Currently viewing the tag: "Mayor Manny Diaz"

The Burle Marx Miami-New World Design sidewalk on Biscayne Boulevard was finally completed.

Mayor Manny Diaz leaving office with a bicycling legacy behind him.

FDOT makes a “formal” commitment to high speed rail.

Remember the much hyped City of Miami Streetcar? Last we heard about the much needed streetcar, City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz included it in his list of ‘shovel ready’ Federal stimulus money. The original $200 million price tag had increased to $280 million, but it didn’t really matter because the City only got about $4.5 million for its wishlist items (which included a rubber tire trolley first reported by Transit Miami.)

The original streetcar plan, conceived in 2004, called for $200 million in capital costs to be split evenly between the city and the Florida Department of Transportation. But, it was clear to Miami officials in spring 2008 that there would not be sufficient funds due to the economy and budget shortfalls, said Lilia Medina, assistant transportation coordinator in the city manager’s office. Since then, the city has been searching for another solution to give the project new life, she said. (SF Business Journal)

“I think it’s an essential project for the future of Miami,” Diaz told the Business Journal. “We have not done as good a job as we should have done with transportation planning. Sooner or later, we’re going to need a streetcar,” the mayor said. “Although it appears to be expensive today, it’s going to be a hell of a lot more expensive 20 years from now.”

Prior to that there was the infamous Global Agreement, that series of convoluted funding arrangements that extended the boundaries of the Overtown CRA to get funding for a bunch of infrastructure projects including, you guessed it, the streetcar.

4. Streetcar Project (the “Streetcar”): The Streetcar will provide an energy-efficient and convenient alternative mode of transportation connecting the City’s most densely populated and urbanized areas, including Downtown, Overtown, Omni, Wynwood/Edgewater, Midtown, Design District and the Civic Center/Health District. The Streetcar service will promote mass transit use and connect with Miami-Dade Transit (Metromover, Metrorail and Metrobus). The Streetcar circulator will substantially address the City’s need to comply with State Bill 360, the Growth Management Act as a multi-modal project improving mobility and meeting transportation concurrency.

Unfortunately, while the Global Agreement said that CRA money could be used for the streetcar, it didn’t actually allocate any current or future money for its construction. Keep in mind that the agreement calls for the city to pay $88 million a year from CRA revenue through 2030 for the Port Tunnel, when our commitment for the streetcar would be a one time expense of $140 million. Then, there is this minor proviso at the end of the agreement:

In consideration of these increased revenues to the County General Fund, the County agrees that, beginning in fiscal year 2014, it make a $20 million contribution to the City to be applied toward the funding of the Streetcar project, once approved by the State of Florida and the MPO. [emphasis added] The County’s Streetcar project contribution may be made in a lump sum or in annual installments sufficient to issue tax free municipal bonds with a debt coverage dictated by the market commencing on the date of substantial completion of the Project.

Lame. While the administration has ‘supported’ this project, they don’t think it is important enough to fund. Meanwhile, it would only take one year of CRA contributions (diverted from the Port Tunnel) to make it a reality. (With our half of the construction costs in hand, the State would then cough up the other half). When are our elected officials going to stop placating us with empty platitudes about how cute transit is, but how it is not a priority? When will it become a priority? It seems that the thinking in the City of Miami is that transit is a luxury that comes after other more important things. Like a useless tunnel. Or a useless baseball field.

If you support the streetcar let the two Mayoral candidates know.

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Thanks to Rydel of Miami Bike Scene for the candid shots!

Last night’s City of Miami bike summit was a great success. Mike Lydon made an excellent presentation about the future of cycling in Miami, and the different facilities we have to look forward to in the future. He spoke to a packed house of cycling advocates and government officials who helped make the plan possible. I’ll let Mike and Felipe talk about the plan and some of the comments made by the audience (most of which related to getting the word out that bikes have a right to share the road), but I want to mention a few words about the underlying conversation related to Miami 21. The opening remarks were made by City Commission Chair Joe Sanchez, a cycling advocate and longtime supporter of Bike Miami and the Bicycle Action Plan. His remarks were noteworthy because he spoke mostly about Miami 21, and his decision to vote against it.

