This is indeed Miami-Dade County’s largest transportation event.
It’s most important that we, the citizenry, attend and speak-up about our own thoughts on the future of public transportation in our community.
Text and photos by Eric Van Vleet
Public transportation in many ways captures the zeitgeist of a time and place. Adorned with art nouveau entrances and gorgeous white tiled interiors, Paris’s metro harkens back to the days of grand public works. Bogota recently strengthened its image internationally with their successful and much imitated TransMilenio bus system.
Bus service in Miami-Dade expresses something profound as well, but not necessarily a vision the county would want to be widely known for. Plainly, in Miami-Dade the bus system’s only reliability is its unreliability.
The most common topic of conversation between bus riders is not about local events or the weather, but the unreliability of the bus system. Ideas about the deficiencies in the bus system for many riders seems to reveal a profoundly cynical if not realistic understanding by working class people in Miami-Dade as to how much the county is willing to invest in their ability to move efficiently.
Just the other day I was waiting for a bus that was 40 minutes late. Finally as my bus arrived, an elderly woman who had waited much longer began to fume. As the door closed I heard her yell:
“This city only cares about tourists. They don’t care about us anymore!”
Instead of shouting at the bus driver who is merely trying to navigate traffic and drive their route, often I will call Miami-Dade transit to lodge a complaint every time the bus is more than fifteen minutes late. One time while complaining about a late bus, I heard a man laughing behind me. When I got off the phone, he said to me:
“Don’t you know, nothing will change by you doing that.”
His cynical laughter toward my complaint echoed a kind of futility that I had heard in the voices of so many people complaining to each other about the bus service. They all just figured speaking would do not good since no one was listening.
Such a detached attitude might be possible if people did not rely on the bus for getting to work, running errands and seeing friends and family. Instead of letting go any expectations about it arriving on time, better that we as its most frequent riders continue to vocally demand better service.
Continuing to call each time the bus is late would at least provide the county with data so that they could better see where and when they experience delays. Their customer service number is 305-891-3131.
Once the bus system actually becomes more reliable, people may start to drive less and take the bus more, which would limit Miami’s other great source of collective suffering—traffic. Bringing innovations from the Metrorail like real-time updated schedules and information about delays would greatly benefit bus drivers and cut down on useless and anger-inducing waits for passengers.
Increasing dedicated bus lanes could decrease traffic delays making busses more reliable and quicker. Certain routes like the #11 and #8 simply need more buses as they are frequently packed and seats are difficult to find. These and other improvements would improve service for current riders, while also likely attracting new riders, including tourists.
Any place like Miami that is as a ‘global city’ should not look in wonder only at its rapidly proliferating glass high rises sure to be readily filled by a transnational clientele, but it also should look at what’s happening on the ground and on the streets where citizens waiting for the bus are never quite sure when and if it is going to come.
Everyone equally deserves to move comfortably and efficiently to and from the diverse neighborhoods and local landmarks that make Miami-Dade so unique.
Eric Van Vleet is a PhD student in the Global & Sociocultural Studies program at Florida International University. He is a fixture on Miami-Dade bus route #8, though prefers route #24, through the banyan-lined roads of Coral Gables. His courses’ reading materials show erratic underlining because of the buses’ frequent and unexpectedly abrupt stops and drops into potholes.
What: Emerge Miami’s 100th Ride: Celebrate Diversity Miami
Where: Departs from Government Center in Downtown Miami
(111 NW 1st Street, Miami, FL 33128)
When: Meet-up at 10:00AM on Saturday, October 11, 2014
Click on Image Below for Facebook Event Page
From the “Emerge Miami’s 100th Ride: Celebrate Diversity Miami” press release:
(MIAMI, FL September 29, 2014) – Emerge Miami’s 100th Ride: Celebrate Diversity Miami, will be rolling through local communities on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, giving people a unique opportunity to learn more about several of our culturally diverse neighborhoods, and to connect with fellow greater Miami residents in a fun and interactive way.
