Miami Dade County Community Forum

Friday, May 29, 2009

Principles of Smart Growth

Principles of Smart Growth from Smart Growth Online:

Create Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
Providing quality housing for people of all income levels is an integral component in any smart growth strategy.

Create Walkable Neighborhoods
Walkable communities are desirable places to live, work, learn, worship and play, and therefore a key component of smart growth.

Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration
Growth can create great places to live, work and play -- if it responds to a community’s own sense of how and where it wants to grow.

Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
Smart growth encourages communities to craft a vision and set standards for development and construction which respond to community values of architectural beauty and distinctiveness, as well as expanded choices in housing and transportation.

Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair and Cost Effective
For a community to be successful in implementing smart growth, it must be embraced by the private sector.

Mix Land Uses
Smart growth supports the integration of mixed land uses into communities as a critical component of achieving better places to live.

Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty and Critical Environmental Areas
Open space preservation supports smart growth goals by bolstering local economies, preserving critical environmental areas, improving our communities quality of life, and guiding new growth into existing communities.

Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
Providing people with more choices in housing, shopping, communities, and transportation is a key aim of smart growth.

Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
Smart growth directs development towards existing communities already served by infrastructure, seeking to utilize the resources that existing neighborhoods offer, and conserve open space and irreplaceable natural resources on the urban fringe.

Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
Smart growth provides a means for communities to incorporate more compact building design as an alternative to conventional, land consumptive development.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Notion on Urban Policy. By Gregory Bush

Check this out this link on Obama and Urban policies towards cities: 
The new president has a whole new notion of urban policy. Here is a sample:

For the past 40 years, through the Great Society initiatives of Lyndon Johnson, the Enterprise Zone programs of HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, and the Hope VI public housing projects of the past decade and a half, urban policy in America has essentially meant one thing: dealing with the problems of the poor.

Not anymore. Both President Obama and his chief urban adviser, Valerie Jarrett, have made it clear that federal urban policy is about to evolve into something very different: a means of helping cities and their regions become instruments of American economic strength. Just how the policies will proceed won't be clear for some time. But when it comes to the new administration's commitment to a different approach, there is little room for doubt.

To Friends of Marine Stadium. By Don Worth

The Urban Environment League (UEL) will give an award to Friends of Marine Stadium for our efforts to save and restore the Marine Stadium. This will be done at the UEL's Annual "Orchids and Onions Awards and Annual Meeting at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, 2990 South Bayshore Drive at 6:00 PM on June 10. Accepting the award for Frends of Marine Stadium will be Violette Sproul and Hannah Imberman and Kira Feldman. The meeting is free and open to the public. There will be lots of Marine Stadium supporters there and we recommend that you come!

The Urban Environment League has been a strong supporter of our efforts to restore the Marine Stadium and has played a key role in working to make sure planning in Miami is done appropriately. Check out the NEW UEL BLOG. UEL has also begun discussing the Virginia Key Master Plan and you can see some opinion on their blog. Leave some of your own, the blog is interactive.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meetings Coming Up

MAY 28th 9:30 am - County Commission Meeting on Rock Mining permit. FP&L wants to Rock Mine in agriculture area near Biscayne National Park to raise the elevation for the proposed 2 new Nuclear Reactors. The meeting is May 28th at County Hall, Stephen P. Clarke Building.
JUNE 3rd 6 pm - Miami Circle Master Plan presentation at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, 101 West Flagler.
JUNE 17th – The City of Miami Planning Advisory Board will see the Virginia Key Master Plan. City Hall.
JUNE 10TH 6 pm Coconut Grove Sailing Club Orchids and Onions Award Presentation

The "Hold the Line Video."

Monday, May 25, 2009

How to Do a Public Records Request

Frank Rollason, former Assistant Manager of the City of Miami, wrote a good primer on public records requests in a letter to the Watchdog Report. We thought it might interest our readers and help them to know what they are entitled to get:

The law is the law and the kookiest individual is just as entitled to the same information and just as quickly as the Herald, New Times, or the Watchdog Report.  The request does not need to be ‘fair’ – it just needs to be requested.  The requestor does not need to identify him/herself or why the information is requested.  The request does not need to be in writing as is often demanded by the requestee and, most important, one does not have to pay one cent to review the record (if readily available – there may be a reasonable charge for research, if necessary) in person to include viewing on a computer screen. Only, and if only, one wants a printed copy can the government charge for the information.  I have often wondered if one viewed the information on a computer why could not that same screen be sent via e-mail to the requestor at no charge since the charges per page are based upon reasonable printing costs to begin with. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Virginia Key Master Plan. By Fran Bohnsack

I attended the presentation on the Virginia Key master plan last night at the Museum of Science. My measure of the crowd was that folks there weren't too pleased with the intensity of what is suggested in the EDSA design.

