Miami Dade County Community Forum

Thursday, September 1, 2011

WE HAVE MOVED OUR BLOG TO OUR WEBPAGE

Please go to our webpage www.uel.org where our blog has been moved.

Thank you!




Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Orchids & Onions Awards: Subrata Basu


Subrata Basu received an Urban Environment League Orchid Award for Lifetime Achievement Planning/Regional Issues:

Subrata Basu, architect, planner and artist, left the planning jungle of South Florida to join the Peace Corps in Belize. His 34 years in public service included time as Community Redevelopment Director of South Miami and his last position as Assistant Director for Planning at the County. His leadership in numerous charrettes for urban centers demonstrated his deep commitment to creating livable communities and to promoting vigorous public participation in planning. He was a strong defender of the Urban Development Boundary and will be sorely missed. Our loss is the Peace Corp’s gain.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scenic Miami Call to Action on Billboard Ordinance

Big Support: Norman Braman has written all County Commissioners in support of scenicmiamidade.org and opposing Comm Bruno Barreiro's legislation to let cities opt out completely of county sign ordinance; he also requested that Comm. Barreiro withdraw the legislation. (see letter also TAKE ACTION on this issue before Wednesday.)

Big Victory: Federal Highway Administration rebukes Miami for illegal mural ordinance (click on link at www.scenicmiamidade.org to see letter)

Big Coverage: Three articles in the Miami Herald in last week

Big Fight: Keep our County Sign Code intact.

Tell our City and County commissioners and adminstrators that we do not want cities writing their own billboard ticket (more Miami rogue ordinances??) Another city, West Miami, has bowed to the outdoor advertising industry and allowed a massive electronic LED digital billboard which blights that city as well as west Coral Gables.

We oppose Comm. Bruno Barreiro's legislation to let cities completely opt out of the County sign code.

The next vote is in the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee at 2 pm Wednesday July 13 at the Commission Chambers, Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st Street, The Commissioners say they like to see people in the chamber so please attend this meeting and make your opinion known. Members: Chair Edmonson, Barreiro, Diaz, Jordan, Monestime, and Sosa.

UEL signs letter to FDEP about Port and Tunnel Dredging in Biscayne Bay

Major environmental and civic groups in Miami are asking the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to slow down the environmental permitting process for the proposed Port of Miami deep dredge project to assure the utmost protection for the fragile natural resources of Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, and even the Florida Keys.

Seagrass beds, coral reefs and water quality will be impacted by blasting, boring and dredging that are proposed as part of the expansion projects at the Port of Miami, that seek to attract Post-Panamax freighter ships, the largest in the world. The secondary, cumulative environmental impacts of transforming the Port of Miami into a major industrial port -- have also not been properly explored nor assessed, the groups state. These impacts include subjecting the shallow bay and off shore coral reefs to increased risk of oil spills and groundings.

“There should be no shortcuts in either the costs that will be incurred to ensure best management practices or employing the least environmentally harmful methods available," was stated in a letter sent Friday, July 1, 2001 to Mr. Michael Carothers, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems.

"The full of amount of highest quality mitigation is required to protect our existing resources as well. Quality mitigation should restore habitats to extent possible to keep intact resources healthy, effectively resolving anticipated issues, as well as account for any likely yet unanticipated secondary impacts.” The 12-page letter was signed by representatives of environmental groups representing thousands of Floridians, including: the National Parks and Conservation Association, (NPCA), Tropical Audubon Society, Friends of Biscayne Bay, Sierra Club Miami Group, Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, Izaak Walton League, the Environmental Coalition of Miami and Miami Beaches, Surfrider Miami, Urban Environment League, Urban Paradise Guild, and Clean Water Action.
Among the issues discussed:

1. A plan to use Virginia Key, a 1,000 acre barrier island with the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve that is home to a state-designated critical wildlife area, as a disposal site for port tunnel and dredge materials.

2. The impacts of 600 days of blasting in areas never previously impacted by past dredging projects, including coral reefs off Miami Beach.

3. Water quality issues in Biscayne Bay, revered for crystal clear waters and extensive seagrass beds that are essential habitat for endangered species, including manatees and sea turtles. As a designated “Outstanding Florida Water,” the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, state standards call for “no degradation of water quality.”

4. Insufficient consideration of all natural resources impacted due to the Army Corps not taking into account that latest studies and assessments that reflect current conditions and resources.

5. Contamination from spoil materials within the Aquatic Preserve, including use of dredging or excavated materials for fill.

6. Secondary and cumulative impacts of port expansion projects, including groundings and oil spills in Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys from increased port activities and larger size of vessels.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Emilie Young Posthumous Orchid Award


Emilie Young received a posthumous 2011 Orchid Award for Environmental Excellence:

Emilie Young’s commitment to preserving the natural heritage of South Florida is a model for all of us. Under her leadership, the County’s Environmentally Endangered Land Program
acquired and maintained nearly 18,000 acres of rockridge pineland, tropical hardwood
hammocks, freshwater and coastal wetlands. This legacy will forever remind us of her love of the natural world, her commitment to the future of this County, and her incredible skill at
negotiating a good deal for the County taxpayers. She will be missed.


Accepting the award is Cynthia Guerra Director of the County’s Environmentally Endangered Land Program. Former County Commissioner Katy Sorenson was on hand to present the award. Sonia Succar is also pictured.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paula Church Recipient of Posthumous Orchid Award


Pictured: UEL Treasurer Barbara Falsey, Paula's husband Tom receiving the award, Mark Woerner her supervisor at Miami Dade County and Sonia Succar, UEL Co-President.

On June 15th, Paula Church was presented with the 2011 UEL Orchid Award:

Paula Church was one of the quiet and forceful soldiers in the fight for good planning in Miami Dade County. Her commitment to the environment and sound public policy were cornerstones in her work on the County’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan. As Supervisor in the Metropolitan Division, she was a gentle advocate for good planning and environmental protection. She was cherished by her colleagues and respected by the development community with whom she often strongly disagreed but respectfully and with good humor. Her passion for good planning, and for her home team – Go Canes – will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

James Murley Awarded the UEL 2011 Orchid Award



James Murley received the 2011 UEL Orchid Award for Lifetime Achievement for Planning/Regional Issues:

For a lifetime of leadership in the State of Florida promoting growth management and environmental protection. He has demonstrated that economic development can be furthered by combatting urban sprawl at the same time. He is providing a legacy that needs to be restored, not dismantled.


James Murley pictured with his lovely daughter!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eric Buermann Received a UEL Orchid Award


Eric Buermann was presented with a 2011 Orchid Award by UEL Vice President Ernie Martin for being a Champion at Protecting Florida's Water:


Attorney Eric Buermann was appointed to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board by Governor Charlie Crist and he quickly became the Chairman of the Board. During that same period he was the chairman of the Miami River Commission. He left an indelible mark serving on both. The landmark sugar land deal that he oversaw was hailed by environmentalists as a monumental step in Everglades Restoration.

