We asked candidates standing for Mayor in the upcoming election to answer questions on topics important to our neighborhood. Read their responses below.
Residents QOL: Our neighborhood parklets on the Bay at 10th St, 14th St., Lincoln Rd, Lincoln Ct, & Bay Rd have become blighted with trash, illegal fishing, homelessness, drug dealing, & lewd behavior. What are you plans to help our residents address this urgent issue?
This is a complex question but below is a multi-pronged approach to helping residents with this urgent issue:
- Community Policing and Enforcement: We need better enforcement of laws by Police and Code Compliance. As the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police endorsed candidate, I’m ready to work on a more proactive policing plan to provide better safety and discourage bad behavior. I also previously sponsored require NO fishing signage being placed out by the Baywalk.
- Community meetings: I will proactively attend community meetings to discuss the problems and potential solutions with WAVNA and other stakeholders. This can help bring together residents, local authorities, and other stakeholders to brainstorm and plan for improvements.
- Engage with Local Authorities and Neighborhood Watch: We need to ensure that residents know how to contact Police and Code Compliance and assist with better enforcement. Establish or strengthen neighborhood watch programs to encourage residents to look out for and report illegal activities in the parklets.
- Clean-Up Days/Community Partnerships: Assist with volunteer clean-up days in the parklets to address the issue of trash. Enlist community members, local organizations, and businesses to participate. Collaborate with local businesses, schools, and community organizations to create a network of support for maintaining and improving the parklets.
- Homeless Outreach Services: Partner with local homeless outreach organizations to provide support and assistance to those experiencing homelessness in your community. This might include offering shelter, food, and access to social services. There is also a new city law being passed so that the worst offenders who do not accept services may be subject to arrest. We can also assist with rehabilitation and social services to individuals willing to accept it.
- Increase Lighting and Surveillance: Improve lighting in the parklets and install surveillance cameras where possible to deter illegal activities and provide evidence if needed.
We need to both expand our Park Ranger program (which I created) to include these areas and add the Bayfront parklets to our active bicycle police patrols. We also need to reassess the lighting systems to ensure that the areas are safely lit downward.
I am currently working with our City Manager, Police Department and Sanitation Department on this very issue. Vigorous and consistent Enforcement of our laws is the key. I am one of the sponsors of new legislation that will provide our police department with more ability to break up homeless encampments, including arrests. I am also sponsoring a legislative initiative to create a Miami Beach drug testing laboratory to ensure we prosecute drug arrests. Currently, the County drug lab is short staffed and too often does not test the seized drugs. Without drug testing the arrest cannot be prosecuted. We will ensure appropriate prosecution with our own drug testing lab.
If Miami Beach will be a world-class city, we need to start acting and looking like one. We cannot
allow our streets, sidewalks, and parks to be littered, and we most certainly cannot allow illegal activities:
- We will increase patrols, and surveillance by community police and security personnel will be enforced to discourage illegal fishing, drug dealing, and lewd behavior.
- We will implement more frequent waste removal services and install additional trash bins at each parklet to address the trash issue. I also want to collaborate with county homeless shelters and
social services; we plan to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in finding appropriate
shelter and support.
- We will also initiate community awareness and engagement programs, fostering residents’ sense of responsibility and care toward their neighborhood.
- We should consider implementing a Neighborhood Watch program to encourage community members to report and prevent illicit activities, thereby maintaining a safe and clean environment for all residents.
Loss of Parking spaces on West Ave: Although the completion of the street raising and infrastructure project on West Avenue is necessary and long overdue, what are your recommendations to ameliorate the negative effects of the loss of over 120 parking spaces due to the project and street parking reconfiguration for this project?
Philosophically I want our entire city to transition away from the underutilized and outdated commercial parking inventory without sacrificing resident and/or employee parking. Resident/employee parking garages on city lots which can include workforce housing and city-curated ground floor retail that includes local services (grocery, laundry/dry cleaner, reasonably priced restaurants) will be part of the program moving forward.
I am currently sponsoring an initiative for a potential parking solution to mitigate the loss of permanent parking as a result of the West Avenue Neighborhood Improvement Project. Members of the West Avenue Neighborhood Association (WAVNA) have spent considerable time developing options to minimize the loss of permanent residential parking as a result of the West Avenue Project. One option that WAVNA recently identified involves a potential partnership with one of the area stakeholders, the property located 1450 Lincoln Road, to develop a parking structure on the existing parking lot located on the south side of 1450 Lincoln Road, to provide for additional, permanent public parking for the benefit of area residents.
