We received the following press release. Hope to see some of you this Thursday.
Miami’s new Transit Action Committee — or TrAC for short — a citizen-organized political action committee, is proud to announce its formation and official launch this week.
City of Miami Office of Transportation and the Metropolitan Planning Organization are currently undertaking a study to look at safety and mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians traversing and within the Overtown and Wynwood neighborhoods. There will be a public meeting to get your thoughts and ideas this coming Monday August 19th, 5pm at 404 NW 26th St Miami, FL 33142
Please spread the word, an additional public meeting will be held at Henderson Park in Overtown in early September. As well as an online survey to get additional input.
Please click here to register for this free event.
When: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
1450 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL 33131
This article was originally published on ULI’s website. It’s worth mentioning that not one elected official in Miami attended this event. I personally sent out invitations twice to all of Miami’s elected officials. I know others also sent invitations to them as well.
Once again the private sector is leading the public sector and clearly there is no leadership in Miami when is comes to this very important issue. The disconnect is pretty sad and not encouraging for Miami’s future.
“Can Miami Develop with Less Parking?” panel discussion organized by our ULI Young Leaders Group and held at FIU’s Hollo School of Real Estate in Downtown Miami was an overwhelming success with a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 real estate and industry professionals.
The event was moderated by outgoing ULI Young Leaders Chair Andrew Frey and the panel comprised of development and parking experts including: Bernardo Fort-Brescia, FAIA, Principal, Arquitectonica; Joseph Furst, Managing Director Wynwood, Goldman Properties;Harvey Hernandez, Chairman & Managing Director, Newgard Development Group; and Dr. Ruth L. Steiner, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida.
A number of exciting issues were discussed throughout the morning that varied from easing the criteria to allow greater access to the City’s shared parking credit, to replacing the required parking minimum with a parking maximum, even a recommendation to do away with parking requirements altogether and allow the market to decide. Some of the more dynamic discussion surrounded the suggestion that current minimum parking requirements have had unintended consequences on development such as:
- encouraging developers to build larger, more expensive multi-bedroom units in order to make the cost of parking feasible (same number of parking spaces required per unit regardless of number of bedrooms)
- discouraging development of small urban infill sites by necessitating assemblage of parcels and construction of larger buildings (parking ramps and circulation can only be accommodated within a certain minimum building/site footprint)
- codifying for too many, underutilized parking spaces by requiring spaces at workplaces, residences and commercial areas (even with the shared parking credit this leaves many empty spaces at different times throughout the day and night).
Overall it was a lively conversation that addressed the question, “Can Miami develop with less parking?” According to the panel, the answer is a qualified, “yes”. How much less parking? That’s a topic for the next panel.
The very naughty Cone Fairy has done it again. Last night she mischievously placed 7 orange traffic cones down the center of NE 76 Street in an attempt to calm traffic to protect children, parents with strollers, cyclists and pets from speeding drivers.
For the past 5 months my neighbors and I have been trying to get the city and county to do something about the reckless drivers that come barreling down our street everyday. Unfortunately, true to form, neither the county nor city has acknowledged that the fundamental problem with this road, as with the majority of our streets in South Florida, is the actual design of our roads that encourages speeding. It shouldn’t take five months to find a solution to this problem; this isn’t rocket science, it just requires a little common sense.
Last I heard, the only thing the county is willing to do is add a crosswalk and erect one of these signs on 76th Street.
This silly sign won’t do anything to calm traffic. If this is the only solution the county can come up with, I have a feeling we may see a whole lot more of the very sassy and sexy Cone Fairy. It’s worth mentioning that all of Transit Miami’s recommendations to calm traffic on this street have been rebuffed by the county. In the meantime, cars continue to speed down my street and it’s just a matter of time before someone is struck by a speeding car.
By the way- we don’t know the true identity of the Cone Fairy and we cannot condone this type of behavior. So remember…
A 10-Year Vision
The Transit Development Plan represents a 10-year strategic vision for Miami-Dade Transit to promote the operation of an efficient, responsive and financially sustainable transit system. Major components of the Transit Development Plan include:
- Annual Performance
- Service Operations
- Capital Program
Transit Development Plan Facts at a Glance
The Transit Development Plan process provides an opportunity for Miami-Dade County citizens to identify mobility needs and transportation issues. Your input is valuable and needed to facilitate public concensus and provide direction for the development of the Transit Development Plan.