The Audience during the event June 15th.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grace Solares Recipient of a UEL Orchid Award



Grace Solares was presented with the UEL Orchid Award for Best Neighborhood Activist by Mayor Tomas Regalado:

Grace Solares was one of the founders of Miami Neighborhoods United,
a coalition of 21 City of Miami Neighborhood Associations. She now serves
as their President. She has been a champion for residential
neighborhoods in the new City of Miami zoning code “Miami 21.” Grace is
making sure city residents interests are protected in the new code. She also
took on City of Miami leaders to oppose the funding of the Marlins
Stadium. We want to thank Grace Solares for her commitment to the
community and for her partnership on numerous issues and events with the UEL.

Congratulations Mayor Gimenez.


The UEL Board of Directors want to congratulate Carlos Gimenez, the new mayor of Miami Dade County. We are looking forward to working with him on many issues in the future.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harry Horgan: UEL Orchid Award Winner for Environmental Restoration


We were pleased to present a UEL Orchid Award to Harry Horgan for Environmental Restoration:

Harry Horgan has been an important member of the South Florida community through his extraordinary programs focused on improving the lives of individuals with physical, developmental and economic challenges. His mission has extended to include the importance of environmental protection by incorporating the adjacent spoil islands/eco islands into Shake a Leg's educational programs. In working alongside various agencies and volunteer groups, Harry and his team have been able to restore these islands into rare gems made up of nature's treasures for all to enjoy and explore. The UEL commends Harry and Shake a Leg for taking such a bold environmental restoration initiative.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Virginia Key: Dredge Fill A Bad Idea For Virginia Key



In an editorial Saturday, the Miami Herald weighed in on putting dredge fill from the port tunnel on Virginia Key:

In January, the city of Miami signed an agreement with Miami Access Tunnel, the company in charge of the massive project, allowing it to deposit up to 55,000 cubic yards of material displaced from the drilling preparation and drilling itself on Virginia Key’s northwest coast. In exchange, the company promised to use the fill to build a berm around the unsightly — and odoriferous — Virginia Key sewage plant. And:

Virginia Key should not become a casualty of the Big Dig. It is one of the few waterfront locations for family recreation in the city, and must be protected — even as a deeper port propels Miami forward.


The Miami Herald suggests that environmentalists should offer alternatives for the deposit of dredge fill. Is that not the job of the agencies involved, to find a suitable place, that does no harm, when they sign off on a project?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The 2011-12 Urban Environment League Board of Directors


Left to Right: Beba Mann, Sonia Succar, Enid Pinkney, Jennifer Balfe, Tony Garcia, Stephanie Cornejo, Marisa Fortunati, Jennifer Garcia, Greg Bush.
In the rear: Ernie Martin, Frank Rollason, Roger Horne and Thorn Grafton.
Not pictured: Barbara Falsey, Nancy Liebman, Albert Ruder, Paul Schwiep, Fran Bohnsack and John Van Leer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More from the Orchid's and Onion's Awards.


Pictured above are UEL Treasurer Babara Falsey and Deputy Director of Parks, Alex Munoz. Munoz accepted the award presented to Howard Gregg, his predecessor at Parks and Recreation. This was the copy from the award he received for "Lifetime Achievement in Planning":

Howard Gregg’s contributions to the Miami Dade County Park and Recreation system over his 34 year career are too numerous to mention. To mention just a few: under his leadership the Department more than doubled its land holdings, from 6,000 to 12,000 acres; he helped establish the Natural Areas Management Division (NAM) which restores natural habitat; and he recently led the development of the Park and Open Space System Master Plan; a 50 year vision for making Miami-Dade County a healthier and more livable community. We wish him well in retirement in the land of orchids – Hawaii.

Pictured below is UEL intern, Jenny Leizerovich, posing with City of Miami Mayor, Tomas Regalado. Mayor Regalado was there to present an award to Grace Solares as "Best Neighborhood Activist."

UPDATE: Billboards. By Barbara Bisno

• County Committee defers to 7/13, wants a compromise. See summary.

• New Alert - City of Miami Commission, 6/23, vacant storefronts plastered with ads in neighborhoods, tell them to vote "no" or amend drastically. Please go to our site and then click "take action" to voice your objections.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Onions and Orchids Event.

The Onions and Orchids, Urban Environment League event, was a success. Almost 100 people came downtown to Villa 221 to watch the awards.

We will highlight some of the award winners, and post pictures from the event, here on the UEL blog, over the next few weeks. We wanted to start with a members of our Board of Directors, Tony Garcia:


Tony Garcia has been an instrumental force in opening up the dialogue of transit oriented issues in Miami-Dade through his blog and advocacy organization, Transit Miami. His activism runs deep as he promotes the importance of smart growth planning principles and effective transportation systems; Tony’s blog helps us to learn to avoid sprawl by developing compact, transit-oriented, walkable and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods. Tony is a young leader who values long term planning that will preserve our natural resources while enhancing the public health of Miami's residents. Transit Miami's motto of "Moving Forward, Faster" is certainly gaining speed with modern day conductors like Tony.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tomorrow: Sixth Annual Orchids & Onions Award Presentation recognizes Miami's environmental movers & shakers.

On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, the Urban Environment League will host its sixth annual Orchids & Onions Award Presentation. This event has been widely acclaimed at recognizing individuals in the community who have been instrumental in initiating projects and campaigns which enhance Miami-Dade's natural and built environment.

The awards, which are given out as orchids, will recognize such individuals as Gary Milano of DERM and Harry Horgan of Shake a Leg, both who have made tremendous progress towards environmental restoration in South Florida. Other orchid recipients include transit blogger Tony Garcia, who co-founded Transit Miami, a website that has significantly elevated the discussion of transportation and alternative transit in South Florida, as well as the recently formed Scenic Miami coalition lead by Barbara Bisno & Dusty Melton, who have been instrumental in fighting the advertising and mural billboards propping up all over Miami.

Along with the many orchids that will be given out throughout the evening by UEL's board members and elected officials, a batch of onions will also be presented to individuals who have seriously affected the environment through backwards legislation and/or destructive projects in Miami. These onions include Governor Rick Scott and his recent undoing of Florida's Growth Management Laws and media developer Mark Siffin for his proposed LED media tower in downtown Miami.

The award presentation will take place at the recently opened downtown venue space, Villa 221 from 6-9pm.

To see the full list of award recipients and to find out more information about UEL, please visit www.uel.org

Friday, June 10, 2011

DCA Workshop Schedule

The six workshops identified below are scheduled in place of the annual DCA Growth Management Implementation Workshop held in June.

