Currently viewing the tag: "Miami 21"
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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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According to Forbes Magazine the Miami World Center mega-project, which promised to transform Downtown Miami, seems to be imploding.  With the partners suing each other for fraud and Deutche Bank foreclosing on a number of the World Center lots, the project, which was supported by the City of Miami with special favors and taxpayer money, now appears to be dead in the water.  The thousands of new residents in the area now have to continue to be surrounded by abandoned and dilapidated lots, adversely affecting the quality of life in the neighborhood.Just another chapter in the sad history of “redevelopment” in the area.  The December 1982 Redevelopment Plan characterizes the area as “underdeveloped land, substandard parking lots, poor lighting”.  Unfortunately, the area looks much the same today, despite more than 25 years of “redevelopment”.  In 1987 the Boundaries of the redevelopment area were modified for the “Gran Central” project, a million square foot retail / office development, which was never built.  The Miami Arena, which was supposed to be a catalyst for redevelopment, has since been torn down, leaving an unsightly pile of rocks in its place.  Over the years, plans for stadiums, convention centers, and other mega-projects have prevented any organic development from taking place.

Then the City of Miami teamed up with the Miami World Center Group, which began accumulating property in 2004.  Immediately after the property was purchased by the group, the City upzoned the area nearly 250%, vastly increasing the value of the World Center holdings.  In 2008, City resources were diverted to developing a “Special Miami World Center Zoning District”, with an unspecified cost to taxpayers.  In 2009, the Overtown CRA contracted a $1.2 million regional impact study, normally paid for by the developers themselves.  In the June 2009, the City of Miami issued a conflict of interest waiver to allow the CEO of the World Center to sit on the Board of the Downtown Development Authority while continuing to do business with the City.

So what now?  Faced with financing and legal problems, lobbyists for the World Center Group are going after public money to bail them out.  A “public / private partnership” for a billion dollar convention center in Park West is being pushed by the DDA, whose Board contains lobbyists and supporters of World Center.  This is despite Mayor Regalado’s vow to put any new mega-projects to a public referendum, the Miami Beach Convention Center’s planned $55 M in renovations, and numerous studies showing lack of demand for such a project.   If a convention center is built (albeit extremely unlikely), there would suddenly be demand for thousands of hotel rooms in the area, potentially resurrecting the Miami World Center project from the grave.

So if it sounds like history repeating itself, it is. Why do City officials continue to follow the same failed strategies as in the past?  Why not think outside the box in this era of change?  Instead of mega-projects, why not beautify the area “one block at time” as the new Mayor has suggested. Put a public park on the old arena site, focus on a commuter rail into Downtown, lobby for a supermarket to serve the 20,000 residents north of the river.  A clean, pedestrian friendly neighborhood will encourage investment and vastly improve the quality of life for the 5,000 or so new residents of Park West.  This is a proven model used around the country, including South Beach and we should use it.  Our New Mayor ran on a platform of listening to concerns of constituents and NO MORE mega-projects.  Unfortunately there are still those in the City who are not listening.

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The City Commission approved Miami 21 on second reading with a 4-1 vote, Regalado casting the only lone vote. This is a great day for the City of Miami. Congratulations to the Mayor, city staff and DPZ for their hard work. Congratulations, Miami, you are taking your place in the annals of architectural and planning history. Bravo!

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When: 2:00 pm

Where: City of Miami City Hall, 3500 Panamerican Drive

“The point of cities is multiplicity of choice”

- Jane Jacobs

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city of miami commissioners at miami 21 first reading

As the Second Reading for Miami 21 approaches this Thursday, a couple of resources have been released in recent days that relate to the economic benefits of the code. First there is the article from the New York based real estate blog the Real Deal highlighting the economic benefits of Miami 21 to the City and residents.

Walkability, it seems, pays. A study of 15 cities around the country concluded that homes located in neighborhoods that consist of a mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance command price premiums of $4,000 to $34,000 more than similar homes in areas less friendly to folks on foot. The study, titled “Walking the Walk,” was conducted by CEOs for Cities, a national bipartisan alliance of mayors, corporate executives, university presidents and nonprofit executives dedicated to guiding urban development in sustainable directions.

