Currently viewing the tag: "Planning"

Yet another large city is deciding to implement a smart growth code, this time Boston.

Today, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council will unveil a new plan for growth and preservation in Greater Boston. The plan, called “MetroFuture,” was constructed with input from more than 5,000 residents and regional leaders. It calls for a new pattern of development based on “smart growth” - concentrating new homes and jobs near existing infrastructure, preserving farms and fields, and protecting air, water, and habitat.

I wonder when Miami 21 opponents will wake up. We need to implement our plan.

(PS. Dade county needs a similar complete code rewrite that addresses its sprawl DNA.)

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If you build it - Traffic will consume the neighborhood, taxpayers will fund 73% of 2000 temporary construction jobs, Jeffery Loria will cash out in a few years, the Little Havana neighborhood will be revitalized disenfranchised, The Marlins will stay in Miami (for 35 years, guaranteed), etc…

This Friday, the Miami-Dade Commission will meet to determine the fate (maybe - they will likely postpone the vote) of the Marlins’ Ballpark at the Orange Bowl.  As we noted earlier, from a strictly urban policy perspective – the current site plan (and funding scheme) is a calamity.

In addition to bilking taxpayers for 73% of stadium costs, we will also find ourselves footing the bills for at least $100 million dollars worth of parking.  Then, in the not too distant future, we’ll realize we built the stadium too far away from existing transit, and we’ll need to fund a reasonable solution (like a streetcar west from downtown to the MIC) or our elected officials will think up of a $180 million scheme to create a people-mover extension from the Culmer station.  By this point, I’m sure most rational people would then agree that it would have been better to save the hundreds of millions in parking and transit costs and just build the damned thing in downtown, near existing parking and transit to begin with…  But hey, this is Miami, right?  We can’t do anything right…

To reiterate – the current site plan will have deleterious effects on the surrounding community.  In its current state, the site will act as a vacuum – sucking in traffic while providing few benefits to little Havana.

Central to the Marlins’ and public officials’ pitch to taxpayers was a promise that, in exchange for $450 million in public subsidies, the $609 million stadium project would propel redevelopment in the surrounding area, luring commerce, jobs, amenities and foot traffic to an area that sorely lacks them.

But the stadium site plan released this month suggests that the city of Miami’s approach might best be summed up as “build it and hope.”

Contrary to Andres Viglucci’s thoughts, to me, the current site plan evoke more of a “build it and to hell with the surroundings.”

In reading the article last weekend, I was curious if anyone caught onto the glaring contradiction posed by the political proponents of the stadium plan and the city planners.

On one hand, political proponents claim the park will serve as a catalyst, bringing commercial and retail activity to the community at least 80 days a year.  This activity is confined to the “mixed-use” garages (FYI – parking/retail mix does not constitute mixed use) that provide scarce retail space along the base of the garages.  This space, of course, is supposed to be sufficient to create a vibrant district around the stadium, regardless of the season.

Then the truth comes out we have the city planner’s take on the garages surrounding the stadium:

City planners say the size and shape of the garages were dictated largely by the Marlins’ need for 6,000 spaces and quick exit times.

My question remains, if we were planning a vibrant district around the stadium, wouldn’t we want to complicate the exit procedure so that people would linger around the stadium longer?  It appears that is what the Seminole Hard Rock Casino did (rather well, I might add) in Hollywood (from what I’m told: just try leaving there in a timely manor on a Saturday night after a concert…) From a planning perspective, I would agree that this idea is convoluted, but it illustrates that the entire site plan is being designed so that drivers can come and leave as efficiently as possible on game day – not as it should be – a structure built to compliment a community.

As our own Tony Garcia aptly noted, ”Why are people going to come to this area?  What’s going to make it a destination, and not just for baseball games?…You need a better mix of uses here, not just parking garages.”

Below are a few images of some other successful baseball parks around the country.  These stadiums, particularly San Diego’s Petco Park, exemplify what a Baseball stadium should look like, how it should fit in with the surroundings, and how people interact with these spaces not just during baseball season, but 365 days a year. Compare these parks to the rendering above.

