Commission Meeting Recap (12/7/2021)

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]


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 December 7th.

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

Key to the City: The Mayor presented his first Key to the City to former Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli. The Mayor stated, “It is a privilege to have former Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli grace us with his presence today. Mayor Valdes-Fauli is well-known in our community for not only serving on the Commission for many years but also for being a renowned lawyer and leader in the banking industry. During his tenure on the Commission, he spearheaded the Mayor’s Innovation Council brought art and culture in the City of Coral Gables and was instrumental in the development of the Coral Gables Museum. Mayor Valdes-Fauli has been involved in countless committees and boards in our community, such as the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, the South Florida Everglades Restoration Task Force, and the University of Miami Citizens Board. Besides the committees and awards the Mayor has received, he has served our City on the Commission since 1985, which shows the level of commitment he has had to the city and all of its residents. For demonstrating great leadership and commitment to our City, as Mayor it is now my turn to present you with the Key to the City Beautiful. Thank you for all your dedication to our City. I apologize it has taken so long to present you with this key but I wanted to make sure it was manufactured in the USA.

UM Football Stadium: The Mayor said “I wanted to address some misinformation that has recently surfaced on a change.org petition regarding the demolition of Coral Gables Senior High School. I would like to make clear that no one at the City of Coral Gables has had any conversations with Mr. John Ruiz and we are NOT in favor of a stadium project. In addition, a stadium is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods and Coral Gables Senior High School is a community institution which we value. This property belongs to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This proposal is speculative and one we do not support. In fact, I recently learned about this proposal on Friday evening, when I spoke with our School Board member Mari Tere Rojas. Although we strongly value our partnership with the University of Miami, there are many other locations to build a stadium, one that does not include Coral Gables Senior High School. This is not the first time that misinformation circulates like wildfire. I highly suggest for the individuals that are creating these petitions to do their research and speak with community leadership before posting this kind of information on social media platforms.”

D-1: Presentation by Miami Dolphins on the Dolphins Challenge Cancer.

D-2: Discussion regarding Wings for Wishes 2022.

Consent Agenda

E-1: A Resolution of the City Commission retroactively authorizing Saint Theresa Catholic School to sell alcoholic beverages as part of the Annual Parish School Fair on the School’s grounds at 2701 Indian Mound Trail on Friday, December 3, 2021, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; on Saturday, December 4, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; and on Sunday, December 5, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., subject to Florida Department of Professional Regulation Requirements.

E-2: A Resolution of the City Commission authorizing the City Manager to continue to engage Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. for work on the citywide conversion of overhead utilities to underground pursuant to Section 2-607(24) of the City Code.

“On May 28, 2019, after a presentation, the City Commission adopted Resolution No. 2019-132 directing the City Manager and City Attorney to request “ballpark” estimates to underground all power and utility lines throughout the entire City from Florida Power & Light (FPL) and other applicable utilities and present said estimates to the City Commission after September 1, 2019. On April 25, 2019, Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. (“Stantec”) was retained by the City Attorney’s Office in accordance with Sec. 2-607(6) and (24) of the City Code in order to provide consulting services in preparation for the presentation made to the City Commission on the Citywide Conversion of Overhead Utilities to Underground Project (“Project”). On November 12, 2019, the “ballpark” estimates were provided to the City Commission as part of a presentation and City Commission adopted Resolution No. 2019-346 directing the City Manager and City Attorney to proceed with: (1) preparing potential strategies for methodologies to use to assess or charge a fee to property owners; (2) preparing detailed vignettes, scenarios, and renderings, as well as communications to be utilized for stakeholder engagement; (3) engaging community stakeholders which may include community meetings, charettes, written or oral surveys/pools, and other feedback; and (4) considering with greater specificity the scoping and phasing of the projects. Significant and additional work was required of Stantec to complete the tasks outlined in Resolution No. 2019-346, and given the strict and fast-moving timeline for accomplishing the next steps in the process, the City Attorney’s Office, under Sections 2-607(6) and (24) of the City Code authorized continued work by Stantec on the Project. Thereafter on January 14, 2020, the City Commission adopted Resolution 2020-07, authorizing Stantec to continue work on the Project for an amount not to exceed $60,000.00. At present, significant progress has been made on the Project but there is more work to be done, particularly in regards to understanding how FPL’s Storm Secure Underground Pilot Program can support more reliant and resilient utility services for Coral Gables residents. The City Commission therefore authorizes the City Manager to continue to engage Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. pursuant to Section 2-607(24) of the City Code for an amount not to exceed $100,000.00.”

