Currently viewing the tag: "Miami"

The reoccurring theme lately has become centralized on the opinion of the public with regards to community projects. Community involvement opposition recently has driven many projects in directions that most city planners/urban developers would not necessarily agree with and Sweetwater is no exception. The architecture department at Florida International University has created a master plan to help transform Sweetwater from just another suburban residential enclave to a self sustainable college town that together with the university can continue to grow mutually to serve all area residents needs. Needless to say, the city opposes any change, especially change that could involve bringing the metrorail into their area.

Given the ridiculous opposition, one would assume that the FIU architecture department proposed to integrate mammoth sized buildings in the single family home neighborhood. However, the FIU plan would begin to slowly transform Sweetwater to better suit it and the college, by providing a sort of center where denser housing, government jobs, public services, and parks would be located. The growth would help to sustain the city tax base and would be a boon to the local residents by drastically improving the connection between the school and the city. It would also help minimize the impact of metrorail on the surroundings by creating a more densely urbanized area where the train would arrive.

The fact of the matter is that Miami residents seem very opposed to change. Understandably, most people do not trust the local government entities to make sound decisions on growth and development in the area given the track record of abuse by developers and city/county officials. I’m certain, however, that with the aide of the University’s school of Architecture, the city residents could work together with planners to lay a better foundation and identity for their city…

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Sorry about the infrequency of the posts lately, I’ve been caught in the middle of a very hectic week. I spent the better part of my day yesterday discussing some transit issues with some of the top minds in the county. We were brainstorming of some ideas to get TransitMiami more involved in community education and planning. Some new things will be happening around here very soon including a software (finally, yes, Alesh) to something other than this terrible software I currently use.

Last night, I attended the Miami’s 50 Savviest Singles party at Bricks (amazing sound and light system), hosted by The Miami New Times and Hope Center of Miami. I was a honoree at the event and had the opportunity to mingle with some of Miami’s most progressive and unique individuals. I spent most of the night conversing with Dr. Sean Kenniff of “Survivor” fame, Jennifer Santiago, and Adam Saban (Shuster and Saban, LLC.) The proceeds of the evening went to the Hope Center of Miami, a wonderful organization that has been in Miami since 1955 and is dedicated to needs of special individuals in our region.

I’m about to embark on another cross-state expedition. This time, I’m headed across the alley and over the sunshine skyway into Tampa. I’ll snap a few picks depending on what the day looks like and I’ll try to write some transit related material later today (Kendall Corridor, Ramp Metering, Port of Miami Tunnel, Pay lanes on I-95, etc.) Speaking of Kendall Corridor, word on the street is telling me that the community involvement at the local meetings have been pushing to keep trains off of the CSX corridor as well as above grade along the Kendall Dr. corridor. I’ll share my thoughts later, but, as many of you may already know, I’ll likely share why this is such a terrible idea…

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It’s nice to be back in Miami, albeit for just a couple of days. I’ve kept my opinions on the recent elections as quiet as possible but hope that all my readers took it upon themselves to vote on Tuesday, I did. I’m fairly pleased with most of the results except for a particular Florida amendment which passed; number three. You know the one which will allegedly “protect” our state constitution by making amendments pass by a 60% margin rather than the typical majority. What exactly are we protecting the constitution from? The opinion of a clear majority? Floridians have yet to realize the serious implications which come with the passing of this law. It’s a huge win for big businesses in Florida and huge loss for the rest of us. With 58% of the people voting in favor of it, I wish its own rules had been applied to the amendment.

While I’m at it, we also fumbled in voting in favor of wasting millions of dollars on tobacco education. It’s been proven that some of the anti-smoking efforts of this new campaign are a completely ineffective. Now, I’m in favor of educating people on the health risks of smoking, but, there’s only so much intervening we’ll be able to achieve successfully with this new program.

Nationally, it’s interesting to see that Americans have voted for a whopping 50+ Billion dollars of bond initiatives to improve our floundering and neglected infrastructure. Across the nation, people are looking to improve public spaces and facilities, just so long as the improvements didn’t come in the form of an additional tax. Meanwhile, Broward residents rightfully rejected a proposed transit tax which would have effectively done little to address the county’s transit infrastructure. With such terrible planning and little vision of what BCT hoped to accomplish, it’s no wonder the additional tax was rejected.

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There is something fishy (Pun Intended) going on between developer Sergio Pino and the County Commission. Pino has nearly secured the ability to build 500 homes on land bordering the Tamiami Executive Airport and has even been able to get lawmakers to reduce the airport “buffer zone,” effectively placing homes closer to the runways. Planes will now be able to fly as low as 148 ft over some of the proposed houses.

