Commissioners withhold support of Miami 21
By Deserae del Campo
Some Miami city commissioners say they will withhold support for Miami 21, the city's planning blueprint, until city officials begin doing a better job explaining to the public what it all means.
City planning officials say they have worked hard to get the word out about the process and its key elements. But some commissioners say the city's new comprehensive approach to land use and urban planning is suffering from an information deficit just as work is getting under way on the first of four quadrants under the initiative.
Commissioner Joe Sanchez said commissioners have not been adequately informed and have had difficulty explaining the process to constituents. "It is paramount to keep this legislative body briefed about the process," he said. "I want to be able to answer questions from the residents or refer them to someone who can."
To expedite the project, planners broke the city into quadrants - north, south, east and west. The East Quadrant includes the Upper East Side, Wynwood, Edgewater, Riverside, Downtown and Brickell.
Miami's planning department and Miami municipal planning firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company are working on the draft for the East Quadrant.
City commissioners Michelle Spence-Jones and Tomas Regalado have expressed their dissatisfaction.
"We cannot think about approving the zoning change until the community understands what is going on with Miami 21," said Ms. Spence-Jones."
"As of now, I will not vote for Miami 21 until the residents understand what we are trying to do," said Mr. Regalado.
Luciana Gonzalez, special projects coordinator for the planning department, said the city along with consultant Village Marketing Bureau is using print media, fliers and printed materials, grassroots outreach, radio, the Internet and neighborhood meetings to get the word out.
"All Miami 21 meetings have been well-attended," she said. "The deadline for public input has been extended so the city and Duany Plater-Zyberk can take additional time to meet with stakeholders."
The concerns are being addressed in a variety of ways, said Marina Choury, Miami 21 project manager with Duany Plater-Zyberk. "Recently, we held a meeting with neighborhood associations from the East Quadrant. Also, there have been meetings with industrial property owners to show them what is being proposed in their area. It gave them a level of comfort they didn't have before."
Miami 21 is based on form-based codes and the relationship of one building to one another instead of its use. The project is centered on smart-growth principles, which focus on a mix of commercial and retail use, housing, open space, transit and pedestrian-oriented communities and other environmental amenities, planners say.
Miami's current zoning has 361 classified uses for buildings, which would be cut to 47 under Miami 21.