The Development Around Petco Park

The Development Around Petco Park (Image Via: docsplatter)

New Development Around Petco Park

New Development Around Petco Park (Image Via: Oh Snap)

Development Around AT&T Park

Development Around AT&T Park (Image Via: Gedawei)

Wrigley Field as Seen From the EL

Wrigley Field as Seen From the EL (Image Via: straightedge217)

Fenway Park's Entrance (Image Via: Ally85)

Fenway Park's Entrance (Image Via: Ally85)

I recently had the chance to spend a whole day riding Tri-Rail (Fully Work Related) and finally got a good glimpse at the quantity of commuters who depend on this rather primitive commuter rail system daily.  Last week, Tri-Rail averted a major financial crisis that would have slashed daily service from 50 to 20 trains and completely eliminated weekend service, thanks to only a 10% budget reduction by Palm Beach and Broward Counties.  Another year of near optimal operation should allow the former fastest growing transit agency in the nation (2006) to continue to attract riders, in a time when public transit infrastructure is of paramount importance.

Ridership is up already 45% over June 2007. May saw a 25% increase, April 28% and March 22%.  More than 157 companies signed up for the authority’s employer discount program in May — about 881 riders.

While travelining along the line, I noticed a few key areas where tri-rail could drastically improve its bottom line and service:

TOD: Currently Inexistent.  This is my major focus in Regional Planning studies.  Often times, I find that our problems are not necessarily the fault of poor transit policy but rather what we choose to do with the land around our transit centers.  In Miami, this usually equates to fences, poor access, and inappropriate uses.

Parking: Currently free and very limited.  Potential revenue source?  There are several reasons why free parking poses many problems, even at transit stations.

Tri-Rail Golden Glades, Miami

Employee Parking: Seriously?  This parking is largely unused and unnecessary.

Tri-Rail has received a year reprieve in which it must continue to attract a larger share of riders while working to better integrate itself with the South Florida Landscape.  Most of the land use issues are largely out of the control of the agency but must still be addressed regionaly if we ever hope to make a sliver of change in our very autocentric lifestyles.

Alton Road on Miami Beach does not work. Traffic is clogged, pedestrians cannot cross, and bicyclists cannot ride safely. On Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm in the Miami Beach City Hall Commission Chambers, The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting, which will be our last chance to make Alton Road work for the future. In terms of road construction projects, especially in an urban historic setting, opportunities to do something different are few and far between.  We will gather that day, to be handed an opportunity from the State of Florida to make Alton Road work by doing something different.

Instead, it looks like we will be getting more of the same.

The plan that was recommended by the land use committee and from the City Commission as a whole is the same Alton Road we have today. The same. Same seven lanes of traffic. Same marginally wide enough sidewalks, and same bumper-to-bumper on-street parking.

Let us start with the 100’ right of way. 100 feet! 75 of which are carved out for the seven lanes of traffic. Note: seven lanes is essentially equivalent to the south bound segment of I-95.

Alton Road, Miami Beach

Image Via Zickie’s Flickr

Onto the sidewalks

13 feet. That’s it. It might sound like a lot, when compared to the highly touted but very ineffective ADA requirements of 3 feet (remember this three feet is brought to you by the same people who think $6.25 should be minimum wage) but 13 feet is hardly adequate for the most pedestrainized area in the state.

This is Miami Beach. People have been coming here since the Smith-Avery family began ferrying them over here to experience our amazing climate. Our outdoor dining scene rivals some of the century’s oldest ones established in Paris and Rome, and we are barely 75 years old! I often shake my head at the folks who sit on 41st street outside Arnie and Richie’s crammed between a light pole and a trash can, while I barely have two feet to walk past by. Miami Beach is a tourist destination.  Tourism is a mainstay of our economy that will ride us out during oscillations in the real estate market. We must do everything we can to bring people here and get them around in an economical and environmentally friendly manner.

Let’s not forget another Miami Beach mainstay: our vibrant Orthodox community, a group that promotes walking as a virtue. This absence of adequate pedestrian facilities forces hundreds to walk the streets two days a week. We need wide sidewalks. Wider than most and Alton Road with the bus shelters, parking stations, pedestrian lighting, street lighting, and trash cans can barely accommodate a café table, let alone folks strolling and patronizing the shops and living and crossing. Yet the plan that was recommended out of our City Commission is more of the same.

