THE FUTURE OF MIRACLE MILE ZONING: Statement for Coral Gables Commission Workshop, February 24, 2021

I lend my voice to this who favor keeping Miracle Mile at its present scale and to absolutely restrict building scale and height.  I favor three stories, not seven stories.

The overgrowth and overdevelopment of many business areas of Coral Gables is still going on and moving ahead, especially along Hwy 1 and Ponce.  

The current scale of Miracle Mile conveys a friendly, traditional, lasting historical image of the city.  We are very late in considering the conservation of Miracle Mile.

Preservation is so important that we should favor strong measures of inflexible height limitations and the provision of incentives, subsidies and other conditions to protect the Miracle Mile environment.   Money from the overbuilt areas of the city should go to protecting Miracle Mile.  Residents helped pay for the Miracle Mile streetscape, which has not been that successful.

A new way of thinking about development is needed.  Many candidates for the Commission Groups 1, 2 and 3 refer to SMART DEVELOPMENT— a vague term at least.  SMART DEVELOPMENT, in practice, has  meant overbuilding, overdevelopment, traffic congestion and pollution.  That’s what we have now. 

I wish the term “smart development” meant limited, controlled development which maintains the traditional culture of Coral Gables and not producing a mountains of overbuilt areas.   We know that money and land interests push the end of Miracle Mile, but this should be resisted before it is too late.

I am not that optimistic.  But I applaud commissioners and candidates who envision a SLOWER, SCALED DOWN DEVELOPMENT— not a city of McMansions and giant apartment buildings, parking building  and malls.

Stephen E. McGaughey

MIRACLE MILE ZONING CODE WORKSHOP

https://mailchi.mp/42cad0ddb718/october-27-commission-meeting-3930269?e=dcbc639973

Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli disrespects and insults residents — again – Political Cortadito

Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli got up on the wrong side of the bed again. Valdes-Fauli , whose arrogance and discourtesy drips in acrimony, was particularly rude and ungracious Tuesday at the Coral Gables meeting to discuss the zoning code update (read: rewrite). More so than usual. It all started when someone reminded him how rude he was at the first reading, where he went on a tirade and then stormed out, never to return and listen to the constituents concerns and comments. “No one, no one objected to the mayor’s infantile behavior,” said Leon Kellner, who was fed up with the “utter disdain city government has shown the residents.” He accused city staffers and commissioners alike of mischaracterizing the process with terms like “modernizing, updating and streamlining,” when it was a “wholesale rewrite.” And particularly Commissioner Pat Keon of “continuing the lie. “This is the same person who wants our vote as mayor.”

Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli disrespects and insults residents — again – Political Cortadito

Neighborhood Light Contamination: DOCTORS HOSPITAL

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….

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

Protect the Canal Green Environment

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

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

COVID-19: USA AND THE WORLD

Simply, the USA has 4% of the population, 25% of the infection cases, and 20% of the World’s deaths.

This is the reflection of the prior government’s incompetence and indifference to death, unemployment and hunger.

FLORIDA: GOV. DeSANTIS @govrondesantis Distributes Vaccine as Political Favors

Democratic Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried fired off a written statement condemning the governor.

“There is no reason that Gov. DeSantis should be rationing vaccines based on political influence. This is troubling and potentially illegal. Vaccines should be distributed to counties based on need, capacity, and science,” Fried said.

“While I am disappointed in the governor using vaccines as a political tool, I plan on working with the Biden administration to ensure they do not penalize Floridians for his actions and continue to ramp up vaccine distribution to all communities, so that we can get our economy and state going again.”

Florida Democratic Party chair Manny Diaz also released a written statement.

“Gov. DeSantis must stop playing politics with the vaccine distribution here in Florida. Threatening retribution and less vaccine access for communities that criticize the vaccine rollout for its problems is shameful and inhumane,” Diaz said.

“Vaccine access is a life or death situation for so many Floridians, yet somehow Gov. DeSantis thinks it is okay to play favorites and punish anyone who criticizes him or his vaccine program. This must stop. Floridians need a leader with empathy, not a politician who chooses politics over lives.”