E-3: A Resolution of the City Commission accepting the recommendation of the Chief Procurement Officer to award the Residential Recycling Bins purchase to Peninsula Plastics Limited dba Nova Products, Inc., the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, in the initial amount of $195,200.00, pursuant to Invitation for Bids (IFB) 2021-035 and Section 2-763 of the Procurement Code entitled “Contract Award”.

“The purpose of this Invitation for Bids is to establish a contract with a successful bidder for the purchase of approximately sixteen thousand (16,000) 22-gallon recycling plastic bins and lids. On October 26, 2021, the Procurement Division of Finance formally advertised, issued, and distributed the IFB for the purchase of approximately sixteen thousand (16,000) 22-gallon recycling plastic bins and lids. Ten (10) prospective bidders downloaded the IFB package from Public Purchase, the City’s webbased e-Procurement service. On November 16, 2021, two (2) bids were received in response to the IFB 2021-035 from: Orbis Corporation and Peninsula Plastics Limited dba Nova Products. The lowest responsive responsible bidder for this project was determined to be Peninsula Plastics Limited dba Nova Products in the initial amount of $195,200.00. The responses were reviewed by the Procurement Division in order to determine responsiveness to the requirements of the IFB and to identify the lowest responsive responsible bidder. The procurement Division finalized its due diligence process and confirmed that Peninsula Plastics Limited dba Nova Products, is both responsive to the requirements of the IFB and responsible bidder. The Public Works Department concurs with the Chief Procurement Officer’s recommendation to award the Residential Recycling Bins to Peninsula Plastics Limited dba Nova Product in the initial amount of $195,200.00. Additionally, the department is requesting approval to purchase additional units based on the availability of funds.”

Pulled due to resident request. Resident, Maria Cruz, expressed her concern over the bins being “curbside bins” when we do not have curbside pickup in Coral Gables. She also expressed a concern over the previous request being for over $500,000 and now it is for $195,200.

The Mayor explained that there will not be curbside pickup. The choice of language was incorrect.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

E-4: A Resolution of the City Commission authorizing the execution of a Service Agreement with The Trane Company for the Public Safety Building’s, located at 2151 Salzedo Street, maintenance and service of the Tracer Automation System, in the amount of $ 216,265 for maintenance services to be performed.

“The City’s Public Safety Building is a state-of-the-art facility, with multiple energy efficient components. One of these components includes Trane’s Tracer Building Automation System. This system controls the building’s HVAC system which allows for energy efficiency and a quick diagnosis of its equipment. South Florida Trane is the only controls manufacturer/representative and the Sole Source factoryauthorized servicer for the Tracer Building Automation System. This agreement will provide services that include troubleshooting and correcting problems in Trane’s HVAC system, pre-maintenance, maintenance repair, emergency repair, and other related work. This service agreement will be for (5) years, starting fiscal year 2021-2022 and will allow for yearly renewal options thereafter.”

Financial amount is $216,265.

E-5: A Resolution of the City Commission authorizing a contract modification to the Fountain Maintenance Citywide Service Contract IFB 2019-001, with Oliver’s Pools, Inc. pursuant to Section 2-764(b), Approval of Change Orders and Contract Modifications, in an annual estimated amount of $182,000 for additional fountain maintenance services to be performed.

“On March 12, 2019, the City entered into an agreement executed under the Chief Procurement Officer’s authority, pursuant to Section 2-685 of the Procurement Code entitled “Contract Award”. The contract was executed for Fountain Maintenance Services with Oliver’s Pools, Inc. which provides routine cleaning services. The existing contract capacity is currently $55,200, per year, which only covers routine cleaning. The additional amount requested will allow for troubleshooting and correcting problems in fountain systems, pre-maintenance, maintenance repair, emergency repair, and other fountain related work. This initial increase will cover $182,000 in additional expenses to the contract in the amount of $55,200 during fiscal year 2021-2022 as well as each year moving forward based on need and will not exceed the available budget.”

Financial amount is $182,000.

E-6: A Resolution of the City Commission authorizing the acceptance and execution of grant funds in the amount of $10,000 allocated to the Coral Gables Police Department from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program; and authorizing an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Annual Budget to recognize the $10,000 grant funds as revenue and to appropriate such funds to cover the grant expenditures.