Someone smarter than I defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The State of Florida is coming to us, wanting to fix our road, give us wider sidewalks, more options for non-motorized transport, rational public transit ways, more landscaping and this solution, this opportunity for real change, and therefore real results is being lost to petty politics and 325 parking spaces.

More on the parking issue in segment 2.  Stay Tuned.

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As some of you might know, Mike and I serve advisory roles in Miami’s newly created Bicycle Action Committee (BAC).  The BAC is working on drafting a city of Miami Bicycle Master plan and is looking for any input our citizens wish to provide.  You can download this city map, draw on it, and send back your ideas to us (movemiami@gmail.com) for committee review.  You can also leave us comments or email us lists of potential bicycle routes, needed improvements, or any other suggestions.  Here is your chance to shape a masterplan which will guide all bicycle related planning for years to come.  I’m currently working on my version, which I will publish when complete and will finally get around to creating the Bicycle Rental plan I suggested to Alesh a while ago…

Today’s post is inspired by an article I read on The Overhead Wire, republished below. The successes and failures of our transit systems can be determined by the attempts we make to integrate them with the urban spaces which surround them. I typically make the distinction that our failures with metrorail has nothing to do with the transit system itself but rather with what we have done in the immediate vicinity of its 22 stations. VTA’s LRT in San Jose, is a perfect example of the type of transit we should be pressing for within the county, instead of Heavy Rail like metrorail. The at-grade train is versatile enough to move passengers quickly and efficiently but small enough to integrate into urban spaces such as the city’s downtown pedestrian mall:San Jose, LRT, Transit Mall

Imagine an LRT similar to this one connecting every major city on our eastern coast through the FEC railroad…

Here is the article from The Overhead wire, illustrating how we should orient our urban structures to transit:

What happens when we orient buildings to transit? It saves space. It creates more value from the land. It creates more opportunities for walking. Here is an exercise I did with that employment sprawl photo from the post below.

1. The Sprawl Way - What San Jose Looks Like

San Jose LRT

2. Sprawl Rearranged - What the same amount of development would look Like if the development were organized around the station. I outlined the buildings and rearranged them in a more compact way.

San Jose LRT

3. Sprawl Rearranged x2 - Doubling the amount of buildings, using the same footprint for each original building.

San Jose LRT

“We can have a city that is very friendly to cars, or is very friendly to people. We cannot have both.”

-Enrique Penalosa

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We haven’t learned from our mistakes, that’s for sure. Henry Ford launched the model T, in an effort to make vehicles affordable to more people. Recently, Indian carmaker Tata Motors launched the world’s most affordable car, whatever that is, with a base price tag of just $2500. Shocking, I know. Ratan Tata touts the Tata Nano, pictured above, as “The People’s Car” and as MSN said, it is bringing “car ownership into the reach of millions.” There is a fundamental problem here: we are continuing down a path of unsustainable practices and living. There are clear lessons that still have not been learned from our past mistakes and will only become further compounded with vehicles that facilitate car ownership. This statement, an excerpt from a Forbes article, really irks me most:

“Most of all, it would give millions of people now relegated to lesser means of transportation the chance to drive cars.”

No Comment.

“The potential impact of Tata’s Nano has given environmentalists nightmares, with visions of the tiny cars clogging India’s already-choked roads and collectively spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.

Industry analysts, however, say the car may soon deliver to India and the rest of the developing world unprecedented mobility.”

I would like to ask these industry analysts what sort of mobility do they expect if India’s roads are already overburdened and suffering from extreme congestion.