Then there are the long awaited ‘white papers’, prepared by the City Planning department in response to demands made by various citizen groups in relation to specific points in the code, the most important of which seeks to limit height to 4 stories along all major corridors. (A very very bad idea.) Here is the planning department’s great response:

Limiting our commercial corridors to the T4 transect zone, would effectively limit the opportunity to achieve the goals of Miami 21 which are to promote walkability, transit and economic development. Commercial corridors are essential to the everyday activity of a neighborhood by providing jobs, business opportunities, places to shop and in many cases places to live. It is this critical mass, the multitude of services and opportunities that our corridors provide, that give them the vibrancy to be successful. The T4 Transect zone serves as an appropriate transition into a single family neighborhood at the scale of townhomes, but does not satisfy the needs of our commercial environments. The T4 Zone, if provided across all the City’s corridors, would limit the creation of this critical mass that makes the corridors successful by limiting the opportunity for mixed‐use development, precluding the possibility of structured parking, and restricting density to a level that would not support the future possibility of transit. Miami 21 hopes to provide every resident the opportunity to obtain their daily needs within walking distance of their home, and the best way to achieve all of these goals is to provide active commercial corridors that can sustain the needs of everyday users, provide future opportunities for transit, and continue to provide economic development to our neighborhoods.

Excellent. I look forward to hearing what the commissioners have to say on Thursday given the overwhelming support for the code from City residents and businesses. Also, check out the latest code (indicating the changes made). If you have not already done so, email or call your commissioner and let them know how you feel about the code or join our Miami 21 Facebook group. Or better yet, come out on Thursday to the City Hall and let your voice be heard!

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Miami 21 was unanimously approved 9-0 by the South Florida Regional Planning Council.  Comments have been received from DCA and the City Commission is scheduled to consider it on second reading on Thursday, October 22nd at 2:00 PM.  Come out and show your support!

Where: City Commission Chambers, 3500 Pan American Drive

When: Thursday, October 22nd, 2:00 PM

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Its official, Miami has a plan for bicycles. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved unanimously (4-0) by commissioners today.  This is fantastic news and is praiseworthy; however, the victory speaks more about a vocal, passionate, and diverse bicycling constituency that has made great strides over the course of the past year and a half.

Today’s victory for bicyclists is their second triumph in the past two months.  A couple of months ago, this very same bicycling community, came out to speak in favor of the Miami 21 zoning code. Coincidentally, these advocates happened to be one of the strongest supporters of the transformative form based code that is now set to guide Miami’s future development.

It’s important that the bicycling community maintain pressure on elected officials to ensure that the plan is actually implemented. I have no doubt that it can be done. This was reinforced to me this past weekend by the thousands of bicyclists that attended Bike Miami Days. Momentum is certainly on our side and seems to be increasing. Last month’s critical mass ride set a Miami record with nearly 200 bicyclists. This month’s Halloween ride should easily supersede that number.

Bicycling is now in vogue in Miami, and this fad isn’t going away anytime soon. If you don’t have a set wheels you better get some soon. All the cool kids got them.

After hours of testimony, years of public involvement and participation, and countless changes and amendments, the Miami City Commission finally approved Miami 21 on first reading with a 4-1 vote. Countless residents came out to voice their support of the plan, and their voices were heard. Thanks to all. This truly is the people’s plan.

Posted from Commission Chambers at 6:02 PM, EST.  Nuff said.

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You can view the special City Commission Meeting regarding Miami 21 here.

Last night the PAB deferred its vote on comprehensive plan changes to make them consistent with the Miami 21 zoning atlas until November. That doesn’t mean anything for tomorrow’s vote though, which will continue as scheduled. From the South Florida Business Journal:

The city’s planning advisory board vets planning issues and is required to vote prior to the city commission. Although the commission is supposed to take the PAB recommendation into consideration during its debate, commissioners can reach a different conclusion. As a result, the PAB could vote to reject something and the commission could still approve it.

Chiaro’s announcement that commissioners would still hear Miami 21 Friday riled board members and some members of the public who attended the meeting.

“None of us here needed to be here at all,” said Paul Mann, a PAB board member. “All you wanted to do was, for technical reasons, let the public vent.”

With Arva no longer at the helm of the PAB, the NIMBY’s have taken over. Too bad. Even board member Donna Milo noted the acrimony inspired by a few vocal opponents (both attorneys and NIMBY’s).

