This isn’t the first time Miami Beach has petitioned to lock down a bridge during peak traffic periods. In 2015, Commissioner Micky Steinberg — who sponsored the Venetian Causeway resolution with Commissioners Mark Samuelian and Michael Góngora — started the process of changing the operating schedule for the 63rd Street Bridge that spans Indian Creek. The effort took more than a year, but the bridge now stays closed during rush hour.
Esta no es la primera vez que Miami Beach ha pedido que no se levanten los puentes durante las horas de más tráfico. En el 2015, el comisionado Micky Steinberg, quien patrocinó la resolución sobre el Venetian Causeway con el comisionado Mark Samuelian, inició el proceso de cambiar el horario de operación del puente de la 63 Street, que pasa por encima de Indian Creek. El esfuerzo demoró más de un año, pero ahora ese puente permanece cerrado durante las horas pico.
…And Gelber is not the only commission member looking to add more post-spring break regulations — Commissioner Mark Samuelian wants to make it a misdemeanor crime to sell things on public property without authorization. That means police would be able to arrest the coconut and mango peddlers who roam the beach, as well as the amateur python handlers who try to get tourists to pay for photos.
…Commissioner Mark Samuelian, a member of the Ocean Drive Safety, Security and Infrastructure Subcommittee, said, “I think it’s prudent that we proceed… there will be a lot of opportunities to review it.”
Commissioner Mark Samuelian weighed in saying “I do have some sympathy on fairness. Directionally I’m comfortable with the policy and I can see the argument that many of our residents may not want a Walgreens there. But, as a point of fact, if Walgreens is gonna invest all this money to put it there, they must believe someone wants it there, that someone’s gonna be shopping in this environment and that there is a need. Maybe it’s not residents. It could be tourists or visitors. Either they’re making a really, really bad decision or some consumers see value in having it there.”
“The second thing I would say is really around fairness,” Samuelian continued. “I obviously trust our advisors and City Attorney on the legal side, so I’m not sure where that line is in terms of where you get to keep going [with plans]. My sense is we’re pretty close to it from a fairness standpoint.”
“We may not love the prospect of a standard Walgreens,” Samuelian said, “but If this doesn’t happen, are we going to have an empty storefront? What’s gonna happen? We talk about retail vacancies. This looks like it could go in, not sure of the timeframe. How quickly if they’re not allowed could a new deal be put [together]? When does something come in? What’s that process look like? Are we going to be here six months talking about more empty storefronts when there was a tenant who could have been there? So, I’m intrigued by Commissioner Arriola’s thought of looking at uses but, while I support the policy, I share Commissioner Alemán’s concerns around fairness for this one applicant.”
Miami Beach officials are already bracing for gridlock and phone calls from irate residents.
“We know this train is coming, no pun intended, we know it’s going to have a big impact,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who sponsored a resolution at Wednesday’s City Commission meeting giving city staff the green light to evaluate several temporary traffic fixes while construction is underway.
Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, “I support the applicability as we had on first reading. While I understand the concerns, to me it’s a fairness issue. We talk about being fair to business, being open to business, a set of folks made investment decisions, did something under a certain set of rules. To change it now in front of them doesn’t strike me as fair so I would support keeping the applicability as we did on first reading.”
Commissioner Mark Samuelian said he wanted to see “more data, more fact-based analysis” of projects. “With the size of money flying around, I really think we need to elevate our game.”
Referencing the “unique challenges” faced by the City in terms of sea level rise and flooding, he said he wanted to “raise the bar on resiliency” with better “planning and executive engagement with community stakeholders and with the boards.”
Samuelian urged Morales to present a “stronger point of view” on items so that decisions are “less Commission driven.”
“We rely on your professional expertise and your team to call it like you see it,” Samuelian told Morales. He wants Commissioners to consider less of the “small details” and more big picture items but added, “Overall, I’m very pleased.”
Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who has pushed for the inspector general’s office, said he thinks the initiative will end up saving the city money over the long run.
“One of the main functions of the inspector general is to help the city government work more efficiently, so if you think about it, even if the inspector general would identify just 1 percent efficiencies, that’s $6 million a year,” he said. “If you ask me if I’d spend $1 million to save $6 million? Any day of the week.”
At the same meeting, Commissioners John Aleman and Mark Samuelian pushed back on the criticism, saying the city is doing the best it can. “We are constantly challenging what we’re doing,” Samuelian said.
“We collectively have to keep pushing the envelope, but we also have to acknowledge that the technology is not perfect,” Aleman added. “There’s no technology for that that can operate on an industrial scale. If there was, we’d be implementing it.”