These regional workshops are FREE of charge. Please make plans to attend and listen to Secretary Buzzett and staff discuss the 2011 Legislative Session and its impact on the Department of Community Affairs and the state's growth management programs. To register, please send an email to publicaffairs@dca.state.fl.us, including your name, organization, and the date of the workshop you plan to attend. Please direct any QUESTIONS you may have to sheri.coven@dca.state.fl.us.



DCA GROWTH MANAGEMENT IMPLEMENTATION REGIONAL WORKSHOPS
Speakers:
Billy Buzzett, Secretary
Tom Beck, Director, Division of Community Planning
DCA Planning Staff

Date: June 21, 2011
Time: 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm
Hosts:
Southwest Florida and Tampa Bay Regional Planning Councils

Location: State College of Florida, Center of Information and Technology
7131 Professional Parkway East, Sarasota FL

Date: June 22, 2011
Time: 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Hosts: Central and East Central Regional Planning Councils
Location: Fantasy of Flight, Orlampa Conference Center
1400 Broadway Boulevard, South East, Polk City, FL

Date: June 27, 2011
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Hosts: North Central Florida and Withlacoochee Regional Planning Councils
Location: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Doyle Conner Building
1911 Southwest 34th Street (State Road 121), Gainesville, FL

Date: June 28, 2011
Time: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Host: Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council
Location: St. Johns County Convention Center, World Golf Village
500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, FL

Date: June 30, 2011
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Hosts: South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils
Location: 6500 Building Auditorium
6500 Congress Avenue, Boca Raton, FL

Date: July 5, 2011
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm (CST)
Hosts: Apalachee and West Florida Regional Planning Councils
Location: Walton County Courthouse, County Commission Chambers
571 US 90 East, DeFuniak Springs, FL

Sheri Coven
Director of Intergovernmental and Public Affairs
FL Dept. of Community Affairs

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mayoral Candidates Forum - June 14

There will be a candidate's forum in Kendall.


East Kendall Homeowners Association (EKHO)
has invited
Carlos Gimenez and Julio Robaina
to a candidates forum
Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Location: Dice House
10000 S. W. 82 Avenue
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Proposed Slate for UEL Board of Directors and Advisory Board

Officers (bold-new proposed board of directors)
Jennifer Balfe
Fran Bohnsack
Greg Bush
Stephanie Cornejo
Barbara Falsey
Marisa Fortunati
Anthony Garcia
Jennifer Garcia
Thorn Grafton
Albert Harum-Alvarez
Roger Horne
Nancy Liebman
Beba Sardiña Mann
Ernest Martin
Enid Pinkney
Albert Ruder
Paul Schwiep
Irene Secada
John Van Leer
Frank Rollason

Advisory Board
Roger Carlton
Jeremy Glazer
Violette Sproul
Sonia Succar

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 15th Orchids & Onions Awards has a NEW LOCATION!

UEL's 6th Annual Orchids & Onions location has moved to the beautiful new downtown space VILLA 221 on Wednesday, June 15th at 6pm. The location is: 221 NE 17th Street, just West of the old OMNI complex. Double click to open the invite in a larger version.



Please tell your friends about this new location.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Billboard on I95 in Miami Ruled Illegal


The photo above is from google maps. This billboard has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. The building is empty and its revenue comes from its use as a billboard.

According to reporter Andres Viglucci who has been following the case:

Now an appeals court has handed the county a clear-cut victory that may put an end to the legal fracas, ruling that the signs must come down.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal, issued Wednesday, also represents a boost for billboard opponents mustering a campaign to stop the proliferation of ads along the city’s expressways.

Ernie Martin has been heading the UEL committee on this issue. Barbara Bisno, a longtime UEL member and a future recipient of an UEL orchid June 15th, is one of opponents that Viglucci referred to. Bisno, a co-founder of Scenic Miami-Dade, said:

This is a great decision for our community in our effort to secure and preserve a safe environment and our natural beauty. The county sign ordinance is a major protection for all residents from visual pollution.


Come see her and other billboard activists get their orchids on June 15 and perhaps think about joining Barabra's Group.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UEL's Orchids and Onions Event June 15th


Urban Environment League’s
Orchids & Onions Award Presentation and Annual Meeting
Wednesday - June 15th - 6 pm
Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Overlooking Biscayne Bay
2990 South Bayshore Drive

Please join us for some fun/networking at our 6 pm Cocktail Hour
Award presentation to follow at 7 pm
Hors d’ oeuvres and Cocktails (cash bar) $15 Donation At Door -
RSVP uelinfo@bellsouth.net or call: 786 472-0011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Miami Dade Mayoral Election

There will be a runoff 06/28/2011 in Miami-Dade County between the two top vote getters, Julio Robaina (Mayor of Hialeah) and Carlos Gimenez (County Commissioner). Only one charter change question passed: There is a 2 year limit before officials can lobby the County.

The election in district 7 is on hold. A third candidate had tried to register but was told he was too late even though some of his paperwork was submitted on time. A judge is hearing the matter, he will decide if candidates had enough time to register.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

UEL's County Commission District 7 Debate





About 50 people came to hear the District 7 Candidates Julio Robaina of South Miami and Xavier Suarez speak on the issues at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club last night. Mr. Suarez was a former Mayor of the City of Miami. Julio Robaina was a State Representative. Stephen Stock, investigative reporter for CBS 4 was the moderator.
In the video Xavier Suarez starts with his view of the UDB line and then the conversation turns to unincorporated areas of Miami.



Monday, May 16, 2011

Charter Changes are Not Getting Community Support


According to a recent Miami Herald Report, Charter Changes proposed by County Commissioner are getting luke-warm support form the community:

"Six charter proposals begrudgingly placed on the May 24 ballot by Miami-Dade County commissioners are getting an equally unenthusiastic reception among voters, according to a new poll, which ranks corruption in county government as the No. 1 local problem."

As you can see from the black area, which represents those against the charter amendment, in the graphic, none of the 6 have a majority vote.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Beth Dunlop Writes about the Marine Stadium Competition


There was a contest for a design for a floating stage at Marine Stadium. Architectural writer Beth Dunlop wrote about the competition:

The Miami Marine Stadium Floating Stage Competition, which concluded last week, could teach us lots of lessons about ideas and dreams. The energy that radiated from the 90 entries, one more exuberant than the last, should tell us just how unimaginative we’ve been toward our public waterfront in the past two decades, or longer.

We’ve built and built and overbuilt to the point that we think of the bay as the back yard of Condoland. We’ve allowed No Fishing signs to go up along our bridges and causeways and erected Jersey barriers to keep us from pulling off to the side of the road to enjoy a slower glimpse of the sparkling turquoise water or a particularly spectacular sunset. Buildings, big ones — among them the Jungle Island complex and AmericanAirlines Arena — fill former public lands, separating us from the water’s edge. We even — preposterously and beyond the imagination of the most satirical fiction writers — briefly delegated a portion of the waterfront as an encampment for sex offenders. As a city, and as a culture, we’ve turned our backs on our most priceless, most precious public asset.