Addressing the loss of parking spaces due to the West Avenue project requires a multifaceted
approach. First, we need to revisit our residential permit parking program, to ensure that residents first have priority access to parking. We need to evaluate underutilized parking areas to ensure that we’re
using what is available efficiently. Lastly, we need to enhance our existing public transportation and
shuttle services to reduce residents’ reliance on personal vehicles.
Parking Alternatives: Work to identify and designate temporary parking alternatives. This might include utilizing nearby lots, garages, or underutilized spaces that can be converted into more parking.
Proposed new Community Health Center and Condo Tower development @ 710 -740 Alton Rd: What is your opinion regarding this development and how would you address resident concerns regarding increased traffic and congestion, loss of views / sight-lines, and a potential ‘canyon-effect’ due to construction of another potential tower on West Avenue?
The proposed new Community Health Center and Condo Tower has been an item on our Commission agenda several times in recent months. My public comments at Commission and my position is consistent with WAvNA’s position to limit the impact of this condo on the West Avenue neighborhood.
This project is another example of the pay-to-play tactics developers and special interests are engaging in. We will work with all parties involved to ensure that resident concerns are addressed before the developers even break ground. While a community health center is something every community needs, new development isn’t. We need to focus on smart and sustainable development that doesn’t erode the character of a neighborhood. We must also evaluate existing and underutilized spaces to refurbish and reconfigure more efficiently.
I am not in favor of another tall tower in the area. Below are some the of the things we can do as Mayor and Commissioners to ensure that the public is listened to in considering future development applications:
- Public Engagement: It’s crucial to engage the community in discussions about development. Holding public meetings and forums where residents can voice their concerns, ask questions, and provide feedback is important to get the public input on the front end. Gathering input from residents is essential for understanding their perspectives and addressing their specific concerns.
- Traffic and Congestion Mitigation: Traffic and congestion concerns are valid, especially in densely populated areas. The developer should conduct a comprehensive traffic impact analysis to assess the potential impact of the development. If necessary, propose traffic management solutions, such as widening roads, adding turn lanes, or improving public transportation options to alleviate congestion.
- View Preservation: Loss of views and sightlines can be a contentious issue. The developer and local authorities should consider design guidelines and zoning regulations that aim to protect view corridors or landmarks. They may also need to negotiate with the developer to minimize the impact on existing views through thoughtful design or height restrictions.
I haven’t been too engaged on this issue publicly, but obviously the current community health center is inadequate both on servicing demand and structurally. That being stated, whatever proposal is eventually approved should be sensitive to the adjacent neighbors regarding site-lines. I’m less concerned with the “canyon effect” than I am about traffic flow and I would want to see a real independent traffic study that will breakdown the northbound Alton Road traffic flow. As someone who travels that stretch multiple
times a day I know the issues related to the potential future intertwined congestion related to Baptist, 5-Park, the community health center/residences/library, and the traffic that already exists. Depending on the time of day that area is already failing.
What concerns, if any, do you have regarding the future development of other ‘under- activated’
properties along West Avenue and Alton Road and the potential for developer buyouts in order to
increase FAR and height for these properties – including but not limited to: Federation Towers parking lot
at 8th and Alton, South Bay Club parking lots at 8th between Alton and West Avenue, the parking lot at
824 Alton Rd., and several other ‘under-activated’ land parcel?
Change is urgently needed to strike a balanced approach to responsible, smart development in
combination with historic preservation efforts to maintain Miami Beach’s unique identity and appeal. We
cannot allow unchecked development and personal relationships with developers to erode the character of our neighborhoods, compromise the integrity of our city and evict residents from their homes. Here are a few things we should do:
- Impose a moratorium on approvals for new high rises, pending analysis of infrastructural, transit,
and environmental needs
- Prioritize a residents-first approach when conducting comprehensive zoning reviews and
- Impose additional penalties on businesses that have dilapidated, vacant storefronts
- Enhance eco-friendly measures and greening of public spaces that provide shade to mitigate the
effects of heat waves as well as making them more welcoming
I am not in favor of allowing more height and FAR for these parcels. Some of my concerns with these potential future developments include:
- Density and Height Impact: Residents often express concerns about the increase in density and building height, which can alter the character of a neighborhood. Tall buildings can block views, reduce sunlight, and contribute to a sense of overcrowding, leading to concerns about the overall livability of the area.
- Traffic and Congestion: Additional development can lead to increased traffic and congestion in the area. Insufficient planning for transportation infrastructure and parking can exacerbate these issues, making it difficult for residents to move around the neighborhood.
- Infrastructure Strain: An influx of new residents can strain existing infrastructure and may require infrastructure upgrades.
This is the first I am hearing of these potential buyouts, and I used to live in South Bay Club. My general philosophy is that when one purchases a piece of property he/she/it knows the rules going in. There needs to be a truly compelling policy reason to deviate from existing development regulations and as was the case during my first term in local service, I do not intend on spending much time focused on doing gymnastics for developers.
