Currently viewing the tag: "Miami 21"

Our local historic preservation hero and guru Ellen Uguccioni has this to say about Miami 21:

Dear friends of historic preservation (a vital part of our quality of life,) and a fundamental principal in the MIAMI 21 (ZONING) CODE:

After years of meetings, public input through hundreds of hours of public meetings, a dedicated staff of the Miami Planning Department and its consultant Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, will present a new, form-based code based on the best of urban design and respect for the environment ( both natural and built,) this Thursday, August 6th.

As we pass the 113th year of the City of Miami’s incorporation, this holistic approach to years of “band-aid” zoning will be the first major  overhaul of the city’s land use process.  I know how many hours you all have spent in “crusades” and I would greatly appreciate your support of Miami 21.

As it relates to historic preservation, Miami 21 will:

Create a viable process for Transfer of Development Rights only for historic buildings with the “Receiving “ areas in the denser urban zones where public benefits can increase a building’s height.

Provide a transition from residential to commercial areas,  eliminating the incompatibility of low rise residential  and mid to high-rise commercial use

Create a “view corridor” for Vizcaya, permanently removing the threat of looming high-rise adjacent new construction

Create an “Exemption” for  “bed and breakfasts” in certain residential areas.

The list of Miami 21’s insightful aspects is too long to discuss here, and I would urge you to go to the Miami 21 website at for more information. As a respected member of the community, your input ( by letter or personal appearance) will help the city make history—

Please address any correspondence to the Honorable Members of the Miami City Commission; c/o Ms.  Priscilla Thompson, CMC, City Clerk, City of Miami , City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami Florida 33130 or

Ellen Uguccioni

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Steve Mouzon, a prolific writer, architect and progenitor of the Original Green movement, has weighed in on Miami 21.  Steve says:

Miami 21 is not without controversy. Chief amongst the detractors are architects, who deride Miami 21 because they think it will take away their design freedom. Apparently, they want to be able to zig, zag, and wiggle any way they choose without regard to the fabric of the city their buildings are helping to create. But we’ve seen nearly a century of this approach, and the results have been disastrous. Buildings that shout “look at me” as they twist and writhe with no concern for the street might provide notoriety for their architect, but they normally do nothing for the neighborhood.

By now many of you readers have probably seen the latest Herald article published online last night. Journalist Andres Viglucci does a solid job covering the result of the ongoing  Biscayne Boulevard corridor, which is redeveloping using Miami 21’s core tenets. To those who know and understand the power and importance of form-based codes, the results come as now surprise.

There is little magical or glamorous along the 12 blocks, from Northeast 18th to 30th streets. It’s no South Beach. But the success of city planners’ efforts, using principles that underpin Miami 21, seem undeniable: They have fostered commerce and pedestrian traffic by mixing retail and residential uses, while retooling how new buildings meet the street to make them sidewalk-friendly.

Along sidewalks where prostitutes once owned the night, there are people pushing baby strollers — with babies in them. There are people riding bicycles, jogging, shopping, walking dogs, grabbing lunch or coffee with a friend — even walking to work.

Never mind Starbucks (although there is a new one anchoring the north end of the reviving stretch, at 30th Street). If dog groomers are any measure, the Boulevard along the old Edgewater neighborhood has truly arrived. It has two.

‘You know what’s attractive? There are dry cleaners and restaurants and all the little conveniences you need, and there didn’t used to be,” said David Carolan, director of sales for the new City 24 residential and commercial project on 24th Street, whose ground floor is home to a personal training gym, wellness center and the New York Bagels shop.

‘There is a new shop every month, and we’re in the worst economic downturn in 75 years,” he said. ‘That’s pretty powerful.’

Particularly important are the images attached to the online article. These show the stark differences in what the old zoning code 11,000 is known to produce, and what Miami 21 can replicate along the city’s commercial corridors.  To be perfectly clear, however, buildings need not be 8-35 stories high to create this type of livability. Rather, redeveloping or building new buildings at 2-4 stories that conform to Miami 21 will also do much to alter Miami’s urban pattern. As Tony mentioned yesterday, Miami 21 makes this possible. At present the current zoning code does not allow for any development in this nice urban, but human-scale middle ground.

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Thanks to reader Juan Felipe for bringing this  online video to our attention. Take a look, and take a listen. 

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This is an article I posted early last year in response to common criticisms of the code:
Here are a few of the arguments against Miami 21 that I have read both on the Miami 21 website and in various articles over the past few years:

–> “Miami 21 is the first urban application of a smart code in the US. It is an experiment that has never been tested.” Actually, Miami 21 is not the first form based code to be applied to a major urban center, Philadelphia is in the process of passing a form based code, and I think we would all agree that as far as successful urbanism is concerned Miami pales in comparison. Form based codes have actually been around for a long time. Think of any good city (Chicago, New York, Philly, Boston) and their downtowns were developed with codes that were form based (as opposed to use based).

–> “Miami 21 is hated by architects and urban planners.”