The car culture of the United States has sadly been exported to nearly every developing nation. The devastating effects this will undoubtedly cause cannot be quantified economically or ecologically for the world as a whole…

Last week’s Pic o’ the day featured a very memorable, walkable, and livable neighborhood in Philadelphia. Today’s picture is just the opposite, exemplifying much of the construction occurring all across the American landscape. Try and see if you can figure out where this blandness is located. The point of this photograph is to illustrate the lack of creativity associated with urban sprawl. Developers are creating homogeneous housing areas which completely lack a sense of space or community. The available public space is poorly distributed, houses are sectioned off in quadrants inaccessible to pedestrians, and the whole neighborhood suffers from the lack of any memorable structures. I’d be surprised if anyone can guess where this place is…

Over the coming weeks, months perhaps, we here at TransitMiami will be working hard to reshape and rework the website with new content and a new message. We plan on using your feedback to shape the site in a new direction and by bringing you more of the type of content you’d like to see. We’d like to hear from you for some insight on what we can do to make this site better for you, our readers. Leave us a message, give us a grade on the left sidebar, or email us with your more personal thoughts (movemiami@gmail.com)…

We are also working on finally forging some relationships with the agencies which matter most in Miami. My e-mails to MDT director Harpal Kapoor have thus far fallen on deaf ears (blind eyes, perhaps?) We’d like to establish ourselves as a bigger voice in the community for transit/planning advocacy and plan on doing so with or without the help of the agencies responsible for much of our planning problems thus far (FDOT, MPO, MDT, BCT, etc…)

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I seem to be having some technical difficulties with my internet connection, please be patient while I work to sort out the kinks. In the meantime, I have chosen to republish an article forwarded to me by Michelle of Museum Park Forum. The article extensively covers the happenings of last week’s Museum Park planning meetings:

MuseumParkForum.com
October 5, 2007

The City of Miami held its first of three scheduled “Museum Park” public meetings last night at the Orange Bowl Athletic Club. Two additional public comment sessions are proposed for the end of October and the end of November.

Local 10 News covered the event:
View Story Here

One major image of the proposed “Museum Park” was posted at the meeting. Of particular note were the changes made to the rendering from its previous form, and those that were not made, all of which was addressed at the outset of the meeting. The city and the architect have elected to change the prior holistic approach to the development of Museum Park (which was to include the FEC Slip and Parcel B), and rather have opted to break the design process into two distinct phases. “Phase I” includes all of the land north of the FEC Slip - and was presented for public comment last night in the identical form presented earlier this year.

The Architectural rendering displayed at last nights meeting included both the FEC Slip and Parcel B (“Phase II”) - but left them virtually blank. All of the elements previously shown in the FEC slip (the cantilevered platforms, the man-made “island” and boat docks as well as the elevated/operable bridge are now gone - and they left “Parcel B” blank - no “Bay Of Pigs Museum,” no soccer field, nothing…blank canvas for both the FEC slip and Parcel B.

Perhaps our words from a few days earlier were heard - though left for future designers to solve?:

“As for the existing Museum Park rendering, note that the bridge over the mouth of the FEC slip is NOT proposed to serve as the solution to Bay Walk, as the grade/elevation required to transit the bridge would preclude barrier-free use, a requirement for public facilities. This bridge is proposed to be operable, though the costs and maintenance and method of operation seem not to have been articulated. What is the actual cost of the proposed improvements to the FEC slip? What would all of the proposed cantilevered decks do in the event of a hurricane-driven tidal surge?

If the City is truly interested in public input, let’s all make it a point to read the results of the Parcel B Study in the context of the broader vision for Bay Walk, and try to arrive at solutions that will draw the most people to actually use the waterfront, serving as a tourist attraction and most importantly, PAYING ITS OWN WAY, in perpetuity.” LINK TO FULL STORY HERE

Last nights “Phase I” vision of “Bay Walk” actually requires that people circumnavigate the entire (8 acre) FEC slip by walking (for example) from the waters edge at Parcel B all the way back in to Biscayne Blvd. - then proceed north to the main park, then walk all the way back out to the Bay before proceeding north on your “Bay Walk” journey.

A quick calculation reveals that the planners of Museum Park propose that your “Bay Walk” include a 2,850′ (HALF-MILE) detour over to the hustle and bustle of Biscayne Blvd. before proceeding on your morning stroll along Biscayne Bay. That my friends, is not a “Bay Walk.” Until a true at-grade (barrier-free) solution is identified to transit the 300′ mouth of the FEC slip, there is no “Bay Walk.”