More than 100 cyclists are expected to attend this family-friendly event that will be kicking off Celebrate Diversity Miami, a new large-scale community engagement initiative that aims to promote a deepened sense of connectivity between the culturally and ethnically diverse communities of greater Miami. The group, departing from Government Center in downtown Miami, will visit Overtown, Liberty City, and Little Haiti before concluding with a celebratory picnic at the beautiful, waterfront Museum Park, which recently opened up to the public this summer.
Along the way, riders will first stop by Overtown’s Dorsey Park, where URGENT, Inc. has been working on several mural projects documenting the rich history of that community. The second stop is at the MCI KaBoom Playground in Liberty City, where the Miami Children’s Initiative has been taking a block-by-block approach to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in the potential of every child. Then riders will make a third stop in Little Haiti to experience the Little Haiti Cultural Center’s recently opened Caribbean Marketplace, an entertainment venue for showcasing arts & crafts, culture, and food. Finally, everyone will make their way over to Museum Park, and come together to celebrate Emerge Miami’s 100th ride milestone.
Emerge Miami and Celebrate Diversity Miami are proud to have the enthusiastic support of the Urban Renewal Greater Enhancement National Team (URGENT), Inc., Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI), and Little Haiti Cultural Center.
Turnout at MDX’s highway open house last Thursday night was generally healthy.
I’d estimate a solid 80-100 people came through the doors of the West Kendall Baptist Church, eager to learn more about the big new highway project MDX is seeking to sell them on. (I didn’t stick around for the whole three hour event, so my count is unofficial at best. Let’s hope the numbers were more around 150-200 people.)
The layout of the public meeting was informal, and MDX should be commended for conducting the event in a way that maximized the people’s interaction with project staff: Good job on facilitating some community face-time, MDX — sincerely.
Four loosely-grouped information stations were set-up.
- Station 1: “Purpose & Need”
- Station 2: “Process & Schedule”
- Station 3: “Natural Environment”
- Station 4: “Physical & Socio-cultural Environment
Each station had two or three MDX staff members (or staff from one of MDX’s contracted consultant firms, e.g., Stantec) on-hand to solicit residents’ thoughts and provide (typically diversionary) responses to their questions.
Staff were generally friendly. All good salespeople are.
My underlying concern is that when I asked even the simplest of questions, or when my questions were apparently perceived as not ‘softball’ enough, I persistently got some variant of the following response: “Oh, this project is just in the planning stage. It’s way too early to be making those considerations.”
A couple of basic questions to which I received no real response.
- Considering all alternatives, from the least to the most expansive, what is MDX estimating the costs of this highway expansion to be?
- Considering all alternatives, how much does MDX consider the total cost of the tolls to be from the southwest to downtown Miami?
Any response that wasn’t overly deflective still didn’t register as sufficient justification for a new highway. For example:
- Me: If the underlying problem is that nearly all of Miami’s suburbanites commute from the west to the east, why would people want to lengthen their commute by driving farther west, just to ultimately go east again?
- MDX (paraphrased): Well . . . some people already go west onto Krome [SW 177th] Avenue to go back east again.
- Me: Yes, a handful do, but Krome Avenue is currently set to be widened by FDOT, and that will accommodate the relatively few who do.
- MDX (paraphrased): Yes, that’s true; Krome is to be widened; but we need to look into whether widening Krome will be enough.
- Me: . . .
MDX was clearly more concerned with selling its message than informing the people of that highway’s impact on their quality of life.
That message is clear: “Miami: You need another highway at the far edge of the city, either along, or somewhere beyond, the Urban Development Boundary.”
While MDX staff weren’t eager to give out any information that could jeopardize their chances of advancing their highway “dream”, they were eager to give out free Sunpass receptors (electronic toll collection devices). The way MDX sees it, we’ll be needing them.
Many attendees, myself included, made their opposition to the project known via the comment cards distributed by the agency.
Still, more voices will be needed to stop MDX from moving forward with its plans to build more highways in Miami, further constraining our city’s ability to liberate itself from its dependence on automobiles.
From the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) website:
Visitors who arrive to PAMM by Metromover on September 1 will receive FREE museum admission. A PAMM visitors services staff member will be at Museum Park Station with museum passes, good for Monday, September 1, 2014, only.
In observance of Labor Day, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will offer free exhibition tours at 11:30am and 2:30pm. The tours are led by trained museum guides and last 45 minutes.
