STOP THE SALE–KEEP THE LEASE

Neighbors and residents along Granada Blvd across the canal from Baptist Health/Doctors Hospital will lose important environmental benefits, privacy, and property values from the sale of the city parking lot 24 leased to Baptist Health for valet parking.  The lot will undergo size and capacity transformation, removal of vegetation, construction of walls and a long-term plantings plan for 15 to 25 growth. There will be a huge increase in light and noise pollution in the neighborhood.

The valet parking sale will likely lead sooner or later to the construction of a parking garage or the introduction of mechanized car lifts on the lot (per the public request of Baptist representatives favoring the lift solution).  The city can control future land use only if the parking lot continues strictly as a lease.

Contrary to the current culture of consultation in the City of Coral Gables, the affected neighbors were not consulted about the sale during a process that began in 2016 until a first small meeting on June 29, 2021,in which the agreement for landscaping and parking was presented as a fully agreed upon re-landscaping and parking expansion between the City and Baptist Hospital.  

The sale and landscaping plan was presented to the neighbors as a fait accompli and will involve denuding existing land adjacent to the canal to be replanted for slow growth and low maintenance that will take 15 to 25 years!  There are big questions about the current appraisal and negotiation of the sale of $3.0 million.   Baptist Health has financed both the appraisals and the landscaping plan agreement.

The landscaping plan will expose neighbors to the full view of the hospital building, its strong 24 hour night lighting and increased valet traffic on University Drive for the expanded and reshaped valet parking lot.

In short, the city gains $3.0 million from the sale, Baptist Health gains long-term control over the parking lot and the neighbors lose a dense green barrier, lose hospital light mitigation, lose quiet traffic and suffer decreased property values.

This land sale to Baptist Health/Doctors Hospital adds to trends for single property owners and impacts on local neighborhoods of unrestrained traffic congestion, noise, strong light contamination, loss of local green areas and associated environmental benefits and wildlife, along with the possible loss in property values, and forced spending by homeowners to mitigate the damage. 

Therefore the City and Doctors Hospital/Baptist Health appear willing to sacrifice individual owner resident environmentq  for the parking lot development.

City Parking No Notification of Residents–Coral Gables

Parking in Coral Gables has long been a concern for many. The lack of parking in downtown leads many residents to avoid the area and frequent stores and restaurants outside of Coral Gables. However, the City’s parking woes are not limited to downtown. Most concerning to residents, the City is working actively to take spaces away from residential neighborhoods to accommodate the needs of developers and businesses. Additionally concerning for neighboring residents is that the City is making changes without notifying residents or resident input. The issue was brought up at the last Parking Advisory Board and most recently at the City Commission meeting on July 13th.

These days when the City is seeking to increase transparency, the process seems like a no-brainer. To date, no such process has been created. Residents in the area have expressed their hope that the Parking Advisory Board will take a harder look at these processes and ordinances and how they are executed by staff. Continuing with the goal of transparency, staff should work in concert with City Boards made up of citizen-volunteers so that there is complete transparency and consideration for all residents. 

Street Parking: City Taking From Residents, To Help Developers And Friends, Without Notification Or Input From Residents – Gables Insider

DOCTORS HOSPITAL VALET PARKING

New valet parking at Doctors Hospital to be sold by the City will remove a dense green protective environmental barrier between the hospital and the neighbors, all to reorganize and build more parking spaces and more “efficient” parking.

The sale and the reorganized parking space will lead to the destruction in the views and quiet space of neighbors along the canal and the big loss in environmental and community benefits (by noise, lighting, traffic, unsightly view of hospital buildings, loss in property values, loss of wildlife habitat).

PROTECTING NEIGHBORS: VALET PARKING SOLD TO DOCTORS HOSPITAL

NEIGHBORHOOD BENEFITS OF A DENSE GREEN BARRIER

A dense green buffer (shown here in part on the Coral Gables Canal near the University of Miami, abutting the Doctors Hospital parking leased from the City of Coral Gables) provides significant community, environmental and ambient benefits to residents and homeowners in the City of Coral Gables. 

The many community benefits of the green area:

  • Provide wildlife habitat (birds, fish, reptiles, manatees…) diversity
  • Traffic calming and noise mitigation
  • Impeding views of car traffic, valet parking, buses and ambulances
  • Impeding view of Doctors Hospital buildings
  • Mitigate Doctors Hospital lighting
  • Wind and temperature mitigation in storms and hurricanes
  • CO2 capture
  • Favor canal users’ recreational boating and fishing
  • Bolster local property values

Wide View of Green Barrier Doctors Hospital

Doctors Hospital Green Barrier

The green barrier is very dense and cuts off the view of Doctors Hospital to the neighbors. It also reduces noise and adds to the local wildlife that are typical in this area.

