As we look beyond 2020, I am optimistic about the new year and the future of Miami Beach. We have many challenges ahead of us and I am confident that together we will overcome them. Every day I continue to be impressed with the passion of our residents to improve Miami Beach. I am listening carefully to the concerns and suggestions of our residents who will help navigate our City in the right direction.
My priority is to improve the quality of life of all our residents and to bring a strong independent voice to government. There is no greater satisfaction for me in public service than the ability to elevate the standard of living for all residents.
Policing: "We Need to Take Back Control"
Policing and public safety is my top priority in 2021 as it is the number one issue I hear about from our residents. I remain focused on strong law enforcement, increased police visibility and addressing homelessness. I regularly communicate with our Police Chief and City Manager to advocate for strict enforcement of our laws and a more visible police presence throughout our City. It is the ultimate compliment to our police department that the vast majority of our residents want to see more, not less, officers on the beat.
Every resident and visitor should feel safe everywhere and anywhere in Miami Beach. Unfortunately, that is not the current reality. Moreover, I am frustrated and appalled when our symbols of police authority are degraded or when car racing “donuts” are performed in the middle of densely populated residential neighborhoods. I have been advocating for a “zero tolerance” attitude toward crime and to use all available legal tools to enforce all our laws. I have proposed a number of initiatives to push our administration towards a “zero tolerance” policy. As I keep saying, “we need to take back control.”
I am actively working on a number of initiatives that carry over into 2021. Undoubtedly, new initiatives will arise as the year progresses.
🔵 Citizens Volunteer Patrol (more on this below)
🔵 Regulating moped behavior
🔵 Increased police patrols
🔵 Hazardous activity on our marinas and waterways
🔵 Noise ordinance
🔵 Miami Beach municipal judges and community courts
🔵 Enhanced review of sidewalk cafe permit applications
🔵 Collecting post-arrest information on offenders
🔵 Expedited special master hearings
A New Ocean Drive & Lummus Park
Many of us have known for some time that change is needed in South Beach, particularly Ocean Drive. Unruly behavior since the pandemic has detrimentally impacted our Miami Beach brand and the resulting economic harm is not sustainable. Change is inevitable, it is only a question of how fast. Consistent with this change, I proposed an initiative unanimously passed by our Commission for high-end 365 day year-round activation of the Lummus Park / Ocean Drive area. My initiative for day and night family-friendly activations while increasing public safety fits in well with Mayor Gelber’s bold and necessary proposals to reimagine South Beach, to which I am a co-sponsor.
As I remarked at a Commission meeting and as quoted in Miami Today, “the activations will be a combination of everyday activities and special events...providing year-round entertainment will bring more economic activity for local businesses and increase public safety in the area.” Stay tuned for the rollout of the activation in the coming months.
Citizens Volunteer Patrol Coming Soon!
I could not be more proud that my legislative initiative to implement a Citizens Volunteer Patrol (CVP) passed unanimously by my colleagues on the Commission. Citizens on patrol trained by and working together with our Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) puts more eyes on the street and will be an important cost-effective crime prevention tool in our neighborhoods. Volunteers will undergo an extensive background check, will not carry weapons or have arrest powers. Their visible presence on our streets along with direct radio communication with MBPD will have a strong deterrent impact on criminal behavior.
I am working closely with MBPD as the first rollout of the CVP is anticipated in the next few months. If you have an interest in volunteering for community patrols, please look out for future application notices from MBPD. In the meantime, please contact me or my aide Amadeus Huff for more information.
$1 Billion and Counting
The City’s stormwater management program, along with water/sewer enhancements, will cost the City an estimated $1 Billion! This considerable expense to our budget is a major reason why I am advocating for a tailored approach to our resiliency policies. It is also why improved oversight, planning, project execution, and accountability concerning our stormwater and resiliency are high on my agenda.
Consistent with a tailored approach, in October our Commission unanimously approved my legislative initiative to eliminate the requirement that all new stormwater pump stations include a dedicated power generator. Previous to the passing of this legislation, all stormwater pumps required a generator. Now the determination whether a generator is needed will be made neighborhood-by-neighborhood based on redundant power source data provided by FPL and resident input. Eliminating unnecessary generators save our residents from a significant eyesore (picture below). It will also save our City millions of dollars. With generators costing $500-700 thousand each, and 40 pump station projects in the pipeline, this initiative could potentially save our City up to $20 million. It’s a win-win all around!
Vaccinations and COVID-19 Testing
We are now on to the next phase of the pandemic, administering vaccinations. I am strongly advocating that our City do more to coordinate the availability of vaccinations, as many of our residents, particularly seniors, have been frustrated by their inability to gain access or even make an appointment to be vaccinated.
This has been a challenging year for everyone and has presented once unthought of decisions for elected officials. Staying committed to making data-driven decisions, I spearheaded initial efforts to bring COVID-19 testing to Miami Beach. Our City was one of the first municipalities to offer COVID testing before the State and County offered widespread testing. I am appreciative to the many Miami Beach residents who let me know that the availability of early testing was invaluable to them.
Transparency and Good Governance
I have advocated for a more transparent and open government. Informed residents can better communicate their visions and will lead to better legislative decisions by me and our Commission. Here are a few examples:
No-bid contracts. I have consistently voted against no-bid contracts and voted against extending existing contracts without competitive bidding. This evens the playing field for all businesses to compete and ensures that our City is receiving market driven value.
City Contracts. I sponsored an initiative requiring that all City contracts be available online. Prior to my initiative, not all City contracts were publicly available. All contracts can now be found here:
Not Privatizing Parking Enforcement. At the September Commission meeting I drew a clear line that I would not vote to approve the 2021 budget if it included privatizing part of the City’s parking enforcement. While I am a proponent of public/private partnerships, I strongly believe enforcement is a government function. After a lengthy Commission debate, not privatizing part of the City’s parking enforcement was the winning vote.
On a Lighter Note
Better street lighting has a direct correlation to crime reduction, is aesthetically pleasing, increases pedestrian walkability and incentivizes economic growth.
My first sponsored item after I was elected was for the installation of year-round LED "holiday" lighting on every single one of the 251 palm trees along 41st Street. The installation was completed in August, and the lights look beautiful. Many residents throughout our City have thanked me and our Commission describing the corridor as a “winter wonderland.”
Based off this success, I recently brought an initiative for year-round holiday lighting for the 71st business corridor on the several blocks surrounding the Normandy Fountain.
Please join me on January 12 for my next Virtual Town Hall
Our Commission meets monthly for an all day meeting to set policy and pass legislation. The night before each monthly Commission meeting I conduct a virtual Town Hall to discuss important items on the next day’s Commission agenda and issues of importance happening in our City.
Please click the image above to be directed to Zoom.
I am fortunate to work closely with my Commission aide Amadeus Huff who shares my commitment to improve the quality of life for residents each and every day. Please reach out to me any time - my cell phone is 786-810-8728 and my direct City email is StevenMeiner@MiamiBeachFL.gov. Alternatively, you can contact my aide Amadeus Huff at 786-697-7763 or by email at AmadeusHuff@MiamiBeachFL.gov.
Posted on 08 Jan 2021, 01:49 - Category: 2021