You can participate by attending one of the many outreach forums throughout the community. Ideas, suggestions and comments related to the Transit Development Plan can also be submitted to Miami-Dade Transit at email@example.com
Ideas, suggestions and comments will be accepted through August 17, 2013.
Dear Transit Miami -
I was scratching around some MIC and Miami Central Station documents and came upon a curious piece of information: FDOT is negotiating with MDX to assume the governance of Miami Central Station. I find it curious that MDX, a road-building entity, would be charged with governing Miami Central Station – shouldn’t those responsibilities fall to Miami-Dade Transit or, given the regional implications, to SFRTA? I can see MDX running the Car Rental Center, after all it’s sole purpose is to feed tourists onto MDX’s adjacent highways, the 112 and 836 – undermining the metrorail link to the airport and any longer-term plans for a direct rapid transit link to Miami Beach, but Central Station? Give me a break!
What’s most curious about the arrangement between FDOT and MDX is the transfer of a an 8 acre property east of Central Station for “Joint Development.” I didn’t realize MDX was now looking to jump into Miami’s crowded development market. Doesn’t this parcel seem ripe for Transit-Oriented Development? Shouldn’t a Public Private Partnership be the first alternative? I think so. MDX will apparently develop the property to help “offset” the costs of operating Central Station (as if their toll revenue couldn’t be spared in the first place) and will include a possible mix of Hotel, Conference Center, Office, Retail, oh – and parking, of course.
Let’s not forget too that MDX had developed concepts for a future SR 836/ SR 112 connector and had floated the idea of a “Central Corridor” Highway that would be built above Tri-Rail.
Another Concerned Citizen against MDX’s Overreaches
FYI, here is some information on an issue that Transit Miami has covered in the past.
The contract for the widening of SW 157th Ave. from SW 184 St. to SW 152 St., an unneeded development on the Urban Development Boundary, is surely going to be approved at the meetings July 17 of the CITT Project and Financial Review Committee (4 p.m. 10th Floor CITT Conference Room, 111 NW 1 Street) and of the full CITT (6 p.m., Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners’ Chambers).
Tomorrow, in the citizens’ comment time of the Project and Financial Review Committee, I intend to raise questions related to the Urban Development Boundary and environmental issues.
Once again the supporting documents for this contract make no mention that the entire road segment in question is bordered on its western side by the UDB and agricultural land.
However, while the current road is within the UDB, a portion of the expanded road will be outside to the west of the current UDB. Does all this intended construction outside the UDB require special legal approval to move the UDB westward or to permit this intrusion within the area projected by the UDB?
Are there any plans to mitigate the environmental impact of the construction and of the completed widened road?
And a third question: If the contractor needs new hiring, will the contractor be complying with the Miami-Dade First Source Ordinance requiring receipt and consideration of qualified applications provided by South Florida Workforce?
Theodore Wilde, former CITT member
You can register here. By the way, I ‘ve reached out to all our City Commissioners about this event. Let’s see how many of them actually show up. Yes, we are keeping tabs.
“To enter out into that silence that was the city at eight o’clock of a misty evening in November, to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences…”
In 1951, author Ray Bradbury wrote a short story titled The Pedestrian. Set in 2053, the story’s protagonist is Leonard Mead, a man who walks alone at night, seemingly for the pure joy of it. He never meets anyone else on these nocturnal walks. His neighbors are all inside – watching television. In fact, so few people are ever out in the public realm that the city’s police force had been reduced to a single car. The act of walking in a place where no one else ever walks is viewed as suspicious by the local authorities, who stop, question, and arrest him, incredulous to his explanation that he simply likes to walk. “Walking for air, walking to see,” as Mead puts it.
Bradbury of course is best known for his fantasy stories and science fiction. But as it turns out, Bradbury’s dystopian vision was not so farfetched; imagining a country where something as innocuous as walking someplace could be viewed as suspicious, as it typically is in today’s gated ‘chemlawn hinterlands’ of suburban sprawl. To not have an automobile in such environments is to exist as a societal outcast worthy of suspicion. So what do Trayvon Martin and Leonard Mead have in common? Was the built environment of gated suburbia (and gated mindset) a factor in the tragedy? To me, both Martin and Mead represent the criminalization and stigma of walking; of being a pedestrian.