With the help of connections, several FL groups appear to get special treatment in securing vaccine doses | Florida Phoenix

Incompetence or Indifference? Miami Commissioners

In these “unprecedented times,” we keep hearing from our electeds, as the COVID19 pandemic and economic crisis stretches into 2021, people need help paying the rent, staying in business and/or feeding their families. So why are city of Miami commissioners sitting on somewhere between $700,000 and almost $1 million in COVID relief grocery and/or Visa gift cards? Only Commissioner Manolo Reyes has given out all the cards allotted to his office through the $4.7 million grocery gift card program, Assistant City Manager Fernando Casamayor said at last week’s meeting, adding that there was still $700K in unspent aid. But when he gave the individual unused balances for each commissioner — who got the original allocations proportionate to poverty index for their district — it’s closer to $929 million:

Alex Diaz de la Portilla in District 1 has $191,000 Ken Russell in District 2 has $279,000 Joe Carollo in District 3 has $99,000 Jeffrey Watson in District 5 has $360,000 They were all surprised that they still had cards left.

Miami commissioners hang on to hundreds of COVID19 relief gift cards – Political Cortadito

COVID-19 death rates by state: Feb. 16

As of Feb. 16, more than 486,000 people in the U.S. have died after contracting COVID-19, according to The New York Times. The Times used data from reports of coronavirus cases and deaths by U.S. states and counties. The database includes cases and deaths that have been identified by public health officials as probable coronavirus patients, which means they did not have confirmed tests for coronavirus infection but were evaluated using criteria developed by national and local governments. Read more about the data here. State population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here is a breakdown of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. The data was last updated at 8 a.m. CST. Note: These are the latest numbers available.

The list includes ties.

New Jersey: 253 per 100,000 people Population: 8.9 million residents New York: 234 Population: 19.4 million Massachusetts: 225 Population: 6.9 million Rhode Island: 220 Population: 1.1 million Mississippi: 217 Population: 3 million Connecticut: 209 Population: 3.6 million South Dakota: 208 Population: 884,659 Arizona: 206 Population: 7.3 million Louisiana: 201 Population: 4.6 million North Dakota: 192 Population: 762,062 Alabama: 189 Population: 4.9 million Indiana: 181 Population: 6.7 million Pennsylvania: 181 Population: 12.8 million Illinois: 175 Population: 12.7 million Arkansas: 175 Population: 3 million New Mexico: 169 Population: 2.1 million Iowa: 166 Population: 3.2 million Michigan: 161 Population: 10 million Tennessee: 159 Population: 6.8 million South Carolina: 156 Population: 5.1 million Nevada: 153 Population: 3.1 million Kansas: 151 Population: 2.9 million Georgia: 146 Population: 10.6 million Texas: 143 Population: 30 million Ohio: 140 Population: 11.7 million District of Columbia: 139 Population: 705,749 Florida: 135 Population: 21.5 million Delaware: 132 Population: 973,764 Missouri: 128 Population: 6.1 million Maryland: 125 Population: 6 million Montana: 124 Population: 1.1 million West Virginia: 123 Population: 1.8 million California: 119 Population: 39.5 million Wisconsin: 116 Population: 5.8 million Minnesota: 114 Population: 5.6 million Wyoming: 112 Population: 578,759 Nebraska: 110 Population: 1.9 million Colorado: 103 Population: 5.8 million Oklahoma: 102 Population: 4 million Idaho: 101 Population: 1.8 million North Carolina: 101 Population: 10.5 million Kentucky: 100 Population: 4.5 million New Hampshire: 83 Population: 1.4 million Virginia: 82 Population: 8.5 million Washington: 62 Population: 7.6 million Utah: 56 Population: 3.2 million Oregon: 51 Population: 4.2 million Maine: 48 Population: 1.3 million Alaska: 37 Population: 731,545 Hawaii: 30 Population: 1.4 million Vermont: 30 Population: 623,989

COVID-19 death rates by state: Feb. 16

487,000 COVID-19 Deaths USA