An article in the Herald today brings to light a very serious issue that has significant consequences for Miami-Dade’s future. According to insiders and the Herald, it is looking like the recommendations from the South Miami-Dade Watershed Study and Plan, which include holding the Urban Development Boundary and encouraging most development along the US-1 corridor to stop further sprawl, may be ignored by officials who either think they are experts or who just don’t care about anyone but themselves.

Vice-Chairman Dennis Moss was quoted, “It’s not an easy situation and folks are not going to give in in terms of their philosophies”.

Here’s a philosophy: We’re all screwed if the recommendations from the watershed study are ignored. Why? According to the study:

  • The South Miami-Dade Watershed region is expected to nearly double in population by 2050, going from 791,000 in 2000 to approximately 1, 500,000 in 2050.
  • The Watershed cannot continue to grow as expected without substantial consequences to its water and natural resources, quality of life, and community characteristics
  • The Watershed Plan calls for a Smart Growth (which we’ve preached for over a year ad nauseam) approach to accommodating future population growth; however, if the the alternative (sprawl or current) approach continues the watershed area will negatively and irreversibly be changed
  • The waters of Biscayne Bay will be subject to substantial increases in water pollution
  • 3/4 of our agricultural areas will be lost to sprawling, low-density residential subdivisions
  • Traffic congestion will increase significantly
  • The effectiveness of the $8 billion Everglades restoration program will be greatly reduced
  • It is estimated that the “sprawl scenario” will cost nearly $8 billion more for infrastructure than the recommended Watershed Plan between now and 2050, which does not even include substantial environmental costs (who’s going to be funding most of this unnecessary, unsustainable infrastructure? Mostly taxpayers.)
As you can see, the alternative to the Watershed Plan is wholly unsustainable. How could any politician unequivocally dismiss such an obvious and significant plan to accommodate future growth? Look no further than our County Commission and the Governmental Operations and Environment Committee (GOEC), chaired by none other than sprawl-champion Natacha Seijas.

Seijas, easily the worst of all the county commissioners (and that is really saying something), who is lucky to even have a job after threatening a fellow commissioner’s life during session in the County Chambers, is leading the charge to foil implementation of the watershed study. It shouldn’t be of much surprise to citizens, given that she is profoundly connected to developers and pro-sprawl interests as evidenced by her consistent voting record to move the UDB line and quotes like “I don’t see why we need to be creating an environment for them (Manatees) to continue”.

Her opposition is significant because she is the chairwoman for the GOEC, which oversees urban growth policies and monitors the utilization of our natural resources. What’s she saying?

“I don’t think this study should be used to do anything (involving major land-use decisions)”.

OK, so nearly $4 million, six years of research, and perhaps the future of our region may be down the drain if she gets her way. Some Commissioners are talking about potentially adopting some aspects of the Plan but ignoring the land-use aspects. Duh. It doesn’t work like that. ALL OF THESE ASPECTS ARE INTERCONNECTED.

This is the type of business that makes my blood pressure boil because the incompetence and special interest pandering is so blatantly obvious, shameless, and completely detrimental to the area’s future. This is the same type of incompetence and slipshod politics that has sadly become standard practice for many of our elected officials. It has become obvious that expert opinion, research, and administrative work are almost entirely irrelevant in this county, because our elected officials instead use their own pet theories, intuition, and self-interest to make decisions that will negatively affect the area for many generations to come. Frankly, it is not only unprofessional, but completely embarrassing.

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6 Responses to Legacy of Incompetence and Self-Interest Continues to Plague Miami

  1. John says:

    It’s all well and good to complain about it, but what are/can we do about it? It seems all too clear that these people have been, rightfully elected by a less than informed (and largely apathetic) electorate. The people with the most money in the city (were there isn’t exactly a large corporate population) are, surprise, surprise-developers. So they keep contributing to campaigns, the rest of our citizens are either rich and apathetic or dirt poor (and probably still apathetic)-our middle class has been shrinking faster than a candle in an inferno.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Call your commissioners.

  3. Kelsey Vaughan says:

    In response to the comment about contacting the commissioners, I’ve actually tried emailing my commissioner and he has blatantly ignored all my attempts to get through to him. He sends an automated message saying a member of his staff will get back to me in 2-3 days. Of course I never hear back. Does this mean they don’t read my emails? Or worse, that they read and laugh at my pleadings for responsible government and sustainable growth, and don’t have the courtesy to write back and at least thank me for the laugh? Either way, this is a serious problem of our elected officials somehow remaining in power even though the electorate is not satisifed. Yes, we must speak up, as a previous poster commented, but if they don’t listen…? The existence of our democracy is at risk if this is the situation we are in. I’d like to see this problem blasted across the front page of the Herald for months on end, and see if that finally makes people react. If every regular, Herald-reading Miami-Dade citizen knew even half of the information that is published on this website I would think that would be enough to make their blood boil and demand change. Where is our media when we need them?

  4. John says:

    In defense of my original comment, and to give a friendly “here, here” to Kelsey, I have contacted my commissioner (as well as written e-mails to the rest of them) to no avail. They want no part of what I have to say. None of them seem to care. My guess as to why: guess who’s lining their pockets with cash to supplement their less than substantial public pay checks. Yup, the developers who want to build a bunch of cheap, cookie-cutter houses in the middle of the Everglades.

  5. Dave says:

    By the way, when was the last time people bothered to not re-elect a sitting commissioner? I wonder how many of us were even born.

  6. JHop says:

    The watershed report was widely misunderstood from the beginning, and that created the backlash that the commissioners are responding to. Many who were learning of the study second-hand took it to mean that Miami-Dade County SHOULD grow by such-and-such a population, not that the U.S. 1 corridor South of Dadeland was the logical place to grow. I would hope the commissioners would lead based on their knowledge, but given the vocal and well-heeled opposition in Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay I am not surprised they are not.

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