***Failure to Apply Parking Fees: An Apparent Illegal Street Closure and Loss of Multiple Parking Spots for 3 Years and Counting: An Unfinished and Unsightly Development Site: The Council has Failed with Transparency, Oversight, and Accountability:***
The quality of life of our beloved Miami Springs is under increasing attack and steadily degrading. We have ever-increasing traffic dangerously speeding through our quiet neighborhoods with stand-still congestion at times around the Circle. We have long-term, ongoing violent crime on NW 36th Street that threatens residents, visitors, and our reputation. Downtown we have an eyesore landscape with a looming, out-of-scale shell of a building that has gone unfinished for years creating dust and disgust while worsening our existing parking crisis.
Obviously, some problems are more complicated than others, and therein lies a bigger problem. We can’t have confidence in our city management making positive progress until we have accountability and completely replace the team that has been in place for a half-decade or more and has neglectfully botched the biggest development in Miami Springs’ recent history. The City Manager/Finance Director is finally leaving. But the City Planner and law firm remain. As a resident or business owner are you satisfied with how their “planning” and legal representations are working out? Are you satisfied that the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars paid yearly to city management for salaries and benefits have been well-spent?
If you are dissatisfied, it’s time you let the council know that we need a complete change in management.
We all know by now that the city failed the residents terribly when they neglected/refused to apply a parking fee to the developers for their use of public spaces which could have reached a million dollars or more and which the council now tries to sweep under the rug.
Miami Springs Officials Continue Their Cover-Up of the Failure to Collect A Million Dollar Parking Fee From Developers
But the main subject of this report is the closing of Canal St by the developers.
Broken Promise: Canal Street Remains Closed
The Miami Springs Municipal Code clearly states it is unlawful to obstruct public streets. But the code allows the city manager to grant permission to close a public street under specific conditions including that the closure is approved with a permit and not to exceed 60 days. Well, it’s been about 3 years now! I have been very critical of city officials over their handling of the downtown development, especially the blatant betrayal and violation of the public trust for neglecting to apply a parking fee. So I decided to learn more about how Canal Street was allowed to be closed, now for an absurd 3 years. I did the following public records request under the Florida State Statute Chapter 119;
“Please provide from the beginning of the process up to the present date any and all information pertaining to the closure of Canal Street by the developers of 1 Curtiss Parkway. Provided information should include any and all parts of the agreement by the City of Miami Springs and the developers along with the permitting and other requirements which were established to approve the closure of Canal Street along with any timelines, commitments, penalties established, etc.”
Amazingly, the only information the city clerk sent in response was a simple site map from the developers dated 4-19!
Seriously. That’s it!
Re-read the Municipal Code and what I asked for compared to what I received. It seemed too absurd to be true. I wrote back to the city clerk twice asking her to confirm that the site map was all they were providing as documentation of any agreements or official updates on the closure of OUR street that’s now going on for 3 years.
Her reply was; “My understanding is that the road closure was part of the site plan approval.”
And with that, it appears that our subservient city management had again put the developer’s interests over that of the residents by neglectfully allowing them to illegally shut down OUR street and OUR multiple parking spots indefinitely, in clear violation of our own code.
As stated, it’s not just about the closure of a public road. There were a couple of dozen or so much-needed public parking spots on that section of Canal Street that the city management has allowed the developers to eliminate from public usage for three years now. If the site plan is all they have for a three-year shut down it represents another disgraceful violation of the residents’ trust and the city’s fiduciary responsibility. Our taxpayer-funded City Manager/Finance Director, City Planner, and City Attorney/law firm were responsible for establishing parameters, safeguards, and direct oversight of the downtown development. But where was the council oversight on this as well?? The indefinite closure of Canal Street and the loss of its parking spots is another inept stunning failure of their obligation to protect the interests of the residents!
The City Manager/Finance Director is leaving and that’s a great start. The City Planner should do the right thing and follow the manager out to smooth the way for a new one. The City Planner was assigned primary responsibility for negotiating the parking situation with the developers and the residents were betrayed when the city neglected to ensure the appropriate parking fee was established. Even when the City’s own policy called for a fee! And he admitted it at a past council meeting by stating; “In hindsight, we wish we would have established a fee and charged them something. But we didn’t.”
Exactly! They didn’t. The Planner’s plan has failed and we deserve a new one of both.
The third part of the failed triad was our city’s legal representation. Where was the legal oversight of our city attorney and law firm as the city failed to charge a parking fee and evidently put no legal safeguards or timeline parameters in writing for the closure of Canal Street?? Just recently, Councilwoman Bravo bravely voted no confidence for our city law firm but the rest of the council settled for the status quo by voting yes to keeping them for another year.
That’s unfortunate and an insult to the residents because it’s long past the time for accountability and to start looking for other counsel after the failures of this one.
As always I thank our elected officials for their service and I congratulate the new council. I like this council in general and think they are capable and well-intended. But there needs to be more accountability and transparency. The council has not been forthright with the details of the parking fee failures and the ridiculously neglected oversight regarding the Canal Street closure. Councilwoman Bravo has pushed for some accountability with no support. I think that newly elected Councilman Jorge Santin will bring fresh energy and commitment to oversight and accountability. Hopefully, that will inspire the rest of the council to stop evading inconvenient questions and truths and shake them out of a lackadaisical mindset when it comes to transparency and accountability. Their loyalty needs to be to the residents by ensuring an effective and transparent government. Not the continued fawning over and votes of confidence for officials that have so failed the residents with the downtown development debacle.
As we always say, the health of our community and its quality of life depends on engaged residents willing to ask difficult questions and demand that our interests are protected. Only 21% of registered voters cast ballots in the last election. That’s pathetic and a sign of the disease called apathy. Apathy and noninvolvement will allow the continued degradation of the quality of life of our wonderful community. A couple of voices in the wilderness will not do it. It takes a concerted effort by involved residents.
How many of you are willing to take a couple of minutes to help protect our cherished community by documenting your concerns to the council? Now is the time!
Miami Springs Resident