At Its Last Meeting in October and in Its November Meeting the City Commission:
RESOLVED 5-0 TO ACCEPT, from the Florida Department of Transportation: $22,600 for an automatic passenger counting system for the city’s trolleys; $34,000 to install trolley stop signs; $130,450 to extend trolley service to Saturdays; $170,299 to extend trolley hours into the evening.
VOTED 5-0 TO AUTHORIZE a special fund for the “extraordinary maintenance” of public art.
VOTED 5-0 TO APPROVE, on first reading, a tightening of the Mediterranean Ordinance which incentivizes developers to build in the Mediterranean style. A second vote is required for final approval. The commission also voted to end the moratorium on new projects using the Mediterranean style to seek bonuses for added height and density.
VOTED 5-0 TO APPROVE, on first reading, an amendment to the zoning code so that new developments along the transportation corridor (US1 and the Metrorail) follow the most restrictive zoning provisions. This is another salvo in the battle between the city and county regarding development along the corridor. A second vote is required for final approval. “We want to control our destiny,” said Mayor Vince Lago.
DEMANDED THAT PROFESSIONAL Parking Management, which operates private parking lots in the city, change their signage and ticketing processes so that residents who park there understand they are not city lots, that the tickets do not carry civil or criminal penalties and that ticket recipients will not be towed or booted (both against city rules).
VOTED 5-0 TO CREATE A “Landmarks Advisory Board” that will make recommendations for the maintenance and creation of new entrance landmarks for the city.
VOTED 5-0 TO LIMIT THE testing of home generator systems to week- days between 11 am and 2 pm, and to 70 decibels in residential areas.
LISTENED TO A PRESENTATION on the lack of sidewalk access on city bridges, many of which are not connected to sidewalks or have steep drop-offs that make pedestrian use difficult and handicap use impossible. A report on their repair and upgrade is expected in December.
VOTED 5-0 TO APPROVE, on first reading, approval of a one-full block (2.6 acre) planned area development called “Gables Village,” a low-rise complex of Mediterranean style residences. The blockis bound by Segovia Street, Hernando Street, Malaga Avenue and Santandar Avenue. A second vote is required for final approval.
VOTED 5-0 TO AUTHORIZE up to $150,000 for defensive training of Coral Gables police officers, on a session-by-session basis, by Coral Gables-based Kaizen Defensive Tactics.
VOTED 5-0 TO APPROVE the site plan for the futuristic 10-story, $40 million Mobility Hub, despite strong pushback from residents and community organizations. The new structure will have a public park on its top floor and retail on the ground floor, with parking for 626 cars. The Hub will replace parking garage No.1 (on Andalusia Avenue next to the Miracle eater) which currently has space for 210 cars. Commissioners felt the need to build a modern structure that could be repurposed in the future while supplying much needed parking for Miracle Mile in the meantime.
Civic activist Maria Cruz called the building “a beautiful monster” that does not fit in the Gables. Commissioners felt a Mediterranean parking building would be too heavy (the new hub is airy and will glow at night) and “obsolete the day it broke ground,” said Commissioner Kirk Menendez. Commissioner Michael Mena showed slides with examples of modern architecture in historic cities, saying, “I think there is room in a world class city to have other types of architecture.” Only Commissioner Rhonda Anderson objected to the “skin” of the building, suggesting the use of living walls of green plants instead of aluminum ribbing. The commission agreed to another December vote on the aesthetics of the outer shell.
In Other Community News
U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT recently inaugurated an annual report to rank the best U.S. public elementary and middle schools, based on test results, graduation rates and other measures. The list includes, as you would expect, some of the institutions in the Gables. Of the top three public elementary schools in Miami-Dade County, two are here: The Henry S. West Laboratory School (aka West Lab), a magnet school on the University of Miami Campus, and Sunset Elementary, a magnet school with an international studies program. (The third was Somerset Academy in South Miami). Among the public middle schools, West Lab was also one of the top three.