Stressing his support of the plan, he said his ‘no’ vote came from concerns that the height restrictions on Biscayne and Coral Way proffered by Commissioners Regalado and Sarnoff were bad planning (very true) and could open the city up to unnecessary litigation (also true). He went on to say that the plan was not dead and negotiations on these issues were moving forward, and he hoped to reconsider the matter soon. He was vague about when the vote would happen, but I was pleased to hear him hopeful that it would happen in the near future. (My guess is that he will want the vote to happen before the election.) While I still think that he could have procedurally handled the matter in another way, I am glad that he is working on fixing the problem.

It didn’t go unnoticed that once Joe left (about 5 minutes into the presentation) Mayor Manny arrived and also gave a few words on the plan (and Miami 21). He assured us that he is not giving  up on Miami 21, and will continue to be an advocate even once he leaves office. We are all lucky to have had him as Mayor. (PS. He stayed through the entire presentation!)

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Greetings:

At long last Miami 21 is coming before the City Commission for first reading. As an observer of the process you can understand that there are a variety of naysayers, from those who are fearful of such a complex and thorough change, to those who feel the effort has fallen short of acceptable goals, to those whose individual interest is at odds with city-wide benefit.

I am writing to ask you to participate in the City Commission hearing August 6th at 2:00PM in support of the proposed zoning code.
This is a code to prepare the city for a transit-oriented, walkable, energy-conserving future. This effort has had extensive public participation and has been thoroughly responsive to individual concerns as they have been raised. Is it 100% perfect? Probably all would agree that it is not.

However, Miami 21 is a great advance over the existing code. Some of these advances are:

an entirely new Chapter 23 for Historic Preservation that includes:
transfer of development rights;
a response to neighborhood preservationists with a smaller single-family building envelope responding to the outcry over McMansions;
more appropriate transitions from commercial corridors to residential neighborhoods;
a new medium-density urban townhouse and low rise apartment type;
higher density building types providing wider sidewalks and pedestrian passages in overly long blocks;
building liners to conceal garages;
a new use type allowing live-work – including in industrial areas.

Miami 21 also includes a Public Benefit Program designed to assist the City with its growing needs in terms of affordable housing, parks and open spaces, green buildings, civic infrastructure and brownfield redevelopments.

The overall Miami 21 project includes as well the Parks and Public Spaces Master Plan (by Goody Clancy), the Climate Action Plan, the Bicycle Action Plan, designation of new historic districts – all very much coordinated with the proposed zoning code.

Miami 21 cannot satisfy all its critics. However, it represents tremendous improvement over current regulations. I hope you can join us at the City Commission meeting and/or write a letter to City Commissioners. We need voices to give our City Commissioners the confidence to support the code. Please join us this Thursday at City Hall.

-Manny
MiamiMayor@miamigov.com

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Admittedly, we are about a week late in covering this one…but, hey we beat the Herald.

Coinciding nicely with the National Bicycle Summit last week, and our very own bike month, Mayor Manny Diaz announced a resolution in support of Complete Streets. Its great to see more and more government entities across the country getting behind the movement to better balance our transportation infrastructure-recognizing that streets are for more than just cars. However, before we get all excited here,  remember who truly controls the majority of streets in the City: FDOT and the County. As our readers know, the former has been particularly inept at balancing Florida’s streets, often hemming and hawing over the most rudimentary of roadway improvements.

Thus, we the people need to do better as watchdogs, providing oversight in all roadway reconstruction projects that fail to improve conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders. And remember, just because there is a resolution  for complete streets  doesn’t mean the city will ultimately act upon it. Nonetheless, good for Manny D for taking the lead.

If you have a street project in your neighborhood or along your commute, let us know about it, especially if you are not seeing conditions improve for anyone but the motoring majority.

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For those who have been following, and hopefully supporting Miami 21, you already know that the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are a continuous thorn in the side of progress. Clearly not capable of understanding — or should I say reading — the code, most complaints state that Miami w21 will ” limit their creativity.” Proven to repeatedly be a bunch of hooey (with many examples) the following should gives M21 supporters a sense of justice.

Last night  Mayor Manny Diaz   received the 2009 American Architectural Foundation’s Keystone Award for taking on Miami 21, the largest form-based code ever proposed. That’s right readers, our local and vocal architects may like Miami just the way it is, but the nation is watching this process closely, and it seems most are hoping M21 succeeds. If it does, it will usher in a whole new precedent for replacing the very zoning codes — proliferated like a bad plague across the land without any regard for urbanism and local conditions — that prevent most US cities from allowing smart growth.