A new Florida law as of July 1 preempts voter referendum approval for private property density increases. This means our Commission will be able to approve FAR increases (and potentially significant height and density increases) through a 5/7 Commission vote without voter approval. To keep development in check I recently proposed legislation that would require a 6/7 Commission approval for building size increases instead of the current 5/7. The Planning Board recently approved my proposed legislation with a 6-1 vote. Our full Commission will be voting on my proposed legislation at the October 18 Commission meeting.
What is your definition of responsible development?
Responsible development refers to a holistic approach to planning, designing, and implementing projects, policies, or initiatives in a manner that takes into consideration the impact on the residents. For me, responsible development is building within the permitted height and FAR restrictions and not seeking to constantly seek increase and amendments.
In essence, responsible development is a comprehensive and forward-looking approach that considers the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental aspects of development. It requires a commitment to ethical values, responsible decision-making, and a genuine concern for the well-being of both present and future residents.
Build within existing rules while promoting a Live-Work-Play model. It is my vision that Miami Beach can become its own ecosystem, and that should be promoted from both the private and public sector.
Sensible development helps cities upgrade aging buildings. By contrast, overdevelopment erodes the quality of life of its residents. Rapid accelerated growth of development in Miami Beach has led to significant traffic congestion and is straining our City’s aging infrastructure. Our City Code allows for changes to permit responsible development but has too often been abused. That is why I am proposing legislation that would require a 6/7 Commission approval for building size increases instead of the current 5/7.
Responsible development is a sustainable approach to growth that conscientiously considers environmental, social, and economic factors. It seeks to minimize adverse environmental impacts, contribute positively to the community, and provide fair economic opportunities for all stakeholders. This development model emphasizes long-term sustainability over short-term gains, fostering an inclusive and equitable environment for present and future generations while also being adaptable and responsive to the community’s evolving needs.
Rapid Transit Zone (RTZ) Ordinance & Transportation Options: What is your opinion of the recently adopted Rapid Transit Zone (RTZ) ordinance that would allow significant increased FAR and height for properties adjacent to the metro lines which would have a deleterious effect on the historic art deco district of Miami Beach? Low rise buildings would no longer be protected – thus becoming vulnerable to being torn down and replaced with new taller and more densely occupied buildings.
My opinion is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all model and needs to exempt lower scale areas like Miami Beach/South Beach.
The County’s Baylink Metromover proposal is an overdevelopment issue I brought to the forefront earlier this year that continues to concern me. Miami-Dade County’s Rapid Transit Zones (RTZ) incentivizes development by allowing increased density and FAR within 1/2 mile of transit projects. County RTZ zoning laws preempts Miami Beach zoning law. A real potential exists for County zoning laws to supersede Miami Beach zoning which could potentially allow for significantly higher intensity development near proposed mass transit corridors.
It is possible but not certain that historic districts would be exempt from the County’s zoning laws. But what about non-historic districts within Miami Beach? There has been discussion about extending the Baylink down Alton Road to the Convention Center. As I was recently quoted in Miami Today “if that happens, all of Alton Road is subject to the County’s zoning laws and would preempt us from implementing (our less expansive) zoning laws.”
Projects like the RTZ need to be discussed at length, and a consensus must be reached to
ensure the outcome is fair for all parties involved. We need first to preserve the integrity of our city and
not allow state and county overreach to the detriment of the city.
I am opposed to it.
The adoption of a Rapid Transit Zone (RTZ) ordinance that allows increased Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and height for properties adjacent to metro lines is not something I am in favor of. While it may work in other parts of Miami-Dade County it does not work in the City of Miami Beach and our historic art district areas.
Would you support exempting Miami Beach from the County as a Rapid Transit Zone (RTZ)?
Yes! To counter this real potential of overdevelopment, I introduced a resolution, passed by our Commission, seeking to exempt Miami Beach from the County’s RTZ laws. Unfortunately, the County so far has not exempted us. I continue to press for this exemption to ensure that Miami Beach controls its zoning laws, not the County.
YES. I would like to work with the county to ensure that any future transit projects have City input before moving forward.
Yes, Miami Beach should be exempted from any RTZ increased FAR and height.
Michael Greico: Yes.
What other transportation solutions would you support to provide better transit connections throughout MB while not jeopardizing the charm and beauty of our neighborhoods and their historic structures or degrading our iconic views?
