What is “Quality of Life” in Coral Gables?

Given the pervasive use of the term “Quality of Life” by city commissioners and the city manager of Coral Gables, among others, let’s see if we know what Quality of Life is.

The following summarizes a Quality of Life framework for another city (from which I have extracted the following).

The major elements elements of Quality of Life are

  1. Urban Environment that depends on a clean city, water quality, a vibrant downtown (no or few vacancies); the degree of urban sprawl; deterioration of the infrastructure; well maintained and well functioning infrastructure; active energy and water conservation; waste minimization.
  2. Urban Economy hinging on the quality of jobs; brain drain; availability of professionals; good municipal financial management; avoiding over reliance on a single revenues source like property taxes; having a diverse economy; support for small businesses; fostering community-based businesses.
  3. Community Assets involve affordable housing; maintaining quality of housing stock; active culture, arts and entertainment; good community centers; available sports facilities; access to public transportation; local urban planning; solid educational systems; opportunities for all cultural and ethnic groups; multi-cultural environment; strong sense of community and neighborhood; disaster response and preparation services.
  4. Individual Well-Being related to personal and property safety; crime and safety; social equity; meeting basic physical needs; quality education; inclusive education; income and material comfort at reasonable price; access to health services; water quality and supply; disaster response capacities.
  5. Community Leadership and Pride stemming from good governance with strong and local accountability; responsive, respected and trusted governance; improved community image; distinctive character; sense of individual empowerment; participation and belonging.

Quality of Life is complex and multifaceted as it supports a full community of citizens, businesses, university, government, temporary residents and visitors each with its role in the city.

The Quality of Life in Coral Gables does not just depend on the city government, commissioners or the city manager, how much money the city has in its treasury or how it spends its money.  The city is only partially able to determine the Quality of Life in Coral Gables and it is only partially capable of ensuring good governance and citizen participation–there are many community actors outside of the government.

We need a Coral Gables government that leads, promotes and faces the greater problems of the city, embracing economic growth and employment, promoting and protecting cultural values and creating sound structures of political and social participation.  We have made some progress in this city, but there is much to be done.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in financing development programs and projects

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