Tuesday, December 15, 2015

County Commission: Reject UDB moves ... by gimleteye

County Commissioners: Raise your hand if you want to move the Urban Development Boundary! The refrain echoes at county hall, the same way as in the not-so-distant future, snorkel manufacturers will argue for subsidies now that rising seas are good business.

In the Miami Herald, Everglades advocate Julie Dick writes, "Reject proposal to expand the UDB". We've seen this picture. Many, many times. Take a look at sprawling West Dade -- Marco Rubio Country -- , complaining about inadequate services -- fire and police protection -- although we thought development was supposed to pay its own way through increased ad valorem taxes.

The US Century Bank constituency, that ran the County Commission like a mob operation in the 1990's and 2000's, has had a more difficult time since the housing crash and the bad politics it fomented. But people's memories are short and there is always room for another subdivision if the lenders are willing, if the insurance is there, and if the land is cheap (ie. land outside the UDB).

The guys and women in suits will all be at County Hall today, earning their monthly retainers, to advocate: yes we can move the UDB!

Count on County Commissioner Pepe Diaz to raise his hand: yes we can! And Javier Souto. And Bruno Barreiro. These are the core of what EOM calls "the unreformable majority".

Writer Julie Dick adds an appeal regarding sea level rise and flood control costs that only a decade ago would never have had traction at the county commission.

Environmentalists made sea level rise arguments in 2005: that is to say, we must prioritize development to preserve identifiable watersheds and steer development away from low lying areas susceptible to flooding under conditions of global warming. Ten years ago, the argument fell flat as an arepa. Not any more.

$400 million spent on flood control projects on Miami Beach say so, and so does a tsunami of media reports backed by science about the vulnerability of South Florida to the costs of sea level rise.

There is another aspect, though, that ought to be the determinant factor in any discussion about moving the UDB now: that is, can we really afford to leave the poorest and most vulnerable communities at greater risk than they already are in Miami-Dade, by allowing development that does not pay its own way to move out past the UDB and towards the Everglades?

In the past (when life was good for the sprawl supply chain), the unreformable majority could count on support from African American county commissioners representing districts in the urban core. The reason is that voting for more sprawl outside their districts ensured campaign contributions from developers et al. Although African American county commissioners still rely on the benefits of incumbency like any of their other colleagues, they can't avoid the fact that sea level rise is a real and imminent threat to their districts and constituents who can't afford to move away.

For common sense to prevail, we can always keep our fingers crossed.

DECEMBER 14, 2015
Reject proposal to expand the UDB
Proposed development puts water supply at risk
Sea-level rise, flood control must be considered
County commission must be better steward of environment

Miami-Dade County leaders have a number of decisions to make in the coming days, months and years that will define how we prepare for a changing Miami. If unsustainable developments are approved and move forward — be it a landfill expansion, a highway running through the Everglades ecosystem or new commercial and industrial development in currently undeveloped low-lying areas — they will create future liabilities and sprawling urban areas that will require expensive, though not necessarily effective, flood control. This will put the region’s water resources at risk.

On Tuesday, the County Commission is scheduled to consider whether to approve an application from the Neighborhood Planning Company for an industrial and commercial development on more than 60 acres of agricultural land and wetlands outside of the Urban Development Boundary (UDB).

The development would sit entirely on top of the West Wellfield Protection Area, in which certain land uses and activities are regulated or prohibited to protect the potable water supply from contamination and to provide recharge of the aquifer. Industrial development on this site puts our drinking-water supply at risk. This proposal should not move forward.

The development would be outside of the UDB, close to Everglades National Park and encroach on the Everglades ecosystem. Yet impacts of this project on Everglades-restoration projects have not been evaluated.

Numerous endangered and threatened species live in the area, including the bonneted bat, Eastern indigo snake, wood stork, little blue heron, reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, snowy egret, tricolored heron and white ibis. If county commissioners approve the application, they will do so without understanding the potential impacts to wetlands, Everglades restoration and numerous endangered and threatened species.

Not only is the proposed development inconsistent with the county’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan, it flies in the face of responsible planning for sea-level rise. It is part of continuous pressure to develop outside the UDB, in most cases on land that is extremely low lying and vulnerable to sea-level rise. Neighborhood Planning Company’s proposed industrial and commercial expansion of the UDB is one of several projects in the works that would add infrastructure to undeveloped areas in the county vulnerable to sea-level rise.

Similarly, a expansion proposal for South Miami-Dade would put a landfill in the footprint of Everglades restoration in a location that will be completely inundated with two feet of sea-level rise. The landfill proposal is particularly egregious considering one of our best defenses against sea-level rise is restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.

Likewise, the proposed expansion of State Road 836 would put a major highway through the Everglades ecosystem in low-lying wetlands.

All of these projects must be stopped. Flood control in the face of rising sea levels is a challenge we have not yet figured out how to address. One thing is clear: We are struggling to find flood-control solutions for the existing urban footprint. We cannot afford to bring on additional land, which will require additional flood control, to urbanized Miami-Dade County.

Adaptation to sea-level rise requires a vision for our region that minimizes the footprint of land we develop and makes more room for water. Our region has a monumental challenge ahead to figure out solutions for this problem. Without a dramatic shift in greenhouse gas emissions, these solutions will only be temporary. We must adapt. If we continue to allow urban expansion without considering the liability and infrastructure we are putting in harm’s way, we ignore reality. Isaac Stein, a University of Miami architecture graduate with the firm West 8, devoted his senior thesis to saving Miami Beach. His visionary design for Miami Beach, featured in November Vanity Fair, uses natural systems such as mangroves to aid in flood control and erosion prevention, while creating an vibrant urban environment that exists with rising waters.

Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for New York City and Central Park and Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago made those cities the vibrant and the dynamic places they are today. Visionary and anticipatory urban planning for Miami-Dade County has the potential to allow this region to thrive in the face of climate challenges.

The protections in place to protect the water supply and the Everglades ecosystem are ever more critical in a changing climate. These factors alone are reason enough to deny any application to expand the UDB and develop industrial land on top of a Wellfield Protection Area.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article49755765.html#storylink=cpy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some South Dade farmers are watching the furrows between their crops rise and fall with the high and low tides. The water table is very high right now but the bigger concern is salt water intrusion. There will be no need to season corn, squash beans or tomatoes in the future. If they don't die.
High tide makes the rows fill to about 3 inches at low tide it goes down by half. That rain was over a week ago. The closer to the coast the worse it is which is logical.