Miami Dade County Community Forum

Friday, April 30, 2010

Climate Change Subcommittee Meeting May 19th

Dear UEL members and participants of UEL’s Clean and Efficient Energy Discussion,

Jane Gilbert, Chair of Miami Dade County’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Energy and Buildings Subcommittee of the Climate Change Advisory Task Force, would like to invite you to attend their next meeting on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 10am-12noon to be held at Overtown Transit Village North- 701 NW 1st Court, 2nd Floor Training Room.

There will be a presentation by Oscar Gans on the FPL Demand Side Management Program. Chair Jane Gilbert suggests to review FPL’s filings to date on their proposed demand side management and the filings of parties that plan to comment on the proposed plan using this link.

Please attend this meeting at the date, time, and location noted above. Please RSVP to Ms. Helen Wong by either replying to this email with a copy to me or calling (305) 372-6658. Map and directions to DERM on the DERM website.

You will need to provide photo identification to the security guard in the lobby in order to enter the building. Please advise him/her that you are attending a meeting in the 2nd Floor Training Room.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thank you for your support on the UDB

Margaret Morales the South Florida Organizer of Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund and Hold the Line member, said it best for all of us, thanking the residents who came out yesterday:

It was amazing to me to see how strong the Hold the Line campaign really is, with so many bright green stickers staring straight back at the Commissioners.

Although the Commissioners did go ahead and approve both Amendments 5 and 6, yesterday really was a big victory for HTL. Of course the developers pulling 4 on Tuesday was a BIG win. But even on 5 and 6, a number of additional measures and restraints were placed on both of these projects that made them items we can continue to monitor and work to reduce their impact, rather than complete losses that we have no ability to mitigate any longer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Hold the Line Vote is Today. By Fran Bohnsack

The Urban Environment League is a member of Hold the Line. We agree with the Miami Herald Editorial that said: "The Commission sacrifices public good for private gain."

I will be representing the UEL at the County Commission meeting today, echoing the concerns raised in the Miami Herald:

"How many public officials and independent authorities have told the Miami-Dade County Commission that moving the Urban Development Boundary would open the floodgates to westward expansion for no good reason?

Five. The Florida Cabinet. The state Department of Community Affairs. The South Florida Water Management District. Florida Administrative Hearing Judge Bram D.E. Canter. County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

Add to that list the county's own planning and zoning department experts and many, many Miami-Dade residents. They are tired of sprawl and the traffic gridlock and crowded classrooms that reckless, unplanned development generates without paying for the services it needs."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

State Amendments 5 & 6: What are they?



BALLOT SUMMARY: Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.



BALLOT SUMMARY: Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

From the Tallahassee Democrat:

The gerrymander — that ugly but all-too-common creature — has thrived in Florida for years.

Serpentine congressional and legislative districts traverse the state everywhere you look. Elections are shockingly uncompetitive, with only three incumbents in the Legislature losing over the past six years (out of 420 elections). And even though there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Florida, Republicans control 15 out of 25 congressional seats, 76 out of 120 state House seats, and 26 out of 40 state Senate seats.

Hoping to curb this out-of-control gerrymandering, Florida's voters recently placed two initiatives on the ballot for this fall's elections (one for Congress, one for the Legislature). These initiatives, sponsored by the nonpartisan group, would ban line-drawers from trying to "favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent." Instead, districts would have to be compact and contiguous, to respect existing political and geographical boundaries and to safeguard minority voting rights.

The FairDistricts initiatives have been applauded by almost every unbiased observer of the Florida political scene. Major newspapers throughout the state (including the Tallahassee Democrat) have
endorsed them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

May 19th: UEL Dinner on County Commission District 8 Election

County Commission Meeting Wednesday: Ask the Commissioners to HOLD THE LINE!

The UEL was a founding member of the Hold the Line group formed years ago to combat the onslaught of development applications to the County trying to move the Urban Development Boundary. Once again developers are trying to cross the line.

