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Commission meets on Land Use along Rapid Transit Line

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2019 1:30 am

January 24 was a challenge as I was to cover the Board of County Commissioners meeting on the Comprehensive Development Master Plan, in other words “Mixed Use Development” along the “Rapid Transit System.” In a daring effort, I decided to catch a bus on the transit system at the Southwest 244th street station to see how long it would take me to reach downtown Miami under present conditions.

Arriving at the station shortly after 7 AM, I asked a fellow rider what bus to take. “Hop on the 34, its the most direct,” she replied. At 7:20, the “34” arrived and all were able to get a seat. By the time we hit our last pick up in Cutler Bay, five miles away, the bus was overcrowded with people standing, jammed in the aisle from the front to the back. A real hazard in case of an emergency stop, but we cruised along without incident.

Looking out the window, to my surprise, I noticed traffic flowing at an equally fast pace…government shut down? Whatever the reason, we arrived at the Datran Station behind Shorty’s BBQ in just 29 impressive minutes at a cost of $2.25. Purchased a round trip ticket called Easy Pass that would cover the trip downtown and return home for $4.50. Arrived at the Stephen Clark Building before 9 AM. Total cost of the adventure was $6.75, a bargain verses driving and parking.

Misconceptions linger on the development along the corridor, such as:

1) Will the present and proposed system be able to handle higher density along the busway that already seems overcrowded during peak hours? 2) How many housing units (stories) will be allowed along the transportation system?

3) What are the plans within the first ¼, ½ and mile east and west of the transportation line, inside and outside the Urban Development Line?

4) When will the UDB be corrected in the Princeton area where it zigzags back and forth without reason?

5) Why is affordable housing being shifted to deep South Dade? Since Affordable Housing is a County issue, shouldn’t it be shared along the whole corridor including Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay extending all the way to Florida City? Since Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay are incorporated are they exempt form the County plan?

6) Can the number of parking spaces and size (width) of those spaces be clarified for the high density housing to be built along the transportation system?

7) Isn’t it unjust to have high density on a property adjoining another parcel that is limited one house per five acres?

Within the time constraints questions were asked of the Commission, not always receiving a total answer. No mention on whether the proposed transportation system will be able to handle increased ridership. But from personal experience of the crowded system, something drastic will have to be done.

It was inferred that the allotted parking spaces will be limited in number with expectation that residents will use rapid transit, thus be willing to give up their cars. As for reduction of width of parking space to compact auto size, no one could comment if this was fact or fiction.

Regarding the height of housing along the transit system, the answer came back in units per acre. Height would be determined by factors such as amount of parking space and size of units. So I had to turn to an outside source who stated, “At the hubs, the density could be as much as 102 units per acre, possibly reaching as high as 15 stories.”

I never got to ask my last question as to what happens to land within that ½ mile of the rapid transit that is out of the UDB.

As the meeting ended I wondered what happened to the Charrette that was proposed during Katy Sorenson reign, depicting restaurants and stores under 2-4 floors of apartments. How did we get to 15 stories?

It was reassuring to hear many of the Commissioners express the desire to study and do needed development in an orderly fashion. Our own Commissioner, Daniella Levine Cava made it a point to express her concerns that issues must be addressed voicing that there must be “Commitment to have community conversation.”

It was clear to those in attendance the intent to develop along the Rapid Transit System with the hope that residents will use an “improved” method of transportation. It was said, “Increased riderership is a must to acquired federal funding.”

Starting around noon, the first leg on my return trip went well. However, at the Datran Station I waited 20 minutes for bus number 38. This bus made every stop along the way then caught every red light but four. In spite of being overcrowded and uncomfortable, I must say our driver was excellent as he handled several handicapped vehicles from wheelchairs to scooters. Finally, I stepped off the bus to retrieve my car. I am thankful that I don’t have to go downtown every day as I pondered the fate of future riders. The Commissioners will need to do more planning to make our transportation system work in accordance with the growing population.

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