City Commission Recap (1/24/2023)

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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Below is a copy of the Commission Digest for this Commission meeting with the brief explanations of discussion taken and/or final votes cast by the Commission on January 24h.

Discussion/explanation can be found in blue. If opening on a smartphone, turn your phone horizontally to avoid having to scroll right to see how all members of the Commission voted on each item.

Non-credited quotes in this article are excerpts from the memos presented to the Commission explaining the items.

Mayor’s Comments

Female Officers: The City has finally reached a settlement to correct the wrongs done to female officers with the anonymous letter accusing Chief Hudak over five years ago regarding a pool party.

Bird Road: Lago asked the Commission for input on a potential letter to the County and State regarding upkeep of Bird Road and potential traffic calming. The Commission voted to designate the Mayor to draft the letters.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

Merrick Park: Lago explains that he met with the management of Merrick Park in order to request that they change out faded signs.

Cleaning Sidewalks: Lagor wants to lien the properties of businesses that have not pressure cleaned the sidewalks or have mildew on them.

Illegal Dumping: Lago stated that he personally witnessed illegal dumping in North Gables and he explains that he wants to place cameras on posts in 10 areas to prevent illegal dumping at what he explained would be a potential cost of $40,000 per camera. The Commission voted to have the Manager explore this and place it in the budget.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

Public Comments

Resident Maria C. Cruz expressed her concerns with Commission involvement with developers and counseling developers on projects. She also asked about the role of the City Attorney and if the City Attorney is supposed to represent the interests of residents. She asked that the Commission stop granting variances to projects and for them to go back to the promises they made when elected, to represent the interests of residents. She suggested it was time to listen to the people and find out what they would like to see happen as to what she called “humongous development.” The Commission did not address Ms. Cruz’s concerns.

Consent Agenda

E-1: A Resolution of the City Commission authorizing an Amendment to the Temporary License Agreement between the City of Coral Gables and Ben & Giules, Inc ., with regard to the premises located at 290 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, Florida, 33134, extending the term for twelve (12) months (April 1, 2023- March 31, 2024) increasing the License Fee to $2,800.00 per month and the security deposit.

“On November 12, 2019, the Economic Development Department (the “Department”) presented the Pop-Up Incubator Program (the “Program”) to the City Commission. The Program would be advertised, the proposals received would be reviewed by a selection committee, who would select a Licensor to occupy 290 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134 (the “Premises”) using a temporary license agreement (the “Agreement”). On July 23, 2021, the Department advertised the Program for sixty (60) days. A selection committee reviewed four (4) proposals received, and selected Ben & Giules, Inc. (the “Licensee”) as the Licensee. Pursuant to Resolution 2021-326, on November 16, 2021, the City of Coral Gables (the “Licensor”) and the Licensee executed the Agreement with license terms that included a $2,000.00 per month License Fee, a $2,000.00 Security Deposit, a six-month lease term (December 1, 2021- May 31, 2022), and an additional six-month renewal term (June 1, 2022 – November 30, 2022) at the City Manager’s discretion. Pursuant to Resolution No. 2022-73, on May 2, 2022, Licensor and Licensee amended the Agreement to extend the term for an additional ten (10) months, commencing on June 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023, subject to all terms and conditions set forth in the Agreement. Licensor and Licensee are requesting to extend the Term of the Agreement for an additional twelve (12) months, April 1, 2023- March 31, 2024 (the “Extension Term”), with license terms that include a License Fee increase to $2,800.00 per month, a security deposit increase to $2,800.00, and subject to all terms and conditions set forth in the Agreement.”

E-2: A Resolution of the City Commission confirming Kevin Ritzenhaler (Nominated by Commissioner Menendez) to serve as a member of the Waterway Advisory Board, for remainder of the current term, which began on June 1, 2021 and continues through May 31, 2023.

The following is a vote to approve items E-1 and E-2.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

Presentation of Boards and/or Committees draft/final minutes requesting action from the City Commission

2-1: A Resolution from the Historic Preservation Board requesting that the City Commission adopt a Resolution authorizing Ad Valorem tax relief for the property located at 1206 Cordova Street, a Local Historic Landmark, legally described as Lots 7 and the South ½ of Lot 8, Block 1, Granada Place Amended Plat, according to the Plat thereof, as recorded in Plat Book 13, at Page 51 of the Public Records of Miami-Dade County, Florida. (Historic Preservation Board Meeting of November 16, 2022, Vote: 8-0, one member absent).

