Currently viewing the category: "Miami 21"

Dear Commissioner Sarnoff,

As a resident of Belle Meade I am opposed to the use of $70,000 from the Quality of Life funds to erect a fence surrounding my community. I wholeheartedly believe that the use of these funds is a waste of money that will not make Belle Meade any safer. I think these funds could be used more effectively to address “Quality of Life” issues that affect the ENTIRE Upper East Side community and not just Belle Meade.

I propose that these funds should be used for an Upper East Side charrette. An intensive 7-10 day charrette that brings the community together to address our concerns and collectively plan for the future of the Upper East Side will do more to improve the quality of life for ALL residents then a fence excluding my neighbors from outside my Belle Meade community from entering Belle Meade.

The SINGLE most important thing that we should do as a community is encourage redevelopment in the area with more density.  The more density we have, the more active our streets become and thus our community becomes safer. I have spoken to developers and they have informed me that the current 35′ designation along Biscayne Boulevard discourages them from investing and bringing the needed density to this commercial corridor.  This is just one of the items that should be discussed during an Upper East Side charrette.

The SECOND most important thing that we could do as a community is design and engineer a streetscape that is business and pedestrian friendly. To achieve this we must:

  • Add parallel parking
  • Reduce travel lanes to calm traffic and discourage speeding
  • Add crosswalks at every intersection

The MiMo BID has met with the FDOT on several occasions, and the FDOT has confirmed that the ideas proposed in a recent MiMo Streetscape Vision Plan produced by Chuck Bohl and Jaime Correa from the University of Miami are feasible.

Retailers need accessible parallel parking in order to thrive.  Reducing the travel lanes and adding parking will naturally reduce the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard to the 35 mph it should be.  As it stands now the current design speed is 45 mph. The MiMo Historic District is a commercial corridor, not a highway. Ten miles-per-hour would make an enormous impact in terms of economic development and pedestrian friendliness.

Many community stakeholders know and believe that in order to reduce crime we need more density and a business and pedestrian friendly streetscape design. Building a porous $70,000 fence will not achieve the desired reduction in crime.  With $70,000 ALL the neighborhoods from the Upper East Side could come together in a charrette and work towards a safer and more prosperous community. I believe this is a far better use of the Quality of Life funds that are meant to improve the quality of life for the ENTIRE Upper East Community and not just Belle Meade.


Felipe Azenha

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This morning I sat down with Tony Cho, President and Founder, of Metro I Properties to chat about his on going projects in Wynwood and the Design District. His company is a full-service real estate brokerage and investment firm that focuses on infill redevelopment of the urban core.  Metro 1 focuses on properties east of I-95 from downtown Miami to NE 54 Street.  What about the MiMo District in the Upper East Side, I asked? Tony Cho’s response:

I believe an anti-development climate exists in the Upper East Side, which makes it difficult for businesses and economic development and continues to further depress real estate values. I think the MiMo BID can help, but ultimately development will bring investment and density and more businesses to the area.

I live on the Upper East Side and I must admit  that the truth hurts. The T3 (2 Stories) designation is stifling redevelopment. I have to agree with Tony and say that 35′  T3  lobby has effectively suppressed property values in the area and will not make our neighborhood any safer because it does not encourage density. The few developments that are in the process of being permitted are all 1-story buildings that DO NOT add enough pedestrians to Biscayne Boulevard. Why are these developers choosing to build only one story? My guess is that it is not economically worthwhile to build a second floor or developers may choose to sell their density bonuses. If the Upper East Side Biscayne Boulevard corridor were to be designated T5 (5 stories) I think we would see developers building 5 stories and not choosing to build less or sell their density bonuses.

We need density, not bad density (10 stories), but GOOD density (5 stories). The 35-foot height limit restricts density in our neighborhood, removing an important motive for developers to invest in the area. On the other hand T5 zoning is attractive to developers, and with Miami 21’s pedestrian friendly zoning, it will bring a good scale of density and development to the area.  T5 zoning allows developers to build structures like the Balans Café building on Biscayne Boulevard and NE 68th Street.  This building is not out of scale and is sensitive to the surrounding single-family homes.

Balans Cafe. Building on Biscayne Boulevard taller than 35'.

