Miami Dade County Community Forum

Friday, May 28, 2010

Herald: Miami River as a working waterway could be ensured

In the Miami Herald today:

Years of pitched battles over the future of a significant chunk of the Miami River could be drawing to an end under a pact between activists and the city that would preserve the working waterway while making it harder to build condos on its banks.

If approved by the state and adopted by the city commission, the agreement would mark a sharp turnaround from years of policy under former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, whose administration aggressively sought to transform the gritty river into a high-rise residential corridor within city boundaries.

Under the agreement -- which the city commission gave a preliminary green light to on Thursday -- the city would enact explicit protections in its comprehensive development plan for existing maritime businesses along the river with a goal of protecting and expanding its marine and industrial economy.

The language would significantly raise the bar for rezoning remaining industrial parcels while requiring the city to foster creation of new maritime businesses and jobs.

Read more.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The UEL Keepsake Program For June 16th Event

We wanted to remind you that we have a program for County Commissioner Katy Sorenson's dinner where you may post your good wishes. If you are interested in finding out more about the program email us as and we will send you the PDF with all the info.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dade-Collier Jetport ORV Park Amendment CP 2009-1

Despite a negative report issued by the Department of Community Affairs, Collier County is proceeding with a proposal for an all terrain vehicle park in the middle of Big Cypress National Preserve. Miami Dade County is pushing the plan there as they hold the land in the airstrip area.

The DCA has labeled the project a threat to Everglades Restoration as well as to the endangered panther and wood stork. This project threatens the Everglades, it wetlands and wildlife for the benefit of a small number of off road vehicle enthusiasts.

The project was also condemned for contributing to urban sprawl. The proposal will be heard in public hearing by the Collier Environmental Advisory Council on June 2, the Collier Planning Commission on June 15 and by the Board of County Commissioners on July 28. Public comment is appropriate at all hearings. The Collier Commissioners can be reached by e-mail as follows:

Monday, May 24, 2010

The UEL Candidates Forum Video Clips From May 19th Dinner

This is the link to the first of the 10 video clips of the UEL candidate's forum for District 8.

Oil Drilling Poll in the Miami Herald

The UEL passed a resolution in October 2009, before the spill, against Oil Drilling in Florida that says:


As a result we were quite surprised to see the St. Pete Times/Miami Herald poll results today, in light of the oil spill in Louisiana, that Floridians still cling to the idea of oil drilling off our coast. The poll said that 44% of Floridians do not support a constitutional amendment banning oil drilling off Florida's Coastline.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Photos of the Candidates from the District 8 Forum Dinner. By Fran Bohnsack

As soon as we get the video of the event, we will post the link online. We want to thank all the candidates for their participation. Here are the County Commission District 8 candidates in no particular order :

Pam Gray

Jason Culler.

Eugene Flinn

Albert Harum-Alvarez

Daniel Marmorstein

Annette Taddeo

Lynda Bell. Unfortunately, our photo of Lynda Bell did not come out, so we borrowed one from the web.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The UEL Dinner May 19th: District 8 Forum.

7 of the 8 candidates for the County Commission District 8 seat were at the UEL dinner last night and over 100 listeners were there to hear them. We now know how they stand on term limits, the strong mayor and other issues important to us all. We will be posting their photos tomorrow and the video will be on Youtube as soon as we can get it up there.

Here are the questions the candidates were given (there wasn't time for them all):

Questions may include:

1. Many planning studies have recommended that development - including higher density development - be concentrated along transit corridors. What is your approach to this issue and how would you balance local concerns with the demand for higher density? (Some of these studies can be found on the Department of Planning and Zoning web site.

2. Miami Dade has a long and proud history of agriculture - providing fresh produce to the nation during the winter. What do you think is the future of agriculture in the County? What policies would you recommend?

3. Despite the amount of rainfall we receive, the County is facing real problems with assuring potable water in the future. What do you perceive as the biggest problem with water supply? What policies would you support?

4. Many see redevelopment and higher density development as incompatible with neighborhood preservation and community identity. Do you agree? What policies would you support to move your ideas forward?

5. Miami Dade is sometimes viewed as an aggregate of fragmented communities and cities - rather than as a region with a common vision and goal. How do you see the relationship of cities and the County? What - if any - policies or programs would you support to overcome fragmentation?

6. At the moment, the County is facing serious fiscal challenges. Often governments respond by cutting vulnerable services such as park and recreation budgets and funding for maintenance of natural areas. What principles would you use to prioritize revenues and expenditures in the face of declining property tax revenues?

7. There is increased discussion of governance issues such as term limits, whether or not to retain a strong mayor - or to strengthen the role of the mayor; the need for additional commission districts - possibly including some at-large districts, the role - and independence - of advisory boards. What is your opinion of these issues?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tonight: Health Care Reform Forum

Public Policy Forum on Health Care Reform - Programs of the Miami Public Policy Forum

Forum 3: Health Care Reform

We will discuss the key elements of the recently enacted health care reform legislation,
the arguments for and against it and the remaining problems with our health care system.