Roger Steutville from Better Cities and Towns weighed in and pondered the same:
“In all of this agitation, the physical environment that discriminates against, and focuses suspicion on, anyone who doesn’t drive should not be forgotten. It’s hard to imagine this kind of tragedy playing out today in the same way on the block of a walkable city or town.”
In Bradbudy’s Pedestrian, substitute ‘Leonard Mead’ for Trayvon Martin and the year 2012 instead of 2053. The eerie similarities to that fateful evening last February in Sanford are uncanny.
He turned back on a side street, circling around toward his home. He was within a block of his destination when the lone car turned a corner quite suddenly and flashed a fierce white cone of light upon him. He stood entranced, not unlike a night moth, stunned by the illumination, and then drawn toward it. A metallic voice called to him: ”Stand still. Stay where you are! Don’t move!”
The reindeer games continue between the County and City and as usual the taxpayer ends up getting cheated and we are all left with a really dangerous street, which apparently the County and City both find acceptable.
Here’s an email I received from Transit Miami friend Wendy Stephan.
I’m writing to you about a problem here in Buena Vista East/Design District. I’ve attached a letter I sent below about the problem. After residents sent about 100 letters, the City of Miami (particularly the Mayor’s office) was responsive, but our understanding is that the County is in charge of the project. The latest twist is that the County says they handed the project off to the City at some point (?!). It seems the project just stalled out halfway done. I am sure you’ve noticed how dangerous NE 2nd Avenue is these days – potholes, angled light poles, and no street markings!! This seems to be a good issue for your blog. Thanks.
Here’s the email sent to city, county neighbors, etc., on June 10:
Dear Commissioner Edmonson,
I would like to add my voice to the chorus of District 3 residents and business owners concerned about the unsafe situation and lack of progress on the street improvements on NE 2nd Avenue in the Buena Vista/Design District area. Because the street improvement project seems to be stalled with work halfway done — old lighting removed, street surface damaged, striping not visible — the situation that currently exists is very dangerous, and one young woman was killed crossing the street on a dark night in March.
This area has recently seen the wonderful development of several businesses, some owned by residents, that cater to our broader community. These businesses have generated both car and pedestrian traffic along this corridor. County buses pick up passengers along this road. Students have been crossing this street daily on their way to DASH, Miami Arts Charter and Archbishop Curley Notre Dame schools. We need the long-promised improvements to the street completed to improve safety, functionality and the appearance of this street. The project, already funded and initiated, includes multiple safety features, including:· Adequate sidewalks
· Parking lanes
· Bike lanes
· Clear street striping
· Functional street lighting
· Maintenance for the large swale trees, additional trees/green where possible.
What happened to this project? We demand answers and a clear timeline for its completion. Residents and patrons of our businesses should not be placed at such high risk. Thank you for your prompt response.
What a disgrace.
From Miami Urbanist:
Miami’s excessively high minimum parking requirements can prevent a great project from moving forward. A developer may have a brilliant idea for a site, but if he or she cannot accommodate parking within the footprint of the site the project will likely not break ground. The sad truth is that parking dictates development in Miami and minimum parking requirements have a significant negative impact on the development of our city.
Livable Places gives a great summary of the problems created with minimum parking requirements. Below you will also find some of their suggested “Smart” solutions for dealing with parking.
The Problems with Minimum Parking Requirements
Creates excess parking
Minimum parking requirements are usually set arbitrarily by city planners from standardized transportation planning manuals, which typically measure parking and trip generation rates in suburban areas at peak periods with ample free parking and no public transit. These parking standards can cause an oversupply of parking – taking up valuable land and lowering the price of parking below cost.
Promotes automobile use
Providing plentiful and free parking encourages automobile use and discourages walking, cycling and transit use. Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA recognized as a leading scholar on parking issues, compares minimum parking requirements that mandate excessive off-street parking to “fertility drugs for cars.” By generating more car trips, inefficient parking requirements contribute to increased air pollution and reduced physical activity.
Increases the cost of development
Requiring developers to provide large amounts of off-street parking significantly adds to the cost of new development, especially in urban areas where land costs are high. These costs are typically passed to consumers, through higher housing prices and rents.
|Average development cost of parking (excluding land)|
Type of parking facility
|Multi-level above ground||$10,000|
“Smart” Solutions for Dealing with Parking
Reduce minimum parking standards
Urban planners need to re-examine parking demand in urban areas where land and parking costs are higher, and transportation alternatives exist. Reducing minimum parking requirements will help to create more livable communities by reducing the abundant supply of free parking and encouraging transit use.