What a terrible project. Talk about an effective way of curbing future airport and airport related growth. I wonder how long it will take after residents move in, to complain about excessive airport noise. It reminds me of the people living behind railroad tracks which never expected to see trains running along them. But, don’t worry about planes crashing on houses:

“The Century Gardens project includes 24 town houses and a strip mall at the end of a runway. In the middle is a small park requested by county officials — where they said pilots could aim in the event of a crash.”

You know, because that is why we create park space in the County to begin with, for planes to crash land.

Here are some notable parts of the Herald article:

Pino’s group has also convinced the airport that a buffer zone surrounding the airport — where new homes are banned — should shrink. Almost all of the 68-acre Century Gardens project falls within this buffer zone, now zoned for industrial or business use.

Mayol, Pino’s lawyer, successfully argued that the buffer zone was designed to limit neighborhood complaints about noise, and had nothing to do with public safety.

Pino is no stranger to the commission. This year, he and his companies donated $29,000 to the reelection campaigns of five commissioners, records show.

Pino’s companies also donated $25,000 to a political committee challenging a recall effort against Commissioner Natacha Seijas.

In 2004, Pino took Commissioner Jose ”Pepe” Diaz on his private jet for a fishing vacation in Cancún, Mexico. Diaz never listed the trip as a gift in financial disclosure forms he is required to file.

Though the County Commission vote won’t take place until Thursday, bulldozers already have been spotted at work on the land.

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We’ve got issues folks. Big ones. We have to find a way of lowering our ranking on this list, while raising our ranking on this list. That’s right Miamians are apparently a very uneducated breed of individuals when compared to other major cities across the country. As I like to refer to it, lack of education is the big elephant sitting tucked away in some nondescript part of the city. Nobody likes to bring up the subject although we all know it’s there and it’s the likely source of many of our regional problems. Perhaps things like this (or this) wouldn’t be so commonplace in our city if our literacy rate, graduation rate, or higher education percentages were all higher.

The recent education rankings don’t even mention Miami. In fact I had to search here, to find our measly 16% of adults aged 25 and older with Bachelors Degrees. 16%? That’s half what NYC has and more than three times less thank Seattle, the highest ranked city. It’s also no coincidence that the cities with higher levels of educated citizens also have more major companies headquartered in their respective regions and higher median household incomes than Miami. It’s a catch 22; should we be concentrating on educating our citizens to attract better and bigger industry to our region or should we entice and provide incentives for companies to move to our region and hope that the better educated masses follow? Either way, things have got to change or else we’ll continue to see the city’s middle and lower classes continue to be priced out of the area.

With regards to the crime: I’m glad our ranking has fallen in recent years, but, if you look at all 371 cities, way too many greater Miami area cities are also ranking fairly high on this list. I assume if our educated population base was higher, our rank on this list would decrease substantially.

Florida cities as a whole are at a grave disadvantage in attracting large corporate headquarters to our region. Our entire state education system also ranks somewhere near the bottom, alongside Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Gov. Jeb Bush has done little to nothing throughout his tenure to improve our national education rankings and thus improve our state’s appeal to major employers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t attribute Miami’s education woes to the state’s education deficiencies, but, it is definitely a contributing factor.

According to national figures, Florida‘s graduation rate was 55.7 percent in 2002, putting it at No. 48 nationally, ahead of only Georgia and South Carolina.

As MVB also points out, our local government agencies and organizations in charge of recruiting and enticing companies to relocate to our area is ineffective to say the least. The inter-county/municipality competition alone is terrible.

Anyone have any education reform/business generation/crime reducing solutions?

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Good luck if you are trying to get anywhere from west Kendall this morning. At 3:15 this morning a car collided with a train on Bird Rd. and 72nd Avenue. It isn’t certain what occurred that would cause this car to go careening into the locomotive of the 9 car train, causing the train to derail. I can safely assume however, that this is another instance of a Miami driver not knowing how railroad crossings work…

Image from Miami Herald

Video Link…

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I’m elated and equally stunned to announce that I have been named one of Miami’s 50 Savviest Singles by the Miami New Times. I feel incredibly honored to have been nominated by a peer of mine for this award and hope that I can continue to contribute to my community. I live for this city, as many of you might already know, and genuinely always have my community’s best interests in mind. It’s motivating to see my name appear alongside doctors, lawyers, and other established individuals in the Miami business community, considering that I have yet to graduate from the University of Florida.

I’d like to personally thank Maria A.K.A. Manola Blablablahnik of Sex and the Beach fame, who nominated me for the award. Having met Maria only once, she determined that my dedication to my site and my community involvement merited a nomination. Thank You.