At last year’s Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) Transportation Summit, Maurice Ferré, former City of Miami Mayor and current Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) Chair, pointed to a map of his agency’s current and future projects and declared that it was MDX’s “dream” — yes, that’s a quote — to realize the proliferating highway vision embodied by that map.
A major feature of MDX’s so-called dream includes expanding the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) down through the far southwest reaches of Miami-Dade County. One of the competing versions of the dream would put the newly expanded tolled highway along the Miami-Dade County urban development boundary (UDB).
Tolled highways are generally great, as they create an economic disincentive to single-occupant automobile use. People often respond to the price triggers of tolled highways by turning to more affordable, more accessible public transportation (bus, train, etc.), active mobility (biking, walking, etc.), and alternative mobility (car-pooling, short-distance car-sharing (Car2Go), real-time ride-sharing (Uber, Lyft), etc.) options.
In the metropolitan context of Miami-Dade County, though, these options are either underdeveloped or are just now getting started in earnest.
The Metrorail system, for instance, serves a very limited corridor.
An extensive bus system traverses most major arterial roads moving north-south and east-west, but buses carry a stigma of being either unreliable or unpleasant, or both.
Miamians are increasingly realizing that cycling and walking to their destinations isn’t as hard as our automobile-dominated culture would have us otherwise believe. Still, we’re many years away from realizing the active mobility utopia Miami has the potential to be.
In light of this shortage of viable mobility alternatives, then, one might think that the toll revenues generated by Miami’s highway dystopia would be directed toward investment in better public transportation infrastructure and streetscape amenities (e.g., wider sidewalks, proper bike lanes, etc.).
The problem with MDX, though, is that the toll monies it collects are used for increased highway development and an unwarranted expansion of roadway jurisdiction, not for the sorts of investments that would move greater Miami away from its automobile dependence.
As one of many cases in point: MDX is actively seeking to convert the only bus route in Miami-Dade County even remotely resembling true bus rapid transit, the South Miami-Dade Busway, into a highway falling under its jurisdiction, complete with overpasses and all.
Dumping more money into highways is tantamount to our community collectively signing a 50-100-year contract of servitude to stop-and-go highway hell. And that’s not to mention all of the broader economic and environmental ramifications: subsidizing the air-choking, global warming oil and gas industries; the financial crisis-inducing, and obesity-encouraging single-family real estate sprawl sector; the deforestation-promoting rubber sector in the tropics; the list goes on.
Miamians don’t have to accept this fate, though. We don’t have to sign away our city to this chain of corporate profiteers who refuse to adapt to the innovations in transportation infrastructure and human life demanded by 21st century urbanism.
The very first “Open House: Public Kick-off Meeting” for MDX’s Southwest Highway Expansion “dream” will be held in less than two weeks. This is Miami’s first real opportunity to voice its concerns about the project’s short-, medium-, and long-term impacts.
At the risk of sounding (even more?) cynical, I dare posit that these sorts of meetings are intended primarily to fulfill certain state and federal requirements to maintain minimum transparency levels, as well as to offer just enough opportunity for public input so that any future complaints made when the real impacts of such projects are felt can be expediently dismissed with the standard bureaucratic “We offered the public the chance to speak, and no such concerns were brought up then.” By then, it’s simply too little, too late.
The point is that the time to speak is now — during this preliminary Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study — not when this study materializes into an actionable plan and the construction crews are out there at the edge of the Everglades laying out a new highway.
Don’t let MDX’s highway dream become Miami’s prolonged highway nightmare. Be there and speak up!
MDX SR 836 / Dolphin Expressway Southwest Extension
Open House Public Kickoff Meeting
Thursday, September 4, 2014
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Miami Baptist Church
14955 SW 88th Street
Miami, FL 33196
The following post comes from a new TransitMiami-partner blog initiative I started last month: Miami Geographic.
The Editors here at TM were kind enough to give this new Miami Geographic initiative a boost and permit me to re-post the article here.
Thanks for the support, TM!
Miami’s rapid transit Metrorail train system currently consists of 23 stations running along a nearly 25-mile elevated, heavy-rail, dual-track corridor.
