Commission Meeting Summary (6/8/2021)

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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Crosswalks At Carver and Ponce Middle

Brought up during the Mayor’s Comments, the Commission discussed the need of crosswalks at key locations near George Washington Carver Elementary and Middle School, as well as Ponce Middle School. The Commission directed staff to explore how to address this issue and find a resolution to ensure the safety of students and residents crossing the streets.

Mayor’s Strategic Plan

The Commission voted unanimously to move forward working with Mayor’s Strategic Plan. The plan has been developed over the past month by Mayor Vince Lago, with collaboration of residents and members of the Commission, prioritizing: transparency, accountability, outreach, quality of life improvements, business, culture, environmental stewardship, appreciation for history, safety and health, and customer service. The Commission will be taking up the strategic plan. Click here to read the plan.

350 Greco Avenue Sale

The controversial sale of the surface parking lot at 350 Greco Avenue to a company partially owned by former Vice Mayor Frank C. Quesada, hit a major roadblock. Mayor Vince Lago stood up for residents and said he would vote against the sale as it stood, pushing for the project to go to an ITB (Invitation to Bid).

Staff voiced their concerns that if this deal was not approved by the Commission by June 30th, the deal contract would be voided. The Commission instructed staff to speak with the buyer asking them to hold their offer while the City performed an expedited 30-day ITB and bring it back up at the end of the Commission meeting.

The proposal is to hold a 30-day ITB and if no other buyers present themselves, the City would then proceed with this buyer. The ITB would include a price floor of $3,525,000 and all the conditions the current JRFQ Holdings has agreed to.

When the item came back up, staff stated that they had spoken with the buyer’s attorneys, who said the June 30th deadline was a hard deadline and they would not grant the City an extension. The Commission instructed the manager to speak with the buyers he has been negotiating with, not the attorneys, and left the option for a special meeting prior to the June 30th deadline, to take any necessary votes, if the need presented itself.

Under-grounding of Utilities

The City will begin the process of holding community workshops to discuss the potential under-grounding of utilities in the City. The process as discussed would take at least 10 years and come at a cost of over $250 million.


The Commission has asked staff to engage in conversations with Miami-Dade County to discuss the county’s interest in the potential annexation of High Pines and Ponce Davis. The measure had the support from residents when it was last discussed by Miami-Dade County, but the County pulled the issue before it went to a vote of the Board of County Commissioners.

Meeting Times

A measure to encourage more resident participation, has finally been passed by the Commission. The Commission voted to hold one meeting a month at 4:00PM with public comments scheduled for 5:00PM and issues of great importance, such as zoning changes, to begin at 6:00PM. The measure, previously proposed by Mayor Lago and now by Commissioner Rhonda Anderson, would begin with the next Commission meeting. The change would only apply to one of the two monthly meetings, keeping the other meeting at 9:00AM.

Lawsuit Against The Governor

The City Commission voted to approve the City Attorney continue the legal appeal against the Governor, over the state’s decision regarding local firearms bans. The City Attorney was authorized to spend $3,000 to continue the appeal, but must come to the Commission for any additional funds needed. The City has already spent over $124,000 on this lawsuit, while other municipalities who hired joint counsel only spent about $5,000 each. The City Attorney claims the City had to hire its own counsel as they themselves had been threatened. However, at the meeting she said the appeal could possibly be handled by joint counsel.

Civility Code

Mayor Lago was seeking a civility pledge for members of the Commission and City staff. The matter has been deferred, due to concerns from Vice Mayor Mena and Commissioner Jorge L. Fors, Jr. regarding the potential Human Resources implications the measure could bring. Fors was ready to vote for the measure, but wanted HR to review implications of the amendment proposed by Anderson at the meeting, to include all complaints on employee files in perpetuity.


7 thoughts on “Commission Meeting Summary (6/8/2021)

  1. Lots of interesting things happening in our city. It is clear our elected officials and hired staff could do better at some things and are doing well with others. Hopefully things will trend in the right direction with this commission. It is good that the commissioners listened to residents about 350 Greco Avenue.

    Thank you to Mr. Fernandez for reporting on all of these items.

  2. Ariel, we appreciate the behind the scenes efforts to deliver valuable civic information to the taxpayer’s of Coral Gables. Especially re: the #1 issue killing our family’s quality of life: overdevelopment and abusive density — resulting in the worst gridlock and traffic in America. City Gridlock.

    Regarding Nelson’s comment about Little Gables being near Miracle Mile and Ponce Davis and High Pines being too far away . . . 1st: Coral Gables is a city 12 miles long and 1.5 miles wide at its widest. The geographic center line of Coral Gables is Gables Estates.

