Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On July 25th we wrapped up a major meeting as the Miami Beach Commission prepares for an August recess. Amongst the big items decided were finalizing the city budget and millage rate for the upcoming year; voting on a proposed convention center hotel lease and whether to send to the voters; voting on a General Obligation bond and sending it to the voters, and a ban on plastics and plastic straws in Miami Beach
This meeting was a challenging one. I am proud that we were able to keep the millage rate flat while still delivering, and in some cases, enhancing city services. I am steadfast in watching how we spend city monies this coming year so that we are prepared for next year when we expect the budget to be even tighter.
I voted with my colleagues to place the Miami Beach Convention Center hotel lease on the ballot this November. While I remain concerned about the size of the hotel and its impact on traffic, I firmly believe that this project is much better in both design and traffic plan than the proposed hotel lease we rejected in 2016. The design will be perfected at the Design Review Board but the reduced height and use of two twin towers are much more attractive. It also has a better traffic plan to allow entrance through both Dade Boulevard and 17th Street. Ultimately, it is you the voters who must decide. Let’s remain vigilant in ensuring that the design process produces something we can be proud of as we are watching and waiting with our votes.
I could not support the proposed General Obligation Bond and was one of two votes against placing this item before you on the November ballot. While I recognize the need for and support many of the proposed projects to be funded, this was a rushed process that in my opinion did not allow for adequate public input to make me feel comfortable that this was ready to go before the voters and I attempted to have this pushed back to a 2019 ballot. The item passed 5 – 2 and will also come before the voters in the November election. I encourage you to learn more about how this proposed tax could benefit you with regard to public safety, parks and infrastructure improvements. There are many worthwhile projects included therein.
Finally, I was pleased to co-sponsor with the Mayor an ordinance banning plastic straws in city facilities including sidewalk cafes, parks, marinas, piers and, of course, the beach itself. The policy will be rolled out in three phases starting with three months of education, followed by three months or written warnings and finally full enforcement to commence in February 2019. Plastic straws are slender and often get through our storm drains polluting our oceans. This ordinance was a long time coming and came six years after our first ordinance which prohibited businesses from providing them to beachgoers. I see this as another step towards a complete plastic ban.
Also, even though we will be in recess for August, I will still be working diligently for you and will be a guest speaker at the August 6th Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association meeting and at the August 20th Miami Beach Democratic Club. I hope you can join me! See details below.
Until next month I remain very truly yours,