Baños is the Editor of Gables Insider
In a session on November 14, Coral Gables’ city commission signaled a potential end to the long-debated annexation of Little Gables, shifting the decision to a public vote or survey. After years of contentious debate and considerable expenditure, the commission’s decision reflects the deep divisions and complexities surrounding the issue.
The annexation, which had been in the works since a thwarted 2017 initiative, has been a persistent topic of civic discussion. The recent proceedings saw only a slender majority of 21 percent of registered voters in Little Gables approving the measure, a figure that now awaits validation from the department of elections.
While proponents of the annexation, including Mayor Vince Lago and Vice Mayor Anderson emphasized the prospective financial benefits and enhancement in property values, their arguments were met with skepticism. The potential upfront costs, estimated in millions, to upgrade Little Gables to the city’s standards, weighed heavily on the debate.
Commissioners Menendez, Castro, and Fernandez underscored the near-term financial burdens and the speculative nature of the projected fiscal gains. At the urging of Commissioner Fernandez, the commission resolved to consider resolutions at the December meeting to let Coral Gables’ electorate decide the fate of the annexation.
Mayor Lago, advocating for the commission’s authority, contended that the decision should be handled by elected officials rather than through a public referendum, suggesting that a direct vote could jeopardize the annexation’s success. However, his stance was perceived by some as an attempt to avert a likely defeat in a public vote, given the public sentiment expressed in townhalls and meetings.
The fate of Little Gables hangs in the balance as the city awaits the December convening. However, the prevailing sentiment suggests a lean toward rejecting the annexation, potentially rendering the upcoming meeting a mere formality in a process that appears increasingly likely to conclude without the annexation’s realization.