The County’s zoning and planning department must not have too much urban planning experience. The board blatantly does not understand the transit oriented development concept and instead chose to bow down to the heeds of the Coconut Grove NIMBY force. In case you aren’t aware, the CCG NIMBY Coalition is against density, height, and growth, but typically still wonders why the Coconut Grove Central shopping/business district is nearly vacant and not bustling with activity. (Note: they are also against expanding the UDB for further sprawl, but refuse to allow such development that would prevent it from happening in the first place.) In an effort to prevent further traffic, the NIMBY Coalition of the Grove sought to severely scale down the density of a proposed transit oriented development at the Grove metrorail station, opting instead for shorter buildings with more parking spaces. So let’s get this straight, in order to combat further traffic issues they are fighting to bring more parking to a new development that will be adjacent to a transit station? Sheer stupidity. The US-1 corridor is primed for denser development with fewer parking spaces to force use of alternative means of transportation throughout our neighborhoods including walking. Just in case you were wondering here is the definition of a transit oriented development:
Transit Oriented Development is the exciting new fast growing trend in creating vibrant, livable communities. Also known as Transit Oriented Design, or TOD, it is the creation of compact, walkable communities centered around high quality train systems. This makes it possible to live a higher quality life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival.
Hence my initial remarks on the zoning department’s actual planning experience. Below is a copy of the story from the Miami Today:
HEIGHT FIGHT: A developer’s plan to build a 250-foot, 25-story residential and commercial tower on 5 acres next to the Coconut Grove MetroRail station at US 1 and Southwest 27th Avenue is being scaled down by the county’s planning and zoning department. County officials were expected to detail their proposal to limit Coconut Grove Station Development’s tower to 19 stories and 200 feet at the Rapid Transit Developmental Impact Committee Wednesday (11/24). The county also wants to reduce density and increase parking for the project, which has triggered seven years of debate.
Fifteen story buildings are way too short for a parcel next to a transit stop. You’re not using the land efficiently. The mixed-use towers sounds like a much better plan. Having the retail conveniences so close to the station will be excellent for ridership, not to mention curbing urban sprawl and building responsibly. Dense urban infill is the way to go.
January 23, 2007
I came across an interesting comment posted on The Miami Herald in response to the strong mayor victory. Apparently we’re not the only ones dissatisfied with the leadership over at Miami-Dade Transit.
Hopefully, now the escalators along the
Brickell Avenueroute will be fixed after more than one year out of service for “upgrades”. Got a nice reply about this matter from Mr. Bradleys office after a couple of months, but still, no solution to the problem.
- Posted by: Silvie
Perhaps if they hadn’t wasted our money replacing perfectly good trash receptacles we would have escalators and elevators for patrons to use…
What better way to kick off this new section than addressing yesterday’s streetwise article by herald columnist Larry Lebowitz. The Citizens Independent Transportation Trust was designed to allow for public oversight of the half-penny referendum approved back in 2002. As Larry points out, the Trust is not serving in the best interests of the constituents because it is not independent of county administrators and isn’t, well, particularly trustworthy.
A citizen’s oversight board is essential whenever new taxes are to be imposed; it maintains the integrity of the process and ensures that our dollars are put to the uses we originally intended. The fact that a county administrator is chairman of the trust should rouse more than just suspicions and it definitely speaks volumes of the injustices occurring in our county commission. The dysfunctional state of the independent trust is a great place to begin when analyzing the little transit progress that has been made since its’ inception. Five years have passed since the creation of the half-penny sales tax and yet county-wide transit has yet to substantially gain from any of it. I don’t know, but shiny new bus benches on suburban streets weren’t what I had in mind when the tax was imposed. If corrected now with proper oversight, budget allocation, and basic foresight the half-penny sales tax can valiantly attempt to live up to the transit corridors which were included with original proposals. Otherwise, the CITT and half-penny tax will go down as further examples of why our county government cannot be trusted…
From the CITT Website:
Who can serve on the CITT?