Since Doctors Hospital has implemented some aggressive pruning of the barrier there has been an important increase in light contamination to the neighbors.

Doctors Hospital: No Green Barrier in 2008

These 2008 images show the Coral Gables-owned municipal parking lot #24 that was leased to Doctors Hospital since the late 1980’s. The lease contract requires that the hospital maintain the landscaping, which should hide the view of the building and sustain a green buffer in the neighborhood. Here in 2008 there was neither.

This is suggestive of what the valet parking lot may look like in the future if not carefully managed and overseen by the City of Coral Gables.

Doctors Hospital 2008

Beautiful Visitor to Our Neighborhood

Enjoying this beautiful visitor to our neighborhood in this time of COVID staying at home.

This is a view of essential micro-environments for wildlife near the Doctors Hospital valet parking lot here in Coral Gables, FL.

PROTECT THE MANATEES: Feeding at Coral Gables Canal, Doctors Hospital

The dense green buffer on the parking lot at Doctors Hospital is a place on the canal for feeding and rest for manatees that seek out warmer and quieter waters during the winter. Many manatees and their calves are seen there during the months and feeding directly off the plants that grow out over the water along the edge of the canal in Coral Gables. This is clear and important environmental benefit for many wildlife along this quiet narrow stretch of the canal that deserves serious permanent protection.

See Miami-Dade County protection guidelines cited below:

Manatees and cold weather manatees live in Miami-Dade County year-round, but during the winter, large numbers of manatees move south or to springs and heated discharges from power plants. Manatees suffer from the cold when water temperatures fall below 68 degrees. They may become ill or die if they are unable to find refuge in warmer waters over a prolonged period. In Miami-Dade, canals and rivers that are influenced by warmer groundwater flows provide refuge for cold-stressed manatees. It is important that manatees be able to reach these shelters and rest in them with little or no disturbance from human activities. The best way to help manatees in cold weather is to avoid disturbing them, watch for signs of stress or injury and notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission of any manatee in distress.

Manatee Protection – Miami-Dade County

Neighborhood Light Pollution: DOCTORS HOSPITAL VALET PARKING

This is the existing night time light contamination from Doctors Hospital, penetrating through the city-owned valet parking lot and penetrating through a very dense green buffer along the Coral Gables Waterway. The alternation, removal and installation of new landscaping may very significantly increase light contamination to the neighbors. Also, it is not known at this date if the city will allow for additional lighting on the future expanded parking lot after it is sold to Baptist Health, as planned.

Green Buffer Hides Doctors Hospital from Neighbors

Green Buffer, Coral Gables Waterway

This photo shows that the Doctors Hospital buildings are completely out of view of the neighbors; and many neighbors have renovated their houses over the years to favor this natural untouched view of the canal.

It is projected that the hospital will eliminate appreciable green areas, thereby, increasing noise, light pollution, views of parked cars and traffic, buildings with lighting, street lighting, disturbing wildlife, decreasing property values….

Environmental Initiatives Statement: City of Coral Gables

The City of Coral Gables recognizes that sustainability must be a key focus of the City’s policies and services, with targeted investments in energy, water and waste efficiency. Creating this sustainable city requires a commitment of leadership and coordination across the organization. Whereas, the City will consider the environmental impacts of its operations, and develop creative and practical solutions that will minimize our ecological footprint. We will integrate sustainability in the places residents and employees live, work and play, and provide the guidance and resources for our businesses and citizens. The City is committed to strategic and comprehensive sustainability planning throughout all departments and divisions. We will design, build and maintain our facilities, parks and streets to the highest of standards that promote efficiency and safety for our residents, visitors and employees. We will integrate technology to monitor and track our environmental investments, and will review our performance and cost savings. We will support businesses and organizations that are aligned with our mission, and foster relationships and opportunities with key institutions. By advancing these local sustainability initiatives, we will improve the environmental, social and economic health of Coral Gables.

City of Coral Gables – Environmental Initiatives

Coral Gables Waterway Green Neighborhood Buffer

Environment and Wildlife on Coral Gables Waterway

The City of Coral Gables is negotiating the sale of a green area environment and the Doctors Hospital valet parking lot.

In this green buffer environment there resides wildlife including feeding manatees, an occasional alligator, ducks, turtles, herons, fish, among others. Boaters visit the canal that ends at the Pisano Ave Bridge by the University of Miami.

