Currently viewing the tag: "Little Havana"

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Via Andrew Frey from the Townhouse Center:

You are invited to a presentation of free plans for a Miami building prototype on Tue, Nov 19 from 6 to 8 PM at Mansini’s Pizza House in Little Havana.  The goal is to help small property owners and builders imagine how they can profit from a small site, and save money on design costs.  The plans are by award-winning architecture firm ISA (in collaboration with Townhouse Center and supported by the Knight Foundation) and will be presented by ISA founder Brian Phillips.  The brief presentation will be followed by a panel — featuring Fernando Arencibia of RE/MAX, Jeanette Blanch of Continental Bank, Hernando Carrillo of HacArchitects, and Gavin McKenzie of McKenzie Construction - and audience Q&A to discuss the plans and opportunities and challenges of small projects.  The plans can be downloaded at http://hiresmiami.tumblr.com/

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The free event is open to the public, especially non-developers, but please register in advance by email to LHMAmiami@gmail.com 

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ped safety little havana

Everyone knows that Miami has a serious problem with pedestrian injuries and fatalities; not a week goes by without reading an article about another pedestrian struck by a car. Miami is the 4th most dangerous city for pedestrians and cyclists in the Country right now.

This must change!

We live in one of the most beautiful, perfect climates in the world, yet stepping out our doors for a walk can be fatal. With Emerge Miami, I began organizing walks for pedestrian safety last year in response to this ongoing crisis. The concept is simple, during the time that pedestrians are legally allowed to enter the crosswalk, we have people with educational signs and statistics about pedestrians injuries and fatalities walk back and forth through the crosswalk. We also have educational materials to hand drivers and pedestrians.

Our next walk is in Little Havana on June 29th, a lovely neighborhood that should be safe and walkable, yet speeding cars and infrequent crosswalks make it a extremely dangerous for walkers, especially the many more elderly residents who live there.

As part of our walk we are asking that pedestrians who have been injured, and their families, to come out and join our walk to help put a personal face on this epidemic of injury and death.

For more information or to get involved please contact Elsa Roberts at eroberts@mtu.edu. To RSVP to the event go to Meetup or Facebook.

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Two separate motor vehicle crashes claim the lives of 5 pedestrians, 6 total in Miami this weekend.

City, County and Marlins officials must address shocked, saddened and angry community regarding unbridled vehicular chaos.

The 4th of July will not be a day of celebration for the friends and families of the 5 victims killed by out-of-control motorists in Miami this past weekend. In one of the bloodiest and saddest days I can recall, Saturday June 30th will be remembered as one of the ugliest and most tragic in 21st century Miami.

The worst of the carnage took place on Saturday evening in the shadows of the sparkling new Marlins Park. Shortly after leaving the Marlins game, three family members from Georgia were killed on the sidewalk walking to their car when a red Dodge minivan driven by Herberto Ortega Arias, 67, of Miami jumped the curb and plowed into them only one block away from the stadium. The dead victims were all related and include a 13-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy and a 50-year-old woman. Another relative, a 10-year-old girl remains hospitalized in extremely critical condition. A passing cyclist was struck and slightly injured and another pedestrian was so distraught over the sight that he too had to be hospitalized. The driver of the minivan, Arias, also died in the crash.

Screen shot of MiamiHerald.com on Sunday morning.

The Miami Herald coverage included speculation that Arias may have suffered some sort of medical emergency which lead him to lose control of the vehicle. However, the Associated Press coverage made no such claims, reporting that “authorities did not say what caused driver to lose control of the minivan”.

Only a few hours later, senseless vehicular violence struck again. This time, two people standing outside a Liberty City restaurant were struck and killed when an out-of-control motorist slammed his SUV into a parked vehicle. The impact of the crash pushed the parked vehicle through the restaurant’s front window, violently striking the men, who both died at the scene.

The staggering pedestrian death toll from motor vehicle crashes this weekend should rightfully be a long-overdue tipping point for improved road safety and dangerous roadway design in Miami.

Transit Miami calls on Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez, City of Miami Mayor Regalado, Marlins President David Samson and local police departments to jointly address a community that is truly stunned by the unacceptable level of motorized vehicular carnage this weekend.

