As planners, we try to live the urban lifestyle, minimize our carbon footprint, and even grow our own vegetables. I once saw a colleague wearing a button which read “Riding transit is sexy.” Lose the car, bike or walk to work. Hey, if you’re adventurous, you can even take the bus. But this is easier said than done. I’ve lived in New Haven, Boston, Philadelphia, and now Miami. And as every year passes, I find it more and more challenging to cling to my planning ideals.
After four years of political wrangling, hundreds of public and internal meetings, several revisions, and one determined planning department, consultant team, and Mayor, the City of Miami made urban planning history tonight by adopting the largest known application of a form-based code. In doing so, Miami has catapulted itself to the forefront of those large American cities serious about implementing smart growth.
Hundreds of activists, students, politicians, lawyers, developers, architects and planners swarmed Miami's City Hall on Thursday for the City Commission's first reading of Miami 21. By some estimates, nearly 80% of the the 100-plus testimonials were spoken in favor of Miami 21, with Miami Mayor Manny Diaz kicking off the event with an 11-minute pro-Miami 21 paean. It was certainly one of the most eloquent, if not most passionate speech I have heard him deliver during his tenure. Strangely, Commissioner Angel Gonzalez was missing from the dais for what might have been the most important vote of the year. Apparently, the two week notice was delivered in time for him to reschedule surgery.