Opened in May 1984, Metrorail is operated and maintained by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT), an agency of the Miami-Dade County administration.
With Metrorail turning 30 years old this very month, Miami Geographic will be celebrating the anniversary with an in-depth look at how the system works.
Toward that end, I’ll be starting here today with what is arguably the single-most important feature of any major public transportation system: land-use.
Land-use is simply the economic purpose for which land resources are utilized, or, stated even more simply, the way humans use land.
Land-use represents the geographic anatomy of a region. It determines the spatial structure and performance of human settlement systems.
To understand the way Miami’s Metrorail train system works — in terms of its capacity to move people throughout the metro region and connect them to the various destinations required for them to make a living and sustain their lives — it’s critical to understand the land-use configurations surrounding and served by the train corridor.
We’re talking about places where people live, work, and play.
A bit more specifically, we’re talking about origins and destinations like homes; places of employment; schools, colleges, and universities; grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and other retail locations; churches, mosques, and temples; parks, open-, and green-spaces; sites of extraction, manufacturing, production, and waste management and disposal; and government buildings such as city and county halls, courthouses, and other facilities administering public services; etc.
So let’s imagine that the Metrorail transit corridor is actually a large artery for distributing the life blood of the city (people) to Miami’s organs (the city’s various land-use amenities), each of which contributes to the system’s urban metabolism.
Which land-use organs are most supported by flow of people through the Metrorail artery? How well connected are the different organs of the urban system?
Before we jump right into it, let’s quickly go over how Metrorail land-use was assessed.
I delineated 1-mile areas surrounding each of the 23 Metrorail stations in two ways:
- Euclidean (“As-the-Pigeon-Flies”) Area: regularly-shaped circular areas defined by Euclidean, absolute distances from each Metrorail station, uninterrupted by the on-the-ground impedance realities like disconnected streets, water bodies, and buildings, etc.; in other words, areas defined by distances “as-the-pigeon-flies”
- Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) Area: irregularly-shaped areas defined by the design and pattern of a particular network, in this case the street network, which more accurately reflects on-the-ground impedance realities like disconnected streets, water bodies, and buildings, etc.; in other words, areas defined by distances “along-the-street-network”
The graphic below illustrates the very different geometric outcomes produced when each of these two area-delineation methods is employed. Metrorail’s Government Center Station, in the heart of downtown Miami, was used in this example.
Land-uses in Miami-Dade County were reclassified into the following 11 generalized classes:
- Multi-Family Residential
- Single-Family Residential
- Transportation & Utilities
Land-use data for 2014 came from the Miami-Dade County Land-Use Management Application (LUMA), accessible from the Miami-Dade County GIS Self Services platform.
Within each of the two 1-mile area-delineation types – as-the-pigeon-flies and along-the-street-network – the proportion of each of these 11 land-use classes was calculated.
In the station-by-station descriptions below, I make reference only to the along-the-street-network land-use proportions, although those for the as-the-pigeon-flies areas are reported in the maps too.
Let’s start at Metrorail’s southern terminus.
Dadeland South is the second busiest station after Government Center. The Datran office complex, along with the other offices in the downtown Dadeland area, is represented within the 4.9% of office use. Dadeland Mall, as well as the various other retail and restaurant sites within downtown Dadeland, account for the 13.3% in commercial use. Single-family residential dominates at 31.9%, while multi-family apartments and condominiums occupy 15.6%.
Dadeland North station shares in much of the same land-use amenities as its moniker-sharing counterpart to the south. However, the share of single-family residences is nearly 10% greater. Multi-family residences correspondingly decrease, and despite the presence of the Dadeland Station shopping center, commercial use remains slightly less in Dadeland North than in Dadeland South. Interesting to note is the small, less than 1% agricultural land-use here, as well as the slightly larger proportion of undeveloped parcels.
South Miami station is surrounded predominantly by residential use: 37.7% for single- and 7.9% for multi-family. The City of South Miami’s downtown business core is found just across US-1 from the South Miami Metrorail station. Boutique clothing shops, pleasant restaurants offering a range of tastes and price-points, and some popular bars are found adjacent to the Sunset Place open-air shopping center. Even with all that, commercial use comes in at just 6.6%. Offices amount to 4.6%. Assessed at both absolute (as-the-pigeon-flies) or relative (along-the-street-network) 1-mile distances, South Miami station includes the western edge of the City of Coral Gables, including a sizable chunk of the University of Miami’s primary campus. That, along with some public, charter, and private schools in area, account for the more than 10% of institutional use.
