June 2013 eNewsletter
I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of summer, and taking advantage of Miami Beach’s many offerings and natural beauty. I have been hard at work for you on the Miami Beach Commission, addressing issues of importance that affect our neighborhoods.
This week the Miami Beach Commission met to consider numerous items. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Alton Road construction project was discussed, and a group of residents, led by Tammy Tibbles, brought forth an initiative. “Alton Road for Everyone” includes most of the Commission’s prior requests for the project, a major feature being the removal of bike lanes from Alton Road and placement on West Avenue, where I believe they will be safer. We have now learned that, despite FDOT asking the City of Miami Beach to pay millions of dollars to move these bike lanes to West Avenue, there will still be shared bike lanes along Alton Road. I have been a longtime advocate for this project, and believe we can make it better for everyone. Therefore, I made a motion that passed unanimously, calling for the City Manager to meet with FDOT, Tammy Tibbles, and other interested parties, within the next week, to address the concerns of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.
The Commission also ratified a settlement agreement with the Seville Hotel on Collins Avenue and 29th Street which will allow them to demolish the existing boardwalk behind their property and work with the City of Miami Beach and State of Florida to construct a slightly elevated beachwalk. Although this may sound good in theory, I was the lone vote against this settlement. The reason for my vote against the settlement is that we are slowly chipping away at the boardwalk, block by block, until the entire boardwalk may be compromised. During the previous Commission meeting, Commissioner Libbin made a motion to allow the boardwalk to be torn down behind the W Hotel on Collins and 22nd Street (which I similarly voted against). Now, the City of Miami Beach is allowing another block of the boardwalk to be removed without a comprehensive plan for how the boardwalk/beachwalk should look. I cannot support this measure without a plan for what will be built, and what best serves the interests of the residents who use and love the boardwalk.
I am also proud to have sponsored a new Tax Equity Policy for city employees. The new policy is the strongest and most comprehensive of its kind in the U.S., and it ensures that city employees with domestic partners will no longer pay thousands more in taxes for their partner’s health insurance than married employees pay. This ordinance unanimously passed second reading and will ensure that Miami Beach is a leader in promoting equality for all people. I was assisted in this ordinance by not only City administration but also by the City of Miami Beach Human Rights Committee, LGBT Business Enhancement Committee, Equality Florida, SAVE Dade and others. I am proud that Miami Beach is stepping in to do the right thing until such time as the Federal and State governments offer employees the same equal benefits.
As your Commissioner, one of my top priorities has been quality of life for all of our residents. Unfortunately, in order to gain that top quality of life we have to suffer with the headaches of capital improvement projects. The Office of Capital Improvement Projects is working on over 200 assignments in various stages. I have always stressed to administration the importance of keeping the residents informed about capital improvement projects affecting our neighborhoods. Recently, I have been walking door to door on the Venetian Islands, and have been listening to residents’ frustrations about the lack of information on construction projects. I am pleased to report that after my recommendation, the Capital Improvement Projects department has launched a new website: www. mbplannedprogress.com. Go to the news section and then go to enotifications and sign up to receive notifications about projects impacting your neighborhood. This website is designed to keep our community and impacted stakeholders informed about construction progress throughout this great City.
Lastly, I am thrilled with all the support I have been receiving from residents as my team walks door to door in City neighborhoods. On June 17th from 6:30 – 8:30p, Senator Gwen Margolis and others will be hosting a fundraiser for my campaign for Commissioner of Miami Beach. The fundraising event will be held at the home of Alton Road Homeowner Association President Adam Kravitz and his wife, Joana Rose, at their home located at 2982 Alton Road. If you can’t make it you can still contribute through my website at www.305webdev.com/gongora. Thanks for your support!
See you soon!
Your Miami Beach Commissioner
June 2013 Community News
Miami Beach Hurricane Information Center
The City of Miami Beach wants to ensure the safety of all its residents and visitors and urges everyone to have a plan in case of a hurricane or other emergency. We are prepared and we want to make sure that you are too. Miami Beach is located in an evacuation zone. Our hurricane information guide includes specific preparations and information for the Miami Beach community.
Hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30. Although hurricanes have occurred outside of these six months, these dates were selected to encompass over 97% of tropical activity. The Atlantic basin shows a very peaked season from August through October, with 78% of the tropical storm days, 87% of the minor (categories 1 and 2) hurricane days, and 96% of the major (categories 3, 4, and 5) hurricane days occurring. Once in a few years, there may be a hurricane occurring “out of season” — primarily May or December. For additional information, please visit http://www.miamibeachfl.gov/OEM/scroll.aspx?id=46788
RE.invest Initiative Program
We are pleased to inform you that the City of Miami Beach has been selected to participate in the RE.invest Initiative Program. REinvest Initiative is a new program that will help selected cities across the country to finance and build resilient and integrated urban stormwater infrastructure systems. With up to $3 million in support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the RE.invest Iniative will deploy teams of engineers, lawyers and public finance experts to work directly with City officials and managers to develop strategies for investable infrastructure plans. The City competed with many other cities nationally and was one of only eight cities to be selected. The other cities chosen for the program are San Francisco, New Orleans, Hoboken, El Paso, Norfolk, Milwaukee and Honolulu. As a low-lying barrier island, Miami Beach experiences significant tidal flooding. By working with RE.invest, the City will potentially explore a mechanism for increasing the elevation of over 60 miles of seawall most of which is privately owned. The City recognizes that “natural capital” is the foundation of local industries and a high quality of life. Miami Beach’s environment attracts permanent and seasonal residents and businesses to the area in addition to seven million tourists each year. The City is working to improve the sustainability of its infrastructure and reduce impacts to its natural resources through the implementation of the Miami Beach Sustainability Plan. The next step will be for the RE.invest Initiative team of engineers, lawyers and public finance experts to come to Miami Beach to meet with City officials and staff in order to develop specific strategies for the City’s project. It is anticipated that the meeting will be held during the month of August 2013. For additional information, please view http://www.reinvestinitiative.org/partner-cities/miami-beach
Celebrate Miami Romance Month in June
Featuring money-saving romantic deals for all and romance articles for inspiration. Whether you’re getting engaged, having a bachelor/ette party, tying the knot, planning a commitment ceremony, going on your honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary – Miami is the perfect match. Visit MiamiRomanceMonth.com for details.
Parks and Recreation Celebrates A Successful Athletic Season
U13 Travel Soccer Team
On May 19, 2013, the City of Miami Beach U13 Travel Soccer team was crowned champions of the 2013 Nike Cup in Sanford Florida. Miami Beach defeated Jacksonville FC 21 in the final match to bring home the championship trophy. The Miami Beach U 13 team, advanced to the tournament final by finishing first in the group stage with a 6-0 victory over Creeks Clash, a 2-2 tie with Maitland Shock, and a 2-0 victory over Jacksonville. The City of Miami Beach is extremely proud of its U13 soccer team for their Championship victory!
Special Olympics State Games
On May 17th-18th 2013 the Miami Beach Special Populations athletes participated in the Special Olympics State Games held in Orlando, Florida. Jose Trevino, Brian Crapp and William Lockett brought back gold medals each with scores of 180 in the soccer skills division. In addition, Clarice Geller brought the bronze medal with a score of 156 in the tennis skills division. The City of Miami Beach congratulates our athletes for a job well done!
On May 10-12, 2013 the Level 3 Xtreme Cheerleaders travelled to Hershey Pennsylvania to compete in the 2013 Cheerpower, Battle of the States Cheerleading Competition. The team competed in the Small Level 3 Allstar Division where they place 3rd out of 6 teams. Although XTreme Cheerleaders are a recreation cheerleading team the team worked very hard to compete with the best in allstar divisions and be able to compete at a Regional and National level for competitive cheerleading. We are very proud of their accomplishment!
On May 4,2013 the Miami Beach’s Hip Hop Team Unique Starz participated in the Sharp’s International Dance Competition held in Buena Park, California. The team stunned the crowd with their spectacular dance routine placing them as Champions of the All Star Senior Dance Division. The Unique Starz year round success gave them the opportunity to participate in this invitational competition because of their undefeated season against other hip-hop dance teams across the nation. This is a fantastic achievement for the team and we are very proud of our girls for a year of success.