This building is an example of good density; retail on the bottom floor with residents living on the floors above. This type of development provides for a symbiotic relationship between businesses and residents. It also helps reduce auto-dependency.

Wake up Upper East Side! If you want your property values to rise and you want your neighborhood to become safer you should support higher intensity infill development.  On the other hand, if you want the neighborhood to stay the same (crime, drugs, prostitution) then let’s keep the 35-foot height limit and not encourage development in the area.  No fence or wall will keep you safe as long as Biscayne Boulevard remains a cesspool of crime, drugs and prostitution.  In order to change the reality of Biscayne Boulevard we need people living and doing business (not turning tricks) on Biscayne Boulevard.  We need to support mixed-use development and the only way this can be done is if the height limit on Biscayne is increased to actually allow five stories.

Not all development is bad, nor are all developers evil. There are plenty of good developers with good intentions in Miami. As a community we need to support more intense development if we want our property values to rise and reduce crime. There is plenty of research out there to support that walkable neighborhoods have higher property values and are safer; the more eyes on the street the less crime. We shouldn’t allow the voice of the few who lobbied for 35′ height limit to further allow our neighborhood to fall into decay.

Please send Commissioner Mark Sarnoff an email and let him know that you support pedestrianizing Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side. Also, please ask him to apply pressure on FDOT to re-stripe Biscayne Boulevard. Biscayne Boulevard needs to be business and pedestrian friendly.  It’s all about economic development. We need density, a street people can actually cross, and parallel parking so businesses can thrive.


April 1, 2011


University of Miami

School of Architecture



Happy new year blogosphere! Transit Miami is back and better than ever with a tough agenda on the way for 2011. While we are excited about the coming year we didn’t want to move on without looking back at the top 5 events (in our opinion) which rocked our local planning and transportation world in 2010.

5. FL High Speed Rail

With the Obama Transportation policy reform in full swing, Florida’s Tampa-Orlando HSR link emerged as a big winner, securing over $2 Billion in federal funds and virtually guaranteeing the initial 84 mile corridor’s completion in 2015. Despite the near 100% funding commitment from the feds, this project almost faced a similar fate as the Ohio and Wisconsin HSR plans which were scrapped by incoming Republican Governors late this year. Incoming Republican Gov Rick Scott has pledged to fully evaluate the fiscal viability of the line and is awaiting a feasibility study due in February before deciding whether to accept the federal funds.(barf )

4. Construction begins on the Port of Miami Tunnel

At the end of 2009, things were starting to look bleak for the $1 Billion Port of Miami Tunnel intended to divert truck traffic out of Miami’s downtown streets and onto the highway. With funding in place, the port tunnel quietly broke ground in the summer of 2010, finally bringing the 20+ year old concept into reality. The 1 mile tunnel will link Dodge and Watson Islands, providing the estimated 7,000 trucks and countless other vehicles which access the port daily with new, direct access; reducing congestion, and eliminating much truck traffic that would otherwise use normal downtown streets to get to I95. The tunnel is expected to be completed in 2014.


3. Tragedy on the Rickenbacker Causeway

The year got off to a rough start for South Florida Cyclists with the tragic death of Christophe Le Canne on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Le Canne, a 44 year old local cyclist and photographer was killed by a drunk driver on the morning of January 17. His death struck a nerve in growing cycling community. South Florida cyclists gathered like never before in a massive display of solidarity. With an estimated 2,500 cyclists in attendance, the Christophe Le Canne memorial ride (see video below), while tragic, echoed the collective sentiment of cyclists fed up with the status quo. Transit Miami issued a set of design and policy recommendations for the Rick in 2010, and we will continue to meet with elected officials and stakeholders to make the causeway the multimodal parkway we know it could be.

Christophe Le Canne Memorial Ride from rydel high on Vimeo.

2. FDOT heeds Brickell Community Concerns; more must be done

One of Transit Miami’s big projects this year was the campaign to improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions on Brickell. We organized residents, community groups, business interests, and elected officials to come together to speak with one voice to tell FDOT to make Brickell more pedestrian friendly as they move forward with street redesign and drainage improvement plans. We took field trips with FDOT to show them how unsafe they were desiging the road, and we let them square off with community residents and stakeholders in a meeting that left them looking careless and silly. FDOT eventually agreed to lower the speed limit, add several new crosswalks, and include shared-use arrow (sharrow) markings on the outside lane for cyclists - but more still needs to be done.  We are not going to stop until FDOT designs the street to take into account all users, and more than that, places automotive Level of Service at the bottom of a long list of other more important factors (like pedestrian and cyclist safety).