Establish maximum parking requirements near major transit stops
In areas well served by transit, planners should consider the use of maximum parking requirements to limit the amount of off-street parking built. These requirements prevent auto-oriented uses from occupying land near rail and bus stations, and encourage the creation of transit-oriented districts, or transit villages.
Unbundle the cost of parking in residential projects
Typically, the cost of parking is included in the home price or rent of a condominium or apartment. Unbundling the cost of parking from housing costs allows off-street parking to be priced in response to the actual demand for parking, and lets consumers pay the cost of their transportation choices.
Shared parking is an effective tool for reducing the number of parking spaces needed for a project or neighborhood. Shared parking strategies can be implemented within a new mixed-use development, through simple agreements between adjacent, or through a parking management district. Parking districts can also encourage pedestrian activity by encouraging people to park once and walk from destination to destination.
Car sharing programs allow many individuals to share access to a vehicle. Located within a housing development, car sharing can lower the average household vehicle ownership rate, reducing the demand for parking. Several car sharing companies are starting to partner with housing developers to include car sharing programs within their new developments.
Thankfully ULI will host an event on July 19th to discuss this very important issue that affects all of us and the future development of our city. Please forward this event notice to your city commissioners and your developer friends. It’s really important that they attend this event. Click here to signup.
This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. It was reprinted on TransitMiami.com with expressed written consent from the Author and the Editor of Better! Cities & Towns.
Miami Beach takes Infrastructure Beyond Gray
Claudia Kousoulas, Better! Cities & Towns
When cities invest in infrastructure, it’s often the gray stuff like roads and bridges. Or it’s hidden away like water and sewer pipes. Not to say that infrastructure isn’t interesting and vital to a city’s success, but it’s hard to get excited about.
But in Miami Beach, where everything seems to be more colorful and dramatic than most American cities, the latest round of infrastructure investments combine flamboyance and function. The city’s parking garages are featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lebron James is a fan of its bikeshare system, and the expanding network of streetscape and trail improvements weave the city together, from beach to bay.
“It is a coordinated effort,” says Richard Lorber, acting planning director. “Decobike has become a part of the city and we’ve incorporated it into our transportation thinking.” Likewise with streetscape improvements; despite initial concern about losing on-street parking spaces, residents recognize that the curb bump-outs, streetscaping, and landscaping add value to their properties.
High-style parking garages
Miami Beach has gotten the most press coverage for its public and private parking garages and in fact has set a new standard for not only garage design, but their integration with streets and city life. Architects whose names are usually attached to symphony halls and art museums are undertaking what used to be a pretty dull commission.
Herzog and deMeuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road garage functions equally as a party space, a retail anchor, and parking garage. Enrique Norten’s refined Park @420 pulls Lincoln Road’s retail activity around the corner, while Arquitectonica’s Purdy Avenue garage is also a retail anchor for Sunset Harbor, an emerging mixed-use neighborhood. Frank Gehry’s public garage, sheathed in steel mesh recalling his signature chain link, is lit to drift through a color palette that mirrors Miami sunsets. Zaha Hadid is proposing a structure that will swoop over a street and create a pedestrian plaza.
The trend toward high style garages began in 1995 with Arquitectonica’s Ballet Valet garage. The client, developer Tony Goldman who would go on to develop the Wynwood Arts District, spotted an opportunity on this neglected stretch of Collins Avenue. One block in from the beach and surrounded by clubs and hotels, the garage’s retail base kick-started redevelopment. Popularly known as the Chia Pet garage, Arquitectonica’s screen of plants became a local landmark.
Unlike the usual approach to garage design, which seeks to hide parking behind a liner building or false front, newer garages celebrate their position in our lives and communities. Most use texture, color, and pattern to create visual elegance. Herzog and De Meuron’s garage uses the drama of space and movement. Views shift and drop; every floor creates a different experience. From the outside, the blade-edged concrete slabs hover over dramatic skies and palm trees. Hadid’s proposed design is a modernist approach to the experience of moving through space.
Roger Howie of Hadid’s office says, “A simple premise of how to bring the street into the building guided our initial studies which then progressed into an expressed, continuous vehicular circulation path which provides a unique, even fun, experience for the user.”
But the designs also mediate between the car and the pedestrian. From an urban point of view, their relationship to the street is most important. Some, like Park@420, rely on a simple retail base, others like 1111 draw pedestrians in to experience the space. As well as retail, Hadid’s design includes an urban plaza and features stairs to create a gateway along the Collins Park axis. This sounds more like urban design than transportation engineering.