I support enhancing public transit options like more efficient bus networks or shuttles. Promoting
active transportation through developing well-maintained bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways, which
would be subtly integrated into the landscape, could facilitate connectivity without compromising the
area’s charm. Additionally, implementing ride-sharing programs and providing incentives for electric
vehicle use can offer viable transportation alternatives while preserving the beauty and integrity of the
I would support and have supported other transit connections throughout Miami Beach, most notably the trollies which we started when I was on the Commission. Some other ideas to assist with better transit connections include:
- Enhanced Public Transit: Improve and expand existing public transit options, such as buses and trolleys, to make them more efficient and convenient. This might include dedicated bus lanes, increased frequency, and real-time tracking systems.
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: Invest more in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to encourage walking and cycling as viable modes of transportation. This not only reduces traffic congestion but also promotes healthier and more sustainable mobility options.
- Traffic Management: Implement intelligent traffic management systems, including smart traffic signals and congestion pricing, to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion.
Intra-city, we need to expand the trolley system, which was created during my first couple of months as a Commissioner. Moreover, we need to make our city more pedestrian and bike friendly, not just with infrastructure and facilities but with progressive urban planning strategies that will create more self-functioning neighborhoods like West Ave and Sunset Harbour.
I am currently working on an initiative to introduce a free ferry service connecting Miami Beach with Miami in addition to routes running North and South within Miami Beach. The federal government has grant funding available to pay for 80% of the infrastructure costs.
What is your opinion of the current proposed elevated Baylink metromover coming down Government Cut onto the median of 5th Street with elevated stations at Lenox & dead ending by Washington St?
I have been a supporter of mass transit as Commissioner; however, I am not supportive of the Baylink metromover current plan. As mentioned above, I am opposed to any increased FAR and height which could be associated with the project under RTZ. As someone who cares deeply about the environment, I am also concerned about the environmental impact on marine life. Finally, I have already supported other options which could be implemented easier including rapid transit bus lanes which should be explored. I am also open to driverless electric shuttles which would be innovative, quicker and less expensive to implement.
Hard no. I was the first politician in Miami Beach to boldly oppose this project without polling or testing the political waters. I live in a neighborhood adjacent to West Ave, and although we need to promote easier ways to get across the bay, expanding an outdated and slow system is not the answer. I am working with an electric ferry system provider that can move the same number of people at a fraction of the cost and disruption.
I have serious concerns about the elevated Baylink Metromover proposal that I have expressed publicly, including the overdevelopment issue I describe in more detail above.
While Baylink was a good idea IN THEORY, the execution will be disastrous in its current plan.
We need to prioritize the review and modification of Baylink plans, bringing together stakeholders and
directly impacted residents to minimize its visual and traffic impact on Fifth Street and along the
Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program: What is your opinion of the recently introduced Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program which creates sending and receiving districts within the City?
Another scenario where it is not a one-size-fits-all model. We have some areas/districts where we could benefit from the transfer and some where it would be disastrous (see Clevelander).
Although workforce and affordable housing goals are laudable, there is a real risk the TDR program could lead to over-development, and we must proceed with caution.
We need to understand how this program has been working in other municipalities so we can avoid the pitfalls. My concern is that this will open the doors to even more overdevelopment, which we want to avoid under any circumstances.
TDR programs are a planning tool used in other cities and parts of the County which allows preservation of historic or low scale neighborhoods while moving those development rights to other areas. I am very concerned about this in City of Miami Beach. I am concerned that it could benefit some areas while hurting other areas. I also don’t like the idea of upzoning one neighborhood to benefit another. As Commissioner, this was never introduced previously, and I think it best to stay that way.
West Ave Baywalk: What plans do you have to help expedite construction of the Baywalk along West Avenue?
It is a priority is to complete the Baywalk. There are many moving parts in order to ensure completion: GO Bond funding, obtaining easements, and completing the design and permitting. Proper management and oversight must be prioritized to complete this project.
Once in office, I will make sure that we close the loop on this project and others that are still in
limbo. We need to work past the roadblocks to expedite this project and bring action and results.
As Commissioner, I sponsored several discussion and other items about expediting construction of the Baywalk. It is a priority for me. Right now, we have been requiring buildings that need permits or other approvals from the City to open up their property to construction of the Baywalk. I believe the only other thing we can do is use legal pressure to move this along faster. I am committed to doing so.
I still can’t believe this is taking so long, but then again, I can believe it after watching the last six years of mostly do-nothing local elected officials who swear by a paralysis-by-analysis philosophy in getting anything (not) tangible done in this city. It will get done if enough Commissioners stop pandering to the vocal super minority and obstructionist adjacent property owners. I see way too much selfishness and not enough commitment to the collective good.
How would you encourage certain hesitant holdout buildings to agree to allow construction to go forward?
I have always been a consensus-builder. This is no different. We need open and honest communication, and all parties involved must feel heard and respected yet commit to the best outcome.