1. Miami 21

After a tumultuous 4 years of public comment,  hysterics, and misinformation, Miami 21 was officially implemented in 2010. We here at Transit Miami joined forces with the City of Miami in 2006 in full support of the plan, working closely with commissioners and city officials to help promote the virtues of a solid, form-based zoning code. The revolutionary work in Miami hasn’t gone unnoticed; since its adoption in May, Miami 21 has been the recipient of numerous awards including the American Planning Association (APA) Florida Chapter Award of Excellence, the American Architecture Award, and the Driehaus Form-Based Codes Award. The code has its issues, including excessively high parking requirements (championed by NYMBY groups) and a general lack of T4 around town, but these are issues we will continue to address in the coming years. We remain committed partners with the City of Miami Planning Department, and look forward to seeing how the code works with our existing transit investments to help Miami get through its urban growing pains.

Here is to a healthy and prosperous 2011! Cheers from the Transit Miami team.

Miami 21, the form-based code recently adopted in the City of Miami (also a hot discussion topic here a year ago), won the American Planning Association (APA) Florida Chapter Award of Excellence. Miami 21 was the sole Award of Excellence presented by the chapter this year. To quote from the award letter by the Awards Committee Chair: “Your dedication and achievement of such a worthy effort is a true reflection of the innovation and quality of planning occurring within the state.”

City of Miami Planner Luciana L. Gonzalez accepted the award on behalf of the city:

I was honored to accept the award on behalf of all team members, staff, and other supporters who have worked so hard over the years to make Miami 21 a reality. This award belongs to many people who were and have been involved in this extraordinary project. Thanks to all of you who helped reach this achievement. It is remarkable what we’ve been able to accomplish and I look forward to its continued success!

Congratulations to the City of Miami, staff, and all who worked tirelessly to make Miami 21 a reality.

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As part of the implementation of Miami 21, the City of Miami City Commission is holding a Town Hall meeting today, June 1 at 9AM for the purpose of conducting a public forum on Miami 21.

Please come out and let your commissioners know what you want to see in your community. The discussion will center on Miami 21 but is an opportunity to give ideas, improvements, etc.

Wed June 2 @ Miami City Hall 9am

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True to his word, Mayor Tomas Regalado made only minor comments before the City Commission today related to future amendments to the code after implementation. Later, while waiting for the City Manager to make a presentation regarding the budget, the commissioners went around griping about how there was not enough public process, or that the code was still not ‘complete’.

Commissioner Carollo described the lack of public process and lack of time (is he for real??) Commissioner Gort went on to propose a special meeting (after the May 20th implementation date) to bring all stakeholders together to further discuss changes to the code, which he said would be many considering “things that were not well thought out.” Others, like Commissioner Suarez brought up good points related to affordable housing and the impact of  downzoning on the city budget. While he made some good points, he also is not sold on the value of walkability or the principles behind the code, going so far as to suggest it was fatally flawed. Commissioner Dunn was very positive, echoing some of what Commissioner Suarez said about affordable housing, but clearly saying that he agreed with the code in principle. Commissioners Suarez and Carollo should take their cue from Commissioner Dun - you can seek changes to the code, but are you really against creating a pedestrian friendly Miami? I hope not.

Mayor Regalado held the commission back saying that is was not “practical” to delay the implementation date. He rightly recognized that any extension would result in the same last minute blitz by attorney’s and told the commission as much.  I hope that as time goes on, Gort, Suarez and Carollo take the time to truly understand what this code aspires to, and how it will change our city for the better.

Below is the reply I received from Mayor Regalado regarding the implementation of Miami 21:

Dear Mr. Azenha,

The reason I asked for the delay in the implementation was precisely because the people had not been heard and developers—not the people—had a lot of input in the plan that was approved last October. Miami Neighborhoods United, an umbrella of residents’ associations of the city, proposed many amendments, most of them downzoning next to residential neighborhoods. This was not included in the October plan. We have been placing the amendments in the agenda for the city commission to act. Miami 21 will be implemented on May 20th but there are amendments still to come, not from developers but from the people.