“The State of Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has awarded the Coral Gables Police Department an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG-D) in the amount of $10,000 to implement an Officer Fitness and Wellness Program that will improve the safety of Coral Gables Police Officers through contracted services that promote physical health and overall wellness. The Police Department received notification that the grant application under subgrant 2022-JAGD-DADE-3-4B046 was successfully reviewed and approved by FDLE on November 19, 2021. An amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Annual Budget is required to recognize the $10,000 grant funds as revenue and to appropriate such funds to cover the cost of the grant expenditures.”

E-7 & E-8 are items related to appointments of residents to a City Advisory Board.

Commissioner Menendez also added a nomination of Mary Beth Burke to the Merrick House Board.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSeconded

Ordinances On Second Reading

F-1: An Ordinance of the City Commission granting approval of a Planned Area Development (PAD) pursuant to Zoning Code Article 14, “Process,” Section 14-206, “General Procedures for Planned Area Development” for a proposed multi-family project referred to as “Gables Village” on the property legally described as Lots 1 through 22, Block 28, “Coral Gables Biltmore Section” (504, 516, 522, 530, and 536 Malaga; 503, 511, 515, 535, 529, 525, and 521 Santander; and 3109 Segovia), Coral Gables, Florida; including required conditions; providing for a repealer provision, severability clause, and providing for an effective date. Lobbyists: Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Mario Garcia-Serra, Maria de la Guardia and Jenny Ducret.

“The Applicant is requesting approval of the Planned Area Development (PAD) only, with the intent to obtain Commission approval of the Final Plat upon review and approval by the County’s Plat Committee. As such, a Condition of Approval has been included in the draft Ordinance to allow sufficient time to obtain the Final Plat prior to applying for the building permit. Gables Village is a proposed low-density multi-family redevelopment that encompasses the entire block bounded by Malaga, Hernando, Santander, and Segovia in the Biltmore Section, within walking distance of the War Memorial Youth Center, Coral Gables Library, Somerset Academy, San Sebastian Apartments, and the south part of downtown Coral Gables. The block currently includes 13 properties with a total of 52 multi-family units and approximately 2.6 acres in size. The project proposes 48 residential units, including 24 flats, 4 lofts, 16 townhouses, and 4 duplex units, and ground level parking of 92 spaces. The proposed buildings heights vary between 30 feet at 2-stories and 45 feet at 4-stories.”

Commissioner Anderson asked the developer how many design versions they went through. The representative said they went through over 20 versions.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

City Commission Items

G-1: Update regarding the Hackathon event in partnership with the University of Miami. (Sponsored by Commissioner Menendez)

G-2: Discussion regarding existing signage on privately owned public surface parking lots. (Sponsored by Vice Mayor Mena) (See presentation).

G-3: Discussion regarding increasing the number of members on the Economic Development Board to accommodate representation of the Coral Gables Business Improvement District (Sponsored by Commissioner Fors, Jr.)

G-4: Update from staff on the process to secure five cultural events. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago) (See presentation).

The Mayor would like to hold five cultural events a year throughout the City. He mentioned the success of the Dia de los Muertos event on Giralda in October.

G-5: An update from staff regarding the sidewalks on Blue Road, bridges and Riviera Country Club. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago)

The City would be responsible for a smaller portion. The City would need to remove three large canopy trees, which are invasive trees, on Blue Road. One tree is to be relocated. The City would mitigate the canopy with the planting of new native trees. The City Manager asked staff to contact residents in a proactive form to ensure residents are aware. The road is a County Road, so the City would have to work with the County. Approximately 10,000 square feet of sidewalk are being proposed at a cost of $132,000.

G-6: Discussion regarding the Gondola Building. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago) (Sponsored by Commissioner Anderson)

The Mayor spoke to the issue during the Mayor’s comments explaining that the City is working to secure funding from the State. The issue was added to the City’s legislative agenda during their final day in Tallahassee last week and State Representative Bryan Avila has sponsored the appropriation of $750,000 for the rebuild/repairs.

G-7: Discussion regarding outdoor dining. (Sponsored by Commissioner Anderson)

Request from businesses is the extension through May for outdoor dining. Commissioner Anderson explained that many people dining were outdoors when she walked down Andalusia. The City Manager suggested extending it through June 1st. The Mayor wanted to ensure that the businesses using this or taking advantage of it keep the public area clean. The item will come back formally to the Commission in January.

Boards/Committees Items

H-1: A Resolution of the City Commission appointing _ (Current Member: Joseph De Maria) (Nominated by the Commission-As-A-Whole) for a one (1) year term beginning December 7, 2021 through December 31, 2022 to serve as a member of the Coral Gables Trial Board.