CITT members must be registered voters of
who possess an outstanding reputation for civic involvement, integrity, and experience or interest in the transportation, mobility improvements or land use planning. They are appointed by the Miami-Dade County , the members of the Board of County Commissioners, and the Miami-Dade County League of Cities. County Mayor
Unfortunately, we’re all to blame for this mess, not because we live in Kendall or Sweetwater or some other godforsaken suburb with a cutesy name that is desperately seeking to escape the abuse of local corrupt politicians, but, for electing most of them in the first place to positions that they were wholly unqualified or just too incompetent to hold. The strong mayor reform seeks to correct the injustices caused by the political scene in Miami basically since the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter was drafted in 1957. Ok, so you’re wondering how exactly this is going to solve the problem? The strong mayor referendum is a win-win for all the citizens in
The next best step in fixing the mess we have created thus far would be to- dare I say it- abolish all the municipalities within the county, bringing us all under one umbrella of local government. Essentially revert to what the
Oh man, is it great to back in the blog sphere. I’d like to thank everyone for their patience as I switched blog platforms from the wretched godaddy quick blog software back to blogger. Things took a little longer than I expected (like most Miami construction projects) and I will still be doing some work on the site over the coming days to really get it up to what I want, however, you all will not incur many daily outages as I will try my best to conduct the updates on the weekends or early morning hours. That being said, I’d like to hear what you all think of the site. I’d like to also thank Rick for convincing me that Blogger was the way to go even though Rebecca tried valiantly to sell me on the wordpress format. Alesh, please don’t flip out either, we all know you aren’t exactly fond of blogger, but, I am still on my own domain…
For those of you on the old e-mail list serve please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can add you to the new one as soon as it is up and running. I also hope to bring back the comments side bar as soon as possible to encourage everyone to speak out and voice their thoughts…
Welcome to the New Transit
To wrap up the discussions on the new proposed plans for the MIC/Airport connection, I will focus on why a direct line to the airport is such a bad idea. Like I previously stated, a direct line partially negates the reason why we decided to construct the MIC to begin with. Given the shape of the airport, tight clearances around the terminals/parking garages, and numerous elevated walkways, I am left to assume that the only suitable location for metrorail and station would be between the parking structures or west of the new cooling tower by the new south terminal. I assume the current taxi parking lot could also be a viable option considering the cars will one day be stationed at the MIC instead. In any case, any of the above three options place metrorail just enough out of reach to make it convenient for all passengers at all terminals. Any of the above options would equate to more than a quarter mile walk (linearly, which we know will not be the case) for some of the farthest gates. A direct line will also only be able to service one location (the airport) rather than an Airtrain like concept which will be able to service every terminal, parking structure, and transfer station. Like most Airtrain systems, travel from terminal to terminal would be free and passengers looking to exit the Airtrain system at the MIC would pay the fare to disembark, effectively solving the ridiculous concept of an automated farecard system so rental car patrons can ride for free to the intermodal center, while anyone who stays on Metrorail will pay a regular fare. We don’t even have fare cards that can be purchased at any station, why are we dreaming up further problems!?
Going back to my previous post, I’d like to present some more evidence with regards to the confusion of the MDT decision makers. As I stated, metrorail is at best a commuter rail with several parking garage park-n-ride stations. The concept of a truly urban transit oriented development is, well, quite foreign around here to put it mildly. MDT somehow conceives that fewer transfers will equate to greater ridership numbers, which for an urban transit system can generally be true. What MDT fails to realize though is that metrorail riders are commuters, which means they have already used another form of transit (a car, likely, parked in one of the massive park-n-ride stations) to arrive at the station which will probably not have any long term parking for people who will be away for longer than a day. Where am I going with this? People who live near metrorail cannot walk to the station because we haven’t adapted the surroundings properly for this type of lifestyle and people who already use metrorail will not be able to ride it to the airport because they usually drive to metrorail to begin with. The problems are worse than we think! Had MDT pushed through some necessary urban train lines first (like baylink) then perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big issue because it could be perceivable that many people could walk a short distance to the nearest Miami Beach station and only have to make one transfer to get to the airport.
There is no clear-cut answer to the problems posed by the MIC-MIA connections. MDT needs to seriously analyze what they hope to accomplish as our transit agency and how they plan to create a transit system that effectively replaces vehicle use from a substantial portion of the population. MDT would also benefit greatly from studying the solutions other airports have concocted to this very issue, rather than continuing to do things the ineffective way…
The latest plans for the MIC/Earlington Heights Connection/East West corridor, immediately spurred a question back into my mind that I once asked a leading
It appears that their confusion has gotten worse over the past months. The latest plans call for metrorail to run directly to the airport as either part of the east-west corridor project or the Earlington Heights Connection with the
About the transfer conundrum. I’d like to detail my most recent trip to NYC for you all so that you can see that transfers don’t have much to do with a desire to use the system, its more about incorporating transit with the urban spaces.
- Walked 2 blocks to nearest subway station
- After going down a flight of stairs and clearing the turnstiles, boarded a train bound for Penn Station (Ride time: <4mins)
- Purchased LIRR ticket to JFK, although there are several LIRR routes all but one travel through the JFK station: hence you don’t have to wait long.
