Local Crime and Public Safety
Increasing public safety and preventing crime is vital to maintaining Miami Beach’s high level of quality of life, for both residents and tourists. Public safety is vital in any thriving city.
I don’t think that means we need to become an oppressive police state. What Miami Beach needs is more community policing, with officers patrolling our streets on foot or bikes – getting to know the neighbors and being a beloved part of the community. For their safety as well as ours, I believe we also need to increase the number of police officers, especially in our Miami Beach entertainment district. Miami Beach has some of the highest educational requirements for officers in South Florida. Our cops are highly intelligent people who bring the best to the job every day. In order to further help them succeed, I propose providing them with additional training in the use of deadly force and civil rights laws, to avoid costly profiling and discrimination claims and lawsuits against the city.
I support expanding innovative policing tools, like the Miami Beach park ranger program, which over the last 2 years has helped to increase safety in our parks. Over the past year, a lot of the conversation in regards to public safety has been cast in terms of a stark choice. Politicians with poor imagination have made it seem like we can either be safe, or be a world tourist capital. I believe we are great enough to be both. Living in a place where other people vacation might mean increased security challenges, but I believe we can meet those challenges without changing the character of our city.
Finally, I believe we do not need to sacrifice our values to achieve safety. Miami Beach stands for racial and cultural diversity, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, freedom of speech and expression, offering a city free from hate, fear, and persecution, to all communities. That's why we love Miami Beach and choose to live here! We cannot let fear take that away from us.
Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise
As the flooding that often shuts down large parts of our city shows, we are far from reaching an acceptable level in meeting the challenges of sea level rise brought on by climate change. Indeed, stopping sea level rise is an existential battle our community needs to take on in order to survive. We need to do it together: elected officials, experts and residents.
I support creating voluntary special taxing districts to finance the projects necessary to fend off sea level rise. Those districts should tax based on property values, a more progressive solution than using water and sewage fees. I also believe we should approach this challenge with the knowledge that we are in this together. While the city so far has focused on expediency, I believe that’s happened to a degree at the expense of buy-in from the community. We all know the need to address sea level rise aggressively. But of course it’s not fair or fun for someone to find out there’s construction going on in the street the day that it starts… or to realize that the newly raised street is actually going to help flood your basement only after it starts raining.
Our city government needs more community feedback as it offers a range of options to battle climate change and sea level rise, before moving ahead with any continued construction. Community feedback should be considered by the experts, and taken from both residents and local businesses. Specifically, I believe Miami Beach needs to consider the immediate and long-term impacts of raising streets and installing drainage pumps on existing public areas, and private properties. Miami Beach also needs to provide the public with a timeline for implementation of any new measures, clearly explaining the necessity for them. I know some in our society have given up on the idea that we can truly tackle sea level rise, pointing to how big the problem is compared to the capability of a broken political system at the national and global level. I disagree, and think Miami Beach needs to keep leading the way as a beacon of hope for good policy and better solutions at the local level. We will not surrender to cynicism, but will keep working to keep our city above water.
Cronyism and Special Interest Representation
Unfortunately, we live in a time where people have very little trust in their government. That is neither healthy nor good for democracy. A lot of the problem comes from the perception that the friends and family of politicians and city bureaucrats get special deals at City Hall, or that donors and supporters of political campaigns have outsize influence. I know that most of the people that work in government are smart and honorable and want to dispel this perception, and that what the public really wants is TRANSPARENCY.
I think Miami Beach should be a national leader in this regard, utilizing open data and open-source technology in this effort. I would propose a city ordinance that requires elected officials, their staff, and top administrators like the city manager, planning director and procurement director to keep a record of all meetings they take, in a way that can be easily disclosed electronically.
I would then work with tech leaders to find an open data technology solution that automatically discloses on a constant basis the names of people who meet with, call or email these important decision-makers. There are many developers and universities interested in transparent government that would do this work for free or very cheaply.
Ultimately, all citizens should know exactly who their leaders are meeting with, how much influence they are having on their government, and if they contribute to campaigns.
Government Corruption, Fraud, Waste and Abuse
Every few years, we have a storyline that repeats itself in Miami Beach. The state attorney or the feds come in and accuse a department director, an assistant city manager, or a city manager of corruption. People are fired, arrested, or resign. The politicians wring their hands about how that behavior is unacceptable, but nothing changes. The feds or the state attorney leaves, and everything quiets down… until the next time.
We are better than this. I believe that as a city, we need to get a handle on government corruption, waste, fraud and abuse. That is why when I’m commissioner, I will work to establish an Office of the Inspector General in the City of Miami Beach, modeled after the county’s office.
This office will have the power to investigate any city agency or project, randomly audit city contracts and programs, and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of those programs. There are many ways to approach this, but one idea is to have this office work with contractors, vendors and franchisees so that every deal signed with the city includes a financial cost-benefit analysis – one that specifically justifies why a private company can do a particular job better than a city department can.
More generally, this office will be in charge of making sure city contractors, vendors, and franchisees are not unfairly ripping the city off, and will have the power to claw back payments from those companies that are.
