Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Miami 21 Needs Your Support

Due to the tremendous outpouring of support from our constituents, and the expressed desire of several City of Miami Commissioners to revisit Miami 21, I have called a Special Commission Meeting for September 4 at 10 am, at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive, Coconut Grove, to revisit the issue.

The special meeting will follow a previously scheduled of the City Commission convened for the purpose of addressing the vacancy created by Commissioner Regalado’s resignation in advance of the upcoming general election this November. The item will be discussed on First Reading, given that the 2-2 vote on August 6th meant there was “no action” on the item pursuant to the commission’s rules of procedure.

I was encouraged by the public participation and public support for Miami 21 during our last meeting and I am once again asking you to take time out of your busy schedules to return for the public hearing on September 4.
Each of you should make your support of Miami 21 known to each of the commissioners in a short letter or e-mail, as the final decision regarding the plan’s fate rests with each of them. This is especially important if you will not be able to attend the meeting.

Here is a list of email addresses:

Commissioner Angel Gonzalez - District 1.
E-mail: agonzalez@miamigov.com
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff - District 2.
E-mail: msarnoff@miamigov.com
Commissioner Joe M. Sanchez - District 3.
E-mail: jsanchez@miamigov.com
Commissioner Tomas P. Regalado - District 4.
E-mail: tregalado@miamigov.com
Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones - District 5.

Please contact Kathryn Moore (kmoore@miamigov.com) in my office if you would like assistance drafting your letter or e-mail. Also, please remember to send a me copy at miamimayor@miamigov.com.

Make your voice be heard on Miami 21. Miami’s future depends on it!

- Manny

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sunday Bike Miami Ride through Little Havana, Shenandoah and Brickell

The City of Miami Bike Miami Rides program returns this Sunday August 23rd at 8:30am. Bring your bicycle, your helmet and water bottle to Mary Brickell Village's Brickell Plaza where you will meet with City of Miami Police officers and volunteers for a ride through the streets of Little Havana, Shenandoah and Brickell neighborhoods. You'll learn how to get ready for each bike ride, how to ride safely and share the road with cars, properly fit your helmet and more.
For more information about bicycle safety, please visit www.miamigov.com/bikes.
For more details about this weekend's ride and other bicycling events in the city, visit the Bike Miami Rides blog HERE.

Ride safely Miami.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Miami Bicycle Summit Reviews First Draft of Bicycle Master Plan

Miami’s bicycling community continues to impress me with their enthusiasm and dedication to our city. Last night, at the second Miami Bicycle Summit, roughly 50 people came to listen to the progress of the Bicycle Master Plan and to share their experiences, ideas and reflections on where we are and where we are going.

The City of Miami Bicycle Master Plan includes a study of current conditions, standards for better bicycle parking facilities and guidelines for implementation of a bicycle route network to connect our city’s parks, schools, shopping areas, special districts and neighborhoods. When completed, the plan will drive this city’s staff and future leaders to promoting a more bicycle-friendly city through policy, infrastructure, education and enforcement. It will be up to you, the residents of our city, to keep the pressure on your local leaders and make sure that Miami fulfills its promise of becoming of safer, friendlier, more sustainable place to live, work and play.

For more on the Bicycle Master Plan and the rest of our bicycle initiatives, please visit http://www.miamigov.com/bikes.

My personal thanks go to everyone who came and participated in the summit – with special thanks to those who rode to the event, many of whom are here:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Walkability Increases Home Values

The organization CEOs for Cities has released “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities”, which demonstrates that, more than just a pleasant amenity, the walkability of cities translates directly into increases in home values.

The study showed that homes located in more walkable neighborhoods—those with a mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance—command a price premium over otherwise similar homes in less walkable areas.

The study analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 major markets and found that in 13 of the 15 markets, higher levels of walkability were directly linked to higher home values.

Within the findings is that houses with the above-average levels of walkability command a premium of $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability in the typical metropolitan areas studied. This is significant for policy makers as it offers the opportunity to increase local tax base, while at the same time increasing individual wealth by making homes more valuable.