University station is dominated by two land-use types: residential (especially that of the single-family variety: 33.2%) and institutional (primarily for the University, schools, and religious buildings).
Douglas Road probably has one of the best distributions of land-uses of any Metrorail station south of the downtown core. This part of the urban region, where the City of Miami meets the City of Coral Gables, is one of its most transformative pockets. It’s dynamism comes not only from its land-use mix, but also the rapidly transforming real estate and streetscape realities. Construction crews are actively building new condominium/apartment buildings in the area. Currently undeveloped land sits at 3.3%, but that number will be reduced significantly within this year. The immediate proximity to the ultra-luxurious, elite-endorsing Village of Merrick Park outdoor shopping mall has made the neighborhood an increasingly attractive site of investment. This commercial plaza hosts, among other high-end shops, The Collection, where the super-rich can purchase Ferraris and Aston Martins. Commercial accounts for 5.2% of the land-use composition. Coral Gables Senior High School is also within the vicinity, accounting for part of the the 6.9% of institutional use.
Coconut Grove station is over 55% residential (single-family: 29.5%; multi-family: 27.4%). The near even split of single- versus multi-family homes is remarkable to witness along SW 27th Avenue. On the ground, one can find residential structures on both sides of the avenue. However, on the west side of SW 27th, there are large numbers of one- and two-story duplexes. The City of Miami’s City Hall on Dinner Key is just within the as-the-pigeon-flies 1-mile area, making the share of institutional use at that geographic unit over 1% higher than for the network-based unit.
Vizcaya station is adjacent to the single-family neighborhood known as The Roads, the historic mansions along the bay and in south Brickell, some high-rise condos, the soon-to-be-relocated Miami Museum of Science, gorgeous City of Miami Alice Wainwright park and, of course, lovely and historic Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Brickell is one of three Metrorail stations serving the downtown core of the Miami megalopolis (the others being Government Center and Overtown). Don’t be too alarmed by that 6.0% of undeveloped land; much of that is actively being eaten-away by the rising, city-redefining juggernaut that is to be Brickell City Center. Multi-family, office, and commercial space will increase as the phased project continues to materialize before our eyes (and to our collective wonderment). With Brickell serving as the financial business district of our urban core, it’s no surprise to find significant commercial (9.6%) and office (7.8%) space. It’s an increasingly residential area too, with nearly 20% dedicated to condos and apartments, comprising the largest land-use class in the area: multi-family residential.
Government Center is the station most people know, even those who have rarely ridden the train, if ever. As its name suggests, it’s where one can find, well, government. The Miami-Dade County courthouse is there; the US Federal District Courthouse is there; lots of a little court houses and related legal agencies are in the vicinity; all of these government or quasi-government buildings account for the 8.8% of institutional use. Requiring comment is the nearly 10% of undeveloped land in the area, in this, the very heart of the Miami region, the core of the core. That amount of undeveloped land in the center of one of the United States’ most important cities, and perhaps the most important city for intra-hemispheric relations, is astounding. However, just as with the current and on-going transformation of undeveloped land surrounding the Brickell station just to the south, most of that surrounding Government Center station is already, or will soon be, undergoing major development.
Overtown is the third Metrorail station offering passage to and from Miami’s core downtown, where the distribution of land-uses is about as equal as you’ll find anywhere else along the system. Here institutional use (11.3%) occupies slightly more space than multi-family residential (9.5%) and commercial (8.0%). Refreshingly, parks become a bit more significant (6.9%), but one wonders if that’s a sufficient amount of public recreation and leisure space for the heart of downtown. For the first time since moving our way through the Metrorail corridor, we start to see Miami’s industrial space (3.0%) emerge.
Culmer is an under-utilized gem of a station. Its land-use configuration is also dominated by institutional use (20.9%), most of it being the various medical-educational facilities comprising the de facto and increasingly formalized Miami Health District.
