The Mayor’s Report Card

A Review of Mayor Lago’s Strategic Priorities Plan

When Mayor Vince Lago was elected in May 2021, he set in motion a “listening tour” – a 100-day process during which he met with more than 300 residents, businesses, neighborhood associations, and civic organizations to create a strategic plan of action for the city. An online survey, with more than 1,100 responses, also contributed input. The final plan came down to nine priorities (eight at the time, with a ninth added later), each of which came with specific tasks.

The mayor also set up an advisory committee of citizens to monitor progress and offer feedback. The plan is now memorialized on the city’s new website, and can be found, along with citizen input, on the mayor’s page. Here are the priorities, and some of the accomplishments as assessed by the citizens’ committee:

1. Transparency

Disclose Mayor’s Offices expenses online – DONE
Make city info easily accessible on website – WORKING

2. Accountability

Create oversight task force – DONE.
Make public the activity of lobbyists – DONE
Conduct independent financial analyses – WORKING
Make developers stick to their agreements – WORKING

3. Engage Everyone with Outreach

Conduct listening tour – DONE
Hold bi-annual town hall meetings – DONE
Hold weekly open office hours – DONE
Create resident newsletters – DONE

4. Community Enhancement

Expand trolley service – DONE
Increase number of parks and greenspaces – DONE
Create more public art & cultural events – DONE
Address traffic concerns – WORKING

5. Environmental Stewardship

Host clean-up events – DONE
Allow use of metal roofs in zoning code – WORKING
Relocate and/or remove invasive species – WORKING
Advance sustainable initiatives – WORKING

6. Preservation of Historic Integrity

Adhere to the zoning code – DONE
Reevaluate Med Bonus program – DONE
Complete restoration of Fink Studio – DONE
Promote undergrounding of FPL lines – WORKING

7. A Safe and Healthy City

Ensure Covid protocols for safety – DONE
Work with other cities to stop prostitution – DONE
Square off city’s borders (annex High Pines/Ponce Davis) to improve safety – WORKING

8. Customer Focused Service

Make mobile-permit program available – DONE
Make city website more user-friendly – DONE
Create program to assist seniors with permits – WORKING
Improve permit turnaround times – WORKING

9. Trailblazing with Technology

Communicate the city’s IT initiatives to residents – WORKING
Support a city mobile application for information alerts – WORKING

Transparency was the early front-runner for what residents wanted to see in city government. “It is the focal point of everything that encompasses the mayor’s vision,” said Chelsea Granell, the mayor’s chief community engagement and policy advisor, in a presentation to the City Commission. But as the plan evolved, and more input was received, the top priority became ensuring public safety, said Mayor Lago, which was the top concern of citizens responding online.

As far as other priorities go, “I was really surprised by people’s interest in having more green space in the downtown,” said Mayor Lago. “And that has been incorporated to improve development, along with purchasing open space in the city,” he told Coral Gables Magazine.

The final element was to establish a Mayor’s Council to oversee the plan, comprised of seven residents, including Coral Gables Chamber president Mark Trowbridge, Coral Gables Community Foundation director Mary Snow, and perennial commission gadfly Maria Cruz. “Transparency is one of the things residents have clamored for, and that is why the Mayor’s Council meets once a month,” says Mayor Lago. It was the Council which added item #9, pushing for a mobile app to provide residents with real-time alerts