Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Teeth grinding traffic: the Miami-Dade County Commission aren't the only ones responsible ... by gimleteye

Commissioner Juan Zapata made news recently calling for a building moratorium in West Dade, pushed by constituents -- and his own experience -- being stuck in teeth grinding traffic.

To know who is responsible for allowing the over-development and job-killing traffic, count the members of the Board of County Commissioners who have been in office for many, many years: Bruno Barreiro, Pepe Diaz and Javier Souto. They are not alone, but they have been reliable and consistent votes for more sprawl. They are charter members of the Unreformable Majority. The traffic jam you are stuck in, is their doing.

My first foray into the politics of sprawl and traffic was in 1993, when Javier Souto was the deciding vote -- against the wishes of the Latin Builders Association -- on the requirement for a 2/3rds supermajority of the county commission to changes zoning in the county master development plan. I marshaled a civic coalition under the umbrella -- Alliance for Sustainable Communities -- and counted among the strongest supporters the same neighborhood associations that Commissioner Zapata represents today. That was more than twenty years ago.

Citizens won that battle, but they lost the war on sprawl and traffic. Time after time at the county commission, zoning approvals were accompanied by solemn traffic engineering reports: everything was fine, they said. No need to worry or panic.

More than ten years ago, there was a chance to hold the line on development affecting the wellfield protection zone and the fresh water supply serving more than 2 million residents and visitors. The issue, then, was the "transmissivity" of the Biscayne aquifer and the "travel time" of water flowing from the margin of the zone to the wells.

The Board of County Commissioners allowed major new developments in the West Dade region on the premise -- contested by environmentalists -- that the wellfield zone had sufficient boundaries to be protective of water quality. Instead of erring on the side of caution, the Unreformable Majority was relentless in pushing for exactly the forms of development that, absent good mass transit, incubate traffic nightmares.

Look no further than the influence of lobbyists -- Greenberg Traurig, first and foremost, but also including a roster of lesser players -- who for all intents and purposes owned the county commission. Rodney Barreto. Chris Korge. The big farmers in South Dade? They cheered enthusiastically as Kendall metastasized south and west to Krome Avenue.

What is really teeth grinding about today's traffic: it is exactly the collateral damage of what Miami-Dade's business community wanted. We've been writing about this for a long time at Eye On Miami. Do a quick archive search, under "traffic" or just type "traffic" in the search bar.

Why do voters keep returning Barreiro, Souto, and Diaz to elected office? Judging by their near-permanent incumbencies, apparently teeth grinding traffic is what voters want, too.


Geniusofdespair said...

You forget Barbara Jordan. She is also a charter member of the unreformable majority.

Zwoman said...

Congrats to Zapata for speaking the unspeakable to builders and commissioners, a building moratorium in West Dade. However that is probably too little too late. WE need a building moratorium in the entire county, West Dade is not the only area with poorly planned, unmitigated growth causing traffic nightmares. We do not have the infrastructure to support more residents, including water supplies. We need a mass transit system that works for the entire county. What happened to our East/West Metrorail line that has been on the "drawing board" for 25 years or more? And don't give me that crap about Kendall Kat and bus lines to take you to metro rail stations many, many miles away. Who the F wants to drive their car to a public parking lot, leave it in the hot sun all day, walk outside in a business suit, with a briefcase, laptop,umbrella, etc. to stand in pouring rain and ungodly heat to wait for a damn bus? And you still sit in abhorrent traffic until you get to the metrofail station. what little time savings you recoup from the 20-minute train ride is not worth the damn aggravation, unpleasantness, inconvenience, and sicko perverts on the train. This county is so F'ed up, good luck Mr. Zapata trying to make it better for the residents. As for me, I am out of here as soon as I can sell my soon to be waterfront home in the "West End"

Anonymous said...

Glad for your honesty in including Korge as one of the most involved in the destructive expansion of our county. I find it repulsive when political wannabes pretend to be something they're not. The son is now counting of the father's I'll-gotten gains to bankroll a campaign pretending to care for the environment. Fortunately, not everyone in our community is suffering from memory loss.

Tom KG4CYX said...


Best. Choice. Of. Words. Ever.

....I love your writing so much.

Anonymous said...

Its not just a Miami problem, it is statewide.
If you drive around the state as I have in the last month you will see overdevelopment and sprawl metastasizing statewide.
With our current Governor beating the drum of Jobs, there are roads planned statewide to open up areas of "economic opportunity" (ie: greedy developers).
Currently toll fees collected in Miami Dade are funneled to North Central Florida to fund more unnneeded, unwanted toll roads.
It is well past time for Florida residents to stand up together and demand that our elected leaders provide needed infrastructure repairs for CURRENT residents .
Once the current problems are addressed, then and only then ,should we consider more building and more people that will demand resources like water that is in limited supply.