Tomas Regalado

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I received this email this morning from City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado regarding my previous post on Miami 21:


On the May 13th Agenda the only item relating to Miami 21 is a discussion item regarding the future amendments to Miami 21. As you may know Miami Neighborhoods United was left out of the process and they requested several amendments that this administration has been placing in different agendas. Some have been approved and some were deferred by the Commission. The ordinance is not in the agenda and neither the administration nor the City Attorney have any intentions to place it on the agenda. Miami 21 is for the residents and will be implemented on schedule.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns

Tomas P. Regalado

Thank you Mr. Mayor!

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Looks like we are close to the end of the Miami 21 approval adventure. You will remember that the code was set for implementation in January, but was delayed so that the new commission could make tweaks before the code becomes effective on May 20. As the commission holds its second reading for final amendments to the code next Thursday (May 13), the Mayor has sneakily inserted a discussion item related to “Miami 21 implementation”. This wouldn’t be alarming if it were not for this Mayor’s distaste for Miami 21 . After the ill advised down-zoning amendments to the code (sponsored by NIMBY group Miami Neighborhoods United) were voted down by the commission, I fear that the Mayor may be looking to abandon the code in favor of a new code rewrite. You will remember that MNU helped Regalado get elected, and he has repeatedly said that he wanted all of MNU’s amendments to be implemented (including down-zoning  major corridors to T3). On the opposite side of the discussion, land-use attorneys are also clamoring for the code to be tabled because they know it will stop the developer give-away that has existed until now under code 11000.

City Hall insiders note that there is not enough time at this point to table the code past the May 20 date given advanced notice requirements, but I remain skeptical of the Mayor’s ‘discussion’. I hope that Chairman Sarnoff and the new members of the commission reject any possible political games being played by the Mayor at the expense of City residents.  Continued shenanigans with Miami 21 will further hinder our economic rebound by keeping property owners and investors in limbo about the value and use of the their land, while also making Miami a less attractive place to live for professional, working-class residents.

Write to your commissioner to ensure that Miami 21 is implemented as re-scheduled for this month. Commissioners should remember that hundreds of supporters from all five districts  came out during the approval hearings. Their call for a walkable Miami must be heeded.

(PS. If you comment on this and live in the City of Miami please identify your district!)

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Miami 21, the long debated and approved zoning code for the City of Miami is coming back to the City Commission tomorrow for additional amendments being presented by Commissioners and Miami Neighborhoods United. Transit Miami supports Miami 21 and asks that the City Commission not delay any more in implementing the new form-based code before revising, tweaking, and amending further areas of the code without knowing the large scale implications on the city.
Transit Miami promotes pedestrian friendly neighborhoods built around a structure that promotes transit and alternative forms of transportation such as bikes. To achieve these goals the city needs a solid foundation upon which to work. Miami 21 attempts to meet many of these by allowing bonuses in high density areas and creating urban centers or nodes. We do not want to see the code further degraded by allowing “free” bonuses allowing builders to build above height limits without giving open spaces or other public benefits specified in the code.
We are not against further reductions in the neighborhoods or height caps next to single family homes however; we have lost sight of the idea of urban nodes. Urban nodes were to provide more height at the intersections of transit routes and major intersections not the typical commercial suburban strip zoning of today. Miami 21 should not reduce height on these urban nodes such as Coral Way at Douglas Rd and Coral Way at 5 points. Similarly, we would agree with a diversity of densities and heights along corridors such as Calle Ocho, Flagler Street, NW 7th St, 27th Avenue, 37th Avenue, 57th Avenue to name a few. Too often these corridors are given one transect zone for miles and miles as if the site conditions never change. We should be developing more near transit stations like 27th Ave and US 1 and less at the intersection of 27th Ave and SW 5th St as an example.
Additionally, specific changes for one area of the city may be better explained in Special Area Plans not in the transect that affects the entire city now and in the future. Areas such as the Marlins Stadium, Wynwood Arts District, or MiMo could be further studied in detail and planned systematically through this process. Special Area Plans are already in effect under 11000 as Miami WorldCenter and Midtown. Here regulations can be tailored to the site in exchange for public parks, transit investments, and other benefits.
Please ask your commissioner to move forward with Miami 21 without further delay and changes prior to the code being implemented. We will continue to fight for the urban nodes that are outlined in the code and fight for pedestrian-transit oriented new developments and the preservation of historic or stable communities.