“On November 16, 2022, the Historic Preservation Board unanimously (8-0) passed a motion to recommend approval of the application as presented. This application is associated with the related Special Certificate of Appropriateness, COA (SP) 2017-015, which was granted design approval by the Historic Preservation Board on August 17. 2017.”

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

Ordinances On Second Reading

F-1: An Ordinance of the City Commission providing for text amendments to the City of Coral Gables Official Zoning Code, Article 10, “Parking,” Section 10-109, “Payment in Lieu and Remote Off-Street Parking;” to revise remote parking and payment -in-lieu processes, requirements, and fee structure; providing for severability clause, repealer provision, codification, and providing for an effective date. Agenda Items F-1, F-2, and F-6 are related.

Click here to read staff’s memo.

The Commission asked for a clear cut-off date on when this would take effect. The Commission decided on designating yesterday, January 23rd, as the cut-off date.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

F-2: An Ordinance of the City Commission providing for text amendments to the Code of the City of Coral Gables, Chapter 74, Article III, Division 5 entitled “Parking Replacement Assessment,” providing for updates to the assessment provisions and procedures, and providing for severability clause, repealer provision, codification and providing for an effective date. Agenda Items F-1, F-2, and F-6 are related.

Click here to read staff’s memo.

The Commission decided on designating yesterday, January 23rd, as the cut-off date.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

F-3: An Ordinance of the City Commission providing for text amendments to the City of Coral Gables Official Zoning Code, Article 3, “Uses,” Section 3-315, “Restaurant, open air dining at ground level and other location;” by removing Floor Area Ratio (FAR) requirements for rooftop dining; providing for severability clause, repealer provision, codification, and providing for an effective date.

“No changes have been made since First Reading. Zoning Code text amendments are proposed to encourage rooftop dining by removing Floor Area Ratio (FAR) requirements. Rooftop dining had been utilizing the general provisions for open-air dining on private property until the adopted changes of the Zoning Code Update, when rooftop dining was required to comply with both FAR and parking. Recent proposed mixed-use buildings have demonstrated that these additional regulations are not consistent with the purpose of FAR, which is to control and limit the bulk and mass of a building. Therefore, Zoning Code text amendments are proposed for both the open-air dining on private property section of the Zoning Code and the definition of FAR to clarify what can be excluded. Below summarizes the proposed changes: Rooftop dining is excluded from FAR limitations if uncovered or if under a trellis or canopy and Rooftop dining is exempt from parking requirements – as is in all open-air dining.”

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

F-4: An Ordinance of the City Commission providing for text amendments to the City of Coral Gables Official Zoning Code, Article 2, “Zoning Districts”, Section 2-101, “Single-Family Residential (SFR) District, amending performance standards for ground area coverage by deleting required covenant; and providing for severability clause, repealer provision, codification, and providing for an effective date.

“No changes have been made since First Reading. Staff has prepared a Zoning Code text amendment to the performance standards for ground area coverage in single-family residential zoning – specifically the building’s square foot floor area – by eliminating the requirement for covenant for roofed terrace, breezeway, or porch.”

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

Ordinances On First Reading

F-5: An Ordinance of the City Commission amending the City Code, Chapter I -General Provisions, Section 1-7 entitled “Penalties” to include additional penalties for violations of Section 74-3, entitled “Riding of Bicycles upon Pedestrian Sidewalks Generally”, providing For repealer provision, severability clause, codification, and providing for an effective date.

“Section 74-3 of the City Code currently prohibits the riding of bicycles upon the pedestrian sidewalks on Miracle Mile and where posted. The current fine for violating Section 74-3 of the City Code is, $35.00, the general penalty for violations of Chapter 74. Given that there have been several complaints regarding prohibited bicycle riding on Miracle Mile on the sidewalks that violate the City of Coral Gables Code of Ordinance Section 74-3, to increase a deterrence the City wishes to add a specific increased penalty for violations of Section 74-3.”