The proverbial “elephant in the room” is obviously the FEC slip. Aside from the problematic and as-yet unresolved stretch of the proposed “Bay Walk” that will lead users along the water frontage of Bayside Marketplace (and around Miamarina), the FEC slip is the number one impediment to the design and development of Bay Walk. Is it really wise to design and develop half a park, leaving the rest for others to resolve?

FEC Slip
The FEC Slip is so huge that it is clearly visible from space (check it out on Google Earth). It’s 1,200′ long and 300′ wide representing 8 acres of “Museum Park.” The improvements being made by Shoreline Foundation, Inc. have saved the slip’s walls from crumbling into the water, and have beautified an otherwise decaying relic of Miami’s early shipping heritage - but as yet, no “highest and best” use of the slip has been identified.

Visitors to the slip along Biscayne Blvd. will note that, sadly, the slip is a serious debris trap, catching not only the surface “flotsam” that collects naturally there by virtue of its location directly at the end of Government Cut - but also serves as a catch-all for every piece of paper, Styrofoam cup and other construction-related debris that blows its way on a windy day.

While it has been suggested that the slip should remain open and available to visiting ships like the US Coast Guard Cutter “Eagle” there are some key issues to address. Upon their recent visit, they were actually required to truck-in massive concrete blocks positioned in the park along the dock in order to tie-off the vessel. Here’s why:

Despite the fact that the seawalls have been saved from collapse (courtesy of 40′ long sheet-steel driven into the sea bed, topped with concrete), the walls themselves are not sufficiently reinforced (as in this example) to handle the stress of securing large vessels in inclement weather - which explains why there are no “cleats” to tie-off vessels along the north wall of the FEC Slip.

Holistic Design:
The entire “Museum Park” design concept requires a singular holistic approach, as the ultimate disposition of the FEC Slip will effect the design of both the southern end of the “Phase I” portion of the main body of the park and the northern end of “Parcel B” - all of which together will become a destination known as “Museum Park” - tied together by the broader concept known as “Bay Walk” - which by its very name implies “a walk along Biscayne Bay.”

Thanks Michelle…Great update, keep us informed…You bring up some great points which we will soon be readdressing when we revisit the Museum Park issue…

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Originally, Miami 21 was scheduled to go before the Commission tomorrow, September 27th, for its final hearing. However, due to a scheduling conflict on the Planning and Zoning agenda, this will no longer be the case. From the Miami21.org website:
The City of Miami City Manager is working on establishing a date in October, possibly for a special meeting to hear the item. The final date has not been established, but will be posted as soon as it is scheduled.

I’ve been looking for a mainstream media announcement of the date change, but I have yet to find anything. We’ll post any updates as we receive them.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen DPZ’s latest Miami 21 presentation, I recommend checking it out here.

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I’ve often defined the “Miami Mentality” on this site as the state of mind prevalent in our region which is generally for transit options, so long as other people use them. The Miami New Times quoted my “Miami Mentality” theory today when discussing the new MDT 7-day pass, which sadly means that my theory is becoming more of a commonly accepted belief. To clarify, through personal account and research, I’ve found that the Miami Mentality is generally against density, non-vehicular modes of transit, in favor of traffic relief measures, and in favor of wider highways and parking- plenty of it too. The Mentality also denounces good urban planning principles often by typically stating, or rather declaring: “That would never work in Miami.” Needless to say, it has taken me quite by surprise to see the latest coverage and reactions in the Sun-Sentinel with regards to the proposed managed lanes on I-95. Their news polls, obtained March 29 and April 4, show an overwhelmingly opposite trend to the Miami Mentality:

March 29 Some state legislators want to start charging tolls to use the car-pool (HOV) lanes on I-95 from I-595 in Broward County to State Road 112 in Miami-Dade County. What’s your opinion?