I believe there are two strategies for moving forward at this point:
- Financial Incentives: Offer financial incentives to holdout buildings.
- Legal Remedies: As a last resort, consider legal remedies such as potential eminent domain, if permitted by law and after exhausting all other negotiation avenues. However, this should be used sparingly and in compliance with legal requirements.
Ultimately, the key to encouraging hesitant holdout buildings to agree to construction lies in obtaining cooperation.
To quote of my favorite movies, “be nice until it’s time to not be nice.”
This has been a challenge to obtain the consent from certain buildings. The City needs sign off on permits and easements from certain buildings. As Mayor, I would prioritize negotiations which would include City guarantees and incentives to obtain consent.
What are your proposals to make West Ave a more bike and pedestrian-friendly neighborhood?
Dedicated and protected bike lanes with better delineation should be installed. I also believe better defined crosswalks would be helpful.
Learn how to actually design a road that incorporates protected bike lanes, tree canopy, and the Pedestrian Priority Zone requirements. West Ave is a “street” and should be designed for living as opposed to a “road” which is designed to simply move cars.
The current challenge is to allow for a more bike and pedestrian-friendly neighborhood without losing parking. The City has spent considerable time discussing with WAvNA and Better Streets Miami Beach best practices to be implemented. I have consistently been supportive of WAvNA’s recommendations.
We need to expand and improve transit options like bike lanes and pedestrian routes to promote walkability and reduce car dependency and carbon emissions. To make up for the loss of parking spaces, we need existing public transportation and shuttle services to reduce residents’ reliance on personal vehicles.
Mooring Field Biscayne Bay between 5th Street/MacArthur bridge & Sunset Harbor: If you are elected, what will you do differently to work with the City and Marine Patrol to control some of the activities that presently take place in the Bay which are harmful to our waters and marine life as regarding derelict vessels anchored in our Biscayne Bay waters?
The one thing we should not be doing is creating mooring fields in one area that leads to the “squeezing of the balloon” effect making things worse for other areas. Unless we create a mooring field for the entire coastline, we are perpetually relocating problems. I worked on this issue as a Commissioner and in Tallahassee.
I have spent considerable time on this very issue concerning derelict boats and have sponsored initiatives to address. Enforcement within our ability is always key but we must advocate for changes in State law that will provide us with the Enforcement tools to fully address the derelict boats.
Would you support a Miami Beach mooring field to control and regulate vessels anchored in the Bay; if so, how do you envision that mooring field / if you are not supportive, why not?
We need better enforcement and more resources allocated to policing our marinas and waterways to deal with negligent boaters and illegal charters swiftly and effectively.
As your Mayor, I would take a proactive and collaborative approach to tackle these challenges effectively. First, we must do everything legally possible to ensure that the squatter and derelict boats are removed. We must engage in efforts with Miami-Dade County and State of Florida to remove and prohibit these vessels. These vessels negatively impact residential quality of life for those living abutting our waterways and we should use whatever enforcement tools we have available to mitigate this nuisance.
Would you support a Miami Beach mooring field to control and regulate vessels anchored in the Bay; if so, how do you envision that mooring field / if you are not supportive, why not?
I continue to be supportive of WAvNA’s mooring field efforts to limit derelict boats and protect Biscayne Bay from pollution and waste.
Yes, a mooring field could effectively control and regulate vessels anchored in the Bay, preventing unauthorized or abandoned vessels from causing environmental damage or navigational hazards. Engaging with residents, environmental experts, and the boating community is crucial to design a mooring field that respects the Bay’s ecology, meets users’ needs, and preserves the area’s scenic beauty.
Yes, I supported this item as Commissioner moving forward while I was still serving. The City is already in the design and permitting process. I voted to move this forward because protecting water quality is of paramount importance. I believe the Mooring Field would not only remove some of the scattered boats but would also help protect our waters from debris and other things being thrown into our waters. I also support working with the State of Florida to allow more “no anchor” areas around our residential islands so that the problem doesn’t get moved from one area to another.
See above. It needs to be expansive and comprehensive, not the patchwork quilt we have been dealing with for years.
City Wide Issues: Lincoln Road has become but a shell of what it once was. It now looks rundown and even blighted due to the increased number of closed storefronts. Juvia Restaurant is the latest example of a great establishment closing. What are your plans for reviving Lincoln Road?
