Review the calendar of events I am recommending for your personal edification.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Miami Civics Presentation and Resource Guide

The first OGM Civics Presentation was just completed this past weekend. It was a great event. We're planning another event soon. Stay tuned for the announcement.

In the meanwhile, check out the Miami Civics Presentation and Resource Guide below:

Friday, June 21, 2013

What urban planning means to me and my Miami 21 experience (so far)

Roos Lane
Roos Lane

I keep hearing that “Miami 21 is a disaster.” I remember campaigning in the City of Miami in 2009 when the commission approved the Miami 21 zoning ordinance right before that November election. It sounded strange then and as it has taken me 4 years to catch up to what the new zoning code actually allows.

Miami 21 had a lot of critics and cheerleaders. One such cheerleader and respected urban planning expert UM Dean of Architecture Elizabeth Plater-Zyber is now stepping down. What this means going forward is unclear to me. I always thought the “New Urbanism” movement in urban planning circles was meant to provide more protection for local neighborhoods from aggressive developers. I can’t see that Miami 21 does anything of the sort. Every land use activist (aka neighborhood protectionist) from Coral Way to Coconut Grove all have horror stories to share of how Miami 21 is being used as a way to develop urban in-fill spaces in residential communities, which is parlance referring to allowing high-rise, residential/commercial structures (mixed-use) adjacent to single family homes (talk about encouraging peeping toms).

From the EyeOnMiami article, I read an interesting comment that makes the case that zoning codes like Miami 21 are more suited to agrarian communities where you have a lot of community input in development. My dad built a lot in Delaware and everyone had a say in what he eventually built there... they named a street after him. 

Roos Lane and Kenton, Delaware

Returning to Miami 21, the only reason why real estate development in the City of Miami is so difficult compared to easy Delaware is because there is so much more secrecy and backdoor politics. Unfortunately, we have an aggressive developer-class in the City of Miami (not to mention the rest of South Florida) and low involvement from the common class in issues of urban planning. So I am saddened by the loss of even one New Urbanism (urban planning) activist like Elizabeth Plater-Zyber (whether you liked her or not).

I will share my personal, horror stories regarding Miami 21 throughout this week and why it negatively impacts jobs and the livability of Miami. One story discusses the fiasco of T6-8-O zoning designation all along Coral Way that is leading to enormous building constructions. Another story is the trouble with no restrictions to allowing Transit-Oriented Developments around the Metrorail stations along US1 going out a half-mile radius. My last story is what I think about the destruction of the traditional commercial spaces like the Coconut Grove entertainment district and the Wynwood Art District (with accompanying industrial area) because of the over-development at Midtown.

Horror, destruction and zoning… Only in the City of Miami do these words together make any sense.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Further Response to the North Miami Election

The former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns lost in a run-off election to Lucie Tondreau earlier this month is a way that was incredible and somewhat unbelievable at least from a political science stand point. It doesn't matter if Tondreau herself was involved in a voter fraud scheme but the numbers show that something strange occurred to generate the vote totals we saw.

Burns is now suing to have Tondreau removed as mayor not because of voter fraud but because Tondreau didn't live in North Miami at least a year in order to establish the proper residency requirement. It is the first time to candidates challenged on the basis of their residency.

However, voter fraud is a perennial issue in Miami-Dade County. It is an issue that cannot be ignored even though for Kevin Burns it is expedient to bypass.

I write more why voter fraud in North Miami is a bigger problem people in the city must confront or accept that this will be a regular part of their elections from now on:

Kudos to Kevin Burns for going after residency, but he shouldn’t have punted on Voter Fraud
Investigating voter fraud is simple to do in concept but difficult to accomplish. First off, you need people who know who to ask the right questions of just to figure exactly what happened during the election. Next, you need to figure if anything that you know happened was illegal and then determine whether or not it was enough to change the results of the election. Determining if fraud was committed, who did it and why is a daunting task (unless Lucie Tondreau herself was directly involved that is). Adding to the difficulty is that in North Miami, Lucie Tondreau won with more than 800 votes so figuring out how 800 people committed voter fraud is very challenging. 
This is why Kevin Burns is challenging the results of the election by going after the matter regarding Lucie Tondreau’s residency...