There was one amendment to make the fines $35 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense and $200 for the third offense.

Resident Jessica Keller suggested the City place the fine on warning signs.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

Resolutions

F-6: A Resolution of the City Commission amending Resolution 2013-256, to clarify Remote Parking and Payment-in-lieu fees in accordance with City Code Chapter 74 – Traffic and Vehicles, Article III – Stopping, Standing and Parking, Division 5. Parking Replacement Assessment, providing for severability and providing for an effective date. Agenda Items F-1, F-2, and F-6 are related.

Click here to read staff’s memo.

The Commission decided on designating yesterday, January 23rd, as the cut-off date.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

City Commission Items

G-1: Update on green matter in trash pits and Leon County’s pilot program. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago).

Staff spoke about their efforts to start a pilot program to dispose of green matter with a business partner that will use it to create reusable matter. The project requires 5,000 square feet. The Manager is dragging his feet due to potential hurricanes which would impact the process. Estimate is that the process would reduce the City’s disposal cost by $200,000. Lago stated he would be voting to increase garbage fees next year as “we ate up a larger amount,” implying the budget is the Commission’s and not the resident’s. “The City subsidizes garbage and ‘we should pass the true cost to residents’.” The Manager wants the county to provide a City to use for this program. The item will be brought back at a March Commission meeting.

G-2: A Resolution of the City Commission authorizing the City Manager to provide free gelato at Le Parc Café, located at the Coral Gables Golf & Country Club (“Country Club”), on Saturday, April 15, 2023, in celebration of the Country Club’s 100th anniversary. (Sponsored by Commissioner Menendez).

“The Coral Gables Golf & Country Club (“Country Club”) is a historic landmark that was recently reacquired by the City from a private lessee. The City Commission wishes to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Country Club by providing free gelato to residents and Country Club members and visitors on Saturday, April 15, 2023 from 12pm to 5pm while supplies last. Gelato will be provided on a first come first served basis.”

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

Boards/Committees Items

H-1: A Resolution of the City Commission accepting a proposal from artist Janine Antoni and approving the fabrication and installation of the sculpture Whispering Through a Stone, (unanimously recommended by the Arts Advisory Panel, approval /denial vote: 7 to 0, and the Cultural Development Board approval/denial vote: 7 to 0); authorizing the City Manager or his or her designee to negotiate an agreement with the artist; authorizing an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 amended budget to recognize as revenue a transfer from the Art in Public Places reserve, and appropriating such funds to put toward the cost of fabrication, installation, and related expenses regarding the artwork.

Click here to read staff’s memo.

Following the presentation, Vice Mayor Michael Mena asked about the process of bringing just one artist to the Commission to spend $300,000 on. He explained he wants to make an educated decision. Staff explained that two artists were finalists and this one was selected by the Cultural Development Board, as the other artist decided to propose a temporary artwork and not a permanent artwork. Mena explained he had a hard time being presented with just one option with such a high price tag. Commissioner Rhonda Anderson expressed her concerns as well with just having one option. She also commented that the location is a concern, as the use as a place of conversation would not quite work on LeJeune and Miracle Mile with traffic noise. Commissioner Menendez concurred with the need for more options. Cason, who voted for the placement of the controversial flowers on the Segovia Circles, expressed his support for this piece and said he does not believe more options are necessary. Lago expressed his support for the piece.

Mena asked to see different art styles as well, as he explained that he has been seeing a trend to contemporary art in all new pieces. Anderson also asked for more use of local artists.

Lago asked for monumental purchases on art. He wants the City to purchase a Frank Stella.

The Commission voted to approve the piece, with un-elected Jim Cason casting the deciding vote.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

H-2: A Resolution of the City Commission accepting the donation of the sculptural suite Speedforms in the Garden by designer Pininfarina and creator Cosentino, (unanimously recommended by the Cultural Development Board approval /denial vote: 7 to 0); authorizing an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 amended budget to recognize as revenue a transfer from the Art in Public Places reserve and appropriating such funds to put toward the project cost of transportation, restoration, installation, and related expenses regarding the artwork and waiving the competitive process of the Procurement Code to authorize the City Manager or his or her designee to negotiate agreements for any and all contracted work.

Click here to read staff’s memo.