Reviving Lincoln Road requires a collaborative, strategic approach to reinvigorate its economic and social vibrancy. First, we must address the gridlock within the Building Department that causes inordinate delays and obstacles to project completion for many enterprises that come to invest yet are met with months of costly delays. Next, we should offer incentives for entrepreneurs to encourage occupancy in vacant storefronts and attract a diverse mix of local and unique businesses alongside established brands; create an engaging public space by organizing consistent community events, markets, and cultural activities that appeal to residents and tourists, making Lincoln Road a destination rather than just a thoroughfare. Investing in aesthetic and practical improvements, such as enhanced lighting, green spaces, and well-maintained infrastructure, will make the area more inviting and walkable. Additionally, forging partnerships with local artists and creatives to beautify empty spaces with murals or installations can foster community pride and connection to the area.
Reviving a vibrant and thriving Lincoln Road is important for the economic and cultural vitality of Miami Beach. To address the challenges facing the area, here are some potential strategies that can be considered:
- Assist Businesses to Open: We need to work to make it easier for businesses to open and obtain permits.
- Public Spaces Enhancement: Invest in the enhancement of public spaces, including streetscape improvements, landscaping, public art, and seating. We need to determine how best to move forward with the plan that has been discussed for many years.
- Programming and Events: Organize performances and cultural programming to draw visitors and locals to Lincoln Road. These events can create a sense of community and excitement.
- Safety and Security: Collaborate with law enforcement agencies to ensure that Lincoln Road remains a safe and secure destination for visitors and residents. This can help instill confidence in the area.
Completely reassess and revamp the building department and permitting process, while maintaining an economic development team that actually develops our economy. We also need to increase south beach office space inventory, most of which would end up being occupied by Miami Beach residents and the
occupants of which would directly support the adjacent cafes and businesses (in addition to the tourists).
Four new stores plus a restaurant are opening on Lincoln Road by the end of October. The new office development recently approved (with WAvNA’s full support) should help as well.
What solutions do you have to ending the cycle of tragedies occurring during Spring break?
More proactive enforcement of the laws and policing and other ideas, including:
- Law Enforcement Presence: Increase law enforcement presence in areas known for Spring break activities to deter criminal behavior and ensure public safety. Better law enforcement should be happening all year long.
- Short Term Rentals: Work to enforce short rental regulations and hotel occupancy regulations.
- Cars/Parking: We need to implement license plate readers to see who is entering our city and make it harder for visitors to park here by closing our city garages to non-residents during peak hours.
Make it impossible to park for the entire month of March unless the car belongs to a Miami Beach resident or employee. Almost all of our crime, behavior and crowd size issues stem from folks parking in our city and bringing over guns, their own alcohol and drugs. If folks want to enjoy our city during peak times they can Uber, valet, or go have fun in Haulover Park.
I have proposed and am actively working on a secured perimeter on Ocean Drive. Some form of metal detector such as a wand would be used to prohibit guns and drugs on Ocean Drive and Lummus Park during Spring Break while also protecting surrounding residential neighborhoods.
Spring Break as we know it must end. We need to stop talking about what we should do and
begin to take action. I believe we should:
- Increase police resources (minimum of 10%) along with community policing, foot patrols and
resident engagement throughout the 3 regions of North Beach, Mid-beach and South Beach
- Open a real-time crime center equipped with shotspotter technology and CCTV in known hot
spots of criminal activity
- Collaborate with area municipalities and counties currently sending visitors to our City during
- Form a detective force, inspired by anti-terrorism and crowd control in hot spots around the world,
focused on gathering intelligence, and distributing plainclothes detectives throughout the area.
What would you do differently with MBPD & Code enforcement to be more effective in improving resident & tourist safety/enforcement?
Take 50% of the officers currently in police/code cars and put them on high-speed electric bicycles.
I have much to say on this topic as evidenced from the dozens and dozens of initiatives and items I have brought to Commission. First, we need better and more proactive police visibility (on foot or bike) to deter crime. We need to enforce ALL of our laws consistently. We need to ensure appropriate prosecution of our arrests. I am proud that I transformed our municipal prosecution success rate from just 8% in 2021 to near 90% success rate today. I first publicized the misguided County efforts to eliminate bail for misdemeanor crimes and then worked diligently to ensure its defeat. For Code enforcement, the standard is too high to issue violations whether on short term rentals or noise violations. I am working with our legal department to lower the current heightened standard to give more tools to Code Compliance to enforce our laws.
Improve the day-to-day accountability of the MBPD as a whole. Also, I want to strengthen our Code Enforcement and provide an off-hours direct phone number for Code Enforcement emergencies (e.g. for addressing noise and off-hours nuisances).
- Community Policing and Engagement: Strengthen community policing efforts to build positive relationships between law enforcement and the community. Encourage officers to engage with residents and tourists, fostering trust and cooperation. Implement programs that facilitate dialogue between law enforcement, community members, and local businesses to address safety concerns and priorities collaboratively. Establish neighborhood watch programs that empower residents to play an active role in their own safety and report suspicious activities.