- Boarded LIRR bound for JFK (Ride time < 15mins)
- Exited LIRR and rode elevator up to Airtrain platform which left me right outside my terminal (Ride Time < 10mins)
Numerous transfers on trains and stations that weren’t equipped to handle luggage larger than carry-on in 40 degree weather and yet I wasn’t the only non-native using the system. I’d also like to add that the whole trip cost less than what any car or taxi would have cost…
Going back to my original point, I would like to point out a major difference. MTA has created in
Knowing that my day will be pretty complicated tomorrow, I’ve decided to provide you all with a photograph of NYC’s JFK airport’s Airtrain and an interesting recent article on MIA for you all to mull over until I can better analyze the
situation catastrophe occurring in our Aviation/Transportation departments…
Ryan is back with some firsthand experience on the vehicular addiction we’re trying to break here in
My roommate has got a new job in
. He lives in Coconut Grove. No problem, right? Wrong. My roommate is addicted to cars/driving, which is unfortunate for him because his old SUV crapped the bed recently. In typical Coral Gables form, he’s now found a way to take an asset (close proximity to job) and turn it into a significant liability because of his car addiction. Miami
For some background information, most of his active pursuits are located in his own neighborhood, the Grove. Whether eating, working out, or partying, he does most of it right here a few blocks away. Most of his friends live in the Grove or Downtown, an easy bus or train ride away. However, instead of buying a student Metropass for a meager $37.50, walking 2/10th of a mile to the nearest #42 bus stop, which then will take him directly to downtown Coral Gables for work in less than 20 minutes, he’s living a complicated, stressed out life completely dictated by someone else’s car. Below is an unbelievable description of his daily schedule:
- Wake up at
- Drive downtown against rush hour traffic using friend’s borrowed car to pick up his friend
- Drive his friend from downtown all the way across the county to FIU for his work
- Drive back home to the Grove against morning rush hour for the second time to “relax” and kill time before work at
- Leave for work @ driving friend’s car en route to downtown
- Departs downtown Coral Gables @ 5:00 pm en route to FIU to pick up friend, battling fierce westbound rush hour traffic in Miami-Dade’s heavily congested central corridor (Flagler, 8th St, Coral Way westbound)
- Around approximately (after 45-60 minute drive), he leaves FIU to return downtown with friend to chill/drop off
- Gets back home around or with friend’s car
- 8:00 am, at it again
So as you can see, not only is the schedule itself crazy, stressful, and completely unreasonable, but my roommate now feels obliged to return such “favors”, often resulting in him joining his friend for activities that he may have preferred to abstain from in favor of extra “free time” for rest or study. Instead of waking up at for work at , he’s up at , facing a stressful series of commutes which he must successfully negotiate or else his kind friend who shares his car will be late for work. If he works four days a week, that’s 10 hours of sleep per week he’s losing to his car addiction. Moreover, while he struggles to pay his collegiate finances and loans, he continues saving most of his money for a new car while at $37.50 a month (for a Metropass) I’m paying off student loans early and getting a whole lot of extra sleep. It’s really sad, and if you think about it dependency on cars can parallel other addictions like smoking.
After I first told him how ridiculous his itinerary was and briefly gave him the low-down about the transit alternative, he agreed, looked me right in the eye and shrugged, “But the problem is I like driving”.
In dire need of some simple groceries, I decided today was a good day to begin my quest to minimize my daily impact on the local environment by biking around to accomplish my errands. Biking through my neighborhood, thankfully, is quite a breeze if you stay on the sidewalk. I ventured out into the street every so often only to be corralled back by a lumbering Escalade or whatnot. Crossing the new roundabouts recently installed by the city of
The ride was fairly smooth until I arrived at my local Publix. The bike rack was nowhere to be found. An employee informed me that there wasn’t enough space in the cramped parking lot to fit a bicycle rack.
I figured it was probably a waste of their money to try and accommodate other forms of transportation when visiting the store, even though it is less than half a mile from a transit station and I was likely going to be the only idiot who would bike over 2 miles to get some milk. I nonetheless left my bike attached to a railing, knowing full well that whoever wanted to steal my bike had to be pretty desperate considering the conditions and its’ appearance.
I made my way through the park with the greatest potential for urban greatness in the Coral Gables/South Miami area, which also happens to be across the parking lot from Publix and on my way to my next destination. With plenty of green space, on street parking, benches, and room to run around,
Aside from me, there was one elderly and homeless looking lady enjoying the tranquility of our surroundings. I took a quick break to survey the surroundings which noticeably lack any uniform interaction with the park. The park could sorely benefit from denser residential development and more inviting facades of buildings other than the parking structures which currently front the west side.
I crossed several waterways along the way where I stopped to admire the ultimate private boat parking spaces. As you can see by the photograph below, pedestrian activity along the bridge was clearly an afterthought to the automotive needs, barely leaving me enough room to cross as cars zipped through.
Close encounters with cars: 1
Random pedestrians who said hello: 3
Errands Accomplished: 2
Total Distance: 4+ miles
Time: 45 minutes
To all the transit naysayers, I present some irrefutable evidence that public transit can and does have a chance to survive in our region. Today the SFRTA released the final ridership figures for the tri-rail system which for the first time surpassed three million annual riders and witnessed a 21% growth. Although I agree that the conclusion of the double tracking project has likely led many to try the system out, I can also attest that some riders have also given up on the ridiculous congestion experienced daily on I-95. The amazing use of transit to witness the Miami Heat Victory parade also demonstrates how through necessity we will seek an alternative form to reach a centralized part of our city; if only we could use this same model to steer business out of the suburbs, we’d have many more reasons to use transit daily…
Image from rross233′s flickr…
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