November Commission Digest
December 13, 2018
The County Commission did not have a regular meeting in November, so instead we followed the happenings in a few of the commission’s committees —Transportation and Public Works, Zoning, and Housing and Social Services.
Transportation and Public Works
On November 16th, the Transportation and Public Works Committee convened and spent time discussing an item brought forward by Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. She proposed raising the maximum vehicle age requirement for taxi cabs as a way to bolster the taxi cab industry in the county. Like large metropolitan areas across the country, Miami-Dade has struggled to keep its local taxi cab companies alive as they face steep competition from tech-based ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.
Sosa’s item came with one caveat: that the condition of the car be “checked by the Department [of Transportation and Public Works] at least once a year.” Commissioner Sally Heyman asked for the inspection to happen twice yearly rather than just once a year, citing her experiences in cabs that lack air conditioning or functioning credit card machines. Ultimately commissioners tabled the item.
In the latter half of the Transportation meeting, commissioners discussed an item that gives transit passes to young City Year and Miami Services Corps volunteers. Commissioners deferred the item for further discussion after Commissioner Sosa posed questions to the Director of Miami-Dade Department of Transportation Alice Bravo about the scope of the transit pass program. Bravo explained that members of 100 agencies receive transit passes in exchange for their services to the county. Commissioner Sosa requested a full report of the 100 agencies who receive transit passes and the exact cost to run the program.
At the zoning hearing on November 15th, Commissioners unanimously rejected a permit to create a new charter school in West Kendall at the corner of SW 118 Ave and Miller Drive. Residents of the Horse Country community showed up to the meeting in large numbers in blue and yellow t-shirts.Commissioners had previously requested that the developer and residents settle their disagreement over the size of the school to no avail. The residents and their lawyer claim the school would worsen traffic and that there is an excess of schools in the area. Residents organized through the Action Network and created a video demonstrating the impact a new school could have on existing traffic.
Housing and Social Services Committee
On November 19th, the Housing and Social Services Committee listened to several members of the public. The Chair of the Affordable Housing Advisory Board (which is a team of residents who research and develop policy solutions to barriers to affordable housing in the county) Charles Sims asked the commissioners to consider items from a report that details ways to make housing more affordable in Miami-Dade. These included streamlining the housing assistance eligibility verification process and creating incentives for private developers to create affordable housing units.
A resolution on the agenda that would renovate existing affordable housing units while building new ones caused concern among some residents of Miami-Dade who interpreted the item to mean the elimination of housing units. Michael Liu, Director of the Miami-Dade Public Housing Agency clarified that the resolution would help to temporarily move current residents in Section 8 housing into different units while their original residences are renovated.