Civic Center station defines the center of, and is most readily associated with, the Health District. The Health District hosts such staples of the community health and local medical industries as Miami-Dade County-operated Jackson Memorial Hospital, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, as well as the UM-owned “UHealth” brand of medical care, not to mention the UM Life Science & Technology complex to further advance UM’s aggressive pursuit of a medical and biotechnology empire. The Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospital as well as the Miami-Dade College Medical campus are also both located in the Health District, among many other health-related institutes and organizations. Important to note about the Health District is that it also serves as a secondary government and legal district, second only to that found nearest to Government Center station. Still, significant multi-family units dominate the spaces surrounding these institutional uses. The industrial side of Miami — in the form of solid waste processing, factories, and especially fruit import warehouses — begins to become more apparent as one moves toward the Santa Clara station to the north.
Santa Clara station can be used to access the industrial sector of Allapattah. This station also seems to be the preference for many Miami-Dade Medical Students whose campus is found just off of NW 20th Street.
Allapattah station is a Metrorail system node serving the residential heart of the Allapattah neighborhood, whose single- versus multi-family residential split (24.1% versus 18.4%) isn’t too drastic. Standard Miami, along-the-arterial commercial use applies; in this case accounting for 5.7%.
Earlington Heights station is surrounded by a land-use arrangement very similar to that of Allapattah. Notable, though, is the relatively high percentage of undeveloped space: 5.5%.
Brownsville station has an even greater excess of undeveloped land: 7.7%. Continuing with the line of medical analogies: one questions whether an urban system is as healthy as can be when significant pockets of it’s space are left unproductive, effectively contributing nothing to the well-being of the system. Undeveloped land so near the heart of the city, and so well connected (via the Metrorail artery) to other urban organs, virtually begs for investment (either public, in the form of say, parks, or private, in the form of business and economic stimulation).
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. station is where we begin to see more clearly that the notion of a purely service sector economy for supposedly post-industrial Miami is a myth. Industrial land-use occupies an even 12% at the 1-mile network unit. The amount of undeveloped space here is also striking at 7.8%.
Northside station is just over 20% industrial. Another fifth is allocated for commercial use (9.0%) and to, well, essentially nothing (in the form of undeveloped land: 10.%). Yet another fifth is allocated for the people living in the single-family homes (21.8%) in the area.
Tri-Rail station is surrounded by industrial (21.1%) and single-family residential (29.6%).
Hialeah station is located just south of the Hialeah Park Race Track & Casino, which accounts for the bulk of the 15.6% commercial use in the area. Otherwise, it’s mostly single- and multi-family residential (24.5% and 18.4% respectively). Industrial use (5.1%) remains significant up in these northwest reaches of the Metrorail line.
Okeechobee station is surrounded by still more industrial use (18.1%) and the standard Hialeah mix of single- and multi-family residences.
Palmetto station brings us to the end of the Metrorail line, at least the end of the Green Line. Industrial use is overwhelmingly highest here at a whopping 49.6%.
Miami International Airport station, the newest station in the Metrorail system, is dominated by transportation-based uses of land (i.e., the Miami International Airport and associated facilities). There is indeed a significant percentage of greenspace, which is classified as park (15.5%), but its important to note that this open greenspace is actually a large golf course and country club.
So what can be taken away from these maps and pie charts?
Well, for one, there is a strikingly high percentage of single-family residential space surrounding many Metrorail stations, especially those south of the urban core.
There’s also a less-than-expected share of commercial use immediately surrounding the region’s primary rapid transit train system.
Park space isn’t as abundant, or accessible via Metrorail, as one would expect in a city as predisposed to outdoor recreational activities as Miami.
As the Metrorail system deviates from its primary north-south orientation through Miami and begins it’s more east-west movement in the northern sections of the line, we see very high percentages of industrial land-use, not the type of use that is most amenable to facilitating the movement people through an urban system to connect them to their destinations.
While industrial spaces can and do serve as important sites of employment, they don’t generate the necessary flow of people needed to optimize major investments in public transportation infrastructure.