As well as experiments with screen and structure, the function of these garages is part of their design and economics. They are not places you would park and leave. You could spend the whole evening at 1111—from a sunset drink at the rooftop restaurant, on to dinner, then shopping and people watching in the plaza. Likewise, Arquitectonica’s Purdy Avenue seeks to combine design and function to transcend typical parking garage. “The idea was to create a hub of activity for residents and locals, a place to eat, exercise, and shop—with parking,” says Wendy Chernin of the Scott Robins Companies who worked with the city in a public-private partnership to build the project.
Decobike Cruises In
Miami Beach has added 2,741 new spaces with these garages, but the city’s approach is also multi-modal. Decobike has been operating in the city since 2011. In 2012 it expanded north to the Town of Surfside and is poised to cross the Biscayne Bay causeways into the City of Miami. On the beach, Decobike has achieved the best bike-to-resident ratio in North America, with the highest station distribution per square mile nationally. Each of the 1,000 bikes is used four to five times a day, one of the highest use rates in the country.
Decobike founders Colby Reese and Bonifacio Diaz first experienced bikeshare in Paris and Barcelona.
“We were amazed by the amount of usage on the systems. From there, it became a “green business concept that we fell in love with,” said Reese.
When the City of Miami Beach issued a request for proposals, Decobike responded with proposed locations based on their business model and use estimates. Lorber says that the city worked with them to approve the proposed locations or find appropriate alternatives. He points out that the system was initially approved without advertising on the bikes or docks, but Decobike has since requested to place ads.
“We’re not thrilled with the ads, but worked with them again to find appropriate locations,” says Lorber. “Decobike is so well loved and so important, we want them to have a healthy financial viability.”
There were initial reservations about use. Why would anyone use this service if they already owned a bicycle? But as Reese points out, with bikeshare there are no worries about theft or maintenance. And a well-distributed and stocked bike dock network makes Decobike convenient. Reese notes that once the docks were installed, they also adjusted rental and membership options to meet the demands of residents and visitors.
There was also some concern about turning over on-street parking spaces to bike docks, but the popularity of the system and a slew of new parking garages calmed those concerns. As Reese notes, using a parking space for 20 bikes that turn over four to five times a day is a more efficient use of public space.
Reese and Diaz recount these sensible planner answers, but neglect to mention just how much fun Decobike can be. Miami Beach is a flat city, with great weather and ocean views. A grid street pattern provides plenty of routes for commuting or sightseeing.
And just as the parking garages are a system designed to provide access, so is Decobike. Its expansion north into Surfside was the next step in expanding farther north to Haulover Park and west into the Town of Bay Harbor Islands. Duncan Tavares, planner for the Town of Surfside, says residents and businesses supported bikeshare from the start, and after smoothing some concerns about liability and location, so did elected officials.
Expanding Streetscape and Trails
Even within its street grid, the city is upgrading its network of trails and street paths for efficiency, safety, and pleasure. The city’s 2007 Atlantic Greenway Network Plan strived to establish routes that make local and regional bicycle and walking connections. Now that the State of Florida no longer allows wooden structures on the beach, each redevelopment or capital improvement completes another link. The overall effort re-engineers walking and cycling into car-oriented streets and public spaces.
While the Atlantic Greenway Network Plan makes beach to bay connections and runs along the beachfront, the City also considers neighborhood function and aesthetics in its streetscape improvements. The South Pointe Master Plan identifies 13 neighborhoods for a planned progress program of streetscape improvements. The plan works from eight typologies that include curb bump-outs, tree grates, lighting, shade trees, and what everyone wants to see when they come to Miami—palm trees.
As the city works its way through each neighborhood, citizens help develop a “basis of design” report that identifies designs and applications unique to each neighborhood. The resulting improvements, says Lorber, encourage people to walk by creating safe and comfortable streets for pedestrians and by corralling cars, but also include stormwater and drainage improvements.
While many of these designs take on a particular tropical style, they are also lessons for other communities. Garages that become landmarks and destinations, a continuing commitment to transportation alternatives and trail connections, and streetscape that adds value on every corner don’t need palm trees to be successful.
Claudia Kousoulas is a freelance writer and an urban planner with the Montgomery County Maryland Planning Department, where she blogs on The Straight Line.
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