Commission voted to reappoint Joseph de Maria.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSecondedNot Present

H-2: A Resolution of the City Commission approving the concept for a work of public art titled “Waiting” by Brian Donnelly, as KAWS, in conjunction with The Plaza Coral Gables development project at 2901 Ponce De Leon Boulevard in fulfillment of the Art in Public Places requirement for public art in private development (previously proposed work by the artist unanimously recommended by the Arts Advisory Panel approval/denial vote: 7 to 0,; proposed work unanimously recommended by the Cultural Development Board approval/denial vote: 6 to 0).

“Agave Plaza Trustee Living (the “Developer”) is constructing a mixed-use project at 2901 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, The Plaza (the “Project”). The Developer has chosen the option of petitioning for a waiver of the Art in Public Places Fee requirement by acquiring and installing artwork within the project as specified in the Zoning Code, Article 3, Division 21. The Agave development team worked collaboratively with the Skarstedt Gallery on the commissioning of an artwork by KAWS. With the development’s specific goal of providing local families an outdoor space to entertain and spend time together, the KAWS art sculpture with its modern and friendly nature will welcome residents and visitors with a clear signal that these gardens together with the public plaza, is a contemporary, first-class cosmopolitan place while being approachable, inclusive, and fun. The sculpture “Waiting” by KAWS is presented to the viewer with a sense of formality. Bearing resemblance to parent and child, the figures stand, unflinching – a protective hand resting on the small figure’s shoulder – as if prepared for a portrait. An interpretation of his COMPANION character, “Waiting” has also been created in an all-black, 16-foot bronze iteration as a public sculpture outside Detroit’s Library Street Collection Museum and in the brown colorway installed in front of The Greenpoint in Brooklyn, NY. The proposed piece for The Plaza Coral Gables, will be the third and final piece of the 16’ “Waiting” finished in a grey colorway. The cast-bronze sculpture is 144 inches tall and sits on a rectangular pedestal that is one-foot high. Situated in the main center stage area of the south lawn and facing NE toward the grass area, water feature, and ultimately Ponce Circle Park, the piece is visible from every location around the Plaza and serves as another welcome sign seen as far as Ponce de Leon Boulevard. Brooklyn-based artist KAWS engages audiences beyond museum and the galleries in which he exhibits. Over the last two decades KAWS has built a successful career with work that consistently shows his formal agility as an artist, as well as his underlying wit, irreverence, and affection for our times. The nature of his work possesses a sophisticated humor and thoughtful interplay with consumer products and collaborations with global brands. He often draws inspiration and appropriates pop-culture animations to form a unique artistic vocabulary for his works across various mediums. Now admired for his larger-than-life sculptures and hardedge paintings that emphasize line and color, KAWS’ cast of hybrid cartoon and human characters are perhaps the strongest examples of his exploration of humanity. KAWS has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and internationally, at the Brooklyn Museum, Doha Fire Station Museum, National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, High Museum of Art, Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, and more. The concept proposal is attached as Exhibit A to the proposed Resolution. The cost of the proposed art piece and installation is estimated to be $2,056,750 (two million, fifty-six thousand, seven hundred fifty dollars) which is less than the required 1% of the Project’s total art in public places fee estimate of $4,100,000 (four million, one hundred thousand dollars). The Developer has received approval of additional artworks and this artwork will complete the developer’s requirement regarding Art in Public Places. The Arts Advisory Panel and the Cultural Development Board voted unanimously to recommend artwork by the artist KAWS at their respective meetings on August 25, 2021, September 21, 2021 and November 16, 2021. The Developer is required to provide for the perpetual maintenance of the artwork, which will be the sole responsibility of the Developer, in accordance with a restrictive covenant entered into with the City of Coral Gables and following the Art in Public Places: Funding, Goals, and
Implementation Guidelines.”

See presentation.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSecondedNot Present

City Manager Items

I-1: Discussion regarding the materials to be used on the exterior facade of the Mobility Hub. (TIME CERTAIN 10:00AM).

“The City is planning to demolish the existing Parking Garage 1 and build the new Mobility Hub at its current location of 245 Andalusia, one block south of Miracle Mile, between Salzedo Street and Ponce de Leon Boulevard. The design of the project will include 9,688 sq. ft of ground floor lease space/flex, 8 floors of vehicle storage, and approximately 36,540 sq. ft. of activated rooftop terrace”

See article about the Mobility Hub.