85.4%
Bad idea. These lanes should be available for free to anyone with 2 or more people in a vehicle. (5917 responses)

14.6%
Good idea. It would raise more funds for transportation and ensure the car-pool lanes don’t get too crowded. (1012 responses)
6929 total responses

April 4 State officials say I-595 could be widened much more quickly and less expensively by making it a privately operated road with tolls on its express lanes. Your opinion?

35.1%
Good idea. (1773 responses)

64.9%
Bad idea. (3278 responses)
5051 total responses

Or do they? Perhaps there are some valid reasons behind this shift in the frame of mind or perhaps the Miami Mentality is a little more convoluted than I originally perceived. I’ll choose the latter. Based on the data obtained through the unofficial polls taken by the Sun-Sentinel and in browsing through some of the comments left on the site, it appears that there is a new dimension to the Miami Mentality that I had not previously considered: Money.

“Forgive me for not being able to attend this oh-so important waste of time meeting, but here’s my vote by proxy- NO!!! What a $hitty idea- charge us for what we’ve already paid for? Screw these crooked politicians and their handouts to the contractors- enough is enough!”
-Count me Out, Hialeah, Fl

“The article is at least truthful. The public is invited to discuss the issue. The decision has already been made based soley upon financial reasons. Luxury car lanes have been discussed for years, now they will be a reality. Only in Florida. Guess the Republicans will call it no Lexus left behind.”
-Mike Woods, Boynton Beach, Fl

The views presented outline a general displeasure for paying for expanded highway service, it is expected that the government provide endless capacity and expansions to our already crowded highways. This belief stems from the precedent that the government set throughout the past decades, expanding and creating highway infrastructure “as needed.” The distrust in local policies and “leaders” further exacerbates the situation, casting shadows of doubt across any project where higher costs will be waged on motorists. Contrary to the logic behind congestion pricing, the opinions conveyed show that the new local mentality aims to provide highway and parking access to anyone (which falls in line with the reaction to rising gas prices.) (For more on Congestion Pricing, click here.)

I must also note that the subject matter does not pit public transit against highway capacity expansion. Surely, had that been the case, the results would have shown a desire for rail, provided that others use the system and now apparently that money allocated to the project did not come from highway funding sources (it’s ok folks, there are statutes against that anyway.)

Of course some classic Miami Mentality always finds its way into the picture:

“Maximum use of all lanes is the most efficient use of roads. Car pool lanes do not do that. The “Pay Pool” lanes are only a way for the politicians to get more money without representation. Another non-tax tax. On top of all this Interstate roads are supposed to be free. This is not a state road it is a federal road.”
-just say no, Miami, Fl

“Forget the tolls. Eliminate the HOV lane by opening it up to all drivers. That will increse the available road space by 20 - 25 percent. As an added benefit …no more slow downs caused by drivers gawking at the flashing lights while FHP writes tickets (they have better things to do). It’s a win win deal for both tax payers and drivers, costs nothing and can be put into effect at any time.”
-David, Pompano Beach, Fl

I’m so glad David took the time to do the math for us, he neglected to include how many minutes it would take for for traffic to fill up the additional lane and bring traffic back to a grinding halt (Induced Travel.) Miami Mentality obviously fails to take into account general highway planning principles, is shortsighted, does not recognize the limitations of an autocentric infrastructure, and never considers perhaps that the current method of personal travel and lifestyle are the true problems at hand.

Reassuringly, every so often, a voice of reason chimes in:

“the reason for the carpool lane is to encourage drivers to carpool and take cars off the roads. what they should be doing is expanding the number of car pool lanes to 2 or 3 each way and then maybe more people would carpool.”
-John, Santa Maria, Ca

But, then again, let the few voices of reason come from a city clear across the country

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The MPO is looking for public input concerning future transit options in the Kendall area. Proposed options include an extension of metrorail, BRT, or extending tri-rail further south through the existing CSX tracks…

Sorry for the short notice, but, the meetings are today and tomorrow:

Tuesday-
6-8 PM @ Kendall Village Center

Wednesday-
6-8 PM @ Country Walk Homeowners Association Clubhouse

For more information on the project, click here. I will not be able to attend, but, if anyone can make it out and would like to share what happened and what the most common residents concerns were, please e-mail us: movemiami@gmail.com.

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