Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Natacha Seijas doesn’t “do” parks or drinking water, she does “development” by gimleteye

It’s too bad the Miami Herald hasn’t weighed in on the item buried in today’s county commission agenda, with a 2:00PM “time certain” at County Hall: approval of the South Miami Dade Watershed Plan. Turn on your TV, or go to the commission, or watch on the internet .

“Approval” of the watershed plan would be good, you might think. In this case, you would be wrong: as now proposed the resolution contains a poison pill meant to kill it.

The three year study, costing nearly $4 million dollars, lays out the case for accomodating future development until 2025 within existing service areas and municipalities and not moving the Urban Development Boundary. That is why it has attracted the ire of Seijas’ key supporters—the builders, developers, land speculators/farmers, and lobbyists who control the majority of the county commission through the outsized influence of campaign contributions. They also own land outside the Urban Development Boundary.

It is too bad the Miami Herald does not spend more energy connecting the dots for its readers. How Seijas is trying to kill the watershed study should be a front page story. Too often, the stories involving the consequences of government bowing to special interests are not told, or, buried in the Neighbors section like last Saturday's (“The growing YMCA soccer program in South Miami is plagued by a shortage of good-quality available fields to play on. Parents are angry and tired of waiting for action”) reporting the pitiful state of playing fields for youth and adults.

Anyone who has cared to have a look knows that the few public playing fields in Miami Dade and the municipalities are chronically over-used. The issue doesn't rise to the urgent public health and welfare threshold of drinking water (as in the watershed study), but still, it is a very important quality of life indicator.

The same way that the county commission has ignored the broader need to coordinate recreational space and budgets with municipalities serving youth sports, it has also failed to protect public health and welfare related to future watershed and drinking water needs.

“They had rocks the size of my husband’s fist on the field”, is how one soccer mom of an 8 year old girl described the pitiful conditions at the YMCA youth soccer program at David Fairchild fields in South Miami, that have been a disgrace for nearly two decades.

And for as long, the Miami Dade county commission has let the protections of our drinking water wellfields slip away, a matter the sole responsibility of the committee that Natacha Seijas has chaired.

Commissioner Seijas has time to burn in her no-show job at the YMCA (reported by Miami New Times). Instead of pandering to the political elite, she should spend a little time at the YMCA ferreting out why the County and municipalities can’t provide anything resembling adequate playing fields for Miami-Dade kids. (At least Javier Souto, a long-time county commissioner, has made playing fields in his district a priority—but why hasn’t he insisted on major parks improvements throughout the county, and made his participation in the unreformable majority a condition of his pro-development votes?)

Local governments have allowed so much profit to be extracted from neighborhoods through zoning changes benefiting developers that quality of life concerns have been lost in the dust.

(It is simply too difficult for parents to travel on over-congested roads to youth sports practices where any single accident can double or triple travel time. If you live in the eastern sections of the county and have to travel to kids’ sporting events in the west, or vice versa, fuggedaboudit.)

Today, at the county commission (or on the county website) you will see how Miami Dade County Commissioners treat our quality of life like a chop shop.

Planning watershed needs, given the likelihood of drought conditions persisting into the future, would seem to be a priority for your local government. But it’s not, apparently.

Seijas wants to kill the watershed study. She’s said so, a million times, and she inserted a little poison pill in the resolution to be addressed by the full county commission today, without remark or comment when it was on her agenda at the Government and Environment Subcommittee a few weeks ago. (That was before her all-important trip and county business to Africa, with county commissioner allies.)

In the future, we won’t have safe and affordable drinking water, thanks to your county commissioners who gave away the store.

People wonder why it is so hard to attract high-wage jobs to Miami. It is no mystery. Watch how it works, today at 2 PM.


Geniusofdespair said...


Due to technical difficulties, Webcasting is not available at this time

Anonymous said...

webcasting is up and running now as of 12:14