    High Pines and Ponce Davis would be in the North Gables and are a zoning fit. The trailer parks and countless non-permitted structures of Little Gables would be a zoning nightmare at the northern extreme bordering widespread City of Miami crime statistics. The taxpayer’s of a small city like Coral Gables cannot be expected to be held hostage to bear such a financial burden. It’s unacceptable to be forced to pay to salvage an unincorporated area part of a couple million people. It is not a good fit for numerous serous reasons.

  3. Wrong Annexation! Little Gables best choice.

    Both High Pines & Ponce Davis are South of Sunset DR, South Miami’s Main Thoroughfare.

    These areas are leagues away from Coral Way/ Miracle Mile, the heart of Coral Gables.

    These neighborhoods belong more to South Miami. The annexation of Little Gables would bring gentrification/ improvement to the entire area between Flagler & Coral Way, not just the Original Old North Gables, but the City of Miami.

    I’m disappointed our politicians haven’t thought of a way to achieve this. Maybe exclude/ put a wall around the trailer park? Maybe provide new housing for trailer park residents elsewhere? Maybe next to the new Wawa?

    Among the three neighborhoods only Little Gables has the word Gables in the name. LIttle Gables is just blocks from the new multimillion dollar Police & Fire station on Salzedo ST.

  4. Ariel, keep up the excellent work investigating and pressuring those who in our city who believe City property and assets are theirs to take care of their “friends”, all at our expense, the residents of our city. I enjoy reading your reports as you peel the onion and many at City Hall, especially staff, squirm. Changes are due soon, especially in the development department, one that has become a defacto developer. Despite criticism by those hiding behind bogus names, you have always maintained objectivity with facts, not myths, innuendos or lies, a practice too often used to justify an action in today’s society by questionable and dubious elements. Mayor Lago and Commissioner Anderson are a beacon of hope in bringing this city back to normalcy and transparency, long lost by a majority of prior commissioners and mayors. Government is not a retiring resort for the incompetent or inept. Yes, the benefits are great, but you must respond to those who govern; We The People.

  5. Once again we saw the staff pushing the elected officials to do what the staff thinks it is best, not what the commissioners were ready to do, not what the taxpayers want! I found it very interesting how a staff member publicly announced she had spoken to the buyers and they were ready to wait for the process to take place. Then the pushback from the staff, the very top of it, began. We even heard that if this sale didn’t take place the much expected and promised Garage 7 wouldn’t be funded. Wow, the City must be desperate for money! This is the administration that had no need to furlough, fire, cut salaries, etc. during the pandemic when the usual revenue was not expected to come in. The urgency, it seems, only happened when the staff wanted to proceed with the sale of the property and we, the people objected. How did it all end? Well, as expected by most of us, the buyers’ attorneys’ answer was NO, saying that the June 30th date is a hard date. WOW, thank God Mayor Lago, made it very clear he was not about to be blackmailed (my words) into the proposed sale without the transparency he has promised and delivered many times. Let’s see what happens next. I am sure that the staff will continue pushing back and crying poor!

  6. Mr Money,

    I am not accusing anyone of engaging in improper conduct, but as originally architected, the Greco property deal looked and smelled bad (badly?). So yes, maybe the deal falls through and the City doesn’t sell the land for the offered price. So what?

    Town crazies (your term) like me think there is value in running our City’s government as openly as possible. Any money we lose if the sale falls thorough will be made up by the value of knowing that the process was proper.

    It is a cliché, but sunshine in these sorts of matters is the best disinfectant. Exposing all aspects of the deal to public scrutiny and opening the sale to competitive bidding will eliminate its stink.

  7. We really get the government we deserve.

    Mayor Lago caving to the mob on Greco. He is going to risk the bird in the hand to try to appease the town crazies. It is going to be great when no other bidders come forward and the Quesada and company come back with a low ball bid as the only interested party. In the end, no deal will get done and Coral Gables gets stuck with a substantially underperforming property. You can’t make this up.

    On another note, Mr. Fernandez, I used to appreciate your work when you called yourself an activist. It is obvious now that you have an agenda. You cannot call yourself or the Political cortaditos of the world journalists. You folks are internet trolls (just like I am). You cannot call yourself a journalist when you actively work on political campaigns etc. (Or used to anyway). It is my hope that city leaders ignore you and stop providing you with formal responses. You are not worthy of it.

    People like you are driving away talented people from wanting to serve. All you are gonna end up with is the folk who don’t have other choices in life than to suck at the teat of local government.

    We really get the government we deserve.

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