Monday, May 05, 2014

On Miami Today's Economic Enemy #1: Traffic … by gimleteye

Michael Lewis, publisher of Miami Today, agrees with the point we have made at EOM since we started this blog: that traffic is the number one enemy of our economy and quality of life. EOM, though, has never shied, unlike Miami Today, from identifying the source of traffic: decision makers and elected officials who never turn down a permit or zoning change that could interfere with the profit motives of the Great Destroyers.

We do, moreover, contest Mr. Lewis' point that traffic has only recently "exploded". During all the years when the building boom acquired momentum -- in the late 1990's straight into the early 2000's -- not a single county commissioner with the exception of Katy Sorenson was willing to hold up a zoning decision allowing more housing or commercial space based on traffic. Miami Today was mostly silent.

Finally, even Commissioner Sorenson was swayed against the requirements of traffic concurrency as a guiding principle of state growth management planning. Well so much for that: Gov. Rick Scott axed growth management as a foundation for planning.

Who bears responsibility for mitigating traffic? If you can find any elected official willing to bear responsibility, let us know. Please raise your hand.

We do agree with Mr. Lewis that "variability" in travel time dominates the traffic scene. You literally have no idea whether a 20 minute drive will become a 30 or 40 minute drive. This is crippling not just for business, but puts significant additional strains on families.

Mr. Lewis and I share the same amazement -- as I am sure many of our readers do -- at the sheer impossibility of navigating across Biscayne Boulevard from ANY direction when the Performing Arsht Center and the Heat Arena are in action. And the Museum of Jorge Perez? Who can get there? (And when did the Miami Herald ever editorialize about this facet of our torpedo'd civic life?)

Lewis writes, "we need to get priorities, and get them straight". But hasn't Miami Today been part of the media aristocracy that incessantly highlights the good work of job boosters like the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, or Neisen Kasdin/ Latin Builders, and the relentless optimism of pro-growth policies?

Perhaps Mr. Lewis anticipates our criticism by noting, "in the past eight years, Miami Today has written about "gridlock" 58 times. We've written about "traffic congestion" even more."

That very well could be the case. However, there comes a time when staying inside the circle of Miami's status quo is no longer a viable option for a critic. In our opinion, we crossed that threshold a long, long, long time ago.


Gregory Stubbs said...

Maybe if Miami-Dade county had any logic they would expand the metrorail across the county. Thus providing an alternative for county residents. Also the county and cities within miami-dade should require their employees to actually live in Miami Dade county.

Anonymous said...

Last anon, I agree. I don't know why the BCC allowed County employees to live outside the County. That means they are not committing their taxes to the County who pays them.

I've long believed that metro rail should be expanded to Florida City using the most under utilized busway extension South of Dadeland.

Anonymous said...

City and County employees should be required to live where they get paid.