The Marlins have yet to release any official statement on the crash, they shamefully did not hold a moment of silence for the victims before today’s game, did not make a public service announcement reminding fans to drive safely or do anything to meaningfully address the tragedy right on their doorstep. Last year, when a fan at a Texas Rangers baseball game tragically fell to his death, the Rangers lowered flags to half mast and established a memorial fund the very next day in the victims name. Transit Miami calls on the Marlins to follow suit and not act like insensitive “small fish” in light of Saturday’s horrific crash.

Further, we have repeatedly addressed the deplorable pedestrian and cycling conditions around Marlins Park. It’s painfully obvious to anyone walking in the area that the conditions around the stadium are utterly ill-suited for the increased pedestrian volumes that come with major sporting events.

In an article for Transit Miami earlier in June (Bike to the Game Day….Not in Miami), I wrote, “The arterials of NW 7th St and NW 17th Ave are downright hostile and nasty – for motorists as well.”

This is precisely where the crash on Saturday took place that killed four people.

I continue, “The Marlins also consistently brushed off requests from the City of Miami to assist in making the area more bicycle friendly. The team did widen a few sidewalks immediately adjacent to the ballpark.”

Unfortunately for the family from Georgia, these widened sidewalks do not exist more than few steps from the stadium. Walk just one block away to your car or bus stop and you’ll experience dated, dangerous and dilapidated sidewalk conditions directly adjacent to roaring vehicles everywhere you step.

Here is NW 7th St. just a few feet east of where the crash took place (behind me). The stadium is only one block Southeast. Notice how narrow the sidewalk is, directly adjacent to a high-speed arterial roadway with no protection from speeding vehicles (on-street parking, trees, a protected bike lane, etc.) The sidewalk is also steeply sloped for the curb cut, which most likely exceeds ADA requirements for wheelchairs. There is however, room for on-street parking behind me, and a grossly long left-turn lane to my left.
This is where thousands of people will attempt to walk to get to and from Marlins Park this year.

The past 24 hours have been a total embarrassment for Miami, as major national news and sports media outlets have covered the horrific event to wide audiences.

The current conditions on Miami’s roads is emphatically a public safety crisis. A response from our local and state officials is not something we are merely “asking for”. Events of Saturday’s magnitude require a strong, meaningful, action-oriented response. Failure to do so represents a dereliction of duty to our community at the highest level.

Mayors Gimenez and Regalado, the citizens of Miami-Dade county await your leadership.

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I heart bungalows. One of the best building types, and an endangered species throughout Miami, where it was once widespread. This is exactly the type of housing the City of Miami should be restoring  - not tearing down (as they recently voted to allow with a zoning change along 12th avenue - a bastion of bungalow frontage). Check out some of my favorites from around East Little Havana….

A color coded survey of historic bungalows in East Little Havana performed by Street Plans.

 

 

 

Bungalows have been adapted and recycled many times. Infill development opportunities abound, you only need to be creative...

 

 

 

 

 

The new Marlins stadium planned for the Orange Bowl site in Little Havana has been approved by the Miami City Commission. County Commissioners will cast their votes early next week. While we have been quite vocal about the stadium’s design and its lack of transit service, I have been told that it is planned to be the country’s first LEED certified stadium, replete with both outdoor and indoor valet bicycle parking.

(CORRECTION: The planned Marlin’s stadium will actually be the 2nd LEED certified stadium, but is the first time Major League Baseball has pledged its own money ($1 million) towards certifying a stadium as LEED.)

However, the  needed greenwash certainly does not assuage the  issues of siting, overall poor design, and the lack of mass transit service. LEED certification does little to squelch auto-dependency (there are LEED certified Wal-Marts ), but it at least raises the bar so that citizens of other cities should expect, if not demand, that their next stadiums  meet or surpass LEED building standards.

Stay tuned as this development meets its real test next week.

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Fellow TM writer Tony Garcia’s cogent thoughts on the new stadium plan and design were published in today’s Herald. Click through the link to read the whole response.

Tony says:

The type of development that this site deserves is too big for the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County — they are not in the business of developing land. Elected officials must be better stewards of public coffers. If they cannot do what is responsible now, then they need to wait until the time is right. As for the Marlins, if they want to leave, call their bluff. If they don’t want to stay, then we don’t want them.

Miami, meet Ellen Haas, a 45-year old commuter bicyclist who lives on 8th Street and 62nd Avenue. Citing fitness, economic, environmental and personal reasons, Ellen recently started bicycling 6.5 miles to work downtown. Transit Miami has asked her a few questions about her commute.

Transit Miami: What was the impetus to start commuting by bicycle?