“You are the group against everything,” she said, referring to members of the public who had raised concerns about Miami 21 and who opposed its passage. The statement triggered shouts from the audience.

I don’t know who is more irrelevant at this point. Land use attorneys who are still arguing against against the code are doing so because they couldn’t negotiate better deals for their clients, while the NIMBYs just want development to stop. The longer the NIMBYs delay the vote, the more time attorneys have to better their client’s development rights, or derail the whole process altogether. If that were to happen, the current code would stay in play for another couple of decades and everyone loses (except for the developers). Not smart people. Not smart at all. Miami 21 will provide a much better framework than what currently exists. Blah.

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Starts at 2pm. Get your questions answered here.

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  • In some zoning trickery Miami-Dade is applying to have horse racing at MIA (but off site) so they install slot machines in the airport? Really? How about we just concentrate on completing the never ending construction before we embark on horse racing and gambling.
  • Metrozoo’s waterparks are moving forward… unfortunately. Good bye last remaining pine rocklands in Dade County.
  • Miami-Dade Transit gets a boost from investors with A+ rating: “The ‘A+’ rating on the bonds reflects solid coverage of debt service from a voter-approved one-half cent sales tax despite some recent softening, sound historical growth in both sales tax revenues and transit ridership, and Miami-Dade County’s broad, diverse economic base, which is a significant factor in the county’s ‘AA-‘ general obligation bond rating.”
  • Congrats Mayor Manny: The Southwest Florida AIA invited Mayor Diaz to give the keynote address at their annual dinner for his Miami 21 efforts.
  • A new use for abandoned railways in Dade: “GROW is a nonprofit, urban garden that operates on an abandoned railway track near the Miami International Airport. It is a grass-root, public education initiative. After nearly two years, it finally gets the blessing of the county to operate.”

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Much has been said lately about the changes proposed by Commissioner Sarnoff regarding height restrictions in the MIMO historic district. I have had several exchanges with area residents who oppose further development along this (and other corridors). Recently Commissioner Sarnoff issued a letter to Commission Chair Sanchez over the false fear of Burt Harris property rights litigation, and makes some good points. I can’t argue that taking property rights will open the city to litigation (it might, but as the Commissioner points out, the city has a strong case). The question is not whether the city is within its rights to do so, but whether it is good policy. It isn’t. With all due respect to local residents, I think that capping development in this area at 35′ is bad planning. The Commissioner cites traffic and lack of mass transit as part of his reasoning:

This is an important City of Miami historic district that exists on an FDOT [rated] ‘F’ roadway. The added density or often intensity of T5 or T6 planned for sections of this historic road will only casue a collapse in a system that has already seen its mass transit funding diverted by the County.

Mr. Commissioner, we should be so lucky to have ‘F’ rated roadways. You should know that as you increase the Level of Service for a road, you decrease the Level of Service for pedestrians and cyclists. Increased Levels of Service lead to greater flow, greater speed, and less safety. I hope you don’t advocate increasing Levels of Service along our roadways as a way of addressing the lack of mass transit. Alleviating traffic by preventing development is a red herring - it will not have any effect on the LOS of the roadway. Rather than being concerned with the false perception that limiting development will reducing traffic, you and area residents should be more concerned about designing the street with pedestrians in mind, slowing traffic down (by keeping a low LOS), and facilitating further mass transit opportunities.

And speaking of the lack of mass transit on Biscayne, you and others should read about the project to bring rail down the FEC corridor that runs right next to Biscayne. Part of the planning work they are doing for this project is to make sure that the local CDMP and zoning code increases density and pedestrianism around stations. Contrary to your claims that this is not an appropriate area for density, its proximity to a major rail corridor make it the most logical place for more density, and will help offer your constituents more transit alternatives. The timeline for the project is about 6 years (which started in January), so this is not some far off project but one that will be implemented in the short term. Funding will come from the Federal and State government.

Also, check out the editorial from the Herald today echoing the economic benefits of the plan, which I described yesterday.

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Hey all, check out our new Miami 21 page where you will find a chronological list of all the Miami 21 articles we have written over the past few years. Lots of good information to sift thru. I will be adding more information in the coming days related to the lastest revisions and zoning atlas, which can all be found on

Remember to write letters/emails of support to your Commissioner. You can find their contact info here.

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