Resolution of the Board of Directors of the Urban Environment League
Re: Miami Worldcenter – City of Miami Commission Agenda
February 12, 2015 – ITEM NO. PZ1
WHEREAS, the Urban Environment League (UEL), while supporting smart growth and the redevelopment of our urban core, has long been an advocate against undue corporate welfare and the circumvention of the ordinances and procedures that protect transparency and community participation regarding projects that can adversely affect the quality of life in Miami’s communities; and
WHEREAS, the UEL has long believed that public hearings and citizen participation are key to building long-term, sustainable communities; and
WHEREAS, the UEL wishes to raise some important questions and concerns about the proposed Development Agreement being voted on February 12, 2015 to benefit the Miami Worldcenter; and
WHEREAS, the proposed agreement effectively circumvents Miami 21 and the public hearing requirements contained in City ordinances designed to protect citizens against issues that may adversely affect their quality of life and allow them to participate in the future of their neighborhood. Most notably, all signage and billboards on the subject Worldcenter property, the addition of up to 25 nightclub liquor licenses (in addition to not including restaurants with full bars), and increases in density to the project that will no longer be subject to public hearing or input; and
WHEREAS, this circumvention of the applicable zoning code and waiver of public hearing requirements may be in violation of State law, specifically, the Florida Local Government Development Agreement Act, which requires at Section 163.3231 of the Florida Statutes that development agreements such as this one remain consistent with the existing “land development regulations” of the City; and
WHEREAS, despite press releases and articles published throughout 2014 stating that Worldcenter will contain only 750,000 s/f of retail, Worldcenter has already submitted plans and applied for a warrant for more than 1 million s/f of retail, a 33% increase in proposed density without any public hearings or community meetings, which highlights the need for community involvement, public hearings, and complete transparency about the Developers’ true intent; and
WHEREAS, the proposed agreement, due to the omission of the words “public easement” as opposed to “public right of way”, appears to be a waiver of payment for the millions of dollars of air rights to build over City streets or easements, required by code to be paid for, while Swire Properties, Ltd, developer of the similar Brickell City Center project, paid the full and entire amount of air rights for building both above and below City streets and public easements; and
WHEREAS, the UEL feels that ALL applicable fees and taxes should be paid by the private developer and that those funds should be used to improve the quality of life of the applicable CRA district; and
WHEREAS, the proposed agreement offers an inadequately defined set of community benefits in terms of job prioritization by zip code that has no enforceability nor penalties for non-performance other than the cancellation of the contract; and
WHEREAS the UEL feels that there is a need to review city, county and state CRA legislation in the light of the fact that significant concerns have been raised about whether the CRA structure has become less responsive in its stated obligations to alleviate “slum and blight;”
NOW, Be it therefore RESOLVED that, the Urban Environment League requests that the Members of the City Commission address the deficiencies as noted above in the World Center item presently scheduled for February 12, 2015, identified in the agenda as Number PZ1, as follows:
Section 1: We seek to adhere to applicable Miami 21 zoning code and waiver of pubic hearing requirements contained in city ordinances. This should include public hearings related to any increase in the proposed density of the project. Specifically delete the waiver of citizen participation and public hearing issues and provide adequate public hearings on a timely basis.
Section 2: Modify the document to ensure payment of the full and entire amount of air rights for building above and below city streets and public easements as per original City Ordinance.
Section 3: Impose harsh penalties for non-compliance of local job creation obligations within the CRA district as should be stated in the agreement.
Section 4: If there is any increase in the proposed project density, then one or more public hearings should be held to underscore community involvement and government transparency.
Section 5: A major city, county govt and state overhaul should be initiated for the CRA enabling legislation and oversight mechanisms in order to truly benefit the poorest members of our community rather than developers and financial beneficiaries.
ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE UEL,
Grace Solares, President
Gregory Bush, Vice President
Peter Ehrlich, Secretary
Alberto Ruder, Treasurer