Because it will be keeping an eye on the dollars and cents, this office will pay for itself.
I support finding a feasible Baylink solution or a Metromover expansion for elevated rail connecting Downtown Miami to South Beach. We need to find a solution to alleviate continued traffic congestion on our causeways.
I do not support any trains at grade level within the city of Miami Beach, as I believe those will make traffic worse.
Additionally, for all large development requiring special permits from the city, Miami Beach needs to ensure truly independent traffic impact studies are conducted. To account for conflicts of interest that might arise, I propose having the city determine a pool of acceptable traffic engineers that developers can hire, and require those traffic engineers to certify their methodology meets county and state standards.
We need to expand currently available City parking and explore options to relieve areas of present traffic congestion. Miami Beach traffic congestion directly impacts our community’s quality of life.
We also need to review and adjust current speed limits on Miami Beach where necessary and possible. Law enforcement of current speed limits is important to maintain Miami Beach neighborhoods safe. New traffic lights and speed bumps should be used as methods to reduce traffic speed.
I support a review of existent traffic signage to update it where necessary.
I am against overdevelopment and for smart development. Considering Miami Beach’s space limitations and changing climate, we need to smartly re-develop our community in a way that preserves its historic character.
We have quality people coming in who are landlords and developers who want to see growth in the long term, and we should encourage them. Development needs to prioritize neighborhoods, increases our property values and preserve quality of life for all Miami Beach residents. I stand for maintaining the unique architectural character of Miami Beach. However, I also believe in smart future development of our City: projects that consider and adapt based on traffic impact, the effect on property values of neighboring properties, and the suitability of a project into architectural character of particular neighborhood.
Proposed North Beach District and its Boundaries
I support the proposed North Beach district in order to protect and preserve the architectural historic character of North Beach.I do not have a specific opinion on the district's boundaries. North Beach residents, Historic Preservation Board, and City planners should present recommendations to our Commission.
Miami Beach Convention Center Hotel
I was and am against a Convention Center Hotel project because I believe that it will make our existing traffic problem worse. Moreover, we have sufficient available hotels in the immediate neighborhood of our convention center in order to provide any necessary visitor lodging.
Ocean Drive Last Call Times
When living on Ocean Drive over a decade ago, I remember waking up one night at about 3-4AM when people were making noise. I walked up to the balcony, looked on Ocean Drive and noticed that many people were still out on the streets. I stopped, looked at all the people and said to myself, "This is South Beach - and people come here to party from all over the world! And I love it!"
During that time period, about 12 years ago, while living at 345 Ocean Dr., I stood up in City Hall when people tried to shut down Miami Beach at 2AM. Our Mayor back then told me that I would change my stance once I was married and had children. Well, I am married and have children now, but my stance has not changed.
If anything, being older and wiser, I’ve come to better understand why we should not interfere with our tourist economy – our engine of economic development. Now that I am married and have children, I also think it is wrong and immoral to take an action that will swiftly put many primary breadwinners out of a job.
I also think that it is wrong to mess with an industry that is directly and indirectly providing the largest part of revenue funding our city, county and state. If we attack tourism, we are attacking the very services that make Miami Beach an amazingly unique place to live. Without that money, we would have to reduce services or raise taxes. Not a great idea.
I am a Miami Beach resident, and believe that our interests come first. If we need to move police resources to help ensure the safety and peace of Ocean Drive, then let’s do that! However, we need to respect the character of our City and realize why we fell in love with it in the first place.
I support necessary short-term rental restrictions in order to protect the residential character of our neighborhoods and keep rental prices affordable for long-term residents. However, I oppose punitive measures that deter occasional short-term rentals by owners who sublease their residences within the rules of their living communities.
Any homeowner or authorized tenant should be able to rent their property out when they leave on vacation, as long as this is only done occasionally, and not as a way to run a covert hotel. Policy should always be driven by a legal standard that respects both property rights and the public interest.
Littering, Pollution and Use of Clean Energy
A clean city is imperative to have good quality of life and a thriving business environment on Miami Beach. I support continuing our city’s current Styrofoam ban, and support expansion of such ban to plastic bags.
Styrofoam is among the most common pollutants in the bay, and it is affecting our beaches and also wildlife life in in our community. Plastic bags are not biodegradable; they endanger marine life, and cause flooding by clogging storm drains.
I support use of clean, renewable, and solar energy wherever possible, and will push for solar panels to completely power our new convention center.
Miami Beach Public Housing
Steeply increasing rents and resulting gentrification present an immediate threat to our elderly living off limited incomes, as well as many families working in Miami Beach. Therefore, I see an imminent public affordable housing need, especially for individuals and families who have lived for more than 5 years in our city already. They are part of our community and we need to protect them.
I believe that the MBCDC and MB Housing Authority can provide public solutions by buying existing residential buildings in order to provide public housing. I also support current Commission plans to develop public housing on existing city lots.
I oppose a Cuban Consulate in Miami Beach.