Speaker: Linda S. Quick, President, South Florida Hospital and Healthcare

Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
6:00-8:30 pm. Doors open 6:00 pm; program 7:00-8:30
Location: CubaOcho Art and Research Center, 1465 SW 8th St., Miami, 33135,

Cash bar and food available starting at 6 pm.

Free and open to the public. For further information on the event, call 305-331-9938. The
Miami Public Policy Forum is a service of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Still Time to RSVP for May 19th Dinner.

The UEL dinner May 19th has openings, sign up today! Call us at 786-472-0011 or email us at We have most of the candidates coming, it should be informative. Katy Sorenson's County Commission seat leaves big shoes to fill... here's hoping that we will identify that candidate on Wednesday!

Friday, May 14, 2010

June 16 Dinner to Thank Katy Sorenson

County Commissioner Katy Sorenson
This dinner is for you!

Orchid and Onions Award Dinner
The Urban Environment League is hosting our Annual Award Dinner/Annual Meeting
in honor of:
County Commissioner Katy Sorenson

Masters of Ceremony:
Jim DeFede and UEL President Fran Bohnsack

Commissioner Sorenson will be leaving office this Fall to pursue a new and exciting chapter in her life. Those of us who want to thank her will “Roast” with an Onion or “Toast” with an Orchid.
Please join us in saying goodbye to ‘Katy’:

Wednesday - June 16th

6pm Cocktails (Cash Bar) & 7pm Dinner
At the Rusty Pelican Restaurant
3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne

3 Course Dinner $50

Your Payment is your reservation. No payment at the door!

Check/Paypal by June 11th - Space Limited Indicate whether you want to speak at the event.

Use Paypal at: button on right side of page
Send a check (made out to UEL) to:

Urban Environment League - Suite 114
1000 N.W. North River Drive
Miami, FL 33136

Questions? - Phone: 786-472-0011
Ask about being featured in our keepsake program!
Include your email or phone number for reservation confirmation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Towering Electronic Billboards - Google Translation of El Nuevo Herald Article.

This is a follow-up to our May 6th article on LED Billboards proposed for the Arsht Center Area.
Towers of Babel: visual pollution in the downtown
(Google Translation of article written in Spanish)

Be careful, monsters coming to devour electronic urban aesthetics of Miami.

They come dressed as cherubs and promise paradise. But if we open the doors to bring their families and our identity - and security - jeopardized.

Monsters are two giant electronic billboards and bright advertising more than 20 stories high on a seven-story garage adjacent to the Arsht Center in downtown Miami, which not only dull the majestic architecture of the theaters, but also become to the city in a bad copy of Las Vegas.

What Happens in Vegas better stay there.

The towers have been presented with a tempting incentive: a large covered parking for those attending the theater that now must pay $ 20 valet parking''or `` $ 10 and $ 15 outdoor parking spaces nearby.

By the way, luckily this cultural institution, built with public funds was made to enjoy ALL the Miami culture. Yes, the poor too, who at these exorbitant prices Metromover have to come in and sit so high in the audience that the dancers look like ants. But that is another matter.

Mayor Tomas Regalado wrote a letter in January in favor of this project developer Mark Siffin. If he is wise, will change his mind. Otherwise it is placed at the side of the lobbyists and power groups.

Here are some reasons to consider.

In principle, the City of Miami has no power to pass whatever the colossal structures in 1985 and Miami-Dade County established an ordinance known as the Code of Miami-Dade Banners, whose regulations must also be respected by municipal governments.

The ordinance specifies that fences are not permitted on the roofs of the buildings by the hazard if it were to lash a powerful hurricane. In addition, to install an automatic electronic fence, the property must have at least 10 acres of land. The content of advertisements must be limited to services and products offered in the building, and believe that these towers are not going to announce `` park''to be seen from miles away.

Moreover, it is prohibited for messages on and off intermittently, and expand from a central point to the rest of the screen, which should be up to 750 square feet and 20 stories tall.

The codes were updated in 1994 and 2000, to cope with a flood of illegal ads began to pollute the urban landscape. Municipal governments like Miami a pact alliances with billboard companies, which produce millions of dollars in ads.

These provisions were designed by leaders accountable and aware that excessive installation of fences along roads, as well as murals on buildings, destroyed the distinctive character of a community appearance.

There is full evidence that confirms that the digital billboards, especially those that seem huge announcement televisions and change every six seconds, represent an unnecessary risk to drivers. Therefore, in various parts of the country, local governments have chosen to protect public safety by banning or restriction of these banners.

Siffin argues that his project will benefit the City because they generate more revenue, and the Arsht Center by attracting an audience that does not attend because you can not find parking spots. The glow of the towers also serve to illuminate the neighborhood preventing crime (where is the police?) And promote a cosmopolitan flavor to the area, with the exception of the theaters and residential towers, is not pleasant for pedestrians.

