The City of Miami’s plan to finance their portion of the global agreement hit a roadblock last week when the County Commission deferred the approval of a findings of necessity study which declares Watson Island and Bicentennial park to be “irreversible slum and blight”.  It is rumored that the Commission did not have enough votes to pass the controversial and potentially, illegal plan.

The plan, approved by the Miami City Commission, constitutes three steps:

  1. A Findings of Necessity study declaring Bicentennial Park and Watson Island to be slum and blight. The report, completed in May 2009 by Guillermo Olmedillo, concluded that “the existing conditions of slum and blight, if left unattended, will continue to flourish within the Study Area and beyond into the existing Omni Redevelopment Area and adjacent neighborhoods. These serious and growing conditions of slum and blight constitute an economic and social liability to the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, and will impose onerous burdens including increased consumption of the municipal and County revenues for public services, such as to public safety, transportation, and infrastructure within the Study Area”
  2. Modify the ONMI Redevelopment plan to expand the boundaries of the Community Redevelopment Area to include Watson Island and Bicentennial Park (CRA monies cannot be legally spent outside the CRA boundaries), specifically mention the Port Tunnel, Streetcar, and Museum Park as desirable projects for “redevelopment”
  3. Issue $100-150 million in bonds against future Tax increment revenues and use the funds to finance the City of Miami’s obligation to contribute $50 million to the Port Tunnel, $20 million for the Miami Streetcar and up to $75 million to the Museum Park project.
The plan has been contested vigorously by stakeholders in the neighborhood, who have filed a 120 page complaint with Miami-Dade County about the City of Miami CRA’s . The complaint alleges that the City and County have manufactured slum and blight in order to redirect funds from their intended purpose of jobs, housing and quality of life improvement.  This may be a violation of State and Federal law, which has clear criteria for the use of HUD and redevelopment funds.  If the City does not maintain their own properties, despite millions of income from rent and special events, they allege, this does not constitute “irreversible slum and blight”. There are also the alleged procedural violations that occurred during the prior adminstation’s rush to get the plan through.  F.S Statute 163 pt III requires public hearings and proper notice about major modifications to a Redevelopment Plan – the last public hearings occurred in 2004 and 2005 and the plan underwent major modifications in May 2009.
The plan was passed by the CRA Board at an emergency meeting on September 29th with less than 24 hour notice given to the community.  A non-noticed meeting of the Miami City Commission to approve the plan was then held at midnight, less than 6 hours after the last modifications to the Redevelopment plan.

The item is scheduled on the County Commission agenda for November 17 as a public hearing.  Hopefully they will take their responsibility to regulate the Redevelopment Agencies seriously. This would involve ensuring that the proper procedures and citizen participation occurs this time around as well as investigating the legal and moral issues surrounding the issues of redirecting money from the poor to fund mega projects for the rich.

One Response to Port Tunnel Hits A Roadblock

  1. Anon says:

    CRA money can absolutely be spent outside the boundary, if it will benefit the CRA, such as by alleviating traffic.

       0 likes

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