The Transportation & Utilities category of land-use is consistently the most, or among the most, dominant land-use classe surrounding each of the 23 Metrorail stations. This is reflective, of course, of the fact that the Metrorail train system is itself categorized as a transportation-based use of land.
However, it also reflects an undeniable land-use reality for the entire region, not just those areas surrounding Metrorail: streets (i.e., impermeable paved roadways, designed, in Miami’s case, primarily for automobiles) consume a disproportionate amount of all space in Miami’s land-use mosaic.
Again, thanks goes to TransitMiami Editors for permission to re-post this piece from my new partner blog Miami Geographic!
- Matthew Toro
Some TransitMiami readers have expressed a desire to see ‘mixed’ use mapped out. Well, here it is:
Yes; the results are drastic. At this scale, one almost needs a magnifying glass to even locate the ‘mixed use’ sites.
Removing the street network helps a bit, but it only makes the disappointing results that much clearer.
Mind you, I’ve kept the recent series of Miami-Dade County land-use maps at a relatively small cartographic scale to show the relatively large geographic scale area of the entire county.
You can find the related Miami-Dade land-use maps at the links below:
- Residential Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Commercial Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Industrial Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Agricultural Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Park Land-Use in Miami-Dade
‘Mixed’ land-use was defined as those subsets of commercial use categories with the following descriptions:
- “Office/Business/Hotel/Residential. Substantial components of each use present, Treated as any combination of the mentioned uses with a hotel as part of development.”
- “Office and/or Business and other services (ground level) / Residential (upper levels). Low-density < 15 dwellings per acre or 4 floors.”
- “Residential predominantly (condominium/ rental apartments with lower floors Office and/or Retail. High density > 15 dwelling units per ac, multi-story buildings (Generally more than 5 stories).”
Now, one must consider the difference between ‘mixed’ land-use, and the general land-use mix of an area. The latter concept can also be referred to as the diversity of land-use in a given area.
So, while there is obviously very little ‘mixed’ use throughout Miami-Dade County, there are significant areas where there is a healthy land-use mix, or diversity of land-uses.
One must also consider the difference between use and zoning, or the difference between the current economic function of the land versus the future or intended purpose of the land.
We’ll get into these issues later . . .
Today we’re looking at those spaces that breathe life into a city: parks.
I kept it simple: only beaches, municipal-operated, and county-operated parks were included. These criteria effectively excluded the following uses, which are part of Miami-Dade County’s default “Park” category:
- Recreational Vehicle Parks/Camps
- Private Recreational Facilities Associated with Private Residential Developments
- Private Recreational Camps/Areas
- Golf courses
- Other Nature Preserves and Protected Areas, which, for the most part, are completely inaccessible for public recreation/leisure
And, significantly, this map doesn’t show Biscayne National Park, our local, primarily aquatic national park covering the bulk of central and southern Biscayne Bay.
What do you think? Where are more parks needed in our community?
Our Urban Development Boundary (UDB) constrains the encroachment of real estate development — typically in the form of single-family residential sprawl — into our precious agricultural and other environmentally-sensitive lands, such as the wetland and terrestrial ecosystems of Everglades National Park.
The agriculture sector contributes significantly to the local economy. As recently explained in WLRN’s excellent series “The Sunshine Economy”:
Agriculture generates a direct $700 million dollars a year in Miami-Dade County alone. The economic impact of the plowing, growing and picking of those crops is much larger.
Agricultural land-uses in Miami-Dade County are found primarily in the southwest, in what’s known as the Redland Agricultural Area (often referred to as the “Redlands”).
One can also find plenty of fruit stands selling tropical and sub-tropical delights, fruits and vegetables that are sometimes virtually impossible to grow in any US region outside of South Florida.
Significant horticultural industries can be found out there too, including processing and packaging facilities for orchids and other ornamental plants.
If you haven’t already, visit the agricultural periphery of Miami-Dade County. It’ll change your whole perspective of what “Miami” truly is . . .
Even in primarily financial- and service-sector cities like Miami, industrial use of land is a critical component of the urban economy.
Yes; Miami is a ‘post-industrial’ city, having carved its niche in the world economy after other metropolitan centers had carved their own on the foundation of manufacturing and production, but significant pockets of industrial land-use do exist in the county.