Think of it: once upon a time we had a band shell by the bay, at Bayfront Park. Then we had Miami Marine Stadium at Virginia Key. We dismantled the band shell long ago. And after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the damaged Marine Stadium was left to deteriorate to the point where it took a massive grassroots effort to persuade the city’s planners and politicians to save it. Its former floating stage, a tethered barge, sits half sunk on the bay bottom.

But now comes a little competition that begins to set our thinking straight. Initiated by the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium (an arm of Dade Heritage Trust) and run by DawnTown (that organization responsible for three previous high-profile competitions), the competition was sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and open to architects and students around the world.

In the end, it yielded ideas for stages that swooped and soared. One entry recalled the Sydney Opera House, another a carnival ride and another a space station. There were boats galore — schooners, clippers, pirate ships, racing boats. Stages were barge-shaped, sail-shaped, bridge-shaped, turbine-shaped and even slinky-shaped, really the gamut. Some came with a dose of humor. Others were plenty serious. Importantly, this competition was billed — and judged — as a contest of ideas and not practicalities, of inspiration rather than actualities.

The submissions were judged by a stellar jury that included an architect, the Los Angeles-based Lawrence Scarpa, and an artist, Michele Oka Doner of New York, along with one of the country’s foremost preservationists — Frank Sanchis, who is director of American programs for the World Monuments Fund — and an up-and-coming urban designer, Walter Meyer of the New York-based Local Office. Miami was represented by Hilario Candela, who designed the stadium in 1963, and University of Miami architecture professor Jorge Hernandez.

The jury spent a full day scrutinizing, studying, analyzing and discussing the proposals, ultimately endorsing five.

Their top pick, called The Pearl, is an elegant, inspiring floating bauble designed to portray the dichotomies of a dynamic city that opens out onto a “tranquil and infinite sea.” The work of Jiong Wu + Gengxin Ou from Abingo Wu Studio of Lincoln, Neb., the design is most likely unbuildable, though inspirational. The second-place winner — from Pink Cloud.DK. Design of Copenhagen, Denmark — offered a slightly more pragmatic approach with a lighted helium disc or cloud (what else?) that would hover over a converted barge.

The “Water Box” from Igor Reyes of Coral Gables is indeed a box, or cube, but one with a cascading waterfall as a curtain — ideal when the performance would be in the water rather than on the stage.

The fourth place winners (Marcin Husarz,Wojciech Motylski, Jan Jerzmanski of biuro architektoniczne SCOLIOSIS; Wroclaw, Poland) designed a structure that would open and close, becoming a waterborne skateboard park when not in use as a stage, while the last endorsed entry (Chris Carrasquilla + Shamir Panchal of Roco.Co from Toronto, Canada) proposed “a traveling family of structures” that could roam the bay when not in use at the stadium.

Open competitions have many virtues, among them the opportunity to find unknown talent and embrace new ideas. Too seldom do we let our minds roam the way the entrants in the Floating Stage Competition let theirs. Too seldom do we embrace impracticality, knowing that in our time, there are technological solutions that make the impossible come to fruition. And where would we be without the crazy, wacky, far-fetched, utopian, idealistic ideas that architects sometimes have? The Eiffel Tower comes to mind right away. But then, so does Miami’s Marine Stadium.

If someone (in this case Hilario Candela and a team of architects and engineers) hadn’t thought it would be possible to build a stadium out in the bay and cover it with a daring and dramatic cantilevered thin-shell concrete roof, Miami would never have had this iconic, bold statement of modern architectural bravado that was — and still is — unique in American cities.

The hyperbolic parabola of the thin-shell concrete roof created an indelible image for all those who listened to Mitch Miller or Elvis Presley or Jimmy Buffet there, or watched the sun come up at Easter or set (just before the fireworks) on the Fourth of July. It was a prime spot to witness boat races and other waterborne spectacles, and then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

After Hurricane Andrew, the structure was left to suffer — targeted for vagrants and graffiti artists, degraded by heat, wind, water and humidity. Then, a decade-and-a-half after the stadium fell to disaster and disuse, a determined group of preservationists operating under the umbrella of Dade Heritage Trust began to champion it. The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium has succeeded in protecting it as a local landmark. It was named as one of this country’s 11 most-endangered places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2009 and put on the World Monuments Fund’s “Watch List” (along with Machu Picchu and Old Jerusalem) in 2010. Last summer, the City of Miami approved a plan for Virginia Key that puts restoration of the stadium at the forefront.

But that’s just the first step. There’s money to raise; there are plans to be made. Preservation is far too often like the child’s game of “Mother May I” with a giant step forward and a baby step back, or vice versa. It requires constant vigilance and unrelenting advocacy — and any number of creative ideas.

The floating stage of competition fame may never get built, but in our world propelled by ideas and optimism (rather than the fear and cynicism that tend to rule us), it should, or something akin to it.

Ideas are dreams, and they add up to progress.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wrap-up of the Legislative Session.

This is a comprehensive wrap-up of the Florida legislative session from the Saint Petersblog.

Will 2011 become known as the Saggy Pants Session:

SAGGY PANTS (Passed): Requires school boards to prohibit students from wearing clothes that show their underwear or body parts, and imposes punishment up to in-school suspension. (HB 61/SB 228)

The UEL's biggest disappointment was the gutting of growth management with the repeal of the growth management act. We were also disappointed with the millions of tax dollars being allocated to fight the Fair District Petition Amendments that we, the voters, passed.


Energy, environment

CITIZEN CHALLENGES (Passed): Reverses state’s “burden of proof” requirement that potential polluters show that their projects won’t contaminate air or water. Replaces it with a requirement that citizens and other challengers provide proof that the project will harm air or water. (SB 1382/HB 993)

CLIMATE (Failed): Repeals the Florida Climate Protection Act, which authorizes the state to create a cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (SB 762)

FERTILIZER (Passed): Prohibits local governments from passing ordinances that ban sales of fertilizer, but grandfathers in existing laws, such as Pinellas’ ban. (HB 7215)

GOLF COURSES (Failed): Requires the Division of Recreation and Parks to hire Jack Nicklaus Design to build courses in state parks in every region of the state, creating a Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail. (SB 1846/HB 1239) [Yes, someone proposed that.]

