Miami Dade County Community Forum

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Miami Green Seminar - October 9th, 2010

We would like to invite you to attend the first City of Miami Green Seminar initiated by City of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez.

“Tools for Living Green and Saving Green” Seminar

Please join us

October 9th, 2010


Miami-Dade InterAmerican Campus

627 SW 27th Avenue • Miami, FL. 33135

-Learn How Saving Energy can Save YOU Money.

-Learn how YOU can Improve your Energy and Water Efficiency in your Indoor and Outdoor areas!

-Receive a Recyclable Tote with Free Compact Fluorescents Light Bulbs*limited supplies

-SHOWERHEAD EXCHANGE: Bring Your Showerhead to Receive a Water Efficient Showerhead.

Please spread the word to your neighbors....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mr. Norman Braman Has Announced A Recall Effort Against Mayor Carlos Alvarez

Yesterday afternoon Car Dealer/Community Activist Norman Braman announced that he will finance a recall effort against Mayor Carlos Alvarez over the new budget, because, according to Brahman:

"This outrageous tax increase has been enacted while citizens are suffering economically, property values have crumbled, foreclosures are rampant and unemployment has reached almost 13 percent in our county."

Critics believe charter changes would be a better tonic for what ails the county, such as some at-large commissioners (to combat district colonialism) and term limits. For instance, former UEL President Nancy Liebman and others, formed a PAC a few years ago, called Eight in Enough to advance Term Limits on County Commissioners.

The Mayor has about two years left in his term. The Commissioners can serve as long as the voters return them to office. That has turned into a very long time.

Many at the UEL had hoped for long range changes. The Mayor's recall appears to many as a short term fix.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Car Dealer, Norman Braman, Threatens Miami Dade Mayor and Commission with a Recall.

Community activist, Norman Braman has threatened the County Government with a recall today in the Miami Herald. The Miami Herald readers are responding to the idea with gusto, for example, here is one of the 64 comments logged in:

I'm also very eager to join Norman Braman as a volunteer in his fight against the arrogant politicians running our county. Mr. Braman should be commended for his now notorious displays of civic duties. Mr. Braman not only fights city hall, when they are wrong, but he is also well known among his present and former dealerships employees, like myself, for opening the doors to well paying positions to many minorities among them Jewish, hispanics, and blacks, who were never given those opportunities until he opened his dealerships in Miami. GO MR. BRAMAN!!!

If the 64 comments at this moment are any indication, his threat might produce a success on the massive recall because there appears to be a lot of anger in the County at the proposed tax hikes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Krome Avenue: Letter from the UEL's past - October 2002.

Sent to the DCA and Miami Herald:


If widening roads made them safer, South Florida would be one of the safest places to drive on the planet. Unfortunately, adding lanes adds danger, by encouraging the most reckless drivers to set the speed. This fact hasn't stopped a group of development interests in the Redland from pushing to four-lane Krome Avenue, ostensibly in the desire to make the road safer.

The Florida Department of Transportation's own statistics show that the opposite will be the case. When Alligator Alley was widened from two lanes to four, adding a substantial grassy median, the road became much more dangerous. From 1992 to 1997, traffic increased 7%, yet deaths shot up 600%. FDOT's figures show that Alligator Alley is not an isolated case. Throughout the state, two-lane highways are consistently safer than four lane highways.

Yet it is true that Krome Avenue is badly in need of improvement. The road has been the scene of several horrible accidents. That's why FDOT initiated the Krome Avenue Action Plan, a sensible consensus plan developed in 1998 with the participation of farmers, residents and commercial interests along the avenue. That plan calls for a new median, wider lanes and shoulders, and new turning lanes and lighting at critical intersections. It also calls for enforcement of speed limits, which only makes sense: reducing vehicle speed is the single most critical factor in decreasing traffic deaths.

The main difference between the consensus plan and the developers' plan is the addition of two extra lanes. Since the extra lanes would only make the road more dangerous, why add them?

It's an old story that upzoning and development follow road-widening. The story has a one-word name: Sprawl. The state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has consistently opposed the widening of Krome, because it's outside of the county's Urban Development Boundary (UDB), and because the widening would have an adverse impact on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

In a July 15th letter we received via a public records request, the state Department of Environmental Protection stated their objections this way: "The County has not provided data to support its proposed four-laning of Krome Avenue."

The DCA has presented two official objections to the widening, which reference over a dozen violations of both the Florida Statutes and the Florida Administrative Code. The first objection states that road improvements must be prioritized for areas within the UDB. The second objection deals with the sensitive environmental resources in the area of the road widening, including wetlands and wellfields.

[see below for exact text of objections]

In its attempt to answer the DCA's objections, the county has assured the state that commercial sprawl will be controlled in the wake of the widening--although residential sprawl will not be directly addressed. And tellingly, neither the county nor anyone else has answered the concerns that widening Krome will cause a greater number of fatal accidents, not fewer.