However, the towers digitized clash aesthetically with the historic and architectural elements at great distances, and will become the dominant visual element should be the Arsht Can not say that this was the Miami equivalent of the Sydney Opera House?

I do not object to build a multilevel parking, because that should be included when the theaters were designed. What I find incongruous is the mega advertising structures since it does not harmonize with the rest of the city. Even in South Beach, which is our tourist Mecca, are permitted.

It is very easy to want to be what is not. The downtown Miami is not - nor wants to be - the strip of Las Vegas or Times Square. Give green light to the construction of the towers of advertising to invite other developers want to do the same. So many lights shine, we only lack the light itself.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Take Politics Out of Board Appointments?

Columnist Jackie Bueno Sousa said in the Miami Herald that the Jackson Health System Board should not be politicized. She takes issue with putting, for example, union representatives on the board:

Putting labor in the boardroom only worsens the accountability problem and muddies the issue of financial responsibility.

She instead recommends that the Board be "an independent body distanced from the power plays of special interests, including county officials..."

The Urban Environment League has a seat on the Independent Transportation Trust nominating committee and we have found that it is a struggle to get qualified people on the Trust because the Commissioners have the final say on who is appointed. The nominating committee narrows down the choice from a field of candidates for the Commissioners but the Commissioner can reject the candidates submitted by the committee.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 19th Candidates Forum

This dinner is shaping up to be a fascinating experience. We now have 8 candidates in the race as Rabbi Marmorstein just submitted paperwork this week and he has confirmed he will be coming. It should be interesting to hear the views of the candidates on countywide issues.

(Hit on the image above to enlarge it)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

LED Billboard Meeting last night at Arsht Center

The UEL has been opposed to the visual blight caused by the already existing billboards - legal and illegal ones now standing.

To allow a 220 ft. lit billboard is opening the door for a new type of outdoor sign element that will proliferate. When Siffen got approval for his project at the Boulevard shops, it was never considered as a site for rooftop signs. He said he wanted to put large indoor signs in the windows. The community (the Venetian Causway coalition) opposed that at the time. There is no "community good" to be gained by allowing the developer the "privilege" of adding a large lit billboard on the roof of the Historic Boulevard Shoppes. We believe that the preservation community would be outraged and the HEP Board would never allow it!

"Let Siffen build his project as proposed before he gets any type of new approvals" said UEL Former President Nancy Liebman, "I believe he has done nothing but neglect the property."

Instead of being about the subject at hand the development team turned the meeting last night into a circus.

There were hundreds of construction workers demonstrating for jobs and the workers were blindly signing petitions of support, knowing little about what they were supporting, focused only on the promise of jobs. Is this the future of our community? Will inflated job promises shape our City in a negative way?

There were some very powerful Lobbyists working for the Developer including Rosario Kennedy and Jeffrey Bercow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Preview "Imagining A New Florida" May 6th, 6 to 8 PM

(hit on image to enlarge it).
Natalia Villegas, or
Danielle Thomas,
Complimentary Valet Parking

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Billboards: Meeting May 5th at Arsht Center.

May 5th at 6:00 pm there will be a meeting at the Arsht Center (free parking) about 200 feet tall LED Billboards proposed for downtown. They will have 4 faces: Two Facing SW and SE and two will face SE towards Venetian Causeway. The signs will be placed on top of a 140' (approximate) tall parking pedestal.

These LED ads might be visible for 20-25 miles. Show up for the meeting and learn more.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Offshore Drilling Petition

The UEL had taken a position against offshore drilling off Florida's Coast in a resolution previously published in April 2009.

Kendrick Meek has started a petition demanding A Moratorium on New Offshore Drilling in the Gulf!

Meek said: "The disaster in the Gulf just underscores the need for a moratorium on any new offshore drilling."

If you want to sign the Meek petition to demand that Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio call for a moratorium on expansion of oil drilling in the Gulf, this is the link.

This is the UEL Resolution:


WHEREAS, Florida’s economy depends on its multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which resulted in millions of visitors coming to Florida annually, allowing tourism to generate billions in taxable sales;and

WHEREAS, tourism accounts for a very significant portion of Florida’s revenue and many of those visitors cite the beaches as an influential factor in their decision to visit Florida; and

WHEREAS, tax revenues generated from Florida’s growing tourism industry are critical to continued funding of essential governmental services, including transportation, schools, and public safety; and

WHEREAS, the pristine beaches of the west coast of Florida require the maximum level of protection, and

WHEREAS, it is our belief that despite technological advances in oil drilling technology, there is no positive assurance that catastrophic damage to our coastline, beaches, plant and fish life could be avoided during normal operating conditions or during storm situations; and

WHEREAS, lifting the moratorium on mineral leasing in the Gulf of Mexico poses a threat to the beaches, waterways, economy of Florida, and national security:

THEREFORE, be it resolved, that the Board of Directors of the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami, oppose the approval of oil drilling in Florida’s waters in areas other than those already approved for oil leasing and oil exploration.