GROWTH MANAGEMENT (Passed): Shifts review and regulation for development from the state to local governments with repeal of the 1985 Growth Management Act. (HB 7207)

SEWAGE AS FERTILIZER (Failed): Lifts a not-yet-implemented ban on spraying treated waste from septic tanks as fertilizer on farmers’ fields. (HB 1479)

Friday, May 6, 2011

ORCHIDS & ONIONS EVENT JUNE 15TH

Debate May 18 - County Commission District 7



Miami Neighborhoods United &
The Urban Environment League

Invite You To A Debate
For County Commission District 7
Candidates Julio Robaina and Xavier Suarez
Moderator: Stephen Stock Investigative Reporter CBS 4

The Coconut Grove Sailing Club
2990 South Bayshore Drive
Coconut Grove
Wednesday, May 18
6:30 pm
(There is Food and Drink Available at the club.)
Doors open at 6pm

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Miami Herald Interview of Mayoral Candidates

Julio Robaina, Mayor of Hialeah, has refused to go before the Miami Herald for their interview of Mayoral Candidates. He stated in part, in a letter to the Editorial Board:

Despite all efforts to make certain that your journalists and editors have accurate information regarding the false allegations that have been launched against me or key facts about me or my candidacy, The Miami Herald disregards the truth to cast stories with misinformation or erroneous contexts. Most concerning is the propagandist coverage of the race that has developed into a pattern directed at mischaracterizing me with the intent of influencing the outcome of the Special Election.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dutch Bicycle Experts Come to Miami


The aim is to make Miami more bicycle friendly. According to the Miami Herald:

...their arrival signals that Miami is getting more serious about making room for cyclists.

The Royal Netherlands embassy in Washington has dispatched three of the famously bike-friendly country’s top experts on “cycling as transportation’’ to Miami, where they will spend three days figuring out how to turn the city’s car-clogged downtown into a virtual Amsterdam of safe, connected bikeways. Or as close to that as we can get.


Biking workshop:

What: ThinkBike Workshop, sponsored by the Dutch, brings experts from Holland’s Fietsberaad International cycling think-tank here to brainstorm ways to improve downtown Miami’s bikeability.

Where and when: Public introductory session 9-10:30 a.m. Monday,18th floor of Miami-Dade’s government center, 111 NW First St. Presentation of the plan 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday at same place.

For more info: Follow ThinkBike Workshops on Facebook and Twitter, hashtag #thinkbikemiami.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sierra Club Legislative Alert

Call your Representative TODAY to vote NO on
HB 991 Environmental Permitting by Rep. Patronis scheduled for a floor vote tomorrow (Friday, April 29)

This bill is a developer’s grab bag of bad ideas that will:
Deprive citizens of due process when they try to challenge permits that will hurt the environment
Shift the burden of proof to citizens in challenges rather than leaving it with the applicant who currently has the burden of showing they are in compliance with all permit requirements
Preempt localities from regulating the environmental impact of mining activity (one of the most disruptive land uses imaginable).

Exempt phosphate mines from the development of regional impact process. There is no question that phosphate mines have regional effects from their sheer size to the downstream consequences, and small counties do not have the ability or incentive to consider impacts on their neighbors.
Reduce the information agencies are allowed to request when processing permit applications
Expedite wetlands permits for an inland port.

Put into statute that groundwater can be contaminated down to the base of the aquifer all the way out to the property line.

HB 991 was supposed to go through two more committees (Appropriations and State Affairs) but House leaders avoided this requirement and put this bad bill on the fast track to passage. Tell your Representative that trashing the environment won’t create jobs but cost them. Our state relies on our landscape and our natural resources to support communities and attract business. Urge them (politely) to vote ‘NO’ on this bad bill.

Miami Dade County Mayoral Debate

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Town Hall Meeting Tonight

 Chairman Martinez and Commissioner Bell
to host town hall meeting on the proposed Charter reform
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
 
Chairman Joe A. Martinez and Commissioner Lynda Bell are inviting Miami-Dade residents to attend a town hall meeting on the proposed Miami-Dade Home Rule Charter amendments. Attendees will be able to share their input on changes they would like to see in the Charter and the proposed amendments that will be on the May 24, 2011 ballot. Representatives from other County departments will also be on hand to assist residents with answering any inquiries.
 
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at the Palmetto Golf Course Recreation Room, 9300 Coral Reef Drive, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
 
"The special election is quickly approaching and it is imperative that voters know how the proposed amendments to the charter can affect the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter," said Chairman Martinez.  "As their representatives, it is our duty to make sure the residents have as much information available to so they can make an informed decision."
 
"I'm pleased to be able to bring this important meeting to my district and encourage residents to take an active role in their County government," said Commissioner Bell. "This is an opportunity for residents to take part in a public forum and learn more about the way their vote affects how their government will run."
 
For more information, please contact the office of Chairman Martinez at 305-375-5511 or Commissioner Bell at 305-378-6677.
 
WHO:                    Miami-Dade County Chairman Joe A. Martinez
                               Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell
 
WHAT:                  Town Hall Meeting on Charter Reform
 
WHEN:                  Tuesday, April 26, 2011
                                6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. 
 
WHERE:               Palmetto Golf Course Recreation Room
                               9300 Coral Reef Drive, Miami

Monday, April 25, 2011

Save the Date: June 15th

The UEL has scheduled our annual meeting on Wednesday, June 15th. We are planning on having it at the Coconut Grove Sailing club. The UEL gives out its annual Orchids and Onions awards on that date.

We hope you will save the date!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Overhaul of Growth Management Rules

The Miami Herald reported:

The Republican-controlled Florida House handed business interests and Gov. Rick Scott a victory Thursday by passing legislation that would lift most state controls over urban sprawl, leaving it up to local governments to deal with that issue.

And:

"We are taking a step back," acknowledged Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary. "We are saying that we trust the local governments to make those decisions."

House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders of Key West said that trust is misplaced. He cited bribery charges recently filed against local officials in South Florida in connection with development decisions.

"This is not a job creation bill except for one group and that's criminal defense attorneys," Saunders said.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Settlement translates into a windfall for the city?

According to the Miami Herald: Miami commissioners may vote on Thursday to settle a lawsuit with an outdoor advertising company that could prove to be a windfall for the city. Commissioner Carollo called the settlement agreement "Blackmail."

Take Action at City Commission Meeting April 21st.

Take Action Now

The Miami City Commission meets this Thursday, April 21, to consider an emergency billboard ordinance amendment (to be adopted on one reading) and two resolutions which favor more billboards in Miami.

The “emergency” cited is a pending state bill which limits the city to no more than a $500 permit fee for any outdoor advertisement, including billboards, murals and “media towers.”

The resolutions favor one billboard company, allowing it to take down one billboard to get a new one, instead of 4/1 or 2/1 as now required.

Please let the Commissioners know you oppose this ordinance and these resolutions by taking action today, For more information and to take action go to Scenic America.

