On Tuesday, May 11th, the Coral Gables City Commission will convene for the first official meeting of the newly sworn-in Commission. Here is what is in store:
Mayor Vince Lago will lead a discussion regarding his Listening Tour and the Strategic Priorities Plan.
Ordinances On First Reading
F-1: authorizing entering into a Purchase and Sale Agreement for the sale of the City-owned surface parking lot (#31) at 350 Greco Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134 (Folio No. 03-4120-017-2240) to JRFQ Holdings, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company; providing for a severability clause, repealer provision and providing for an effective date.
This item leaves many unanswered questions. Supporting documents presented by City staff explain that the developer of the project would be purchasing this lot ($3.5 million) to join with two adjacent lots with the purpose of building a new project. The developer will create a parking garage with 34-public parking spaces to replace the current surface lot. However, the documentation does not show what the developer plans to build or high the project is intended to be. Will it be a parking pedestal? Will it be another high rise? These questions are not answered by City staff who is pushing for this sale to go forward.
Residents in this area have been asking for a pocket park for years, in particular with the 1.3 million square foot Gables Station being completed at the corner of US1 and LeJeune Road coming online with its 66-unit hotel and 450 residential units opening soon.
This surface lot was used as the City’s COVID-19 testing site.
Items F-2 and F-3 refer to extensions of provisions made for businesses to facilitate operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, extending such provisions until January 15, 2022.
F-4: encouraging the Florida Public Service Commission to reform decades-old economic screening practices in setting energy savings goals for Florida electric utilities to comport with national best practices in order to promote the smarter use of energy, through efficiency programs, to Florida’s commercial and residential customers. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago)
Purpose: “Reforming goal setting and reforming customer programs to national best practices will generally lead to more robust energy efficiency programs offered to residential and commercial customers that will reduce energy waste and provide economic and environmental benefits.”
F-5: approving the petition language for the Cocoplum Phase 1 Street Lighting Special Taxing District to increase the proposed amount of streetlights and change the assessment method. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago)
Background: “On April 1, 2021, the City of Coral Gables received a letter of intent from over 20% of the homeowners
within the Cocoplum Phase One Street Lighting Special Taxing District (“Cocoplum”) requesting a modification to Cocoplum to increase the proposed streetlights from 55 to 123 lights and changing the method of assessment from assessing on the basis of lot frontage to applying a per parcel charge. A petition has been created and in accordance with the Special Taxing District Amendment process the City of Coral Gables Commission must approve the petition prior to its distribution.”
City Commission Items
G-1: follows along the lines of F-2 and F-3 above.
G-2: supporting the expansion of defensive tactics training for Coral Gables police officers and Police Department personnel. (Sponsored by Commissioner Fors)
The purpose of this item is to promote the training of Coral Gables police officers and personnel in defensive tactics with the goal of ensuring “the proper and effective use of these methods for the safety of both officers and suspects.”
G-4: Briefing on the conceptual “Youth Zone” initiative involving traffic in areas with high youth activity. (Sponsored by Commissioner Fors)
Commissioner Jorge L. Fors, Jr., is sponsoring this item, which he discussed at the last Commission meeting. Gables Insider reached out to Commissioner Fors for more details about this project. He explained the following: “Imagine something like a school zone, with its distinctive theme, feel, visual cues, and rules that drivers are programmed to react to, but In areas with high youth activity where there is no school. Even the most unruly drivers exhibit more caution than usual when they receive these cues and realize they are in a special zone (not just a lower speed limit zone). It is truly a “zone” within which drivers know the rules are different. My vision is to create a different but similar type of zone for youth centric areas (the youth center, parks, etc) with its own theme and measures modeled after school zones. Maybe a green theme instead of yellow one but imagine it being a close relative of a school zone. The term ‘youth zone’ is a place holder, another idea for a name could be ‘play zone’— although it’s important to me that the gravity of the zone remains very serious, I’m going for a true legal, traffic zone, not merely signs asking drivers to be careful with kids.”
G-5: A discussion item on development transparency and Zoning Code amendments. (Sponsored by Commissioner Anderson)
Commissioner Rhonda Anderson has clearly hit the ground running, immediately starting a discussion on key campaign promises she made. Anderson sent a memo to her fellow Commissioners outlining areas that required action. Among these are:
- “It is respectfully submitted that our Commission should amend ordinances that: Allow “as of right” commercial and mixed-use projects without review by the Planning and Zoning Board and without notice to residents, business owners and property owners located within 1,500 feet of a proposed project. Notice and comments from all stakeholders should be required because it invariably results in better projects.”
- “It is respectfully submitted that our Commission should amend ordinances that: Ordinances that permit the City Attorney or City Manager to alter or amend site plans to: change the type of use or business, increase density or intensity, decrease set-backs or step-backs, decrease parking requirements, decrease bicycle parking requirements, decrease ground level green space, permit or inherently require the removal and destruction of healthy trees over 12 feet tall, or negatively impact the value of surrounding properties, businesses, or the overall quality of life.”
- “to increase transparency, a city-wide project “dashboard” of all commercial and mixed-use projects or proposed site plans that Development Services receives must be added to the City’s website.”
- “the Mediterranean Ordinance must be amended to preserve the quality of architecture, character and livability of Coral Gables. In the interim, the Level 1 Mediterranean bonus should be immediately suspended in order to avoid the approval of a flood of projects during the amendment process.”
- “the requirement to seek a variance to increase set-backs should be eliminated. Green space and open space shaded with tree canopy should be promoted, and shaded, safe and walkable pedestrian corridors must be required and promoted.”
Time certain 12:30PM, will be Miami-Dade County Commissioner Raquel A. Regalado.
Watch the Commission Meeting Live
The Commission meeting will be available via zoom: https://zoom.us/j/3054466800