Dear Commissioner Sarnoff,

As a resident of Belle Meade I am opposed to the use of $70,000 from the Quality of Life funds to erect a fence surrounding my community. I wholeheartedly believe that the use of these funds is a waste of money that will not make Belle Meade any safer. I think these funds could be used more effectively to address “Quality of Life” issues that affect the ENTIRE Upper East Side community and not just Belle Meade.

I propose that these funds should be used for an Upper East Side charrette. An intensive 7-10 day charrette that brings the community together to address our concerns and collectively plan for the future of the Upper East Side will do more to improve the quality of life for ALL residents then a fence excluding my neighbors from outside my Belle Meade community from entering Belle Meade.

The SINGLE most important thing that we should do as a community is encourage redevelopment in the area with more density.  The more density we have, the more active our streets become and thus our community becomes safer. I have spoken to developers and they have informed me that the current 35′ designation along Biscayne Boulevard discourages them from investing and bringing the needed density to this commercial corridor.  This is just one of the items that should be discussed during an Upper East Side charrette.

The SECOND most important thing that we could do as a community is design and engineer a streetscape that is business and pedestrian friendly. To achieve this we must:

  • Add parallel parking
  • Reduce travel lanes to calm traffic and discourage speeding
  • Add crosswalks at every intersection

The MiMo BID has met with the FDOT on several occasions, and the FDOT has confirmed that the ideas proposed in a recent MiMo Streetscape Vision Plan produced by Chuck Bohl and Jaime Correa from the University of Miami are feasible.

Retailers need accessible parallel parking in order to thrive.  Reducing the travel lanes and adding parking will naturally reduce the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard to the 35 mph it should be.  As it stands now the current design speed is 45 mph. The MiMo Historic District is a commercial corridor, not a highway. Ten miles-per-hour would make an enormous impact in terms of economic development and pedestrian friendliness.

Many community stakeholders know and believe that in order to reduce crime we need more density and a business and pedestrian friendly streetscape design. Building a porous $70,000 fence will not achieve the desired reduction in crime.  With $70,000 ALL the neighborhoods from the Upper East Side could come together in a charrette and work towards a safer and more prosperous community. I believe this is a far better use of the Quality of Life funds that are meant to improve the quality of life for the ENTIRE Upper East Community and not just Belle Meade.

Respectfully,

Felipe Azenha

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2 Responses to Open Letter to Commissioner Sarnoff: Quality of Life Funds for Upper East Side Charrette

  1. Todd says:

    Development alone is not any sort of advancement. Merely increasing density would potentially turn biscayne into yet another european-themed mall ala lincoln road or midtown. The biscayne corridor is more little haiti than it is Belle Meade, and obviously there sorts of developments would displace one of the few centers of working class housing left in the city. It’s hard not to read calls for a good business environment and density next to reducing crime in race-neutral terms. We need development for working people in Miami not corporate interests trying to overproduce spaces for the wealthy to play, while the large majority of working people get pushed into other counties or the far-flung suburbs far when the urban areas they must commute to.

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  2. Tony Garcia says:

    Todd: “It’s hard not to read calls for a good business environment and density next to reducing crime in race-neutral terms” this is silly. Development is a safety issue because active frontage with ‘eyes on the street’ makes the street safer. any indication that this is not ‘race-neutral’ is a distraction from the real source of the safety problems in this neighborhood.

    We are advocating better development – not just more development. Development in accordance with Miami 21, along with transit service along SFECC, promises to make this a healthy, walkable corridor – for all Miamians to enjoy (working class or not).

    Not sure what you mean by “European themed” malls…maybe walkable places where people actually want to go? You really need to read a book or two on urban planning before making racially charged judgments about urban planning. We deserve quality urbanism – not just more ‘workforce’ housing that doesn’t add from the urban realm.

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