Ellen Haas: I promised myself that when gas reached $4 a gallon for the lowest octane, I would search for an alternate form of commuting. I decided on bicycling after doing some Internet research on public transit, carpooling and bicycling. Bicycling won out because I keep my independence.

TM: How was the first experience?

EH: The first experience was exhilarating. I rode like a bat out of hell, terrified, almost full speed the whole way thinking that I was going to be maimed or killed by a big dump truck or Metrobus, leaving my daughter with no mother. I was amazed when I arrived downtown intact. Riding home that first day was much more difficult, more traffic, intense sun, exhaust fumes, thunderstorms. Every day when I get home, I feel like I have summited Mt. Everest.

TM: Where do you ride and what is your route of choice?

EH: I head east on Eighth Street [Calle Ocho] at 62nd Avenue. I merge left onto Beacom Blvd. in Little Havana at 22nd Avenue. Then I merge onto Southwest First Street and head all the way downtown. I think it’s about 6.5 miles one way. My route of choice would be Coral Way east/west if it had designated bike lanes. It is a lovely shady street and not as manic as Eighth Street SW or Flagler.

TM: What are the challenges to bicycle commuting?

EH: The biggest challenge by far is car drivers ignorance of laws regarding bicycles and their aggression accordingly on the streets of South Florida. Another thing I didn’t realize is how bumpy poorly maintained roads are on a bike with no shock absorbers. The poorer the neighborhood, the less maintained the streets.

TM: What are the joys?

EH: There are many more joys than challenges. I am saving a lot of money on gas and will save more when I give up my parking space that I will surrender to a poor, deserving, still driving co-worker August 1st. I will also notify my auto insurance carrier that I drive a fraction of what I used to. I am also getting into good shape cardiovascularly.

TM: What type of bicycle do you ride?

EH: I ride a Trek 21 speed track bike. I’m not at all technical, so I don’t know the model or whatever.

TM: Do you have showers at work?

EH: There are showers at work but I would be able to deal with a sink and a washcloth if I had to.

TM: How about safe and reliable bicycle parking?

EH: No. I park over at the public library. I have approached the building management people but they look at me as if I have two heads and cite “security” concerns.” Soon I will ask a superior in the building with more “pull” than me to contact building management.

TM: What advice do you have for people who may be considering commuting by bicycle, but have not yet made the leap?

EH: Like Nike says, “Just Do It”. I am an overweight asthmatic 45 year old single parent. If I can ride 6-7 miles to work, ANYONE can. If you live further than that, consider biking part of the way and using MetroRail or Metro Bus for part of your commute. Everybody I talk to who is still driving has an excuse as to why they can’t.

TM: You have a daughter. What type of values do you think you are instilling in her by bicycling to work?

EH: I hope to instill in her a sense of strong individualism. When the new school year begins next month, I would like for us to bike commute together and I am quite sure no other student in her school rides a bicycle to school. We are becoming active in city, county, state and federal politics; carefully noting candidates’ stands on bike lanes and alternative forms of energy. She also has asthma so I want us both commited to improved health.

TM: What does Miami need to do to become more bicycle friendly?

EH: I could go on for paragraphs about how Miami-Dade County needs designated bike lanes with accompanying signage. Drivers need to be educated via “public service announcements” on television and radio to be broadcast in English/Spanish/Kreole about bicycle [e.g. the “Steer Clear” law] safety. I’ve noticed abandoned train tracks, perfect areas for bike paths. We each need to contact our elected officials and start making ourselves known, on the streets and off.

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Robert Samuels, along with other staff writers of the Miami Herald has been writing this week about Unity Boulevard, perhaps better known as 27th Avenue. This thoroughfare traverses four of the most culturally and economically diverse areas of South Florida.
While the article delves into detail on the neighborhoods of Miami Gardens, Opa-Locka, Liberty City, Little Havana, and Coconut Grove, Samuels and his team wrote a particularly poignant description of the one-two punch that killed a once-vibrant, if still economically-challenged, 35-block stretch of the boulevard:
“Liberty City’s not like it was,” said Edwina Howard, 68, who was waiting for a bus near 79th Street. To her left was the Northside Shopping Centre, the neighborhood’s decrepit crown jewel of retail, now undergoing a $14 million renovation. In front of her was a burned-out hair supply store.

“Things were much better,” Howard said. “There were much better shops and they kept the place clean. I’d go to Sears or J.C. Penney at that mall. Now, I have to go to Dadeland Mall or one in Pembroke Pines.”

