An uncompromising vision for tomorrow.
Dealing with Parking
We have all felt the pain of parking in Coral Gables and it has failed to keep step with the immense development that has taken place. Lack of parking has strained the small businesses in the area that are unable to contract valet services. The effects of the pandemic have further devastated our local entrepreneurs. If we want to continue to provide a variety of shops and eating establishments that will set Coral Gables apart and attract customers, we need to provide convenient and plentiful parking near those establishments.
One way I could achieve this as commissioner would be to introduce car parking lifts to public parking lots, such as the one near the Coral Gables Art Cinema. Essentially, it is an automatic valet innovation that stacks cars on top of one another. Some car parking lifts can stack up to three cars at once. This would allow more cars to park in one lot. The lack of parking that we would otherwise have would rob small businesses from having more customers and would, thus, be detrimental to the local economy. If you hate parallel parking like I do, this would be the perfect solution for you.
Curbing Destructive Development
Development within the Coral Gables city limits has long been a source of debate. Existing structures being torn down to make way for tall buildings, homes replaced with McMansions that push to the property limits and leave no greenspace. There is a disconnect between what monied individuals can achieve versus an average homeowner trying to obtain a permit to change his front door. Part of what makes Coral Gables such a unique city was George Merrick’s planning. I am certain that he would not have compromised the quality of life he sought for the residents of his community in the sole name of profit. We must keep up with the demands of modern living and working, but if we allow development to run amok, we risk losing the quality of life Coral Gables has afforded its residents for decades.
We need to attract businesses that add to the unique identity of Coral Gables. George Merrick founded our city with the intention of having a different identity as Miami Beach. The venue of Miami Beach does not mesh well with the aesthetics of Coral Gables. Thus, we need to attract local businesses that fit the general aesthetic of Miracle Mile, unlike large corporations that would rob opportunities from our local entrepreneurs.
If elected commissioner, I see to that the developers reprioritize the needs of the city while also keeping the aesthetic that George Merrick had in mind for our city so long ago.
Increasing Economic Accessibility
Who are we as a city? Are we an exclusive enclave of the wealthy? As a life-long resident of Coral Gables I realize that this city has always enjoyed high property values but over the years I have seen areas that were once affordable for young professionals torn down and replaced with lovely residences that can only be afforded by persons with means. When my parents got married 28 years ago they first rented an apartment near the Coral Gables library, after a few years they saved enough to purchase a small Old Spanish home in North Gables and after 5 years living there they moved to a larger home almost back where they began. They were both young professionals who wanted to live in Coral Gables and saved to make that dream a reality. It is a much more difficult dream to achieve these days. I believe our city should be affordable to all persons.
As commissioner, my mission in terms of increasing economic accessibility would be to incentivize developers to invest in properties that would attract young professionals and not those with means. After suffering through the economic recession of 2008, and the one we are currently grappling with, the young adults of Coral Gables deserve to have a chance at home ownership in order to own pets and start families.
Another one of my proposals would be to provide funding for revamping the Coral Gables website. In my experience, when I went to the website, it was borderline impossible to make sense of it. It was not user-friendly at all. Mind you, that’s where entrepreneurs go to apply to officiate their business in the city. By updating its user interface, it would become more user-friendly and, therefore, attract small businesses to come apply at Coral Gables. If elected commissioner, I would ensure that entrepreneurs have more of a chance of starting their businesses without complications due to the inefficient and confusing user interface of the Coral Gables website.
Accessibility for Disabled Individuals
My close friend, who happens to be my campaign manager, was born with a physical disability. Over the years, she has shared with me the plights of having a disability in regard to accessibility in public spaces, such as in buildings and parking spaces. She informed me that 26% of Americans have disabilities. More than 46% of those individuals are 60 or older. In the city of Coral Gables, 24% of people 65 and older have a disability. My conversation with her has really enlightened me to the discrimination of disabled individuals and, as a resident of Coral Gables, I have begun to see the very inaccessibility my campaign manager has been speaking about all along.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was ratified in 1993, ensures that disabled individuals cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their ability. The act mandates measures that increase accessibility for them, such as, for example, with accessible/handicap parking spaces and restroom stalls, ramps, elevators, and buttons for automatic doors, amongst other things. While the ADA was written into federal law, my campaign manager has demonstrated to me that it is not enforced strictly enough. In her experience, elevators are often broken and side walks often have pot holes, as well as crosswalks too. This makes it hard for wheelchair users to utilize sidewalks and crosswalks safely. Moreover, city planners and architects do the bare minimum when it comes to abiding by ADA regulations, such as with parking, for example.