These matters were originally considered by the Miami City Commission on April 14. Commissioner Frank Carollo stopped the vote on 4/14. For an analysis of the discussion on April 14, please see the attached letter by Grace Solares, long time activist in the Roads neighborhood (slated for a billboard pursuant to the proposed ordinance), president of Miami Neighborhoods United and vice president of the Roads neighborhood association.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

May 2nd Awards for the Floating Stage at Miami Marine Stadium



Friends of Marine Stadium have announced that the awards for the Floating Stage Design will be presented at the Rusty Pelican on Monday May 2nd.

5:30 - 6:30 Cocktail Hour and Entries Displayed
6:30 - 7:30 3 Course Dinner $30
7:30 - 9:00 Award Presentation

Monday, April 18, 2011

Upcoming Mayoral Debates

Tonight:
Democracy for America
7pm
IBEW, Union Hall, 1657 NW 17th Avenue
RSVP dfamiami@gmail.com
_________
Friday - April 29th:
Miami Voice PAC
Katy Sorenson Moderator
6pm
Location: Sugarcane's Raw Bar,
3252 Northeast 1st Avenue
_________
Monday - May 2nd:
Kendall Federation of Homeowners
7pm
Kendall Village Center,
8625 SW 124 Avenue
_________
Wednesday - May 4th:
Downtown Bay Forum Luncheon
11:30am

Friday, April 15, 2011

County Commissioner Lynda Bell in a Dispute

The ACLU has asked the City of Homestead to investigate charges that County Commissioner Lynda Bell stopped the Fuego Cuban Music Festival that was to be held at the racetrack. She said she did not stop the concert but the Miami Herald reported that:

Before the concert in Homestead could take place, Bell told Miami’s Radio Caracol (1260 AM) on Feb. 7 that she would do “everything within my power to stop that,” suggesting the event would be controversial among Cuban exiles.

“We understand free speech and will defend free speech, but not when public facilities and public funds are being utilized,” she said.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Elections Bill being heard today.

In addition to the Miami Herald editorial below, there was a last minute addition:

They added ....the elimination of any recourse to a voter challenge that would allow you to vote at the poll. In other words, they if you’re in line at the polls, and someone challenges your right to vote, you have no choice but to vote by provisional ballot which often go uncounted.
---------
Miami Herald: Another Flori-duh moment?

OUR OPINION: Speaker Cannon’s bill sets up obstacles to voting

A decade after the Sunshine State earned the moniker Flori-duh for those indiscernible hanging chads used in the old punch-card ballots during the 2000 presidential election, some legislators in Tallahassee seem to want to take us back to that confusing and divisive time. As if Florida doesn’t have enough problems already.

On Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee will take up legislation, HB 1355, drafted by the office of House Speaker Dean Cannon and introduced into committee by Rep. Dennis Baxley, that’s supposed to strengthen Florida’s election laws. In fact, the 128-page bill would undo some of the sensible reforms imposed after the 2000 election debacle and adds a plethora of requirements that would tie the hands of independently elected elections supervisors, disenfranchise voters, dissuade volunteers from engaging in voter registration and discourage many voters’ participation on Election Day.

Among the bill’s onerous requirements:

• A newly married woman wanting to vote on Election Day would no longer be allowed to show elections officials at the polls documentation with her name change to vote on that day. Instead, she would be forced to use a provisional ballot, which likely will mean that vote won’t be counted. In 2008, half the provisional ballots in Florida were thrown out, making it hard to contest.

• Voter-registration groups would have to register all their volunteers and paid staff with the state’s Division of Supervisors of Elections, which would create a database. What’s the purpose? Harassment of volunteers or particular organizations?

• Volunteers, who now can help resolve legal issues for individual voters at the polls, would be restricted because the bill lumps “legal advice” into the definition of solicitation and prohibits it within 100 feet of a voting line.

• Any voter who has moved and shows up at a polling site with evidence of the new address would also be forced to use a provisional ballot even though county elections supervisors now have access to a statewide voter database, created back in 2003, that can easily confirm a voter’s change of name or address. This would potentially disenfranchise thousands of college students.

This bill reeks of partisanship. Why?

One theory: Mr. Cannon wants to limit students’ participation in the voting process — as volunteers and as voters. That may be because his district includes the University of Central Florida, and College Democrats at UCF registered almost 11,000 voters in 2008 when Barack Obama won Florida.


The legislation also potentially would restrict the ability of news media and bloggers to take video or audio of voters at polling places, whether during early voting days or on the final Election Day.


As the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jeff Clemens, noted, “The language in this elections bill seems to place a presumption of guilt on the voters.”


Indeed, at a time when technology has made voting easier and more transparent, when databases have been established for easy and exact access to voters’ information to combat fraud, this bill sets up obstacles reminiscent of Jim Crow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

STOP AND TAKE ACTION NOW: Taxpayers Bill of Rights

Opportunity for ACTion
 
We are ALL Responsible for Florida's Economic Security
 
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, aka TABOR (HJR 7221), is moving swiftly through the Florida House and is expected to be heard in the House Appropriations Committee tomorrow, April 12th, at 9 AM. This legislation is identical to SJR 958, which has already been passed by the Senate.  
 
TABOR has been brought up and defeated in more than twenty states; the only state to pass TABOR is Colorado, where as a result of the harmful effects of TABOR on the state, Colorado citizens voted to suspend TABOR in 2005.
  
To learn more about TABOR's potential impact in Florida, please see the independent analysis performed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
 
 1. Click here to view a full listing of the House Appropriations Committee members. 
 
2. If your state Representative is on the House Appropriations Committee, please call or e-mail and tell him or her not to gamble with Florida's future. Vote NO on HJR 7221!  
Find your State Representative's contact information here.    
 
3.Send this alert to other concerned citizens: your grassroots network, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Encourage them to contact their state Representative as soon as possible.
 
~~Thanks to our partner The League of Women Voters  for this Action Alert~~

The Human Services Coalition

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 14th City of Miami Commission Meeting - Call to Action

Dear Friends:

This is a call to action in regard to a new billboard ordinance and two resolutions coming before Miami City Commission this Thursday April 14 either in late morning or early afternoon.

Here’s what we are asking that you do:

1) Go to Scenic Miami Dade and then click “take action.” You can add to the message we have up on the web – we have provided a short message: “stop adding billboards in Miami.” Your message will go to City officials as well as County commissioners because we are also gearing to fight an ordinance proposed by Bruno Barreiro to let cities opt out of the County sign ordinance – which means the city could then do whatever it wants without fear of enforcement of the county ordinance which has many, many limitations on billboards. First hearing before County Commission committee is June 15 at 2:00 pm. More anon on that but please put it on your calendar. Please send this email to everyone in your network, including organizations and friends. We want the public officials flooded with emails.