Actually, having been written by urban planners and architects this one is not really true. The Herald loves to point out that architects dislike the plan, but really only a vocal minority of self-crowned celebrity architects dislike the code as a matter of ego than of substance. One architect in particular (whose name will remain anonymous except to say that it begins with Z and ends with h) says that the code infringes on his creativity by imposing height restrictions. Without going into some lengthy discussion on aesthetics and philosophy, lets just say that where this designer is concerned, creativity is overrated. Miami 21 holds faithful to some pretty basic premises (active street fronts, eyes on the street, etc.) and allows a lot of latitude after that. If you need your building to stand out like a huge phallic symbol, go to Dubai. Never mind that the the latest draft of the code has all but relaxed the height restrictions in certain T-Zones to be what they are in the existing code.

–> “Miami 21 will not allow me to rebuild my house if it gets destroyed.”

First of all, as with any zoning rewrite there will be non-conformities. The whole point of the code is that the existing code is allowing some pretty awful stuff to get built, and the new code will make some of that illegal. That’s the nature of any zoning code. I live in a 1940’s med style house that is illegal by today’s code because its too close to the sidewalk. Go figure. At any rate, the new draft of the code explicitly states that non-conformities in R1 zones will be grandfathered in. Period. No natural disaster will make you rebuild your house in a different way, as some mistaken citizens have said.

–> “Developers hate Miami 21.”

This one is my favorite. Developers love Miami 21 because it gives them greater development rights than they had before. The code was drafted using the existing regulations as a base. That means that all of the development rights have been preserved or augmented. All the code does is say that you have to meet the street in a way that will promote healthy urbanism. It’s not complicated.

–> “Miami 21 will allow tall buildings next to single family residences along Biscayne in the NE part of town.”

This one is true much to the chagrin of community activists such as Elvis Cruz who have long protected the area. Unfortunately they aren’t entirely using their thinking caps as to what they get in return for this extra height. Along parts of Biscayne you can build a 3 story building that would reach a height of 50′+ that would be adjacent to 30′ homes.

There are two parts to this that people need to understand.

1) We are trying to encourage pedestrian friendly development along in this part of Biscayne and part of that involves defining the street as a public space. With a street as large as Biscayne is, you need something more than two stories to make that happen. I don’t think that 50′ is all that egregious a transition to a single family neighborhood (especially in comparison to what is allowed now).

2) We need to start thinking of our eastern edge as the place where more intense development needs to happen. We cannnot hold the UDB line and be NIMBY’s at the same time. Saving the Everglades means that growth has to be in someone’s backyard. Biscayne Boulevard deserves buildings that are more than 3 stories.

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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.


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Miami 21 is scheduled to go before the City Commission for the First Reading this Thursday, August 6, 2009, at 2 PM, at Miami City Hall.

If you have not done so, please email one or all of the City Commissioners and tell them why you support Miami 21:

And City Manager:

You don’t have to be a Miami resident to do so. Indeed, Miami is the center of our whole metropolitan region and its ongoing development as a sustainable depends on all in the region, and not just those who live within a certain political jurisdiction or line on the map.

To review the latest and greatest document, please visit the Miami 21 website, and click on the Latest Documents section.

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Hey all, if you are a member of Facebook join our growing group of Miami 21 supporters! It is really important that commissioners know that there is popular support for the plan from their constituency, so don’t be shy. We also updated our ‘My Commissioner’ tab for those of you who don’t know what district you live in (and who you should be writing letters of support to!) I live in District 4, represented by Tomas Regalado. Who is your commissioner?

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I’m not in Miami today to attend, but a last minute gathering is now scheduled for  tonight at the River Lounge, located at the Epic from 6-9pm. $10 donation gets you in plus FREE drinks & specials. MIAMI 21 friends, supporters (including planners) will be there to answer your questions and give you more information.

If you have never been to a MiaSci event, get ready to be impressed. It’s Miami’s best professionals event.
And this time, we’ll be showcasing the elements of EPIC’s downtown residences’ that are MIAMI 21-supported, like the public access to the waterfront and the high density in the urban core.

Hope to see you there-
(All donations go to the Miami Science Museum, whose beautiful new home will be in Museum Park. More details tonight!)

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While the commissioner’s first reading of Miami 21 will not be until August 6th, the political battle  is well underway. This morning Commissioner and mayoral candidate Joe Sanchez (a known supported of Miami 21) issued a press release urging the Mayor to table Miami 21 in favor of figuring out the city’s current budget crisis. Mayor Diaz’s reply included the following statement:

The vote regarding Miami 21 will not distract staff away from working on the City Budget. The Administration is proposing a Budget Workshop with Commissioners on August 14, and is scheduling individual briefings with Commissioners leading up to the workshop starting the week of August 10. We are also scheduling weekly budget updates for the following weeks of August 17, 24, 31 and September 7.

We have an obligation to our residents to move forward with Miami 21 and create the City they deserve. For this reason, I respectfully decline Chairman Sanchez’s request to cancel the August 6 meeting for the First Reading of Miami 21.