Parking Director Kevin Kinney made a presentation about the financials of the garage. His presentation showed 2019 projections of a net loss of $2,437,000 for the first year. This only factored parking. Kinney’s presentation showed a nearly 40% drop in 2020 transient parking, and approximately 30% drop from 2019 in 2021. He expects that parking will be back to 2019 numbers by 2023. Permit sales have not seen that large of a drop, but from 2019 to 2021 they saw approximately a 20% drop. He expects 2022 to be close to normal. Although 2020 and 2021 did not meet the expected targets, Kinney projects they will from 2023 forward.

Finance Director Diana Gomez continued the presentation. She began with a presentation where the City keeps Parking Garage 4. She projects a profit of over $400,000 after the first three years.

Her second presentation considers the sale of Parking Garage 4. Thus would bring the income to over $1.7 million per year following the sale. This also includes tax revenue from the development of Garage 4.

According to the City Manager, this does not take into consideration any revenue from Parking Garage 4.

She recommends the City sell Parking Garage 4.

The Mayor explained that he and the City Manager have been working for several months with a potential tenant who is willing to take the entire parking garage at market rate.

Commissioner Rhonda Anderson spoke about the impact of architecture on people. Anderson recommends including tailored retail such as a bike shop, grab and go food and an information kiosk with ticket sales for local attractions. She explained that a study in New York showed that individuals felt more comfortable in buildings with rounded edges and circular contours. She expressed concerns with the maintenance of the exterior color, which could be costly. She added to her concern over the heat that is given off by the facade of this building and the impact it would have on reduced pedestrian traffic, reduced exterior dining and the impact of trees and plants in the area.

Anderson recommended a change to the facade design that would incorporate light reflection devices that could reflect the light upward and inward vs. toward the street below. She explained that staff instructed the designers from Gensler not to add much greenery.

Anderson is concerned with the open air ramp with simple cables to the open space, as well as the lack of screening the building has for headlights.

She also recommends the incorporation of wind turbines to generate energy for the facility.

She asked the Commission to send this project to the Board of Architects for their assistance in alleviating some of these concerns to ensure the final draft is an award-winning mobility hub.

Commissioner Jorge L. Fors, Jr. spoke to the screening of the building explaining that he believes that this is not an issue, as the headlights are being screened in his opinion. They Mayor agreed. Planning and Zoning Director, Ramon Trias, agreed with them. Anderson explained this item was discussed in the Planning and Zoning Board when she was on there, where the intent was to deflect light so that it does not deflect outward. Mena interjected and said there is no proof of what she was saying being true. “You are saying this here now, but there is nothing written anywhere which shows that.”

Gensler’s representatives explained they designed this building to be compliant with the Code, although at the sunshine meeting last week, they claimed not to know about this section of the code. Anderson asked why there are vertical gaps left where light can come through. She asked why there was no change after her concern was voiced. Gensler’s representative stated it would not go with their design of the building. A second representative came up and stated that there was a ventilation issue with the building as it is naturally ventilated, therefore the space must remain open to sustain the modern design.

Commissioner Anderson reiterated her question about why the design was not changed to factor in the screening requirement and include a light reflection inward. The Gensler representative became argumentative and forceful. Following Anderson stating that over 80% of the comments she has received been against this design, he explained that this was the vision they had and the one they believed was right.

Public Comment – Maria Cruz expressed her disappointment on the Commission for being on their phones while Commissioner Anderson was presenting. She also explained that the representatives of Gensler were snickering while she was presenting. She said the disrespect was unacceptable. She also explained that a public record request yielded 1,794 pages of emails about the Mobility Hub. A review showed that there were 33 emails against and only 3 in favor. She also explained that her petition also has received over 960 signatures. Cruz voiced her opposition to the sale of Parking Garage 4 and concern over developers maximizing to their 190 feet allowed with Mediterranean Bonuses. The Mayor interjected and explained he was not in favor of the sale and is seeking to lease it to a long-term tenant who is a Fortune 100 company.

Transportation Advisory Board – Sue Kawalerski, Chair of the Transportation Advisory Board spoke on behalf of the board. The board does not see the configuration for bicycles on the ground level and scooters on the second level as well thought out. They seek for the design to be changed to bring both to the ground level and include chargers for both. They seek to have the entire ground floor to be limited to bicycles and scooters alone and no retail. They also seek a true bike lane on Andalusia. They ask that the City Manager and Commission task the architect with making the changes. The Mayor explained he has already asked that staff begin considering these issues. The City Manager explained the ground level is flexible and would be able to be adapted as needed. He stated that they cannot leave the area open until the need exists.