The Urban Environment League opposes the four-laning of Krome Avenue, and supports the consensus plan that can truly make the road safer. South Florida's urban and natural environment both benefit from careful planning that advocates sustainable urban form over sprawl.
A safer two-lane Krome Avenue will preserve the precious agricultural and natural character that exists at the edge of the developed county.

Let's make Krome Avenue safer for strawberry fields, U-pick stands and wetlands--and safer as well for those of us who will be driving on Krome to get to them.

Thank you for your time,

The Urban Environment League


DCA Objection No. 1: Inconsistency with FLUE and
TE Policies and Guidelines:
The amendment does not demonstrate consistency
with CDMP FLUE Policy 2B.
Policy 2B states "Priority in the provision of
services and facilities and
the allocation of financial resources for services
and fucilities in
Miami-Dade County shall be given first to serve
the area within the Urban
Development Boundary (0DB) of the Land Use Plan
(LUP) map. Second priority
shall support the staged development of the Urban
Expansion Area (UEA).
Urban services and facilities which support or
encourage urban development
in Agriculture and Open Land areas shall be
avoided, except for those
improvements necessary to protect public health
and safety and which service
the localized needs of these non-urban areas." The
analysis submitted with
the amendment does not explain why four laning is
necessary to correct
public safety problems or why the previous 1999
Action Plan recommended
improvements would not adequately address the
safety problems. Furthermore,
the supporting analysis does not demonstrate the
proposed four-lane roadway
would serve only localized needs of the non-urban
areas. Rather, if it were
four-laned, Krome Avenue would serve as a regional
facility providing access
beyond the local area. Transportation Element (TB)
Policy 4C reinforces
these provisions, stating that roadways shall
avoid environmental protection
designated areas.

The amendment does not demonstrate consistency
with FLUE Policy 8F which
requires the County to "consider consistency with
the Goals, Objectives and
Policies of all Elements, other timely issues, and
in particular the extent
to which the proposal, if approved, would enhance
or degrade environmental
resources, features or systems (e.g., Everglades
and wellfields) of County
significance." It is clearly stated in the
Agriculture land use category
that in order to protect the agricultural
industry, facilities that support
or encourage urban development are not allowed in
the area. In the absence
of other controlling growth management and land
use policies, the widening
of the segment would support or encourage urban
development in the area that
is outside the UDB.

[Rules 9J-S.005(2)(a), (5) &(8)(J);
9J-5.006(5)(g)2.; 5..; J-5.006(5)(h),
(i)9, (j)6 &19, Florida Administrative Code,
(FAC), and Chapter 163.3 177
(6)(a)-(g), (8) & (l0)(e), Florida Statutes, (F.S)

DCA Objection No.2: The County is proposing new
FLUB Policy 3F as a
safeguard to preserve and protect the
environmental and natural resources,
wellfields, and agricultural lands outside the
UDB. The policy does not
provide predictable and meaningful guidelines to
demonstrate how the
policies will accomplish these outcomes or
expectations and ensure internal
consistency with FLUE Policy 3F and the
Agriculture and Open Land

[Rules: 9J-S.00S(2)(a), (5), (6) & (8)(j),
9J-5.006(5)(g)2., 5.;
9J-5.006(5)(h), (i)(, (j)6 & !9;
(3-5.019(3)(d)(i), F.A..C., and Chapter
163.3177(6)(a) รณ (g), (8) & (10)(e), F.S.]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sky Train Operational at Miami-Dade Airport

After many years, a few spent in Japan exercising the train because the tracks were not ready, the Sky Train at Miami-Dade airport is operational. Unfortunately, in the interim no one was trained to operate the train or fix the train that is operating in a one mile loop. An out of town workforce had to be hired to keep the train operational.

According to the Miami Herald:

The light-rail train is part of the 50-year-old airport's $6.4 billion upgrade project that began in 1998 -- years behind schedule, but nearing the end. Completion of the entire project is on target for next year, MIA spokesman Greg Chin said.

The Skytrain's debut was welcome news at the airport, which was ranked North America's least efficient by the University of British Columbia's Air Transport Research Society.

Miami Dade County offers tours of the airport, if you are inclined to go to the airport for a ride on the sky train you can also couple it with a 2 hour free tour (Monday to Friday only).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Campaign Financing.

Campaigns are difficult to run without money. There are things to do to run a good campaign that do require money, unfortunately. It is said that campaign contributions are the mother's milk of any campaign. We urge all of our readers to choose candidates wisely and then to help fund the candidates, even if you can only afford a few dollars. Do your part for good government.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Virginia Key: Bike Trails and More. by Sam Van Leer

In response the the Miami Hearld article: "Bike-trail project a lot tougher than expected" Sept. 12, 2010.

