Annexation Blocked By Miami-Dade County

After nearly three years, the Health and County Operations Committee of the Miami-Dade County Commission voted unanimously yesterday to end the City of Coral Gables’ annexation of High Pines, Ponce Davis and Little Gables.

Years of work and participation from Coral Gables staff, County staff, and community stake holders to bring this issue to a vote by residents, came down to a 4-person vote (Sally A. Heyman (4) Chairwoman; Xavier L. Suarez (7) Vice Chairman; , Jose “Pepe” Diaz (12), and Senator Javier D. Souto (10)).

The annexation of High Pines and Ponce Davis was discussed first. A large push had been made to block the measure by the fire union due to concerns over loss of revenue for Miami-Dade county’s fire department. The measure was voted down first.

Numerous residents from the Little Gables area and the City of Coral Gables spoke for and against the area’s annexation.

Residents against focused on the status of those residing in the trailer park located at the intersection of SW 44th Avenue and 9th Street. This became the issue of contention for the committee. When asked to explain what would come of the trailer park’s residents, Coral Gables City Manager, Peter Iglesias, fumbled for words and was unable to provide a satisfactory answer to the Committee.

Joining the chorus against annexation was the lobbyist for the Executive Motel, which was the subject of discussion by many residents who spoke in favor of annexation. The motel has long been a hotbed of concern due to alleged prostitution as it offers hourly room rates. Annexation would have ended this, as Coral Gables prohibits hourly rentals of rooms.

Residents who spoke in favor of annexation asked for the County to bring the issue to the ballot so that residents could decide their own fate. They mentioned a 2017 survey of Little Gables by County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa which showed a 68% of residents in favor of annexation. County staff explained that this survey had been sent to all Little Gables residents and that follow ups had been made to those who had not replied.

In the end, Chairwoman Heyman made a motion to block the annexation of Little Gables, explaining that she understood that the trailer park resident’s fate was a problem they themselves have not done enough to provide low income housing.

FULL ANNEXATION TIMELINE BY CITY OF CORAL GABLES

MEETING VIDEO

REACTION

LITTLE GABLES NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: “We are extremely disappointed with the County Commission sub-Committee decision today.  Their votes do not reflect the wish of the majority of the Little Gables neighborhood.  We will examine our options to bring this back at some point down the road so the residents, including the residents from the trailer park, can ultimately vote on this issue.”

VICE MAYOR VINCE LAGO: “For the past two years I have advocated and continue to support the concept of annexing both High Pines/ Ponce Davis and the Little Gables area. Today’s decision leaves many issues to be resolved and the majority of North Gables residents concerned in regards to the business practices of the 8th street motels. The polling numbers over the past few years have been overwhelmingly in favor of annexation, but at today’s committee meeting we witnessed special interests on behalf of the motels misrepresent the truth and eventually stifle democracy. These two separate areas would have greatly benefited from the city of Coral Gables’ first class services and amenities (police, fire, garbage/recycling, parks, etc), and not to mention it would have resolved service pockets for the County, which today recommended for annexation. I would like to thank our staff, consultants and residents who worked diligently for years in an effort to finally square off our city. Your commitment is admirable and based in good faith.”

COMMISSIONER MICHAEL MENA: “It is no secret that I voted against annexing Little Gables two years ago, largely because I was not comfortable with the trailer park situation there, but also because of the various zoning issues and the revenue shortfall that would have resulted for that area. As a whole, I did not see how it improved the quality of life of our existing residents. I voted in favor of annexing High Pines/Ponce Davis because those issues were not present there and it would create a significant revenue surplus. However, both votes passed and we moved forward as a City. It became very evident a few weeks ago, however, that politics were derailing the process at the County. The Dade Firefighters Union got heavily involved because of concerns over the impact of the tax revenues the County would be losing from the High Pines/Ponce Davis area. Then the County pulled a condition out of left field that would require us to transfer a piece of property to them (our transfer station out on 72nd Avenue) that is valued at close to $10 million if we wanted to proceed (which they knew was a non starter). Then the committee that met today cancelled this hearing twice. At that point the writing was on the wall. I feel badly for the many staff members who put so much effort into this and the many residents who overwhelmingly supported this when we polled over a year ago. If the County had no intention of allowing it, I wish they would have just said that from the beginning.  At this point, as a City, it is time for us to move on from this issue and focus time and energy on the issues impacting our residents.”  

COMMISSIONER JORGE L. FORS, JR.: “From the outset, I have been cautious of plans to annex Little Gables, largely because Coral Gables residents never had a say in the matter and the  finances were questionable. Many claimed it was a ‘done deal’. During my campaign, I learned that residents shared my concerns and I voiced it at today’s meeting. Now it’s clear that it was not a ‘done deal.'”

POLL RESULTS:

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10 thoughts on “Annexation Blocked By Miami-Dade County

  1. This is great news for our High Pines/Ponce Davis neighborhoods! The city of Coral Gables was simply out to get our money. They were going to get a multi-million dollar windfall with our taxes and still had the audacity to say that they were going to increase our taxes even further. What greed… The services that we currently enjoy from the county are just fine. We do not need the city eroding away our freedoms by their over regulation, rules, zoning and design review process.

  2. Dear Frank,

    I have no recollection of the incidents you described as I always try my very best to listen to the concerns of residents. Since I first became elected in 2014, I have made it my #1 priority to represent the residents of Coral Gables to the best of my ability. For this reason, I keep an open line of communication through: open door office hours twice a month (every other Friday), provide information on multiple social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, send out a monthly e-newsletter to thousands of residents each month and; I have consistently held Town Hall meetings twice a year, where many residents come to learn about important updates.

    I will always make myself available and if you would like to speak with me at any moment, please feel free to call me directly at 786-397-3957. For your information, my next Town Hall meeting will be taking place on July 31, from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm at the Adult Activity Center (2 Andalusia) and my next open door office hours will be held on July 26 from 3 pm- 5:00 pm at Coral Gables City Hall in my office on the 2nd Floor. I can also make myself available to meet/talk today if you’d like. I invite you to come visit, participate, or call me any time, my door is always open!

    All the best,
    Vince Lago

  3. CG residents were never consulted on the annexation issue. I attended an information meeting that I assumed was for all impacted, only to learn that it was for little Gables residents only. Mr Lago was sitting in the back of the room and when I attempted to learn about the process, he quickly brushed me off. That did not shock me as it had happened to me once before at another event where he left me at mid sentence once he saw someone who I guess is a contributor to his campaigns. Bottom line, many of our commissioners consider themselves above the CG residents and do not think they ought to be heard. Fortunately, we still have elections and my wife and I have a 100% participation record…

  4. Article says the judge motioned to block Little Gables from being annexed but does not mention High Pines/Ponce Davis.

    Can anyone clarify what happens now? Does 1 area get annexed but the other does not?

  5. Please consider building dedicated pickleball courts. The sport is exploding all over the country.

  6. I support annexation of High Pines/ Ponce Davis and the immediate area but not the Little Gables. That area is not up to our standards and there are all the known problems with annexation. I would like to know what are the real real reasons which I do not believe has been disclosed as to why the city has for so long wanted to annex that horrible slum area–which is definitely not Coral Gables.

  7. Bad move for the Gables allowing Cheesecake Factory in. This will only bring in a bad crowd and slowly erode Coral Gables into a 3rd world city. We already have issues with House, Plomo and Copper 29. City will have to station more law enforcement at these establishments.

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