Current BHA News
BHA News, Vol. XII, No. 3 Fall
Penelas Presents People's Transportation Plan to BHA
On November 5, Miami-Dade County
voters will be asked to vote on a measure to provide a dedicated
source of revenue for major mass transportation improvements
countywide through a half-penny sales tax.
Mayor Alex Penelas attended the Brickell Homeowners Association's
October Board of Directors meeting to explain the plan, answer
questions and advocate for voter support. The Mayor stressed
the critical, urgent need for the half-penny, which is projected
to generate $140 to $150 million annually, plus potentially the
same amount matched by the federal government:
"We're one of the few areas in the United States that doesn't
have a dedicated local funding source, needed to get the federal
match," the Mayor pointed out. It will take this huge amount
of funding over many years to begin to address the needs of the
rapidly growing, expansive county. Beyond the mere inconvenience
of traffic delays, the transportation outlook in Miami-Dade is
pivotal to our future, Mayor Penelas said:
"We all know that transportation is a serious issue, a quality
of life issue, a business viability issue. Our ability to compete
as the Gateway of the Americas is dependent on transportation.
When global companies sit down to look at where to locate and
see that it takes one-and-a-half hours to go from the seaport
to the airport -- which is not all that uncommon -- it's a problem,"
the Mayor said.
Mayor Penelas acknowledged the County's last attempt to implement
a transit tax plan in 1999 for a full penny failed due to mistakes
made in the communication of the plan to voters, and because
of the strong mistrust of government that permeated the landscape
then, and continues today.
"The #1 issue that emerged: "We don't trust you; we
don't want to give you any more of our money," the Mayor
said they learned when talking to people about introducing the
concept this time around. "That was the overriding theme
and concern that we heard over and over again."
Oversight Board is Key
"What anchors the People's Transportation Plan is the
Citizens Independent Transit Trust," Mayor Penelas said.
This oversight committee of 15 will be slated by an independent
nominating committee, which will present each Miami-Dade Commissioner
with four choices for their district's representation. Each Commissioner
can ask for only one additional slate of four candidates. In
addition to the 13 County Commission district positions, one
appointment will come from the County Mayor and one from the
Miami-Dade League of Cities.
"It's never simple for an elected official to look you in
the eye and say we need more of your money to solve problems,"
the Mayor told BHA representatives. "You elected me to be
the macro visionary for the Miami-Dade region. I'm telling you
this is the most serious problem we face."
The plan lays out a timetable for 89 miles of Metrorail expansion
starting first with an east-west extension connecting the seaport
to the airport and west to the Florida Turnpike. A Baylink Corridor
would connect Downtown Miami to Miami Beach and the Northeast
Corridor would connect Downtown Miami to Northeast Miami-Dade.
A 47 percent increase in bus routes with more frequent service,
a free Metromover for all and free mass transit for all people
65 years of age and older regardless of income are also part
of the plan. The plan will also provide some level of funding
for examining the feasibility of a tunnel under the Miami River,
although how much would be allocated wasn't clear.
Additional, Not Replacement Funds
Of the projected $140-150 million expected to be raised locally,
40 percent will be paid by tourists, including those 80,000 Broward
County residents who work in Miami-Dade.A "maintenance of
effort" component of the plan ensures that the tax will
supply additional revenues for transit improvements, the Mayor
emphasized. This means that municipal and county funds currently
in place for transit will remain in the budget and not be replaced
by the new revenue.
Another key element of the plan would allocate about 20 percent
of the total annual revenue to be divided among each municipality
in the Miami-Dade on a pro rata basis for transit-related and
transportation improvements in their cities.
More information is provided on the People's Transportation Plan
available in three languages.
Three Candidates, Supports Mayor's Transit Plan
The Brickell Neighborhood Political
Action Committee announced its endorsement of the Jeb Bush candidacy
for reelection as governor for the State of Florida. Jeb Bush,
who received the PAC's endorsement four years ago when he first
won office over Buddy McKay, was chosen over Bill McBride, the
Democratic challenger for the Tallahassee top seat.
In the U.S. House of Representatives 18th District race, the
Brickell Neighborhood PAC endorsed incumbent Ileana Ros-Letinen,
a political veteran who has been a friend and advocate for the
Brickell area. Most recently she recognized the work of the Brickell
Homeowners Association, lauding the BHA's community leadership
to be forever noted in the Congressional Record. Congresswoman
Ros-Letinen is credited with a many accomplishments in Washington,
DC, for Miami, especially for garnering $21 million in federal
funding for the dredging of the Miami River, working closely
with Senator Bob Graham.