The area never recovered from 1980. Blacks erupted in riots that year, after an all-white jury acquitted white police officers charged with beating to death a black man named Arthur McDuffie.

Past Northside, more empty lots appear. One small matchbox house advertises collard greens. Another offers barbecue ribs. Both are locked up.

If you ask why the businesses disappeared, some say that all you have to do is look up.

You’ll see the Metrorail.

The neighborhoods beneath it — from Northwest 76th Street, the northern end of Liberty City, to 41st Street, in Brownsville — are the poorest on Unity Boulevard.

“The Metrorail decimated this neighborhood,” community activist Kenneth Kilpatrick said. “This place used to have a lot of business, a lot of good things. And then Metrorail came, and they all left.”

But why would something that was billed as the be-all end-all transit system destroy a neighborhood, rather than provide the enhancement intended? Samuels writes simply that according to Kilpatrick, the stores along this portion of the Avenue couldn’t stand the dearth of customers due to the length of construction of Metrorail through this corridor.

Having ridden the train through this area countless times, I’ve often wondered the same thing. On occasion, I’ve wanted to exit at Brownsville, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Northside stations, and walk along the 27th Avenue corridor myself, to see if I could figure out what I might be able to do to help bring this community alive. But as sure as the train kept moving down the line, my thoughts soon turned to other items - typically my upcoming transfer to Tri-Rail.

Nonetheless, Samuels’s article, especially the part on Liberty City in which he interviews James Brimberry on becoming owner of the last remaining Royal Castle, has reignited that flame. It makes me want to drop everything and go there for one of their burgers. Perhaps that can refuel me and my once-perpetual thoughts of helping redevelop the neighborhoods the train was supposed to bring people to. This desolate space, once teeming with individually-owned and operated businesses, has so much potential to become one of the most livable neighborhoods in the county.

Robert Samuels’s six-day series, which began running Monday, concludes tomorrow with a write-up of 27th Avenue’s southern terminus, in Coconut Grove.

… Sean Bossinger is a new writer for Transit Miami. He manages the UTS Call Center at Florida International University, where he is a Ph. D. student in the Public Management program. In his copious spare time, he enjoys playing with his sons, Donovan and Logan, and spending time with his wife, Tracy. Living in Coral Gables, he frequently finds himself reading a book on the 24 Bus on Coral Way.

There is a great read today up on the MiamiHerald by Larry Lebowitz titled: Why OB is a Lousy Site for Marlins. Take a second a check it out, he voices many of the same positions we’ve been pushing here on Transit Miami… An excerpt:

Tri-Rail isn’t much of an option. It’s a pain to get from the Miami Airport Station to the Orange Bowl today. Even if Miami-Dade Transit created a straight-shot, game-day shuttle from the Tri-Rail station to the OB, how many baseball fans to the north would use it?

Metrorail will only appeal to hard-core urban dwellers. It’s a little over a mile — too far to walk for most pampered, crime-fearing locals — from the closest Metrorail stations on the north side of the river to the Orange Bowl.

Barring some unlikely seismic political changes at County Hall, no one will be trying to shift billions of transit dollars to expand Metrorail near the OB in the near future.

What about a streetcar that could shuttle fans from downtown transit hubs?

Right now, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz can’t muster a three-vote majority of commissioners to support a streetcar in downtown, Wynwood, the Design District and Allapattah — all on the opposite side of the river from the stadium.

A ballpark in downtown would be closer to I-95, Metrorail, Metromover, and a proposed light-rail system on the Florida East Coast corridor that one day could shuttle fans from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The economics and politics might be tougher, but an accessible, pedestrian-friendly downtown stadium makes the most sense.

-Larry Lebowitz

While Gabe did a great job lamenting the loss of the Hurricanes from Miami, I felt compelled to add a few things, being dually a Canes fan and a fan of the City.

Let me start by saying, while I suppose it’s justifiable from the perspective of Shalala and the University, as they will be making more money, playing in a nicer, more modern stadium, and perhaps even helping recruiting, the impact of leaving the OB is tough to quantify in numbers.

For one, Gabe mentioned how the OB is special, almost because of its grit. It was miserable for players and fans because it was old, hostile, and fundamentally “Miami”.

Also, for so long football Saturday (and don’t forget Sunday) was known for the marriage between this part of Little Havana and the OB. The tradition we all speak of is certainly not confined to the smoke-filled tunnel entrance or the wide-right mystique. It’s also just as much the tastes, sounds and smells of the neighborhood that made it special.

