Welcome to Miami – a city where civic advocacy and forward thinking can land you in jail if you’re not careful. Friday’s TransitMiami Park(ing) Day 2011 was a huge success; hundreds of visitors came out throughout the day to enjoy downtown Miami’s newest temporary pop-up park. Working in collaboration with the Miami Parking Authority, we transformed 10 on-street parking spaces into a tree-lined, shaded park, complete with moveable chairs, and a solar-powered mobile wifi hot- spot where folks were hard at work.
Railroad ties refashioned as bollards, and native trees in moveable planters formed the street edge, causing a noticeable shift in driving patterns along the 3 lane, southbound street. “North Miami Avenue usually feels like a highway,” said local resident Rosa Gutierrez, “people routinely go 60 mph here - you never see traffic this calm.” Local food truck vendors, artists and musicians were also there to celebrate the grassroots effort to reimagine the streetscape with something other than on-street parking, and numerous neighborhood and political figures stopped by throughout the day.
Transit Miami was the main co-sponsor of the event along with Brad Knoefler, local activist and entrepreneur. In anticipation of Park(ing) Day, Brad developed a new strategy – called weed bombing - to add to the Tactical Urbansim toolbox. Confronted by deadbeat landlords around his neighborhood who don’t maintain their properties, Knoefler decided to address the problem head on by spray painting the overgrown vegetation with bright colors. The result is a charming transformation of blight inducing weeds into something more. We had an excellent time on Park(ing) Day, and look forward to doing it again next year. Unfortunately, the City of Miami might have something to say about it.
As you might have read, the Police Department has faced a number of challenges this year, including a fiasco with the Chief of Police that has made Miami a laughingstock of the country, and a string of high-profile shooting deaths, perpetuating the notion that Miami is a backwater, banana republic. As if they didn’t already have enough on their plate, enter Officer Rodriguez who decided that the Park(ing) Day cleanup (the following day) was not going fast enough and decided to arrest co-sponsor Brad Knoefler for failing to obey a lawful command (read: police harassment). “Officer Rodriguez called me several times on my cell demanding that I come down and finish cleaning immediately,” said Knoefler, “I told him that not cleaning up 100% after an event is not an arrestable offense, at worst it’s a code violation or solid waste ticket.” The City of Miami police, and all citizens of Miami, should be embarrassed that this happened. How can we expect to attract and keep the creative middle-class that contributes to a healthy economy, if the police harass and intimidate citizens as they trying to enrich their communities? Shame on you Officer Rodriguez for embarrassing your police force and your city; of the 850 Park(ing) Day events around the world, Miami was the only one to see someone arrested as a result of laying sod on a parking space for a day. Only in Miami.
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