State Representative Gustavo Barreiro also received the Brickell
Neighborhood PAC's endorsement for his candidacy for a second
term in Tallahassee representing District 107, which includes
a significant portion of Brickell Homeowners Association residents.
Running against newcomer Rafael Antonio Velasquez, Brickell leadership
has found Representaive Barreiro to be responsive and accessible,
and looks forward to working with him on matters of importance
to the Brickell area.
PAC Gives Nod to Transit Surtax
The Brickell Neighborhood PAC took a stand in favor of the
Miami-Dade County ordinance calling for a half-penny sales surtax
for transit system capital improvements. Recommending a "yes"
vote to Brickell neighborhood voters, PAC steering committee
members viewed the proposed East-West corridor linkage, bus service
expansion and Metrorail expansions as critical to improved quality
of life throughout the County and essential to Miami's position
as a vital, healthy metropolis and world-class city. If passed,
the surtax would provide a funding mechanism to extend the Brickell
Shuttle service, which doesn't have a dedicated source of operational
funding after mid-2003, according to Mayor Penelas.
"Home Rule" Amendment Opposed
The PAC took a stand on only one of the 10 state constitutional
amendments that will be on the November 5 ballot: No. 3, a critically
important but little understood amendment, the "Home Rule"
question. The PAC is against Constitutional Amendment No. 3,
which if passed, is largely viewed as presenting a serious risk
to our local government's autonomy.
The Brickell Neighborhood
PAC, a separate organization from the BHA, was formed in 1997
to provide Brickell Neighbors a voice in the political process
on candidates and issues of importance to the Brickell residential
Column By T. Sinclair (Tory) Jacobs: Happy Birthday, Henry! Father & Mentor For
Brickell Homeowners Association
On December 12, 2002, Henry H. Taylor, Jr., Esq. will celebrate
his 90th birthday.
Henry just had his drivers license renewed for another six years.
On the links, Henry spots strokes to men half his age. His creativity
is going strong. Nowhere has his energy, sound judgment and innovative
mind contributed more than in his personal sponsorship of BHA.
Its formation in 1990 was at his suggestion. His law firm prepared
the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws at no charge. He
and his firm have well served BHA pro bono on so many issues
over the years.
Early on, Henry recognized the need for a newsletter to connect
our members, thus BHA News.
But Henry's most significant contribution to BHA has been his
sound advice, his keen judgment and his sensitivity. The success
of BHA has been largely due to a continuing sense of consensus
on the many issues we have confronted. We have been able to avoid
the divisiveness that hampers so many organizations. And, it
has been Henry's quiet guidance that has kept us on course.
Now, on the occasion of Henry's 90th birthday, join me in thanking
Henry and in expressing our appreciation for his generous support.
Happy Birthday, Henry! And many more!
Noise Abatement: Nothing Yet After Five Years
"This document has been
five years in the making, proposes changes impacting only six
percent of the entire Miami Airport operation, and nothing's
been achieved," said Task Force member Patrick McCoy.
For two years members of the Airplane Noise Abatement Task Force
had been waiting patiently for the Federal Aviation Administration
to approve a proposal that would make the first inroads -- albeit
baby steps -- toward establishing a noise abatement program at
MIA. The big answer everyone was waiting for would impose noise
abatement measures on about six percent of total airplane traffic:
flights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., roughly around 40 a night,
give or take a few. For the only major city in the entire United
States without a noise abatement program, this seemed a small,
reasonable way to begin.
Imagine the dismay of Task Force volunteers when they learned
that all the while they were awaiting a "decision"
by the FAA, that decision had been long-ago pre-empted by airport
officials. It turns out that back in April 2000, according to
what members of the Task Force recently learned, the Miami Airport
Tower Chief had officially filed a letter to the FAA stating
the airport's objections to the steps that were to going to be
proposed in the Environmental Assessment. That meant that the
FAA wouldn't even consider the proposal when they received it:
there has to be local agreement between the airport and the local
FAA chief before the FAA will make a ruling. So, when the Task
Force's Environmental Assessment was delivered to the FAA in
Atlanta in December 2000, it was a useless submission. But members
of the Task Force didn't know that, and instead worked with airport
officials for months preparing the document and then waited expectantly
for something that wasn't ever going to come. Waited two years.
