Opinion: Open Letter To Coral Gables Residents And Business Owners: Have We Lost Our Minds? – Gables Insider

For over 20 years we, elected officials, city administration and residents, have been part of a discussion about the need to replace our aging parking garages. Much discussion has been had, City Managers have come and gone, elected officials have also gone either by their own choice or by term limits. The possibility of a park, like New York’s Central Park came up, among other ideas. Eventually in 2019 Resolution 2019-96 was passed “allowing the City the opportunity to build a new parking structure…….and granting the staff until October 1, 2022 to break ground.” Why is this important? Because otherwise the project would revert to the developers as part of that same resolution. The City Administration has had since March 26, 2019, to get this project on track. Yes, we were affected by the pandemic, but several times we heard from our City Manager say that the City never really closed, that everything kept going during that time. Why, are we now between a rock and a hard place? Why this project needs to be shoved down our throats without any community input? More questions come to mind, doesn’t the City have to follow our codes and ordinances? Why is this proposed PARKING GARAGE, now labeled MOBILITY HUB, needs variances in order to be built? Did we not hear the staff say that the Craft zoning had to be adjusted not to overshadow the historical San Sebastian? Isn’t the Miracle Theater a historical building? How will the City be able to deny private requests from developers asking for variances to build other structures on or near Miracle Mile that will be compatible to what it is being proposed now? Shouldn’t the City be the first one to follow ALL our codes and ordinances? Will the City be willing to fast track other projects as it’s happening with this one? This is YOUR City, are you going to sit back and allow this mammoth futuristic “Mobility Hub” to be built in our City? Shouldn’t we have a say since we are going to pay for it at least $40 million dollars? Shouldn’t we have community meetings to express our opinions? Are the administration and Commission not interested on listening to what we have to say? Is this building going to be one person’s legacy at any cost? We all need to let them know what our vision is for the City we love. Is it George Merrick’s or Walt Disney’s?

Opinion: Open Letter To Coral Gables Residents And Business Owners: Have We Lost Our Minds? – Gables Insider

City of Coral Gables Sells 2 Parking Lots–Little for Parks

Total revenues two parking lots $7,025,000 (100%)

Revenues for city buildings– Public Safety Building and a Minorca Parking Garage $5,275,000 (75%)

Revenues for park lands and improvements $1,750,000 (25%)

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Money for any budget items is highly fungible–more money for any one item frees up money for other uses.

This is just a game of budgetary mirrors.

Money that may have gone for parks before are now free for other non-environmental uses

Or the city knew money was coming for parks so no money was assigned in the original budget, and went for less important items.

Mayor Lago conditioned the sale of the Doctors Hospital parking lot on using the money exclusively for parks.

That has been conveniently forgotten.

Coral Gables City Budget Resolution–Sell Lots Mostly for Public Building Construction and Parking Garages

CURIOUS in CORAL GABLES

The City of Coral Gables Commission Demands Physical Presence in its Chambers to Legally Comment at Public Hearings of Important Legislative Matters.

This has raises dangerous health questions in middle of the most serious COVID pandemic since the pandemic began with Florida being the most serious hotspot in the US, and then even compared to many countries in the world.

The result of this strong requirement to be physically present in the City Commission Chambers has the effect of thwarting legal comments and criticisms.

COVID Patterns Florida

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).

Coral Gables project reaches for the sky

Another developer wants to push beyond the limits of zoning and land use in the Crafts Section, less than six months after the city approved a controversial upzoning that just doesn’t seem like enough. Trammell Crow Residential, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, will go before the city’s Board of Architects Thursday morning and ask for more height, more density, less required parking, less green space, less setback. Alexan Crafts would go seven stories up for 263 apartments, 22 live/work units on the ground floor (read: retail) and a parking garage with 364 spaces — a different one for every day of the year. Almost.

Another Coral Gables project reaches for the sky despite new zoning limits – Political Cortadito

City government politicians and government cry–BUILD, BUILD, BUILD. Not livability, beauty, tranquility, environment, wildlife, green areas…

Doctors Hospital Valet Parking–Don’t Destroy the Green Buffer

The process of the sale of the valet parking lot is in clear opposition to new culture in the City of consultation, transparency, openness and participation,

The Doctors Hospital and the City of Coral Gables Landscaping Plan for the valet parking lot will destroy the existing Green Barrier buffer along the Coral Gables canal, which separates the hospital, its lights, traffic noise, view of the buildings, and provides a cushion for wildlife, extreme weather for the neighborhood and property values along the canal.

Doctors Hospital (Baptist Health) and the Commission of the City have been wholly indifferent to the interests of the local neighbors during a four year period, ignoring direct communications, not consulting ever about the appraisal, the sale price negotiation, the decision to proceed to negotiate the sale, the alternative of long-term leasing, and the preparation of a landscaping plan.

The neighbors formally learned about the sale process by accident in late 2019 early 2020. The first meeting between neighbors and the City of Coral Gables about the matter was held on June 29 to present the final decision of the landscaping plan to destroy the Green Barrier buffer and the replanting that will take up to 25 year to mature.

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

Newcastle takeover exposes ‘massive hypocrisy’ on anti-discrimination policies, says Fair Square – BBC Sport

He added: “Saudi Arabia is probably one of the countries in the world that has some of the most discriminatory laws and practices against minority groups. “So it’s a massive hypocrisy and just exposes this tension between a club which tries to promote positive values, and its ownership by a state, which is deeply repressive, and to whom those values are anathema.

Newcastle takeover exposes ‘massive hypocrisy’ on anti-discrimination policies, says Fair Square – BBC Sport

@RonDeSantis Kills, Sickens Children

Many more infections, ICU’s full, fighting against public health by boards of education, children in ICU’s, indifferent to vaccinations.

His Goal, Mirroring Trump–get reelected at the cost of public health.