According to the ADA National Network, only one accessible parking spot is required per every 1-25 parking spaces. Also, only one van accessible parking space is required per every five regular accessible parking spaces. In my campaign manager’s experience, there are usually never any van accessible parking spaces because there are often less than five regular accessible parking spaces. In Article VII of Chapter 33 of Miami-Dade County’s Code of Ordinances, section (o)(1) states that only 0.5% parking spaces in apartments buildings are dedicated to accessible parking spaces. This means that you yourself, or your child with a disability, or your family members such as your grandmother and grandfather with disabilities, only have a fraction of one percent dedicated to the safety of their health. That is unacceptable. And it has to change.
Driving around Coral Gables with my campaign manager, who is a wheelchair user, has shown me that there are simply not enough accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities. In the past, we have driven around for more than thirty minutes looking for accessible parking spaces down Miracle Mile and only found three. Only three. And they were always occupied.
If I were elected as Coral Gables City Commissioner, I would ensure that the city of Coral Gables abides by the ADA, enhances the level of accessibility, and increases the number of accessible parking spaces. It is my mission to ensure that your loved ones, such as your grandmother and grandfather, should have equal access while not harming themselves trying to do so.
A More Sustainable Environment
Coral Gables is a lovely area with lush green spaces. It is, therefore, imperative that we not only preserve those green spaces, but do so by making the transition to renewable energy. The city of Coral Gables has made initial steps toward a more sustainable environment by in including electric charging stations in their parking lots, as well as with their implementation of Freebee’s electric carts.
In other cities, they have made their city trash cans solar powered so that the energy harvested auto-compresses the trash. This means that it saves the garbage disposal trucks from having to come around so often to collect the trash. Thus, saving fuel costs to tax payers and preventing fuel emissions from adding to the ever-worsening climate crisis. Tax payers deserve to have services that will better the city, not pollute its beauty and cause health problems.
One of the most iconic things about Coral Gables are our retro-looking trolleys. They make our city stand out with their red, beige, and green coloring that match our city’s unique identity. Likewise to the solar powered trash cans, Coral Gables can also save fuel costs to tax payers and prevent fuel emissions by making our trolleys fully electric-powered. That way, we can preserve the identity of George Merrick’s vision while also keeping in step with the progress of the 21st century.
In 2019, there were 400,000 drug-related arrests; many being public intoxication. In Florida, the annual cost of incarceration is roughly $68,000. That is $186 per person per night. Depending on the crime in question, the minimum sentence is three years and it can range up to life in prison. In May of 2020 alone, there were 3,999 drug related arrests in Miami-Dade County. Let’s say that half of them spent three years minimum in prison. That would cost tax payers $135,966,000. For tax payers, it is unconscionable to spend so much, which is why we need rehabilitation centers, or sobering clinics, in the city of Coral Gables.
So, what are sobering clinics? They are an alternative to incarceration for drug-related arrests, such as public intoxication. Sobering centers are 24/7 facilities meant for the recovery of intoxication, whether from alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. There, they have EMT’s and drug abuse counselors available at all hours in the facilities. Having drug abuse counselors at the clinics would serve as rehabilitation for people afflicted with drug addiction, effectively dispelling its cyclical nature due to treatment, as well as prevent their harsh treatment in jails.
Cities like Houston, Texas have sobering centers and their annual budget is $1,500,000. The people of Coral Gables who suffer from drug addiction deserve a second chance at life, and that can be done with the implementation of sobering centers. They also deserve to live instead of overdosing. The residents of Coral Gables deserve to have their taxes spent wisely and not arrests for petty drug related offenses, such as public intoxication. Sobering clinics would save the city millions of dollars every year. That’s why, if I’m elected into office, I will rally for the implementation of the clinic in our city.