City Manager Items

I-1: Social Media Report – 2022 Highlights.

Click here to see staff’s presentation.

I-2: A Resolution of the City Commission accepting the recommendation to extend the waiver of the competitive process of the Procurement Code for all purchases related to the Coral Gables Country Club for an additional six month period as Special Procurement /Bid Waiver, pursuant to Section 2-691 of the City’s Procurement Code.

“At the January 25, 2022, City Commission meeting, the Commission approved the decision to engage the Community Recreation Department (Parks) for the management of the Country Club. Due to the urgency and the number of critical matters to be addressed, approval for a bid waiver (BW 2022-047) was requested for one year from February 15, 2022 until February 15, 2023 so the necessary supplies, equipment and services can expeditiously be put in place. Upon the assumption of operational control by the Community Recreation Department, there continues to be operational and facility issues that must be addressed in a timely manner. This waiver extension will cover the upcoming six (6) month management period until August 15, 2023, to allow Community Recreation to directly purchase all goods, supplies and equipment, engage vendors for services and facilitate any necessary leases for the continuity of services. Section 2-691 of the Procurement Code entitled “Special Procurement/Bid Waiver” authorizes the Procurement Officer to initiate a special procurement/bid waiver when an unusual or unique situation exists that makes the application of all requirements of competitive sealed bidding or competitive sealed proposal contrary to the public interest.”

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Jim Cason
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

Discussion

Election: City Clerk Billy Urquia brought up the possibility of moving early voting for the April Municipal Election from Easter weekend to the weekend before to encourage larger participation. The Clerk will bring the item back up at an upcoming meeting.

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8 thoughts on “City Commission Recap (1/24/2023)

  1. No bikes on sidewalks=more accidents with bikes on streets.
    Picture it: Miracle Mile, the heavy traffic, fast cars weaving in and out between big SUVs seeking parking spots, trucks blocking the view, and some poor granny on her bicycle obeying the City Law by riding her bike on the street!

  2. Gables Insider is doing a great service to the residents of the Gables. Keep up the good work and continue to expose all the give away programs and wasteful spending.

  3. Unfricking believable! The Mayor wants to increase garbage fees for the residents, but will have no problem spending our money on questionable artwork which is not needed (I have not swallowed yet the garbage art placed on the Segovia circles..). Where are our priorities? and why is a resident like Ms. Cruz being totally ignored? “We the people” need to remember these things so we do not make the same mistake again come voting time.

  4. Art is not just anything goes in Coral Gables. we have a design intent and style vs most of South Florida. We have a sense of Place. We have regulations in place that go back to the vision of the founder George Merrick. Mr. Mayor- move to the City of Miami and take your modern art, buildings, and pet projects. Public Art is the BUILDINGS- Mediterranean Architecture is given a bonus to produce works of art and beauty. stop trashing our streets and parks.

    400,000 for security, 500,000 for crosswalk in front of city hall, 250k + 250k for Ponce landscape redo, millions for “smart city connectivity”, billboard kiosks, pet landscape projects and you don’t have money for simple street trees all over downtown streets. This would be the single biggest improvement. Plant trees on every street in the public right of way. Mr Green.

  5. It’s laughable that the commission wants to avoid cyclist on sidewalks however this week there was presentations on improvements to Biltmore Way and residents oppose bike infrastructure. If you don’t allow them on Miracle Mile street and you don’t allow them on Biltmore Way and Alhambra, where are people suppose to bike safely with kids? We need to worry more about scooters than bikes and we need to provide infrastructure for everyone.

  6. $400,000 for more surveillance in Coral Gables at the request of Vince Lago. I’ve said this before, it would be interesting to have an accounting of all of the special requests that come from the dais outside of the capital improvement budgeting process.

    Where will that $400,000 come from? It will come from existing projects programmed and voted on only 6 months ago.

  7. This week’s puppet award is shared by two puppets. The award goes to commissioners Menendez and Cason. The get the award as Mayor Lago pulled the strings, to buy his art work.

    All three of them are bozos, not having any documented accomplishment in any of the arts.

  8. Little lago thinks the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars are his little piggy bank. He can indulge his
    little wishes and buy expensive paintings. They are junk, because that’s what you would get if you tried to sell them.

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