Walking and cities go hand in hand. Sidewalks, streetscapes and destinations all define urban space. The resurgent interest in downtowns and in promoting mixed-use developments throughout metropolitan areas is, in part, driven by recognition of the value of walkability.

This is another example of why Smart Growth, as included in Miami 21, is good for the City of Miami.

Visit the CEOs for Cities website for more information

- Manny

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Energy Smart Miami Advances

The groundbreaking energy initiative that proposes to use federal economic stimulus funds to help spur a $200 million investment in “Smart Grid” technology and renewable energy over the next two years is moving forward.
FPL has submitted their proposal for $200 million in aid from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money would be used to install Smart Meters, upgrades of electric network, installation of solar panels on some municipal and school buildings, and tests to accelerate the development of new products and services focusing on energy efficiency and renewable power generation.

The City of Miami announced in April that it is partnering with Florida Power & Light, GE, Cisco Systems and Silver Spring Networks to launch Energy Smart Miami, a model electricity system for American cities and cornerstone of a broader $800 million statewide investment.

This is an exciting project for Miami and one that will place our city in the forefront of energy conservation.

Read more in The Miami Herald

Read the April Announcement

- Manny

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Miami's Affordable Housing Finalist in National Awards

The editors of the national magazine Affordable Housing Finance have published their list of the top 35 affordable housing developments across the nation as finalists in its fifth annual Readers' Choice Awards. I am proud to say that two City of Miami housing developments have been listed in the top three of the following categories: Historic Rehabilitation and Master Planned/Mixed Use Developments.

The Royalton Apartments are located in the heart of Downtown Miami. Originally built as the prestigious Royalton Hotel in 1923, this historic property was restored in a collaborative effort among the City of Miami, Carlisle Development Group and Carrfour Supportive Housing. The project is also a finalist in The Florida Trust Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Restoration/Rehabilitation.

Additionally, Village Allapattah is recognized for promoting a healthy community for its residents, all low- and moderate-income families and seniors. All residents receive membership to the onsite 17,000 sq. ft. fitness club, part of a larger YMCA center that includes a day-care facility and other resources for residents. I am proud that Village Allapattah, our newest affordable housing development, is already being considered a model for YMCAs across the country.

The City of Miami has taken a lead among Miami-Dade County municipalities in providing quality affordable housing for the residents of our growing city and I hope that our successes will serve as a model for cities throughout South Florida.

Read more about the awards here and in the recent issue of U.S. Mayor.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Statement Regarding Vote on Miami 21

I am exceptionally proud of the number of Miamians who embraced Miami 21 and was proud to sit through the debate last night. There can be no doubt that we successfully raised the public discourse in our city. Speaker after speaker stressed the importance of sustainability, climate change, walkability, pedestrian-friendly streets, bicycling, historic preservation, open spaces, health, obesity, etc. Speaker after speaker reflected the new Miami, a different demographic that embraces the urban experience and advocates for a very different Miami.

However, I am also extremely disappointed with the Commission’s final vote on Miami 21. This disappointment is not for me, but for the thousands of Miamians who participated in designing a new Miami during the course of the last four years. Regrettably, Miami’s residents will continue to be exposed to the monthly victories of the special interests that place their particular projects over the public good. Individual properties will continue to be re-zoned without regard to their neighborhood context or their place in the fabric of the entire city. The status quo will continue to promote a Miami with a little and mostly hostile public realm, uninviting streets, unsightly and exposed parking garages, poor or nonexistent transitions in residential neighborhoods, non-functioning public spaces and ugly commercial corridors.

For the moment, we are unclear as to next steps. However, I am very clear in my deep concern that last night's Commission action is a sign of things to come, a return to the old Miami of politics as usual.
- Manny

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Miami 21: First Reading this Thursday

I sat down with City of Miami Director of Planning Ana Gelabert-Sanchez and DPZ Urban Planner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberg to answer questions from The Miami Herald editorial board about Miami 21. You can watch the meeting video HERE.

I hope that you will join us in support of Miami 21 during the Special Meeting of the City Commission, this Thursday at 2pm. For more information, please visit http://www.miami21.org/.