Kawalerski then spoke as president of the Coral Gables Neighbors Association. She explained that she wanted to add into the record the 81 comments made on the Cruz petition. She asked the Commission to consider these concerns when making their decision.

Jose Amezaga – the building does not fit in Coral Gables. The Commission has the capacity to build something that would fit into the City. “Listen to the residents, we are telling you we don’t like this building.” The Mayor took offense to Amezaga’s comments. He explained, in his opinion, the Commission listens. “We will not always agree or be on the same page.” Amezaga added, “the structure can be made in a way that it pleases the residents.” Lago continued addressing the fact he has agreed with him many times and he will vote his conscience because he loves this design. Commissioner Fors added that it is hard to say this is not what the residents want. He says not even 1,000 residents signed the petition. He says there are a lot of people who think the project is great. Commissioner Menendez said the folks opposed in the past have enjoyed the facilities after the fact, using Merrick Park as an example. Anderson added that Merrick Park was a great project, but it included the input of the Board of Architects, which was her motion.

Dr. Gordon Sokoloff – Sokoloff expressed his concern about the speed of this project which limited the ability of residents to opine in the design. He asked how many versions were seen. The Commission said one (although Fors had stated at the sunshine meeting that several designs were shared). Sokoloff explained this was not a good result for $2 million. He expressed his concern about the fact that there were changes requested by Commissioner Anderson and many by residents and when asked at the sunshine meeting Gensler representatives said none were made. He explained when you listen, there has to be compromise, which there has been none here. He spoke about the dining on the roof, which would take patrons away from Miracle Mile. Allow the residents, who make up the Board of Architects, review this and perfect the design. Let’s put the $2 million to task and have them soften the design.

Screenshot of the dais while Karelia Carbonell was speaking

Karelia Carbonell – As Carbonell spoke about the Commission not listening. During her comments, the camera was focused on the dais, which showed two members of the Commission engaged in conversation and two had walked out of the room, only one was listening. (See image to the right).

Anthony De Yurre – De Yurre, representative for developer W. Allen Morris who had won the RFP spoke to clarify the specifications of Morris’ original proposal.

Commission took a break from this item to address F-1 and J-1.

Anderson remade her motion to resend the project to the Board of Architects in their December meeting when they reconvene to work on perfecting the design. The Vice Mayor, Mayor and Commissioner Fors all stated they would be against it as they support the plan as is.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotionedNot Present

I-2: A presentation of a maintenance action plan for the commercial areas of the City. (See presentation).

Code Enforcement started handing out warnings on December 1st. For egregious issues, they are issuing citations right away.

I-3: A Resolution of the City Commission amending the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 amended budget to recognize as revenue 1st quarter Coral Gables Impact Fee receipts as well as prior year receipts (Underline) and to appropriate such funds to put toward the cost of capital improvement infrastructure projects; and providing an effective date.

“In compliance with Ordinance 2007-27, as well as the revised impact fee schedule as approved in Resolution 2017-67, the City collects various impact fees to help fund capital improvement projects that qualify as enhancing services for residents, business owners and visitors. As of 11/29/21 staff has identified Fiscal Year 2021-2022 1st quarter receipts as well as prior year receipts (Underline) for the following impact fee categories: Service Fee & Inv. Earnings – $ 50,000 (To Minorca Garage); Police – $ 162,679 (To purchase Dispatch System); Fire – $ 130,850 (To Fire House 4); Municipal – $ 396,256 (To Minorca Garage); Parks – Land Purchase – 65% – $ 388,916 (To Land Purchase Project); Parks – Enhancement – 35% – $ 209,417 (To Phillips Park Project); Parks – Underline – $1,984,221 (To Underline Project); Mobility – $ 699,933 (To Minorca Garage); Mobility – Underline – $2,065,738 (To Underline Project). A budget amendment is required to recognize the receipts as revenue, and to appropriate such funds to put toward capital infrastructure projects that are consistent with the Coral Gables Impact Fee Ordinance mandating the appropriate use of the funds.”

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSecondedNot Present

I-4: A Resolution of the City Commission authorizing the City to act as host City and festival sponsor for the Junior Orange Bowl and authorizing the City’s in-kind contributions for the Junior Orange Bowl.