Some typical wildlife residents and visitors to the area for feeding, reproduction and rest are as follows:

Manatee

BENEFITS OF THE GREEN BARRIER

A dense green buffer (shown here in part on the Coral Gables Canal near the University of Miami, abutting the Doctors Hospital parking leased from the City of Coral Gables) provides significant community, environmental and ambient benefits to residents and homeowners in the City of Coral Gables.

The many community benefits of the green area:

  • Provide wildlife habitat (birds, fish, reptiles, manatees…) diversity
  • Traffic calming and noise mitigation
  • Impeding views of car traffic, valet parking, buses and ambulances
  • Impeding view of Doctors Hospital buildings
  • Mitigate Doctors Hospital lighting
  • Wind and temperature mitigation in storms and hurricanes
  • CO2 capture
  • Favor canal users’ recreational boating and fishing
  • Bolster local property values

The City of Coral Gables is negotiating the sale of the parking lot land to Baptist Health (Doctors Hospital). This could lead to a reduction in the green environmental buffer for the local residents and visual invasion of Doctors Hospital into the quiet neighborhood.

It is hoped that the City of Coral Gables will fortify the residents by setting clear limits on future land use. Otherwise, this raises questions about the sale of the property.

The city should prohibit the construction of structures (buildings, walls..) of any kind on the land and guarantee the future maintenance and sustainability of landscaping just as dense and beneficial as the existing green buffer. A mechanism to regularly review the maintenance and sustainability of the green area should be considered.

CANAL VIEW HOSPITAL AND PARKING HIDDEN

Endangered Green Area: Overview

This is a satellite view of the Doctors Hospital (Baptist Health) parking lot leased from the City of Coral Gables showing the lot and the green barrier between the lot and the neighborhood streets (Granada, Carillo, Pisano).

The City of Coral Gables plans the sale of the parking lot and the green area to Baptist Health for an estimated $3.0 million.

The green buffer hides views of the Doctors Hospital building, traffic and parked cars from the area residents and supplies numerous environmental benefits.

It is worrying that Doctors Hospital will re-landscape the area with the subsequent loss of the environment and local property values.

The City of Coral Gables should require that no buildings or other construction (walls) be allowed on the property and that the green buffer be fully retained or significantly improved.

If the City of Coral Gables cannot ensure the permanency of the dense green buffer then the land sale may be questioned.

City of Coral Gables FL on Sustainability, the Environment and Climate Change Response

A very recent resolution of the City Commission:

RESOLUTION NO. 2020-
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF CORAL GABLES, FLORIDA, DECLARING A CLIMATE EMERGENCY, AND URGING THE STATE OF FLORIDA AND THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE FOR RESILIENT AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES AND PROPER STEWARDSHIP OF THE ENVIRONMENT

This is the description of City of Coral Gables sustainability and environmental initiatives:

The City of Coral Gables recognizes that sustainability must be a key focus of the City’s policies and services, with targeted investments in energy, water and waste efficiency. Creating this sustainable city requires a commitment of leadership and coordination across the organization. Whereas, the City will consider the environmental impacts of its operations, and develop creative and practical solutions that will minimize our ecological footprint. We will integrate sustainability in the places residents and employees live, work and play, and provide the guidance and resources for our businesses and citizens.

https://www.coralgables.com/sustainability

Green Goals in the City of Coral Gables:

The City of Coral Gables will take measurable steps towards becoming a “sustainable” community by providing a healthy setting for residents, workers, property owners and visitors and increase awareness of green development practices and ways to have a significant impact on the City’s environment including the following: protecting the quality of air, water, land and other natural resources; conserving native vegetation, fish, wildlife and worldwide ecosystems; minimize the carbon footprint; and reduce greenhouse emissions.

https://evogov.s3.amazonaws.com/media/91/media/165649.pdf

City of Coral Gables–The Environment

In recent years the City of Coral Gables has introduced a number of valuable sustainable development and environmentally relevant policies and programs.  Recently, the City Commission has approved a statement of its concerns for mitigating climate change effects. There is a strong concern for the protection of green areas, preparation for sea level rises and ensuring sound environmental principles in all programs and projects.

Coral Gables Canal near Doctors Hospital

Systemic Racism as Public Policy and Education

Lessons that deal with critical race theory and the “1619 Project” are not welcome in Florida’s public schools following a State Board of Education vote on Thursday.

At the request of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the board unanimously adopted a rule that, in the words of member Tom Grady, emphasizes historical facts over “fiction, projects or theory masquerading as fact.”

Grady offered an amendment that spelled out critical race theory and the “1619 Project” as examples of two well-known educational approaches that would not be acceptable in classrooms.

Florida rules for teaching history ban critical race theory | Miami Herald