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…South Florida, and especially Miami, would become better-connected: locally, regionally, and internationally. According to this front page Miami Herald article, that is exactly what Mayor Diaz has asked for in his portion of the US Conference of Mayors infrastructure plan wish list. The list, which comprises more than $10 billion worth of projects, is the organizations attempt at shaping Obama’s infrastructure/economic stimulus plan.

The impressive list of projects on both the master list, and Manny’s own, outlines a way to create thousands upon thousands of jobs, while also making our country, and this Magic City, more sustainable and livable. Manny seems to be betting that the Obama administration- who will likely create the country’s largest infrastructure investment since the Interstate Highway system-will be amendable to at least some of the ideas proposed.

Obama has said he wants to make job creation nationwide a priority, and city and county officials estimate that the 1,720 projects on the list would create more than 150,000 jobs.

‘The quickest way to get people back to work is through infrastructure projects that can be rolled out quickly,’ said Diaz, who thinks the port tunnel project alone will create 2,000 jobs.

The wish list is ambitious, but it might be more than just a pipe dream. Though some requests are probably farfetched, others — like much-needed transit improvements — seem to fall in line with Obama’s vision.

Read the article to find out which projects Manny wants to see done here in Miami and South Florida.

If you keep up with the local or national news you have probably heard that president-elect Barack Obama will create an Office of Urban Policy when he takes office in January. You have probably also heard that none other than our very own Mayor Manny Diaz is being bandied about as a potential candidate to lead the office. My gut feeling is that Barack may go someone like Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute, but we shall see.

Regardless of his choice, this is has potential to be an incredible step forward for cities in America. It seems like many other things, Barack correctly understands that this is no longer a rural nation comprised of a constellation of small towns, but rather a nation of rather amorphous mega-regions comprised of growing cities and their vast asteroid belt of suburban nowheres. Together, they create unique problems that need holistic thinking at the federal level. Three cheers for Barack Obama on this one, folks.

Do you want a say in what this new office tackles first?

Visit this brand new site and have your say on what issue #1 is for urban policy in America. My top vote went to changing zoning policy to support more walkable and transit supportive urban development, followed by rebuilding our formerly  world class rail system.

Go vote and let us know your top two or three choices.

By all accounts Bike Miami was a total success! Some estimates claim nearly 2,000 bicyclists, joggers, walkers, dogs, dancers and skaters in attendance. I have a feeling it may have been a little more, but regardless, downtown was full of smiling people enjoying their city in a new way.

The two hot spots were undoubtedly Mary Brickell Village and Bayfront park, the two bookends of the route where people flocked in droves. In fact, South Miami Avenue was much more like an urban plaza than a street. Did you notice how the cafe seating and active retail edges allowed people to watch the active participants promenade through what became more a stage than a street? It was a beautiful event and instructive. Indeed, I have never seen such an exercise of urbanism within downtown Miami. The event clearly demonstrates the wonderful potential of downtown Miami and I think the event’s organizers and participants now understand what livable streets can mean for the health of downtown Miami.

At 11am Miami Mayor Manny Diaz gave a short speech about making Miami a more bicycle friendly city. His commitment to such a goal has been more than evident in the past 9 months and we should all thank him, his staff (especially Kathryn Moore!) the Bicycle Action Committee and all the other city departments who made Bike Miami so successful. As Mayor Diaz also pointed out, yesterday’s event would not have been possible without the volunteer effort of the city’s police force who were wonderful, if not a bit surprised at the masses of people using the city’s streets in such an innovative way. Thanks to all!

Please know that all those involved in organizing the event are now aiming to make Bike Miami occur on a regular basis, perhaps even monthly as the mayor mentioned to me yesterday. However, before doing so, we would like to hear from you. What did you like? Did you have any problems? Do you have any suggestions for a route change or possible extension? Share your feedback by visiting the Bike Miami homepage and filling out a quick survey.

We will do our best to make Bike Miami even better for you in the future. All we ask in return is that you contact your local representatives, the Mayor’s office and/or your local news outlets etc (Especially the Miami Herald who ignored the event in today’s coverage!). to share your support and positive feedback. This is a grassroots event. Be the roots.

Now for a few photos.

Mayor Manny Diaz speaks to hundreds of participants at the Bike Miami rally.

Mr. Clucky, an erstwhile bicycle activist looks on.

Families were some of the most active participants at Bike Miami.

Flagler Street was teaming with activity all day long.

South Miami Avenue at Mary Brickell Village.

Go Green Miami.

For those who may not know, at the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in Miami, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz was recently elected to serve as the longstanding organization’s President. Transit Miami has obtained a copy (below) of a resolution drafted by the Transportation and Communications Committee and adopted at this very conference. It is our pleasure to share it with you.

