Dona Spain, Head of Historic Preservation Retiring after 22 years of service. At the 11/12/19 meeting, the City Commission recognized Dona Spain’s distinguished 22 years of service to the City of Coral Gables. Spain not only received a proclamation naming November 12, 2019 as Dona Spain Day in Coral Gables but was given the Key to the City by the Mayor as well as a replica scale model of City Hall.
Insider whispers are concerned about the continuation of the Historic Preservation program. Without Historic Preservation, Coral Gables seizes to be the city we’ve come to know, love and preserve in the ideals of George Merrick.
Illuminate Coral Gables. The festival board has asked the City for $100,000 for the project as soon as possible.City Manager said that he can fund the amount requested from other sources not being from the Art Acquisition Fund. The festival presented itself as a light-focused fine arts installation that would feature multiple installations through Downtown Coral Gables. It would include mapping, fixed sculptures and interactive installations. The festival has a proposed date of Martin Luther King Weekend in 2021 and could be the start of an international destination art event in the heart of Coral Gables.
Sidewalks | Mayor’s Comments. Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli made a statement regarding the dividing issue of sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The mayor said he’s against changing the nature of the city. Many roads in our city are historic and he’s against anything that would change the character of such streets. We’re sure the issue will come up again at a future commission meeting as the Alhambra Complete Streets project moves forward and proponents and objectors lobby City Hall.
Historic Preservation – Uncertain Future and Resources. Residents and Historic Preservation Activists Brett Gillis and Karelia Carbonell brought up issues about appeals processes, funding and the overall future of the Historic Preservation department at the City of Coral Gables. Dona Spain, retiring historic preservation guru is known for not holding back and making sure the facts and truth are always on the record. Spain sided with Gillis and stated on the record that her office’s request for additional funding to do research on the North Ponce area and designating certain properties as historic has been rejected in the past. Spain is a Coral Gables resident and vows to remain active in the community.
Zoning Code Update – LPZ and 220 Miracle Mile Hotel. Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, a consultant hired by the city to update the zoning code, appeared at the request of the commission. She explained that she’s in the middle of completing her work as it relates to cleaning up the text and redundancies within the current zoning code. Commissioner Patricia Keon wants to take out a portion of the consultant’s work as it relates to parking in the downtown area and Miracle Mile. The proposed hotel with zero on-site parking at 220 Miracle Mile does not quality for remote parking per today’s zoning code. This has been confirmed by the City Attorney. However, Keon calls the developer’s project an opportunity and wants to adopt new changes sooner rather than later. The new changes would allow the developer to build the proposed hotel with three restaurants with remote parking. The remote parking calculation would also benefit the developer by using an updated methodology that reduces the number of spots than a current eligible project with remote parking would have today.
A motion to bring staff’s recommendation on Zyberk’s work dealing with parking on Miracle Mile on first reading was made by Keon and seconded by Commissioner Mike Mena. Motion passed 4-1, Vice Mayor Lago descending. Lago wants to take Zyberk’s work whole when it’s ready rather than taking sections out for the benefit of a development project.
The City Manager will try to have the ordinance by the December 10th meeting, otherwise he could ask for an extension for the January 2020 commission meeting.