2) We need people to speak at the Miami City Commission on Thursday, April 14. The ordinance consideration is a public hearing and we should mention resolutions at that time as well. Resolutions do not require public hearings and Chairman Gort may or may not allow public comment. I am leaving for a long ago scheduled trip on Wednesday, April 13. I will be sending an email raising the points below, but we need speakers to put them on the record. Please advise me ASAP if you can speak on Thursday April 14 in late morning or early afternoon.

Contact:
Barbara K. Bisno
Scenic Miami, Inc.
ScenicMiami.org

barbaraforprogress@gmail.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

A call to Action by the UEL Board of Directors!

Florida is a treasure which we have the privilege of enjoying with the responsibility to preserve and enhance that treasure for future generations. - Former Senator Bob Graham

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM YOUR UEL BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

To All Those Interested in Fair Growth and Good Planning in Greater Miami:

The Urban Environment League calls on you to speak out against fast track legislation that will significantly harm the built and natural environment of South Florida. We are facing a major crisis brought on by Governor Rick Scott and the state legislature.

Is Florida prepared for more uncontrolled development? Governor Rick Scott thinks so. He’s working to destroy the growth management laws and gut the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to appease to the interest of developers. The public's interest is being lost and we will pay a high price in years to come. Most of the public does not adequately appreciate the complex nature of the issues involved but hopefully you can help persuade legislators that thousands of voters do care very much.

Under the leadership of Governors Reubin Askew and Bob Graham, Florida was at the forefront of states in creating the Growth Management Act of 1985 - mandating state oversight of local development so that more rational planning could assure fair funding of public infrastructure, calling for contributions by developers. Do we really want to gut this legislation in favor of paying for new development when we have such a glut of unsold properties from the past housing crisis?

What’s at stake for South Florida?

- Our fragile Everglades ecosystem faces new and unplanned for encroachment!

- Our municipal services, already struggling, would be incredibly strained by this legislation.

- Our existing infrastructure and transportation systems need to be upgraded before we can pay for more development & growth! Where would any authority effectively oversee that?

Governor Scott is proposing that the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) be drastically reduced in size and its authority to regulate development emasculated. The citizens, in the past, have been able to call on the DCA for help with issues like enforcing the UDB line rules and requiring water dependent uses for riverside properties. This will end.

The DCA has been instrumental in maintaining the urban boundary line (UDB) in Miami-Dade County as well as other counties that face the threat of decentralized sprawl. That could become history.

The Urban Environment League is in favor of well planned development, infill and encourgaing development around transportation corridors but knows all to well that some politically connected developers in Miami-Dade County can and will easily distort community needs in favor of their narrow interests. Without the oversight of the DCA, uncontrolled growth will prevail.

Now is the time to advocate and fight for smart growth planning in South Florida and throughout our state!

Join the UEL and other groups like Tropical Audubon Society in demanding that growth management laws remain intact and that the DCA remain as a vital government entity, fully funded and fully staffed.

There are a number of ACTION STEPS you can take:

1. Commit to writing a letter to the editor of your newspaper.
2. Send an email to your State Representative or State Senator in support of growth management.
3. Also call their office.
4. Post your concerns and share articles about this issue on Facebook, asking your friends to write emails and make calls to their legislators!

Please contact the UEL with any questions or requests for assistance at uelinfo@bellsouth.net

Florida really needs your support at this critical time!

Thank you,

UEL Board of Directors

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bob Graham - The Sad State of our State

Bob Graham column: The sad state of our state (reprinted from the St. Pete Times)

Bob Graham, the former Florida governor who also served in the U.S. Senate, wrote a column for the St. Petersburg Times.

As the Legislature enters its second half, there has emerged a disturbing pattern of ignoring many of Florida's core values. Over the last half-century these values have given Florida government — whether in Republican or Democratic hands — a stability and predictability that is now threatened.

What are some of those at-risk values?

Florida is a treasure which we have the privilege of enjoying with the responsibility to preserve and enhance that treasure for future generations.

For most of Florida's history, up until the mid 1960s, our state was treated like a commodity. If you didn't like it you changed it: land into water; water into land. The business of the state was business, and our enormous natural resources were just another input. The quality and safety of our coasts, fresh waters, open lands and the Everglades were regularly and enthusiastically sacrificed on the altar of growth.

Riding over the horizon were two merging armies. Emerging Democratic leaders, such as Reubin Askew of Pensacola and Lawton Chiles of Lakeland, who were in the vanguard of the recently reapportioned Legislature, joined forces with young Republicans like Nathaniel Reed of Hobe Sound and Warren Henderson of Sarasota, who were appalled at the change they had seen in their newly adopted state.

These armies had a common mission: to reverse the damage commoditization had done to Florida and replace it with a culture of conservation and intergenerational responsibility.

Read the entire column here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Save Growth Management in FL Now!  By Laura Reynolds

Call today - April 7, 2011

Dear Smart Growth/Conservation Advocate:
As you know, Florida's growth management process is in for the fight of its life.  We firmly believe that the only thing that can make a difference this 2011 session is a major public outcry over efforts to dismantle growth management in Florida. The Tropical Audubon Society is reaching out to smart growth and conservation organizations across the state and asking for help. Click here for action steps at a glance.


We are asking our friends to commit to undertake a number of actions to help save growth management:

1.    Commit to arrange for at least five letters to the editor to your local paper in support of growth management.In partnership with the state's leading conservation groups we are planning a press conference for Wednesday, April 6.  We hope you will ask some of your members to write letters to the editor supporting growth management over the week following April 6.  These letters do not need to be loaded with facts, but rather "from the heart" pieces that talk about how important it is to manage growth to protect our quality of life, drinking water, and citizen rights to participate in planning.
 
2.   Send out an email blast to your members asking them to call their Representative and Senator in support of growth management.  We will send you an email alert that you can forward to your members, or we can assist you with crafting a message of your own.  If you have other groups in your email system, please ask them to forward the message to their members as well.  We need all the calls we can get.
 
3.   If you are on Facebook, share the message with your Facebook friends, asking them to call their legislators.  Also, please "like" The Tropical Audubon Society on Facebook and we will keep you posted on a regular basis.
 
4.   If you're not on Facebook, consider signing up for The Tropical Audubon Society's email alerts.  You can sign up at www.tropicalaudubon.org.
 
5.   Consider writing an op ed for your local paper on behalf of growth management. Specific examples about how growth management and citizen participation have made a difference in your community would be best.Conclude your piece by asking readers to contact their State Representative and Senator to oppose damaging proposals and support effective growth management.  Again, we can provide assistance with developing op eds if you wish.

Please contact the Tropical Audubon Society Executive Director Laura Reynolds at director@tropicalaudubon.org with any questions or requests for assistance.

We really need your support at this critical time.  If you have suggestions on other steps we can take in support of growth management, we hope you will share them with us.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SB1570 was voted on yesterday.