Although it doesn’t guarantee action, it certainly represents an understanding of the inherent benefits associated with bicycling, especially in urban areas. One can hope that it also demonstrates the progress America’s cities continue to make towards livability and sustainability. If anything, to my knowledge, such an on-paper commitment to bicycling has never been so far reaching in this country. Hopefully, this is just the beginning…

RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED AT THE

The U.S. Conference of Mayors

76th Annual Meeting

June 20-24, 2008

Miami

TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE

###

ENSURING BICYCLING IS INTEGRATED INTO NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION,

CLIMATE, ENERGY AND HEALTH POLICY INITIATIVES

WHEREAS, bicycling can provide multiple and cross-cutting

benefits in U.S policy initiatives that seek to address

transportation needs, limit climate change and energy

consumption and improve public health; and

WHEREAS, we now live in a nation with 300 million people, and

that number is expected to grow to 365 million by 2030 and to

420 million by 2050 with the vast majority of that growth

occurring in congested urban areas where there are significant

limitations on accommodating increased motor vehicle travel; and

WHEREAS, since 1980, the number of miles Americans drive has

grown three times faster than the U.S. population; and

WHEREAS, a national transportation system that invests in and is

conducive to bicycling reduces traffic congestion in our most

heavily congested urban areas while promoting an overall

improved quality of life that is valuable for the Nation; As

example:

More than 200 cities throughout the U.S., representing more

than 35 million people have committed to implementing bicycle

friendly action plans to make their communities more bicycle

friendly; and

The greatest potential for increased bicycle usage is in our

major urban areas where 40 percent of trips are two miles or

less and 28 percent are less than one mile; and

Surveys show that a majority of people want to ride more but

are dissuaded by concern over traffic danger and other

barriers, and case studies have shown that when those barriers

to bicycling are removed, people start riding; and

WHEREAS, a national network of interconnected urban and rural

bikeways can provide valuable community benefits, including low

or no-cost recreation and alternative transportation options for

people of all ages and abilities

WHEREAS, the transportation sector contributes one-third of the

greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and passenger

automobiles and light trucks alone contribute 21 percent

WHEREAS, 10 percent of global oil production goes solely toward

fueling America’s cars and trucks and the U.S. could save 462

millions of gallons of gasoline a year by increasing cycling

from one percent to one and a half percent of all trips; and

WHEREAS, bicycle commuters annually save on average $1,825 in

auto-related costs, reduce their carbon emissions by 128 pounds,

conserve 145 gallons of gasoline, and avoid 50 hours of gridlock

traffic; and

WHEREAS, over 800 of our Nation’s Mayors have signed onto the

Climate Protection Agreement of the United States Conference of

Mayors urging the Federal Government to enact policies and

programs to meet or exceed a greenhouse gas emission reduction

target of a seven percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2012;

and

WHEREAS, two years ago the Conference of Mayors unanimously

endorsed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, whereby a

key component is to implement climate-friendly land-use policies

and invest in public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian

infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, the Center for Disease Control estimates that if all

physically inactive Americans became active, we would save $77

billion in annual medical costs

WHEREAS, the United States is challenged by an obesity epidemic

in which 65 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or

obese, and 13 percent of children and adolescents are

overweight, due in large part to a lack of regular activity; and

WHEREAS, the percentage of U.S. children who walk or bike to

school has dropped by 70 percent since 1969 such that only 15

percent of students were walking or biking to school in 2001

while the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in recent years,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of

Mayors believes that achieving increased levels of bicycling is

in the national interest; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors

encourages the development and implementation of a coordinated

national bicycling strategy aimed to increase safe bicycle use

as a mode of transportation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors

encourages the development of federal transportation,

environmental and public health policies that recognize

increased and safe bicycle usage for transportation is in the

national interest and that we further urge Congress in the next

federal transportation reauthorization to establish policies and

funding mechanisms that will aim to:

Reduce the number of motor vehicle miles traveled (VMT); and

Improve safety conditions for bicyclists; and

Collect transportation and safety data needed to monitor

progress; and

Provide incentives for state and local governments to adopt

and implement Complete Street policies designed to accommodate

all users; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that even absent federal incentives,

Governors and state-level leadership should embrace Complete

Streets policies that acknowledge the contributions of bicycles

as a means to reduce vehicle miles by integrating bicycle use

into standard street design; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that that the U.S. Conference of Mayors

calls on all Mayors that sign onto the Climate Protection

Agreement to develop and implement action plans to incorporate

bicycling programs and policies as a key component in reducing

greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors

encourages every mayor to strive to make their city a Bicycle

Friendly Community.