- Visible Police Presence: Increase the visible presence of law enforcement officers in key tourist areas, particularly during peak times. This can serve as a deterrent to criminal activity. Deploy bike patrols, foot patrols, and community policing officers to engage with residents and tourists directly.
- Enforcement of Quality-of-Life Issues: Strengthen code enforcement efforts to address quality-of-life issues, such as noise violations, public intoxication, and littering. Consistent enforcement can deter undesirable behavior. Collaborate with code enforcement officers and police to ensure a coordinated approach in addressing these issues.
- Technology Integration: Implement technology solutions, such as surveillance cameras and license plate recognition systems, to enhance law enforcement’s ability to monitor and respond to incidents effectively.
How would you propose handling the current MB homeless crisis?
Miami Beach spends millions on shelter and services for the homeless and we must offer these services to entice our homeless to accept. Enforcement is also necessary. I am currently one of the sponsors of legislation that will allow our police to arrest a homeless individual who is sleeping on public property and refuses shelter. I am also the sponsor of employment opportunities and rehabilitation programs currently being offered to the homeless at no cost to Miami Beach.
Homelessness is an urgent issue that we must address with speed and special attention as its
impact is felt by us all on a daily basis, and hampers our city’s global brand. My objectives:
- Compile data on our homeless population to identify who they are individually, know where they
are coming from and what they need as a resource
- Prioritize affordable housing for the elderly, the disabled, and low-income families in our
- Provide transit to mental health centers for those who need it
- Provide job opportunities where appropriate
- Strengthen our collaboration with regional agencies, nonprofits, and healthcare providers to offer
comprehensive support (mental health and addiction services, job training, healthcare
assistance), helping them regain stability
- Learn from the experience and expertise of other urban areas in the state, the country, and
beyond that have succeeded at improving this growing phenomenon
We need to be compassionate yet firm in our approach to homelessness. There is an increase in the city budget for homeless outreach services, however, many of the homeless are not residents that became homeless; instead, they are homeless people coming here or being sent from other areas. We have a variety of services we offer them including homeless shelters, bus trips home and food. However, many refuse services. As such, we must move forward with offering a firm policy including the new law passed by the City to allow for arrest as a last course resort.
Miami Beach is experiencing an increase in homeless residents similar to many cities in Florida. We have a robust program for services, but we do not properly and aggressively utilize both the Baker and Marchman Acts for folks who refuse to get help. We should and we will.
What are your recommendations for improving resident housing in our neighborhood vs. the current trend for converting residential property into hotels or short-term rentals?
Residential housing is for residents not for investors who want to convert them into short-term rentals or developers that want to develop even more spaces. We need to protect our neighborhoods and keep them in the hands of the residents.
I’m opposed to more hotels and short-term rentals in the area. When I was on the Commission previously, I co-sponsored the ban on more hotels in the West Avenue area. When I was on the Commission more recently I co-sponsored with Commissioner Mark Samuelian a ban on short term rentals in the area. I’m opposed to more transient uses in the area.
I think we should be pressing pause on conversions from residential to hotel, as the market forces have led to a significant decrease in Miami Beach residents. As to short term rentals, no one in politics has been more of a champion against both illegal short-term rentals and the expansion of short term rental
legalization than me. That will not change.
I have been a strong advocate of residential use and have been the sponsor and voted in favor of residential usage instead of hotel usage and short-term rentals.
What is your opinion of this increasingly common practice of fractional ownership properties? What plans would you recommend to curtail this sort of legal property ownership structure?
- Legal Protections: Advocate for legal protections that prevent fractional ownership and/or abusive practices related to fractional ownership.
- Enforcement: Invest in enforcement efforts to ensure compliance with regulations related to fractional ownership, addressing violations promptly.
This is just another trojan horse for short term rentals and the accompanying negative impacts on residential quality of life. The city needs to get ahead of this the way Naples has.
I have serious concerns about fractional ownership as another short-term rental trend and have been working with our legal department on our available legal remedies.
I am committed to using the full force of our legal department to ensure that we find a way to deal with this trend correctly.
What are your top priorities to support our Senior residents?
Expand the trolley program and ensure that our city senior housing services and housing developments are dedicated to aging Miami Beach residents as opposed to all the loopholes that allow for out-of-town folks to sneak in.
In addition to senior meals, the expansion of Freebee service and public transportation would be a great benefit to our seniors. Public safety and cleanliness is also a priority for our seniors as it is for all our residents.
As I mentioned above, we need to prioritize affordable housing for the elderly. We cannot allow developers to come in and essentially displace them so we need to have stricter rules that protect them and their interests. Additionally, we need to ensure that our existing senior housing is well-maintained and provided with enough resources to care for our seniors.