For some, the industrial space is closer than for others.
Just think about your own neighborhood: Is it near one of Miami’s industrial clusters, or far-removed where the illusion of a production-free world is more easily accepted?
This industrial land-use map includes spaces used for activities classified as:
- [limestone/concrete] extraction, excavation, quarrying, and rock-mining,
- heavy and light manufacturing,
- industrial office parks,
- industrial-commercial condominiums, and
- junk yards.
If you’ve never been to one of the junk yards along the Miami River, or in Hialeah, it’s time you took a field trip. The industrial side of Miami’s economy will become much more apparent than you’ve ever imagined . . .
We posted a map of residential land-use in Miami-Dade last week. Here’s one illustrating commercial use throughout the county.
What patterns, if any, do you see here? Where would you like to see more commercial development take place?
A recent post that grabbed my attention in the Urbanophile was actually a re-post from another blog: Daniel Hertz’s Chicago-based City Notes. The piece is called “Zoning: Its Just Insane”, and it presents some fascinating maps illustrating the domination of Chicago by land zoned for single-family homes, those most infamous perpetrators of sprawl.
In fact, Hertz’s intention with the maps is to make the point that Chicago’s ‘insane’ zoning laws make it virtually impossible to develop anything but single-family homes in most of the Windy City’s neighborhoods.
The maps inspired me to put something together for our own community. However, instead of mapping zoning (the way land is regulated to be used for in the future), I thought it’d be best to first look at land-use (the present, on-the-ground societal use of space).
I used 2013 county land-use data. Other than explaining that single-family use is depicted in yellow and multi-family in orange, I’ll let the image speak its own thousand or so odd words.
Go ahead . . . let that sink in for a while.
We’ll take a closer look at land zoning — which, with all its nuances and myriad sub-classes, is admittedly trickier to map — later next week. Things always get a bit more complicated when we consider what our county and city planners have prescribed for the future of the land.
Happy Spring Miami!
Among the more notable and praiseworthy highlights of this past Saturday’s Transportation Summit Community Forum was the commentary made by Mr. Adam Old.
A councilperson for the small Miami-Dade County municipality of the Village of El Portal, and an active member of the recently formed Transit Action Committee (TrAC), Mr. Old was perhaps the only municipal representative at the forum.
He was also one of only a handful of people who sought to redirect the focus of the meeting away from the relatively minor gripes of the transit-riding population regarding issues like rude bus drivers and poorly maintained bus interiors toward the more systemic issues plaguing our poorly coordinated mobility networks.
Some highlights from Mr. Old’s comments:
“[What the public] is measuring [the Transportation Trust's] performance on is more mass transit lines. So, I applaud you on the airport link, but we have not seen nearly enough progress on rail. . . . Heavy rail, light rail. . . . Get it going. Get it going. Where are our commissioners? If there’s not money in the plan, pull it from the municipalities.”
[. . .]
“There should be a line to the beach 10 years ago. There should be a line to the beach 20 years ago.”
[. . .]
“Nobody’s saying ‘Hey! Transit in Miami sucks! And we need it to be better!’ That’s what we want. We want more money, and we want you guys [the Transportation Trust] to hold our commissioners’ feet to the fire for that [half-penny sales] tax. If you have to pull it from road widening projects, then pull it. That’s what we want.”
Well said, Mr. Old.
The South Florida Community Development Coalition will be hosting a discussion on
Complete Streets in Miami
Thursday, March 6
The speaker line-up for the event should make for some good, substantive discussion. They’ve got:
- Jose (“Pepe”) Diaz, Miami-Dade County Commissioner,
- Cesar Garcia-Pons, Sr. Manager, Planning + Design at Miami Downtown Development Authority,
- Tony Garcia, Principal at the Street Plans Collaborate and former TransitMiami.com Editor,
- Joseph Kohl, Principal at Dover, Kohl & Partners, and
- Marta Viciedo, Transportation Action Committee (TrAC) Chairperson
There is a fee ($20 in advance, $25 at the door) to attend, but the SFCDC will be using those proceeds for streetscape improvement projects, including tree planting and bike rack installation, on the 79th Street Corridor — a worthwhile investment of your Andrew Jackson.
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