SB1570 will end a 15 year old requirement that billboard companies pay for state owned trees destroyed along our roadways. The bill also reduces the current requirement to surrender TWO nonconforming billboard permits for each new billboard view zone created by chopping down our publicly owned trees on our right of way.

Billboard Regulations; Revises requirements for an application for a permit to remove, cut, or trim trees or vegetation around a sign. Requires that the application include a vegetation management plan, a mitigation contribution to a trust fund, or a combination of both. Requires the Department of Transportation to provide notice to the sign owner of beautification projects or vegetation planting. Creates the tourist-oriented commerce signs pilot program. Exempts commercial signs that meet certain criteria from permit requirements, etc.

It passed in committee 3 to 2.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday: Miami River Day 2011.



People line up for free boat rides down the river.


Cara Capp of Clean Water Action shows off her booth.



Horacio Stuart Aguirre, Head of the Miami River Commission.



The function was crowded at lunchtime.



Here is our own President, Fran Bohnsack pictures at the Miami River Marine Group exhibition.



Fort Dallas in Lummus Park...across the street from the festivities -- approximate age 1840's, used as barracks and then slave quarters.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nimby: Even on Green Projects.

FPL wanted to put wind turbines near its St. Lucie reactors. The neighbors stopped the project, more content to live near the nuclear reactors than the tall wind turbines.

The New York Times reported that two groups have filed suit in New York to remove a bike path:

But some supporters of high-profile green projects like these say the problem is just plain old Nimbyism — the opposition by residents to a local development of the sort that they otherwise tend to support.

“It’s really pretty innocuous — it’s a bike lane, for goodness’ sake — their resistance has been incredibly frustrating,” said Walter Hook, executive director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy  in Manhattan and an expert on sustainable transport. He lives in Brooklyn and uses the Prospect Park West bike lane to get around.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Listen305 Radio Show Monday April 4th


I wanted to give UEL members advance notice of next Monday night's Listen305 radio show on 880 AM.

At 7 pm, Norman Braman and Maurice Ferré will join my guest host Obdulio Piedra and myself, for a discussion on reform and recalls in Miami-Dade.

Email me, or post your questions at Listen305.com. And please do listen and call in on Monday night at 7.

Thanks,

Albert Harum-Alvarez

(Albert Harum-Alvarez is a longtime UEL Board Member.)





---
Albert Harum-Alvarez

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Science Museum in Bicentennial Park Gets Funding Boost


Phillip and Patricia Frost have given $35 million to the Science Museum to help pay for the new home of the museum in Bicentennial Park.

According to an article in Saturday's Miami Herald:

Combined with other pledges totaling $25 million, the Frosts’ gift gets the museum more than halfway to meeting its $100 million goal for private funding, and provides the campaign with the credibility and momentum needed to close the remaining gap rapidly, said museum director Gillian Thomas. And:

Dr. Frost said he and his wife hope the new museum will help propel Miami’s prospects as a center of science, in particular in the growing field of bio-tech, by encouraging local kids’ interest in the subject.

The Urban Environment League Board has been at odds over the museums in the park. Some in the group are against placing buildings in parks as they eat up much needed park space for the community. Board Member, Dr. Gregory Bush has been vocal with his opposition to the two museums in the park.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Carlos Gimenez wants to take two Charter Amendments off the upcoming ballot.


The Miami Herald reported that County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez wants 2 charter changes proposed by the Miami Dade County Commission last week, tossed from the ballot. They are:

...one that asks voters to end the strong mayor form of county government instituted in 2007
...one that asks voters to impose 12-year term limits on commissioners starting next year, coupled with pay increases and a ban on outside employment.


Another County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said this weekend:

...he’s seeking a special meeting Thursday to take another look at charter reform. Barreiro said he would like to remove all six proposals from the ballot and start over, with the aim of having a charter review committee make recommendations and then have the proposals voted on in the presidential primary in January, when a larger turnout is expected. Such a plan risks reform being killed by waiting so long before the public votes. Barreiro has yet to circulate a memo formally requesting the special session.

We have debated and had charter task force hearings for almost a year in 2007-2008. The question is do we need more time? The ones remaining on the ballot, are positive and should remain, the lobbying ban falls short but it is a good start:

REMOVE:
Doesn't go far enough:

1. Set 12-year term limits for county commissioners and ban outside employment in exchange for boosting commissioner salaries to $92,097 a year.

Voters want the Strong Mayor:

4. Eliminate the strong-mayor form of government created in 2007.

KEEP:

2. Make voter ballot initiatives easier by eliminating a requirement that signatures be notarized.

3. Allow the Charter Review Task Force to bring proposals approved by two thirds of the panel directly to voters.

5. Ban elected officials from lobbying at County Hall for two years after leaving office

6. Put the Inspector General’s Office in the county charter, in a bid to help insulate it from commission meddling.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

They Don't Get It: Reforming the County Commission. By Albert Harum-Alvarez

Monday, March 28 · 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Location,880 AM Radio, 880TheBiz.com, Listen305.com

"There are none so blind as those who will not see." —Jonathan Swift

Mr. Swift must have met the Miami-Dade County Commission. Never to be outdone, the Commission was even more tone-deaf, more arrogant and more childish yesterday than ousted Mayor Alvarez and Commissioner Seijas were during their recall elections earlier this month.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Important Elections Coming Up


With the removal of County Commissioner Natacha Seijas and County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, we will be having an election to fill these 2 seats on May 24th.

Less talked about, County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez will be running for Mayor. He will have to resign very soon to run and that will open up his Brickell/Coral Gables/Coconut Grove/Key Biscayne seat. We have many UEL Members from this district. We need good people to run for office, maybe you could be the next County Commissioner! You can enlarge the map with your mouse to see if you live in District 7.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Subrata Basu Retires From County Planning for The Peace Corps.


The Urban Environment League wishes Subrata Basu well in the Peace Corps. He has played a role on UEL issues having to do with the UDB line for many years. He was the Assitant Planning Director in the County's Planning Department before he retired recently. Andres Viglucci reported:

Basu has championed the creation of denser, pedestrian-friendly centers inside the county’s urban boundary to improve quality of life and promote efficient use of land, while reducing pressure for building outside in the agricultural Redland.

But that’s a balance he says we have yet to achieve. Basu criticizes both those who promote unneeded development in agricultural areas and those who oppose every urban densification project.

“You can’t say no to both. But you cannot come up with a reasonable balance unless we can sit down and discuss it,’’ he said.

Though never afraid to speak his mind, Basu carried a soft stick as a planner and regulator, say residents and architects with whom he worked in the Gables, where he served as city architect for 15 years.


Subrata regularly attended UEL events and he is known to most of the UEL Board of Directors. His move to Belize will be their gain and our loss.