County Government

May Commission Digest

June 1, 2018

The commission held two general commission meetings, plus zoning hearings and other meetings in May (find meeting minutes here). It was a busy month and a lot of important items were approved that will affect residents’ lives. Read on for tidy summaries of the major items with links to additional coverage so you can stay informed while we keep an eye on the long running commission meetings for you.

An amendment passed 9-1 on May 1st allowing municipalities to use part of their portion of the transit surtax to pay for on demand transportation services, which could theoretically include contracts for services with private entities such as ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber.

An amendment initially passed May 15th to extend the living wage ordinance to include private entities operating on county land (such as businesses in the airport) so that they must pay a living wage to employees (with certain exceptions stipulated). This item was deferred on May 1 to the May 15 commission meeting where it was narrowly approved in a 7-5 vote. However, Mayor Gimenez later vetoed it on May 23rd, citing his belief that it would harm business development on county land. The commission may take up the item again during the June commission meeting in an attempt to overturn the veto, which would require moving one “no” vote to a “yes.”

$ 4.5 million was approved (11-0) at the May 1st commission meeting from the Building Better Communities Bond for a mixed-use shopping and apartment complex located at the Coconut Grove station; currently the project is going under the name Grove Center. The agreement includes renovations and updates to the Grove station, estimated to cost the developers $ 5 million and is projected to create approximately 140 permanent jobs, mostly in the service industry.

A resolution passed 11-0 on May 1st granting the extension of a code violation amnesty period for auto repair shops to allow time for them to come into compliance with the code (violations include working on cars on the street and sidewalk, obstructing car and foot traffic, etc.). Since the last amnesty period about 200 shops have come into compliance and 27 now remain that are non-compliant. The extension will end after 9 months.

Plans to develop a Formula One track are moving ahead following an 11-0 vote at the May 15th commission meeting approving the Mayor or his designee to move forward with negotiating an agreement. Miami Dolphins lobbyist Brian Mays presented the Formula One plan to the commission. Initially the proposed land and road use included Parcel B (a plot of land behind the American Airlines Arena with contested history) but after Commissioner Edmonson’s strenuous objections the resolution was amended to exclude Parcel B.

The deferred May 1 pet store conflict of interest lobbying waiver for Ron Book, Nelson Diaz and Sean Pittman was put to a vote at the May 15th commission meeting and soundly rejected in a 12-0 vote. Book, Diaz, and Pittman had represented Miami-Dade county in Tallahassee as lobbyists while also lobbying in favor of state pre-emption legislation for another client connected with the pet store industry. Commissioner Sosa and others voiced disapproval over having a lobbyist hired by the county who has other clients with interests that run counter to those of the county (e.g. pre-emption laws that diminish local governmental control).

At the May 17th zoning hearing a zoning application was approved that allows the American Dream Mall/Complex to move forward with development, the development covers 175 acres and will be the largest mall in the United States. Planning documents submitted (see page 60) estimate around 14,500 jobs will be created, the majority being lower-wage service positions with yearly incomes from the low twenty-thousands to the mid thirty-thousands. The vote was 9-1 in favor, with Commissioner Cava casting the lone no vote.