“The Junior Orange Bowl serves the South Florida community and all youth by providing competitive athletic, artist, and multicultural experiences and the inaugural Junior Orange Bowl Parade in 1948 proceeded through Coral Gables. The City has had a long standing relationship with the Junior Orange Bowl throughout the last seven decades and the City of Coral Gables wishes to be recognized as the host city of the Junior Orange Bowl for the 2021-2023 Junior Orange Bowl youth festival seasons. The City will contribute $33,250 annually during the term as host city and in return receive event recognition, marketing and branding at all festival events, and anticipates that the City will continue to see an impact from marking, social media, and events held throughout the City. The City will also provide certain in-kind contributions to the Junior Orange Bowl including staffing, barricades, and other contributions as determined by the City Manager or his designee.”

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotioned

City Attorney Items

J-1: Hearing regarding decision by Retirement Board to Grant COLA to class members in Murhee V. City of Coral Gables, Case No. 13-20731 CA (13) (FLA. 11TH CIR. CT.) (treating GAP and opt outs in the same manner) – Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism. (TIME CERTAIN 11:30AM).

“At the Pension Board meeting of November 17, 2021, the Board voted to approve the 2022 COLA of 8% to Class Members as required by the COLA Lawsuit Settlement. Additionally, the Pension Board voted to approve the same 2022 COLA to GAP and Opt-Out Members. This memo is being provided in advance of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism Hearing to be held on December 7, 2021. In accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement, at the hearing, the City Commission, in its sole discretion may, by a super majority 4/5 vote, reject the Retirement Board’s determination or reduce the amount of the proposed COLA. As the Finance Director of the City of Coral Gables, it is my recommendation that the City Commission reject the Board’s proposed 2022 COLA for Class Members, GAP and Opt-Out Members because it would increase the unfunded liability to over $217 million, increase our contribution requirements by $3.76 million and decrease our funded ratio by approximately 3%. Additionally, payment of this COLA would wipe out 96% of the progress we have made to date with the total extra payments made (total to date $29.1 million – COLA increase to unfunded $27.8 million) which has gone towards reducing our total
unfunded debt. My recommendation is based on the factors listed in the Ordinance (see attached Ordinance Sec. 8.3 A through G) that are to be considered by the City Commission in making its determination, specifically: A. The present value of the proposed COLA will exceed the net actuarial experience of the Retirement System. The current cumulative experience loss as of October 1, 2020 (since July 1, 1994) is approximately $194 million as of the 2020 Actuarial Valuation Report. B. The Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) is $189.7 million as of the Actuarial Valuation
Report as of October 1, 2020. The UAAL has decreased from the previous year by approximately $20.2 million. C. Providing for the 2022 COLA of 8% to Class Members, Opt-out Members and Gap Members would increase the current Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability of $189.7 million by $27.8 million to over $217.5 million and will increase the current annual required contribution of $22.9 million by $3.76 million to over $26.7 million. (See attached 2022 COLA determination letter) D. The last COLA was paid on May 7, 2018, per the terms of the settlement agreement. E. The COLA Lawsuit Settlement provided for a 2.975% COLA for 2013 and a .25% COLA for 2014, payable on May 7, 2018; this payment increased the UAAL by $14.5 million. F. The Net Actuarial Experience over the preceding seven years is a gain of $26,710,267(the sum of the individual years’ experience listed below). The single-year Actuarial Experience of the Retirement System for each of the seven years preceding the proposed COLA is as follows: 9/30/2020 $6,103,388 (gain); 9/30/2019 $469,094 (gain); 9/30/2018 $2,374,009 (gain); 9/30/2017 $8,574,453 (gain); 9/30/2016 $4,713,880 (gain); 9/30/2015 $3,038,952 (gain); and 9/30/2014 $1,436,491 (gain). G. The increase of the Consumer Price Index is 16.7% since the last granted COLA in January 2014. Factors A through E support rejection of the 2022 COLA as the cost associated with granting the COLA would adversely impact the Pension System (by increasing the funding requirement and decreasing the funded status). Although it is not one of the factors of consideration in the Ordinance, it should be noted that the City Commission has passed a resolution instituting a policy to budget a higher than required amount to the pension fund annually in order that the excess over the required contribution could be used to pay down the unfunded liability and increases funded status (currently at 68.7%) quicker than the normal amortization. The total annual payment amount that was budgeted for FY 2022 is just under $30 million which allowed for an $6.8 million extra payment this past October. Since FY 2015, this has allowed for total additional funds of almost $29.1 million to be sent to the pension fund. Should the 2022 COLA be granted, 96% of the progress we’ve made thus far will be eaten up by granting this one COLA. Additionally, the annual required contribution would increase by over $3.7 million, and the extra payment would need to be reduced moving forward as the City’s Budget cannot absorb an additional $3.7 million hit. It is my recommendation that the City does not grant a COLA of any amount as the increase to the unfunded liability, the increase in the City’s funding requirement and a decrease to the funding status could adversely impact the Pension System. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me.”