The Virginia Key Master Plan approved by the City of Miami in July 2010 is based largely on the Consensus reached at the Virginia Key Coalition's Charrette of September 2009. On Northpoint it protects the unique Nature Preserves and re-creates lost habitats inland, creating new opportunities for recreation within conservation. The very modest monetary investments are wise considering the stench that sometimes comes from the Sewage Treatment facility next door, and seasonal Mosquito and No-See-Um conditions.

A Public Beach is shared by people during the day, and nesting sea turtles at night. Multi-use paths may be enjoyed by all. North Ridge is planted with native vegetation selected to preserve the stunning views of the Bill Sadowski Wildlife Area, Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve and the City of Miami beyond. A large area is reserved for Mountain Biking. Picnic areas are along the Beach and the North Ridge. Walking paths allow people to explore the different Native Habitats found in coastal and inland areas. The campground is on high ground, with exposure to cooling and bug-abating breezes. Services are near the already-developed Sewage Treatment area.

Buffers between major human uses are absolutely essential to provide visitors with more personal experiences. Quiet nature hikers and wildlife won’t be startled by fast bikers. Campers can enjoy peace without intrusion. Mountain bikers can ride challenging paths free of walking explorers. Mountain Bikers were well represented at the Charrette’s Northpoint planning sessions, and were part of the consensus. The City Planning Department assures me that 30 yard buffers will be in all final plans.

Oleta River State Park is frequently mentioned as an example of great mountain bike trails, and it is true that they are fun to ride. What is less understood is that bikers built trails under Australian Pines, and expect that the big trees that shade their riding will be preserved. These Destructive Exotic trees actually kill Native Habitats, and the wildlife that depend on them. In addition, Oleta trails often wind so tightly that there is very little room for Native Habitat. The land use is so intense that it is a form of development, and is not an example to follow for Virginia Key. Fortunately, there are environmentally sensitive layouts that allow for shared use between bikers and nature.

The 2009 Charrette Plan should be followed, and Northpoint should never be used as a dumping ground again. How many public meetings must we attend to defend it? Listen to the will of the public, and please get on with it!


Sam Van Leer
Executive Director & Founder -Urban Paradise Guild

Friday, September 10, 2010

Miami Today: Michael Lewis Editorial on The Marlins

Lewis says: Don't blame rich Marlins because we gave them $3 billion:

If building a $3 billion stadium and handing it over for 50 years for pennies didn't faze Miami-Dade commissioners when they OK'd the deal with a wink, they're now horrified that their beneficiary was rich.

Shucks, they say, if they'd known the Florida Marlins had operating profit of $49 million over two years they'd have shaved several million off their $3 billion gift that raised the team's market value at least $250 million.

He says further:

The first rule in a deal is to know fully who's on the other side. That includes character and financial status.

The commission violated that rule by a mile. You have to reveal more to get a wireless phone than the Marlins told commissioners, who then gave away the store.

It wasn't just that most commissioners didn't read the contracts and voted, as they often do, to taxpayers' detriment. It's that they didn't really want to know. After all, if they didn't know they can't be blamed — unless you expect commissioners to open their eyes and ears.

As it was, nine of them — just the right number for baseball — played a game of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. The only thing the Marlins' nine asked about the worst county contract in history was "What's in it for me?"

Lewis Concludes:

Commissioners, this disaster isn't the Marlins' fault. Divide the blame equally between the county manager you trusted and the Marlins' nine who didn't want to examine the giveaway they signed off on. The mayor and manager leave in two years. Voters get to decide how to deal with the nine of you. Don't blame the Marlins for your $3 billion gift. It's on your backs.
See the full Editorial.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Amendment 4 Debate, September 28th

The Downtown Bay Forum ( is having a luncheon September 28th at 11:30. The subject will be:

Amendment 4: Tonic for over development or barrier to growth?

The speakers will be Tom Connick 'for' and Neisen Kasdin 'against' the amendment. Helen Ferre will be the moderator. To reserve for the luncheon at the Marriott Hotel, 1633 N. Bayshore Drive, call Annette Eisenberg at 305 757-3633.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

County Elections

There will be two run-off elections in November in District 2 and District 8. Commissioner Dorrin Rolle is running against Jean Monestime in District 2 and Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn is running against former Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell in an open seat.

We ask all of our members to vote in these elections if you live in the districts and consider funding the candidate of your choice even if you live out of the district. The County Commission makes important decisions for all of us.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Commissioner Joe Martinez Couldn't get enough signatures to call the ads in parks meeting.

Joe Martinez needed seven signatures of his fellow commissioners to call a special meeting. He only had 4. For now, the plan to place ads in parks is dead as there isn't any time to get it on the ballot for people to vote on changing the charter. The charter forbids ads in parks except during events.