Unlike going to some far-flung suburban stadium in “could-be-anywhere-ville”, when fans and opposing teams came to the Orange Bowl they were entering the heart and soul of inner-city Miami. There was no mistaking where you were - Latin styled sidewalk BBQ, Spanish signage and street names, block after block of pre-game parties - you were in Miami. It was this authentic local neighborhood character that inspired so much tradition, which will now be lost.

Now, the Canes are being outsourced to the banal suburbs, where everything that made playing at the OB so unique, so quintessentially Miami, will now be relegated to traffic jams, $20 parking fees, and sipping beers in a giant sea of asphalt. If it wasn’t for signs, you could cut and paste the Dolphins Stadium area and be just about anywhere where there’s expressways, uber parking lots, and cookie-cutter stadiums.

Alas, talk about an identity crisis. The University of Miami Hurricanes, based in Coral Gables, whom play football in Miami Gardens. Is this not emblematic of Miami’s hyper-fragmentation?

Can we call them the Miami-Dade Hurricanes, now?

Today I was going to speak about Bicycle Boulevards - specifically how they can benefit Miami (or any city) and how they might be implemented. However, the guys from StreetFilms have already made a great video explaining the Bicycle Boulevard and its benefits.

As for Miami, I think Bicycle Boulevards are a very necessary component of the larger pedestrian/bicycle-oriented system that would make our city(ies) more livable.

Right off the top of my head, three good potential Bicycle Boulevards in Miami could be:

-SW 6th St between SW 4th Ave & SW 27th Ave
-Tigertail Ave between Sw17 Ave & Mary St
-N Federal Hwy/NE 4th Ct between NE 36th St and NE 79th St

SW 6th Street is the classic example of wasted street potential at the expense of maximizing automobile traffic flow. Despite on-street parking on both sides, this street is too wide for a one-way. Combined with traffic synchronization that allows the driver to speed through almost 20 blocks without a red light, traffic calming is definitely in order. However, SW 6th happens to run right through the heart of Little Havana, one of the densest neighborhoods in all of the SE United States and perhaps Miami’s most organic neighborhood. Due in large part to the density of this corridor, it has a fairly high number of pedestrians and cyclists in proportion to most other residential areas of the Greater Miami area. With the necessary traffic calming and addition of bicycle-oriented measures/infrastructure, I think this street has great potential for a Bicycle Boulevard.

Tigertail Avenue, officially holding “Scenic Transportation Corridor” status with the City of Miami, also has great potential as a Bicycle Boulevard. One thing is for sure: it is a lot more scenic by bike or by foot than it is by automobile. Unfortunately, Tigertail currently has no bike infrastructure of any kind, and several portions of the Avenue are even without sidewalks. Moreover, during rush hours Tigertail is turned into a bypass for thru-traffic avoiding US-1 or Bayshore Drive. It wouldn’t take much to make this into a Bicycle Boulevard, though. I don’t have official statistics, but from personal experience I would estimate that Coconut Grove has the greatest number of cyclists per capita in all of Greater Miami. I’m sure residents living along the Tigertail corridor would love to have fewer cars rumbling by their homes and making this historic street hostile to cyclists and pedestrians.

I think N. Federal Highway/NE 4th Ct has good potential as a Bicycle Boulevard for several reasons. First, it runs between NE 2nd Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard, and should not be reserved as another N/S arterial. Secondly, it would integrate very well with the Streetcar, allowing people to efficiently get from downtown to almost the City Line without ever driving. Hopefully, planners would incorporate bicycle infrastructure into proposed make-over projects for 79th Street - even having the vision to connect it over the causeway to North Beach. Also, the NE 4th Ct section is already in pretty good shape physically, having narrower streets, slower speed limits, and shade trees. However, the N. Federal Highway segment from NE 36th Street to NE 55th Street definitely needs a makeover. Designating it a Bicycle Boulevard affords the perfect opportunity for planners to remodel this currently insipid, hostile road into a high quality urban street that is the backbone for several emerging neighborhoods.

In closing, I must note that a very necessary component of these Bicycle Boulevards would be their integration with a larger system of Bicycle infrastructure. We don’t want to have these Boulevards originating and/or terminating in hostile places for cyclists. This is why it is critical for planners to develop a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan for the City and County that recognizes cycling as a legitimate transportation alternative, not just a recreational pursuit.

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