We applaud Mayor Diaz for pushing the adoption of Miami 21. All taxpayers in the City of Miami deserve a better city, and this is their chance to ensure that such a vision becomes a reality. This isn’t about politics folks, it’s about livability and sustainability; it’s about creating a better city and we at TM stand behind the Diaz administration in pursuing those goals. With the many regrettable outcomes of zoning code 11,000 plainly visible throughout the city, we know this change is needed. Please make sure to learn more about Miami 21, and if you support it, please show up to City Hall on the 6th of August to voice your opinions.

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This is it friends, the first reading of Miami 21 before the Miami City Commission. Mark your calendars, invite your friends, and get ready. This plans to be an event for all to remember. Be there!!

When: Thursday, August 6, 2:00 pm.

Where: Miami City Hall Chambers, 3500 Pan American Drive

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Adam Mizrahi of Urban City Architecture has outlined twenty one reasons to support Miami 21. The well-written post concisely elucidates almost all of the reasons our city leaders, and their constituents, should move to adopt Miami 21.  Of the  items listed, my favorite reasons are #6 and #15

6.Let Hialeah, Kendall, Fort Lauderdale,  and Sunrise do what they want.  Let Orlando, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville do as they will.  Here in the City of Miami we have a chance to become leaders of the 21st century.  Within tight boundaries, we can fit all the expected growthfor the next 30 years and truly transform our urban landscape.  With Miami21, Miami can become a sustainable and model city in a very short time.

15. The code is merely changing one set of rules for another — this is not a whole bunch of new rules that are going to inhibit creativity and business.  That is just not true.   The new code will change the rules — take some out and put some in.  Will designs change?  Yes, but for the better and only in terms of connectivity to the urban landscape.  Buildings will have to be greater contributors to a walkable, transit oriented, and sustainable urban landscape. We are merely changing an antiquated code for a new 21st century code.  This is not the first time this has happened — this is called progress.

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Hey Miami, remember Miami 21?

I hope you do, because it seems some of the city’s politicians and leading officials are willing to forgot all about the tax payer money, effort, and time that went in to producing a zoning code, one that would create the DNA for a more walkable, transit-oriented, bicycle-friendly,  and sustainable 21st century city.

In case you didn’t know, the award winning Code — yes it won Diaz a national award for its visionary approach to future development — has been completed for months, and was approved by the Planning Advisory Board. The only steps remaining are for the City Commission to undergo its readings, and then to ultimately vote on whether or not they want Miami to progress forward or be stuck with its outdated, patchwork code that produces poor urban form, auto-dependency, and which ultimately threatens the city’s long term viability.

Right now it seems politics will get in the way and the city will choose the latter.  Indeed, if the Code is not brought before the  City Commission from the City Manager this month, then an August recess and an early fall mayoral election season will probably make a reading nearly impossible before the Diaz Administration leaves office.

A convenient truth for the Code’s political opponents.

The situation is especially dire if Tomas Regalado is to assume office in November. Regalado, has never supported the Code and without fail seems to take a stand against any issues proposed by the Mayor Diaz-whether they have merit or not. Such reactionary antics prove that Regalado is not interested in leading Miami into the future, only further separating himself from the current administration. This may be a good short term political move, but it has disastrous outcomes for the city in the long term.

If you support the Code please consider writing an editorial or calling your Commissioner (click the My Commissioner tab above) to state that you support Miami 21 and want the Code read at the City Commission.  If it fails, it fails…but the city’s politicians owe it to the tax payers to either pass or defeat it, rather than continuing to let  it languish. If you have further questions about the Code (there is a lot of misinformation out there about the details), then consider asking the City Planning Department, or stating such questions in the comments section. I would be happy to answer as many as I can.

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Yet another large city is deciding to implement a smart growth code, this time Boston.

Today, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council will unveil a new plan for growth and preservation in Greater Boston. The plan, called “MetroFuture,” was constructed with input from more than 5,000 residents and regional leaders. It calls for a new pattern of development based on “smart growth” - concentrating new homes and jobs near existing infrastructure, preserving farms and fields, and protecting air, water, and habitat.

I wonder when Miami 21 opponents will wake up. We need to implement our plan.

(PS. Dade county needs a similar complete code rewrite that addresses its sprawl DNA.)

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  • CTAC Joint Subcommittee will meet tomorrow night to discuss including the US1 Express project on the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan.
  • The City Commission gets pow-pow: Uncle Charlie formally rejected the Mercy Hospital/Jorge Perez land-use change approved by the City Commission. Bad city commission. ¡Eso no se hace!
  • Sunrail may not be dead after all
  • The City of Miami is implementing a Water Conservation Ordinance. Awesome! (It would be great to also require a certain minimum percentage of native - drought tolerant - plants.)
  • US1 Express: Ugghh. ”I would support moving forward,” Gimenez said, alluding to the coming vote on the conversion study. “If it competes with Miami-Dade Transit, so be it.”
  • Miami 21…Where are you?

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