We are asking that you come to the County Commission chambers on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and voice your concerns. The address is 111 NW 1st Street. Can't get off work? Call Commissioner Rebeca Sosa: Phone: (305) 375-5696 and call Audrey Edmonson (305)-375-5393. Tell them both to HOLD THE LINE!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Recap on our Energy Revolution Panel Discussion. By Fran Bohnsack

The UEL program on the Energy Revolution was surprisingly delightful last night! I say that because the subject matter for me is often dry and -- dare I say -- boring, but that was certainly not the case this time.

The speakers were all quite informed and interesting (especially our own John Van Leer and Albert Harem-Alvarez) and the rep from FPL, David Bates, was pretty good natured about the polite grilling he got. John Scott of Cushman and Wakefield was up to the task of moderation, and Jane Gilbert and George Cavros rounded out the program. The room was filled with all sorts of interesting young people who were new to UEL and who take the subject of the energy revolution quite seriously. Quite honestly, it gave me hope for the direction of our future. And a bonus -- I got to meet Paul Farren, the owner of the Energy Store in Hollywood, and I got some really good composting tips from Prof. Jack Parker, our local energy guru. The program also attracted a candidate running for the State House, Lisa Lesperance, who happens to be running in my district -- another good sign If you missed it, we did tape it for future posting on our website.

For the success of this program UEL has to credit two of our newest Board Members, Sarah Ridley and Sonia Succar. I am looking forward to more of this kind of programming and participation.

P.S. When the sun set Sarah suggested we open the curtains lining a second wall, and the guests were treated to a 180 degree sunset view of Biscayne Bay and downtown. It was breathtaking. We had thought the view on just one side was spectacular, little did we know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 28th Application to move the UDB Line. By Fran Bohnsack

Dear UEL Friends,

I have something of great importance to impart. I have learned that there are several very controversial applications coming up for developments outside the UDB. These will be heard on April 28 at the County Commission Chambers at 9:30 a.m. We need to do our best to fill the Chamber and the time certain makes it easier. Since Commissioner Sosa is running for Mayor, she is likely to be influenced by the will of the crowd. We need your help to exercise that influence to protect the UDB. Will you help?

Let's do our part. Can you join me?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


RSVP for our dinner Today!

Continuing with the importance of public participation...

Yesterday, we reflected on the absence of public participation in SB 6. We also said that public participation in government was important to the UEL. Today Daniel Shoer Roth said in the Miami Herald:

It's one of those lessons that does not involve mathematical formulas or grammar rules. It's about standing up for what you believe is right.

The moral of the teachers' crusade lies in the importance of defending our rights against all odds and, above all, raising our voices in order to be heard should we feel oppressed by a political decision with which we disagree.

You do not have to be a teacher to organize and protest in front of a park or anywhere else against what you believe is an injustice. It's a habit that unfortunately we have been losing to the indifference and individualism that corrode South Florida.

Any group that rebels for a just and honest cause is worthy of admiration because it teaches us to not bow our heads before the most powerful nor to accept their dictates. And if it bears fruit, the lesson is twofold, because it's evidence that the effort -- no matter how painful it may be -- is worth it.


Supporters of these laws in the Florida Legislature have already disclosed that they will again propose the reform. Such is life, no victory is permanent. What remains forever, however, is the memory of that triumph, which is an inspiration to raise one's voice again. It is among life's most important lessons.

Thank you Mr. Shoer-Roth. You said what some of us were thinking...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is the public process gone in Tallahassee?

Senate Bill 6, 'The Teachers Bill', was rammed through the legislature with little input from the public even though it would create massive changes in our State.

The Urban Environment League supports the public's participation in their government. Had the public been a part of the process, the bill could have been amended to work for all. Instead it has become a divisive issue.

The sunset of the Department of Community Affairs is an issue in the legislature that the UEL is watching. We believe the DCA performs an important function to protect and revitalize neighborhoods, prevent sprawl and foster sound planning practices. Our members have long supported the State Agency in charge of smart growth and Comprehensive Master Plan Development and we would not be in favor the 'sunset' of the DCA. We have been impressed with the current Secretary, Tom Pelham, who says:

The Department ensures that new growth complies with the state's vital growth management laws, while also helping established communities revitalize their older or traditional neighborhoods.