Several union members and retired members of the Fire and Police Departments spoke in the favor of increasing the COLA, based on the argument that they do not receive Social Security benefits. $3,277,000 was paid to the class of 866 members in the month of December according to Finance Director Gomez. The average is $3,782 a month per member. The 8% COLA increase represents an additional $262,160 per month.

The Commission voted not to approve a COLA increase.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
SecondedMotionedNot Present

City Clerk Items

K-1: A Resolution of the City Commission officially accepting the City Clerk’s certification and declaration of the results of the Coral Gables Trial Board Election, held on November 12, 2021, which elected Anthony Newell for a two (2) year term beginning December 7, 2021 through December 31, 2023.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSecondedNot Present

K-2: A Resolution of the City Commission in accordance with Section 2-30 of the City Code, entitled “Regular Meetings, Special Meetings,” setting forth the meeting dates through December 6, 2022, as follows: Tuesday, January 11, 2022; Tuesday, January 25, 2022; Tuesday, February 8, 2022; Tuesday, February 22, 2022; Tuesday, March 8, 2022; Tuesday, March 29, 2022; Tuesday, April 12, 2022; Tuesday, April 26, 2022; Tuesday, May 10, 2022; Wednesday, May 11, 2022 (Capital Projects and Priorities Workshop); Tuesday, May 31, 2022; Tuesday, June 14, 2022; Wednesday, June 15, 2022 (Project Selection and Funding Workshop); Tuesday, July 12, 2022; Wednesday, July 13, 2022 (Budget Workshop – Annual Budget Presentation); Tuesday, August 23, 2022; Tuesday, September 13, 2022; Tuesday, September 13, 2022; (Special Assessment Public Hearing – 3:00pm); Tuesday, September 13, 2022 (First Budget Hearing – 5:01pm); Tuesday, September 27, 2022; Tuesday, September 27, 2022; (Second Budget Hearing – 5:01pm); Tuesday, October 11, 2022; Tuesday, October 25, 2022; Tuesday, November 8, 2022; Tuesday, December 6, 2022.

Mayor
Vince Lago
Vice Mayor
Michael Mena
Commissioner
Jorge L. Fors, Jr.
Commissioner
Rhonda Anderson
Commissioner
Kirk R. Menendez
MotionedSecondedNot Present
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3 thoughts on “Commission Meeting Recap (12/7/2021)

  1. Well, we are getting a monstrous, ugly parking garage shoved down our throats, despite all the protests. But there is some good news on the commission’s vote to reject the pension board’s recommendation to give everyone an 8% COLA. This COLA would eat up all the progress that the city has made in bringing the $300 million pension deficit down a bit. This progress was made by the taxpayers putting $29 million extra into the plan, in addition to the yearly $29 million contribution we make. It has also been due to the huge runup in the stock market. There is no assurance that the runup will continue. So finally, fiscal common sense has shown progress. Our city still has extremely generous pension and subsidized health care benefits for the employees. The general employees get these benefits, even though fiscally responsible, wealthy cities like Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay have ONLY 401K plans for their general employees. That should be the ultimate goal of the commission.

  2. The 345 Andalusia City parking garage is NEEDED FOR PARKING. 345 Andalusia should neither be sold, nor leased to a Fortune 500 company.

    No parking, No income, including for the City’s tax base.

    Sincerely,

    Jackson Rip Holmes

  3. regarding item I-1, the “mobility hub”;

    we learned in school and then lived our lives, believing the government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

    Today, four city commissioners betrayed that trust.

    At least 960 concerned residents petitioned our government to reject the “mobility hub”.

    Four city commissioner did not obey the will of the people. Instead, they imposed their will on us, rudely, with obvious disrespect.

    The time has now come for concerned residents to regain control of their government.

    The time is now for a special election: no building over 5 stories. Period.

    It may also be a time to recall four city commissioners. We need leaders we can trust and who respect the people in this community.

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