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I will pledge to you Miami 21 will be implemented, but with the input of the new commissioners.

-Mayor Regalado

That is enough of a pledge for me to believe that this is not the end of the road for Miami 21. I hope the Mayor lives up to his word.

PS. The Herald article said it best:

…the new commission could be setting itself up for further delay in trying to reconcile often mutually exclusive changes sought by neighborhood activists and developers. Attempts by planners and city leaders to balance competing interests was one reason Miami 21 took so long to win approval.

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So it is after four years, countless meetings, and hours of testimony over the fate of Miami 21, that we still find ourselves fighting for a walkable future for the city of Miami. It is absurd that the new mayor (and longtime foe of liveable cities) is requesting that the fractured City Commission vote on delaying implementation of Miami 21 for 90 days (until May 20).

Forget that the full commission voted in favor of the code (with Regalado casting the lone ‘no’ vote), and also forget that over a third of the city is not going to be represented when the item comes to vote tomorrow because the commission seats are empty (a detail that Regalado would have cried fowl over were he still on the commission). Not to mention bringing such an important item to vote right before the holiday and with less than a week’s notice. What ever happened to transparency and public involvement in government? It would seem by the Mayor’s actions that he only believes in these principles as they apply to people who are running for office (not those already in office).

Lets also forget that one of the items being presented before the commission is to delay implementation of the land use changes associated with the code even though these changes, by the planning department’s own admission, have already been transmitted and accepted by the State of Florida. How do you delay implementing something that has already become effective according to state law? Weird.

The newbies to the commission are not likely to pick a fight with the new Mayor, but they should know that delaying the code will only cost the city taxpayers money. The cost to the real estate market will be devastating, as   property owners will be uncertain what rights are being taken away from them, further exacerbating the current economic problems. Litigation by property owners and concerned citizens could bring financial ruin to the city. All of this to allow a couple of projects to move forward under 11000? (Another anomaly for Regalado, considering his strong criticism of the previous administration’s relationship with the business community. Why is it now ok to change the law around to suit private development?)

If reconsidering the code is about allowing projects already in the pipeline  to move forward then the commissioners should propose that they advance these projects under 11000, while not moving back the start date for Miami 21.  I urge all three commissioners to respect the votes of the previous commission and allow the code to become effective. All new commissioners will have time to review and propose changes to the code - but it has to be allowed to start functioning. How the new commissioners vote tomorrow will be a strong indicator of what smart growth advocates can expect from our newly elected officials. I am deeply concerned that the progress we made this year in advancing smart growth and walkability will be have been shortlived. I hope I am wrong.

PS. Dear Commissioner Sarnoff: please don’t increase parking requirements downtown. That’s just plain dumb. We don’t need more parking. I drive downtown all the time and never have trouble finding parking. Evidence from around the world shows that cities are reducing requirements to support pedestrian life.  Please listen to your professional city planners (and local professional planners like me) when we tell you that parking requirements downtown should be very different from parking requirements in Kendall. Read up on Donald Shoup, guru of parking.

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Sent by a Transit Advocate:
Friends, many of you supported Miami 21, a new zoning code for the City of Miami that, among many advantages, improves transitions between high and low-density areas.  The City Commission happily approved Miami 21 by a vote of 4 to 1.
However, this Thursday, December 17, the Mayor is forcing the City Commission to consider an ordinance to delay the effectiveness of Miami 21 for three months, from February to May.  The item is not assigned a specific time, and is on the supplemental agenda (not fully advertised to the public):
This delay is a slippery slope.  What Miami 21 needs is to become effective, and  implemented as the far smarter framework than existing zoning, and reviewed over time to find any glitches.
Please speak against this delay, or email your elected public servants: and,,  The two other Commission seats are vacant due to criminal investigations.  Please forward this email to any who might care.

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