Hear an NPR radio broadcast/interview with Tom Pelham as guest, from 2008.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

County Commission Committee Discusses Charter Changes

The County Commission, having rejected the majority of changes proposed by the Charter Committee a couple of years ago is proposing THEIR OWN charter changes including a salary increase. This will be the 12 time they have asked the voters to increase their salary according to Miami Today.

The Commission also wants to wrestle some power from the Mayor, now that they believe he is unpopular with the public for the Marlins Stadium vote and giving raises to his staff. Miami Today said:

Commissioners Barbara Jordan and Carlos Gimenez each proposed ballot items that would return executive authority to the commission, Mr. Gimenez's immediately and Ms. Jordan's in 2012 when Mayor Alvarez's final term ends.

The question is: Does the public want the County Commission to have more power? The issue would have to be voted on by the electorate as this is a charter change.

The full commission will decide whether these issues make the ballot as there was not a vote in committee.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 21 Energy Forum - UEL Dinner

On April 21, 2010, the Urban Environment League will be hosting another one of their informative monthly dinner programs. During the environmentally conscious month of April, the organization will be focusing on Energy, and what it means to be ‘sustainable’ in South Florida.

‘Energy Revolution’ will consist of a dynamic panel of energy experts and industry leaders that will look specifically at South Florida to assess the current energy mix, propose ideal and reachable goals for the future, and offer a road map on how Floridians can best reach the goals proposed.

Panelists will discuss how the modernization of the nation’s electrical grid will help Americans be more energy efficient and assist in the transition from a reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The Energy Smart Miami initiative will serve as a local example of a tool that is being used to help lead the nation towards a sustainable energy future.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Miami River Day at Lummus Park Was a Big Success

Saturday's 14 Annual Miami Riverday was a big success. Four boats, the Pearson Pontoon Boat, the Island Queen, Friendship and Celebration took over a 1,000 people for free down the Miami River. The four boats went continuously from 11 am till 3:30 pm.

Besides the educational river cruises there were booths manned by environmental groups and others that educated children on various issues such as water use, the Everglades, safe boating and even the Masons offered information and tours of the neighboring Scottish Temple. The children participated in a brief lecture at each booth and collected a star for their participation. When they had enough stars they earned an olympic type medallion that hangs around their neck. It says: "Go Green." One mother said:

"My children have been to 4 Riverday Celebrations in row and they have a collection of all the medals hanging in their room, they are so proud of them."

The Miami River Commission, Bunnell Foundation, Island Queen Cruises, Robert L. Parks Law offices, The City of Miami, The South Florida Water Management District and Miami Dade County were among the many sponsoring organizations that made this event possible and for the 1,000 boat trips down the river to be offered FREE to the public!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Long Awaited Biosolid disposal plan...we are still waiting.

It seems that since 2002, Miami-Dade is still drafting a plan -- you might ask, where's the
stuff being disposed of now?

Miami-Dade County’s Biosolids Master Plan

This project includes the evaluation of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer
Department’s (MDWASD) wastewater and water treatment facilities and
operations, and preparation of a county-wide master plan to address biosolids
treatment and disposal over a 20 year planning horizon. Project objectives

a) Investigating specific biosolids management issues at each WWTP;

b) Evaluating the cost and benefits of increasing the level of treatment at all
biosolids processing facilities to meet Class AA standards; and

c) Developing biosolids treatment alternatives taking into account costs and
regulations, as well as environmental and public acceptance factors.


September 4, 2007

(Excerpt from the Executive Summary, page 1-14)

1.7 Biosolids Master Plan

On the last renewal of the sludge hauling contract in 2002, MDWASD was
directed to proceed with addressing the feasibility of treating all biosolids to
Class AA level. This upgrade increases the disinfection levels of the biosolids,
allowing for additional applications sites, such as use as fertilizer, for disposal.
The first step taken by MDWASD was to issue a Request for Information
regarding the alternatives available to achieve this goal. On the receipt of the
various proposals, MDWASD decided to obtain the assistance of a consultant
to evaluate the present biosolids processing and to make recommendations as
to the appropriate upgrades to attain the Class AA treatment levels in the
form of a Biosolids Master Plan.