Virtually every square inch of the Key is programmed with some sport activity or event venue that takes away from the natural beauty of the place and threatens to overcrowd with parking garages (at least 6!), walkways, pavers, playing fields, campsites, dormitories, a mountain bike path and traffic. Eco trails seem more intrusive than quiet, the waterfront "promenade" is lined with a commercial "village" (read Bayside) and its grand design cuts off car access to Hobie Beach. There is inappropriately placed major public event space and several unnecessary buildings. Even the proposed gardens seem stilted and programmed. In a phrase, it was over the top!

True, the boat launch proposed for environmentally sensitive land is gone, as is the proposed school, and it does seem as if the Marine Stadium has a chance to stay, but these concessions do not compensate for the overcrowded upscale design that incensed several in the audience. Even the "quiet" area for observing nature caught some criticism from a biologist who pointed out that the path designed to reach this spot could damage sensitive flora. At least a compromise of sorts among marine users came about in plans for using the large slip, although power boaters were left unhappy and plans for an enlarged marina limit the slip's boundaries.

The presenter, when pressed, said that the plans could potentially cost $400 million (read more). I was left with the overall impression that virtually every amenity of the design was planned to create a revenue stream to pay this expensive price tag and to assure maintenance -- but this is a pipedream, of course. So folks, if you care about this last remnant of beauty in our midst, please get involved. Attend the City of Miami's Planning Advisory Board on June 17 and the City Commission on June 25th. Speak your mind. We deserve a better plan for our precious barrier island.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Proud of our UEL Board Members. By Fran Bohnsack

It seems natural that folks interested in good government would gravitate to the UEL and maybe even go on to harness their interests by running for public office. Did you know that among our current and former board members, we have two sitting City Commissioners, two excellent City Commission candidates, and two first-rate staff people working for Miami-Dade County Commissioners?

Maybe you’d like to know who they are.

Among the City Commissioners, both re-elected in April, we have Al Ruder and Maria Anderson. Al is actually a Councilman for the pretty little town of Bay Harbor Islands, now serving his second term; Maria is a Commissioner for “the City Beautiful” of Coral Gables, just beginning her third term. Both are advocates of good planning, controlled development, and enhancing public places.

Among City Commission candidates, we have Gabrielle Redfern, running for the Group III seat in Miami Beach, and Beba Sardinia Mann running for City of Miami Commissioner in District 3. Gabrielle is a former UEL Board Member and an activist with a special interest in transportation. Essential to her goals is to reform traffic and parking problems on the Beach by seeking better public transportation, progressive parking regulations, and a re-allocation of right-of-ways to allow for modes other than single passenger vehicles while enhancing the pedestrian experience.

Current Board Member, Beba Sardina Mann served three years on the City of Miami Planning Advisory Board where she distinguished herself for advocating responsible development and urging infrastructure investments in parks and public transportation. She is also a strong voice for transparency in government and proposes to shine a light on City of Miami activities.

And who are those Commission staff people that have helped UEL to move toward its goals? One of them is Roger Carlton, Chief of Staff to County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez. Both creative and practical, Roger has a reputation for being the “go to guy” who can get things done – even in a government as large as Miami-Dade county. Our other secret weapon is Jeremy Glazer, Legislative Analyst for much loved Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson. Of a cool mind and persuasive nature, Jeremy prods the UEL Board to stretch our thinking, and in doing so, helps us to exceed our grasp.

It’s been fun doing this bragging about the most visible of our Board Members, but the rest of them that you haven’t met are pretty impressive, too. I promise to fill you in on who they are in some future issue. Why not come meet them yourself at our Orchids and Onions event on June 10th? This is one of our best events.

Finally, the Miami Dade County Transporation Tax issue is one the UEL has been involved with since it was first proposed by Former Mayor Penelas. The UEL has a member on the CITT Board and on the CITT Selection Committee. Expect us to be front and center on this issue as it evolves.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Come to our Orchids & Onions Award Presentation!

Welcome to UEL

Welcome to the Urban Environment League blog. We want to hear your issues. Let us start by giving you our Mission Statement:

The mission of the UEL is to support environmentally responsible development including protection of the waterfront, public places, and historic and natural areas in urban Miami-Dade county by using advocacy, action, education and engagement in governmental planning and political processes.

We see preserved natural resources, increased density in urban areas with sufficient existing infrastructure and along mass transportation corridors within the urban development boundary. We seek more greenways, water access, pedestrian friendly parks, improved historic neighborhoods and landmarks still recognizable and protected.

Our richly diverse communities have unique neighborhoods that should have South Florida-sensitive architecture and quality housing, affordable to all. Improved public communications will encourage a better educated citizenry and democratic processes which lead to greater political integrity practiced by accountable politicians who enforce zoning and building codes.

The UEL works with others to achieve our vision. We seek to engage the public - students and residents of all ages - in the hard yet rewarding work of seeing our landscape truly reflect the rich social diversity of our region within a context that is sensitive to our ecology and proactive about finding solutions to our problems.

The UEL has a proud 10-year history of involvement in important local issues - from preserving Virginia Key and Bicentennial Park from thoughtless development to leading the struggle to preserve the Urban Development Boundary Line by working with other local organizations in forging a new constituency that is sensitive to environmental and equity issues, housing, and overall better planning.