Task Force members feel duped, to say the least. Afterall, Jeff
Bunting, Bruce Drum and other senior officials "in the know"
from Miami-Dade Aviation serve on the Task Force.
At the urging of Task Force members, in August the City of Miami
hired noise abatement consultant Ray Nugent who has the background
and technical expertise to guide the non-aeronautics professionals
through the process and look out for their interests. He is in
the process of evaluating the airport's 1,000-page Environmental
Impact Statement from which the Environmental Assessment document
Since Nugent's arrival a few real positive steps have taken place.
In September, the local Tower Chief and MIA wrote a letter to
the FAA stating that now the noise abatement steps proposed two
years ago would be acceptable with a few modifications. The problem
is that a lot has happened in the past two years and the assessment
might not be current enough for the FAA. Representatives of Miami-Dade
Aviation and Patrick McCoy, a 25-year pilot and community activist
on the Task Force are going to Atlanta to discuss this with the
FAA at the end of October.
"Now that it's two years old, we really have to figure out
where the FAA stands." McCoy said.
Despite the disappointing delays, the Task Force remains on task,
hoping this meeting with the FAA is the beginning of real progress.
Bus Bench Fiasco & Where it Stands...
Representatives from Sarmiento
Outdoor Advertising, the company responsible for the new bus
benches and advertising panels, met with BHA Directors to discuss
remedies to the bus bench design and advertising plan that created
the uproar throughout the City of Miami and City Hall a few months
Sarmiento reported they are working with the City of Miami to
revise their original plans so that in non-commercial areas they
eliminate the advertising panels that began blocking sidewalks
and visually polluting Brickell Avenue and other roadways in
July. BHA and other residential neighborhoods have said since
January 2002 that they do not want the commercial messages in
their front yards. Sarmiento told BHA Directors in mid-September
that the four panels that were installed on Brickell Avenue will
be removed, however, all four still remain, not coming out nearly
as quickly as they appeared.
vu Dread: Brickell Resurfacing on the Horizon
From the archive of Brickell Homeowners
issues that ended less than satisfactorily, it's time to anticipate
Brickell Avenue repaving again by the Florida Department of Transportation.
Many residents who have lived in the area since 1995 remember
the last resurfacing project for Brickell Avenue as a bitter
disappointment, with the finished roadway a spotty patchwork
of unmatched concrete slabs. The FDOT's end product, most residents
felt, was unattractive and noisy and not befitting Brickell Avenue,
the entryway to the heart of Miami.
The BHA was unsuccessful then in its attempts to convince FDOT
that a different surface or a more complete overhaul was needed.
That will have been a decade ago by the time this project comes
around for actual execution, currently among the FDOT's 2006
list of projects.
The BHA's input is being sought again as planning begins by FDOT,
the State agency charged with oversight of Brickell Avenue as
part of U.S. Highway 1. BHA will solicit the input of its members
and new neighbors in the area robust with development. BHA directors
are optimistic that the collective stakeholders can ensure a
grand, attractive Brickell Avenue roadway that bespeaks the world-class
status for which Miami strives.
Revisit the saga of the 1995-96 resurfacing project by clicking
Also on the Ballot
On November 5th City of Miami voters
will be asked to consider an intiative to increase the pay City
of Miami Commissioners from the token pay they've historically
received to 60 percent of the mayor's salary. The BHA has supported
this effort in the past, which our Commissioner Johnny Winton
supports. Many believe that only with a realistic salary for
the job can we expect to get the most qualified pool of candidates
for elected leadership.
to Offer Holiday Trees in the 'Hood
Look for holiday trees in a pavilion
behind the Immanual Lutheran Church (17th block of Brickell)
selling holiday trees beginning the day after Thanksgiving. They
plan to offer delivery service in the neighborhood. Proceeds
will benefit a list of charities. All this assumes the City provides
them with the necessary permits.
you know about the Brickell Shuttle?
The Brickell Shuttle provides
a 2.2-mile service loop connecting Brickell Key, the Brickell
Commercial District in Downtown Miami, Brickell Bay Drive, Brickell
Avenue, Metrobus, Metromover and Metrorail. Two shuttle buses
are currently operating.
Continue with Fall 2002 BHA News
Feature: Brickell Boom