Camp Dresser &McKee, Ine (CDM) was selected for this assignment. The
consultant, CDM, was retained. A draft Biosolids Master Plan was submitted to
the MDWASD on March 31, 2007 and is presently under review. In the Plan
preparation, a number of technologies were evaluated on various criteria
including technical and cost bases. The final three technologies evaluated are
as follows:

- Advanced Digestion utilizing two phases. Higher temperatures would be
utilizedfor the first high-rate phase to achieve the pathogen reductions
necessary for ClassAA treatment levels.

- Composting. An upgrade to the present system employed at the SDWWTP
so that solar drying and composting would take place in enclosed areas so
that the effects of rain would not impede the process.

- Rotary Heat Dryers. Biosolids are dried using heat in rotating drums to form

These alternatives produce different product consistency at solids
concentrations ofapproximately 25, 80, and 95 percent, respectively. These
factors affect the numbers and reliability of disposal sites for the processed

In view of the uncertainty of the continued sustained use of the various
disposal sites for the products for each of these technologies, CDM has
proposed that a diversified approach be taken. Under this plan, facilities using
each of these technologies would be constructed for designated proportions
of the sludge production. Accordingly, for each of the overall wastewater
facilities alternatives developed, the same groupings of biosolids processing
technologies were included. Taking into account improvements to the present
biosolids systems at the CDWWTP and SDWWTP, the project costs for the
facilities under the diversified approach are $360,180,000 and $356,670,000
for the alternatives with and without the new plant in the central west part of
the County. MDWASD is presently reviewing Biosolids Master Plan draft and
the consultant recommendations.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Marine Stadium Rehab Gets $3 Million

Today in the Miami Herald, reporter Andres Viglucci said:

"In a big leap forward for preservationists trying to salvage the historic but dilapidated Miami Marine Stadium, the Miami-Dade Commission has unanimously agreed to provide $3 million toward the city-owned facility's restoration.

It's the first chunk of money secured for the renovation, a priority of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who said the grant will make it easier for the city and preservationists to attract additional funding. The cash-strapped city is unlikely to provide substantial funding directly, Regalado has said."

Our Virginia Key partners, Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, have worked on preserving the stadium, Viglucci said:

"...the $3 million represents a major boon to preservationists, organized as Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, who launched what struck many as a quixotic battle to salvage the stadium at a time when the city intended to do away with it."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Miami River Day at Lummus Park - April 10th

Celebrate the Miami River at Lummus Park, 11 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 10th.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Annual Meetings: Tropical Audubon Society and Friends of the Everglades

TROPICAL AUDUBON SOCIETY: April 25 |4 p.m. | 5530 Sunset Dr., South Miami

At our annual event and silent auction, TAS will recognize longtime activist Alan Farago and DERM employee Gary Milano for their work in the environmental community in South Florida. Speakers will include Charlie Crist (invited), Eric Buermann and Craig Pittman.

FRIENDS OF THE EVERGLADES: April 11, 2 p.m., Garden Room at Fairchild Tropical Garden

Guest Speaker is Matthew Schwartz who will speak on: Back to the Jetport and other Big Cypress National Preserve issues. Honoree: Shannon Estonez who will receive the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Defender of the Everglades Award.

The UEL will be having our annual meeting on June 17th.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A blast from our past: 2006.

In March 2006 the UEL toured the Redland.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Miami Today" on Miami River

"Miami Today's" headline said that "Miami, marine industry seek compromise on Miami River's future":

The newly proposed compromise aims to "create an active and vibrant riverfront through mixed-uses," preserve recreational and commercial working waterfronts, allow flexibility in compatible uses, stimulate economic growth and promote viable marine uses, according to her presentation.

The new version would put the word "port" back into the comprehensive plan, addressing one of the more controversial lingering river issues.

But, it would take the river element out of the ports section of the plan and put it under the Coastal Management Element.

The marine industry takes issue with the move, says attorney Andrew Dickman, who represents the Miami River Marine Group.

Mr Dickman said:

The industry isn't opposed to the concept of setting up criteria and a procedure for land-use changes, so long as there's "no net loss" to industrial properties.