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Mayor Diaz is the latest Blogger to join the Miami Blog Scene. We’ll be adding his site to the sidebar and following it regularly. Welcome Mayor Diaz!

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Sorry about the slow activity this week. We’ll be back to normal soon. Here is a scanned copy of the proclamation issued by Mayor Manuel Diaz today commemorating Miami’s Bike Month. I captured the whole presentation on video but am having trouble uploading it. I’ll have it up as soon as soon as possible.

Listen up livable streets advocates: this Thursday morning at Miami City Hall there will be a great opportunity to show support for cycling improvements in the City of Miami. At 9:00am, Mayor Diaz will be presenting a bike month proclamation, and the more support we show him the more likely our advocacy will be well received. This could be the genesis of a something much bigger, as we’ve been advocating for improved cycling conditions in Miami for quite some time. Now that we finally have the Mayor’s attention, let’s show him that we are very serious about making Miami a much more bike-friendly city.
If you are not familiar with the location of City Hall, click here for a map.

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It somehow always seems that when Transit/Development news flares up, so do events in our personal lives. In any case, here are some of the top news stories this week, some of which we’ll get around to commenting on:

Local:

  • The next phase of the Metrorail extension hasn’t even broken ground and already the cost overruns have begun. This time Parson’s is looking for an additional $13 million in “Consultant fees.” I’m not specifically implicating that Parsons has something to do with this, but, I find it intriguing that nearly every project they’ve worked on locally (Miami Intermodal Center, MIA North Terminal, MIA South Terminal, PAC, Boston’s Big Dig, etc.) has come in way over budget. Is there something we don’t know, or is it really that easy to bilk the county out of money once you’re hired to do contracting/engineering/management work? I guess choosing the French construction giant Bouygues Travaux Publics, wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
  • Top issues for Kendall this year? Forget Cityhood, how about congestion, lots of it. It’s only getting worse too as years pass and opportunities for real transit come and go (Tri-Rail Kendall link anyone?) If the Kendall community fears Tri-Rail trains traveling down an existing ROW behind their houses or an “unsightly” elevated rail down Kendall drive is going to lower their property values, just wait and see the nose dive congestion will cause. At least the recent efforts have paused (momentarily) foolish FDOT hopes of expanding Killian to 6 lanes west of 137th Avenue. Perhaps Kendall residents are beginning to realize that the car isn’t a viable solution…
  • Like him or not, Manny Diaz has a Vision. We’ll dig into this much more in depth soon…
  • I’m liking the looks of a final panel report on the UDB. Key part of this would require 3/4 of commissioners to move the line for projects and would bring in an outside firm to redraw the line.
  • Live Nation is set to bring yet more events to Bayfront Park. Can’t a Park just be a Park? I’m not arguing against the Museums, those are neccessary, but why does Bayfront need so many attractions to make it successful? I think the park would induce more local use if there was less cement and far more shade trees, just a thought…
  • The Federal DOT has given MDT a grant to purchase 16 hybrid express buses for the new HOT lane project on I-95. The buses will travel from downtown Miami to Ft. Lauderdale. Now can we please modernize the system and implement farecards (and new machines) that are transferable on all 3 local agencies?
  • Don’t ride Transit, Buy a BMW…No seriously, Norman Braman wants you to buy a BMW and skip out on urban life…Oh, more on this soon…However, please follow this link for some laughable signs of hypocrisy…
  • Gasp! This first paragraph says it all: “The [Palmetto Bay] Village Council approved a special permit allowing a new commercial development to put all of its parking spaces on the street at a zoning hearing Monday.” Note: A special permit. I know this is a young, incorporated bedroom community and all, but seriously, can we get some logical planning oversight around there? (In Case you missed it, we’re glad to see the use of on street parking in this and other bedroom communities…This shouldn’t be a special instance, but, rather the norm….)
  • Watering rules in effect now till forever. Green lawns aren’t a necessity folks…
National:
  • Cape Cod wind farm moves one crucial step closer to disturbing a bunch of rich folks’ “pristine” views…
  • Northern Virginia (and Atlanta) is getting closer to funding a new streetcar. Not enough BMW dealers in the area I guess…

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