicate that congestion will reach unbearable levels by 2011 (the economic vitality I was hinting at earlier would certainly suffer) all but promoting the idea of a longer termed solution. The office mentioned no plans to improve (or green) bus capacity, build transfer stations, or work with MDT to enable better signal prioritization along key corridors.

We’re pretty excited the Mayor’s office created the Green committee, however we’re not quite sure what tasks the committee will be tackling or what the stated goals of the committee are. There aren’t any plans, yet, to push for mandatory LEED certification on new construction or considerations for alternative fuels, car sharing, or other equally progressive programs.

The Bikeways and expanded bike lanes were a breath of fresh air. It’s reassuring to see the city take the necessary steps to move in a bike-oriented direction and even require bicycle parking. I hope the city (and perhaps the green committee) see that the addition of transit will only further enhance the cycling options while creating a much cleaner environment along the beach.

All in all, my conversation with Mr. Weinstein proved to be beneficial to us here at Transit Miami, as well as with many of the Miami Beach constituents. Mr. Weinstein provided us with a glimpse of the mentality issues we’ll have to face in the coming years in order to see real public transportation options come into fruition while providing a fresh, new perspective on the bicycle/pedestrian improvements the Beach hopes to make.

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6 Responses to The Future of Miami Beach, Part 2

  1. Tony G. says:

    The funny thing about creating a ‘Green’ task force is that if you don’t address mass transit, and try to reduce your vehicle miles traveled (vmt’s), anything else you do that is ‘green'(read: plant more trees, recycle..etc) pales in comparison to the benefits of reducing vmt’s.
    Just a thought. I know everyone is jumping on the Green bandwagon, but there are some very basic issues that need to be addressed that would make Miami Beach green. The vmt issue is one of the biggies. Density and walkability are others, but Miami Beach is so great with regard to these. It comes oh so close. The Bay Link would really make Miami Beach complete.

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  2. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Very well said Tony. That was my underlying point. Without reducing the VMTs on the Beach, the green efforts are nothing but a huge farce. Density is perhaps the most misunderstood issue in our region, often times correlated directly with congestion- which is only true when we allow our density to be controlled by vehicles with poor street access, massive amounts of parking, and fragmented public transit…

    But all in all the Green Committee will serve a very limited purpose unless the Mayor changes her stance on Baylink…

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  3. Anonymous says:

    David Dermer and his sidekick Mr. Weinstein are a joke. Not only are they wrong on light rail, these “Democrats” supported Bush’s reelection as well the invasion/occupation of Iraq. I had to stop reading the Sunpost because of Mr. Weinsteins moronic and highly annoying analysis of foreign policy and public transit.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    His comments are pure B.S. The reason that these elitist pigs do not want Baylink is that they believe there will be a mass migration from Little Haiti, Opa Loca, Overtown, and to a lesser extent Hialeah. What these racists don’t seem to understand is that these populations are limited by their economic status to come to Miami Beach. Should they choose make it to Miami Beach, they wouldn’t be able to afford anything. And if they do have the desire to make it to Miami Beach, all they have to do is hop in the existent bus system.
    As far as this “green” committee goes, they are just simply green washing the city’s image to appear green. If they were serious about being green they would be putting bicycle lanes every where, not giving free parking to hybrid cars, which in many cases gets less gas mileage then some regular cars.
    Unfortunately, the power within the City of Miami Beach is concentrated with the City Manager, Jorge Gonzalez. We need to get this guy out as soon as possible if we want any change. What we need is a strong Mayor system, so that the voice of the people is actually voiced and not silenced. Until this happens we are dealing with a virtual dictatorship.

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  5. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Anon- The current mayor of Miami Beach is Matti Bower, not David Dermer. However, Dermer and Weinstein, from what we’ve heard, set the original foundation for the lame defense against the streetcar.

    Anon2- I think we need a comprehensive political system. One that removes all the individual city layers bureaucracy and serves in the best interest of the region. We need better qualified candidates, in tune with OUR region instead of international interests. We need a better education system and economic resources dedicated to attracting big name corporations to our region….

    Above all, we need to create a community which caters to the residents- not their cars…

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  6. Kordor says:

    By this post, GLB must be a genius and should be the next Mayor and Manager of Miami Beach. The Beach is barely urban and needs more people and streetcars, more development, less parking, and the political leadership to stop acting like “historic preservation” (i.e. racism and misanthropy) is the only issue that gets votes. Or maybe more real progressives (i.e. the city’s young population, not elderly liberals who have ossified into Luddites) should get out to vote and rid city government of uneducated cynics.

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