To see the article/photograph and other 49 Savviest Singles, please pick up today’s edition of the Miami New Times. There will also be a celebration of sorts next Thursday at Bricks in Miami from 7-10 pm which I likely will be attending. Tickets, I believe, are $60 and proceeds go to the Hope Center in Miami. I also uploaded the article here and reprinted the bio below for those curious readers who live outside the state. It’s the first time I mention anything so personal on the site, enjoy.

Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal, 21, was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He is currently studying Transportation Engineering at The University of Florida, but, still manages to remain active in the Greater Miami region. He is the creator and author of, a local website dedicated to discussing the transportation and urban planning problems that face our region. He uses the site to inform fellow citizens about the developments happening in their area, while offering his professional suggestions in an open forum discussion. He is also an active member in the United Citizens for South Link, a political action committee dedicated to educating citizens about the advantages of public transportation in the South Dade region. In his spare time, Gabriel attends public seminars to address the upcoming public transit projects of the people’s transportation plan and is working with researchers to create a new method for analyzing congestion along Florida’s highways.

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I just came across an old article in the Miami New Times, which discusses one of my most despised developments in Miami; the Ryder Systems Headquarters off of the turnpike expressway, on the edge of the everglades and civilization. I despise this project not only because of its location but because of what it is home to. The fact that one of the largest companies in the area and the nation would choose this site as its corporate headquarters is sickening. Its shows how little Ryder systems is concerned about Miami and how fickle its intentions to contribute positively to the urban fabric of our city really are.

It appears, much to my suspicions, that some sort of fishy land deal occurred, which allowed Ryder to sell their Doral digs and move west. The involved parties include no other than our own racial slurring state representative Ralphy Arza, as well as Shoma Homes Employees. The original plan was to develop the Ryder 45 acre parcel into, well, what would you know; a “Town Center” styled development. On top of being a complete load of BS, the development was slated to be “pedestrian friendly.” I guess these guys planned on attracting many of the pedestrians which walk from parking lot to parking lot in Doral.

Even more sickening is the way Masoud Shojaee, president of Shoma Development Corp., was able to pay off Ralph Arza $20,000 up front and an additional $30,000 once the zoning change was complete. So, now not only is Arza a racial slurring, voice mail leaving dirty politician, but, apparently his services can be purchased to influence the way our city is redeveloped. I propose we overturn the zoning changes and tear down the buildings which continue to push the development boundary westwards…

Bye, Bye, Ralph…

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This is a recent photo taken by Umiami305, it was posted on a forum which I frequent. It depicts the South Terminal at MIA which is soon to open. Notice the MIAMI spelled on the side of the building. It’s a nice touch most people tend to miss upon first glance…

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And then there were none. Major local TV news stations located in the heart of our city, that is. ABC, the sole survivor of the mass exodus of media business from Miami (Proper) announced last week that they too were headed to suburbia. Not just any suburbia, Browardlandia to be precise, making it one less news station that I can actually watch (hey, you turn your back on me; I’ll return the favor.) In the quest for more studio space and more parking (for Dwight or Laurie?), WPLG has given up on their urban location just south of the Media and Arts district design district in Miami. ABC is following the relatively recent moves of NBC/Telemundo into expansive and utterly hideous suburban television studios in western Broward (surrounded by gorgeous, treeless parking lots in every direction) and of CBS in 1985 to the Doral area. NBC however, went so far as to leave us with a faux studio in the American Airlines Arena, to quell our sentiments that the station had completely turned its back on Miami and the concept of urban growth.

The impact of the misguided moves of these news stations abound. It continues to personify the decentralization which has been plaguing Miami since the early 80s and the very reason why we need to seriously rethink the way we are building our transit system and our city. The move of the news stations from the main business center is alarming as much as it is disappointing. For the time being, I’ll keep getting my news from the centrally located Miami Herald, that is, unless they too plan a move to suburbia if/when their land rezoning ever occurs…

Legitimate Reasoning:

“It also gives the station the opportunity to build studios that are equipped with both high definition technology and the latest in hurricane-proofing, Boylan said.”

Illegitimate Reasoning:

“The move will give the ABC affiliate badly needed parking space and a more central location to cover both Miami-Dade and Broward counties.”

“We also wanted to be more central for news coverage.”

And farther from the location of many of the business, sports, and criminal/justice news stories that we will be covering nightly…Now, we’ll have to drive (using the cars in that new huge parking lot) south daily to cover the stories that people actually care about…

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Driving around this afternoon, I found a palm which nearly impeded my view of one of those wonderful billboards this new law will protect. I was worried for a second that the palm may cover up the phone number for this fine South Florida establishment or at least the semi erotic, neon, oscar-like statues…

Folks, this is a serious issue that we shouldn’t take lightly. I implore everyone to pass out the petition to attempt to repeal this blatantly stupid special interest law…

Special Thanks to Rick, for already trying to spread the word…

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