Michael Gongora: I have always prioritized the needs of our Senior residents. No one has looked out for them more than me. I am committed to continuing to advocate for quality affordable housing for them to live in. I also support food programs such as the free lunchroom I sponsored creating up in UNIDAD. I also support activities for our seniors and that’s why I sponsored creating the Senior Affairs Committee, so they now have a voice at City Hall.
Would you support a requirement that all persons testifying at meetings before the Commission and other City Boards, be asked to disclose if they have been compensated in any way for their testimony?
Yes! I have proven to be a strong proponent for transparency and would support this disclosure requirement.
Yes. Absolutely this is important to ensure transparency in our government.
Yes. All people should disclose if they are being compensated for testimony and our lobbyist disclosure rules should be tightened and enforced. Certain candidates running for office have recently served as lobbyists which is distasteful. We can look into preventing this practice in the future. Also, people that are paid for testimony should have a wait period before they are eligible to serve on a city board or committee.
Michael Greico: 100%
Would you support a requirement that Commission and other City Board members recuse themselves from any votes that could be deemed conflicts of interest?
Bill Roedy: Yes!
Yes, and I believe that is already the law. Non one should vote on an item where they have a conflict of interest.
100% plus they should have to disclose what the conflict is with specificity.
Steven Meiner: Yes!
Would you support having and text or phone surveys (amounting to social engineering) being executed on behalf of a Miami Beach campaign require disclosure? Do you think they should be eliminated?
Yes, however, many candidates do them through political committees to try and hide the source of payment for these services. I believe they should be disclosed.
There is no mechanism for local government to control polling and surveys plus there are first amendment concerns. I personally do not subscribe to “push-polling” but there is a value to know residents’ feelings on certain substantive issues.
I recently sponsored legislation requiring additional campaign disclosure and would continue to support additional disclosures.
Yes, and I would support creating additional legislation to ensure that this happens.
Based on the disclosure of Mayor Suarez having earned millions in side gigs as Mayor; do you have any conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest as regarding your position on the commission and any employment or investment activities?
Michael Greico: No.
I have no conflicts employment or otherwise. I am a federal enforcement attorney and have no political action committees meaning I take no money from developers, lobbyists, and vendors (special interests).
Bill Roedy: No. I plan to be a full-time Mayor.
Michael Gongora: No.
Any campaign rumors you’d like to clarify on your behalf with the WAvNA residence?
I have been fully supportive of our diverse Miami Beach community and am proud to represent each and every one of our residents.
- I am a longtime resident of Miami and Miami Beach having attended K-12 public schools in Miami Shores and my family and I living at Il Villaggio on Ocean Drive since 1999, married here, birthed our 3rd child here. Yes I’ve also had a secondary residence abroad in London because my jobs required that as I spent 11 years defending our country while in the military, then building the world’s largest media company at MTVN and then saving lives around the world as UN Ambassador for AIDS and with amFAr and GAVI. My home has always been and always will be Miami Beach.
- I am a registered Independent and am pro-choice, never have supported the values of or voted for Trump, nor Mitch McConnell nor Giuliani. I hold democratic values having donated and supported Pres Clinton, Pres Obama and Hilary Clinton.
I did not endorse, support or vote for Fabian Basabe for State Representative. This is a flat out lie being perpetuated by Mike Grieco and his affiliated political committees in a desperate attempt to try and get Democrats not to vote for me.
Too many falsehoods to address. I have been laser focused on discussing issues that matter to residents and businesses and on giving folks a reason to vote for me, and it is working. If other panicking candidates want to burn calories attacking me and telling lies because they either have a bad track record (or no track record at all) I do not intend to engage, nor do I need to.
Top 3 things you’d enact 1st three months in office with your colleague’s support?
- Transparency and integrity.
- Operational excellence and accountability.
- Efficiency and action.
- Prioritizing public safety leading up to my first Spring Break in Mayor having more visible community policing in place and regular reports from the Police Dept. leading up to it. I will work diligently to make our city safer.
- Revamp the Building Dept. Re-open the offices so that live employees are there to assist and fully staff the dept. with quality workers and inspectors so that people may obtain their permits in a reasonable fashion.
- Work with Public Works to better clean our city including more use of pressure cleaning and other technology to make our city sparkle.
- Permitting process redo.
- Implement spring break no-parking policy.
- Press play on resiliency projects that have been shelved.
- I have current legislation to improve law and order (such as a Miami Beach drug lab).
- To limit overdevelopment (by making it harder to approve FAR increases).
- Innovative solutions to mitigate traffic (software programs and traffic enforcement officers).
As Mayor, I will prioritize passage of these legislative initiatives I have proposed that I am already working on.