As if it isn't enough that the City breaks laws and leans over backwards to help a private developer on public land, but by doing so the Commissioners and City Officials are directly causing a whole lot of other problems for the residents, businesses and visitors to Miami, Miami Beach and the rest of the county.
The increase in traffic created by the proposed mammoth Flagstone project on Waston Islandposes great risks to health, safety and quality of life for Miami Beach and Miami residents and threatens the entire economy of Miami-Dade County.
- MacArthur Causeway is a direct route for most emergencies going from Miami Beach to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Gridlock endangers residents and visitors with individual or collective crises, such emergency responses for fire, police and ambulances who can’t get to an accident, or evacuations. And even Coast Guard responses.
- Decline in property values on Islands off MacArthur Causeway, Alton Road, South of Fifth, West Avenue and Venetian Way. It has been informally estimated that values could be negatively affected by between 3 and 10%.
- Decline in the Miami Beach tax base requiring an increase for residents and businesses in tax rates or a reduction in City services.
- Decline in the quality of life for Miami Beach residents who have less incentive to visit the mainland and its cultural, educational, sports and business offerings.
And here’s why this project puts at risk the economy of all of Miami-Dade County.
- Miami Beach and Miami depend, in part, on local visitors from other areas of South Florida, both for individual and family visits to the Beach and to Miami to attend major events. A change in those visits must be considered along with out-of-town visitors.
- Decline in the tourist trade will have extraordinary implications not only for the Beach community but for the entire County.
- According to the Greater Miami Convention and Tourist Bureau (GMVCB): “In 2015, visitors generated nearly $24.4 billion in direct expenditures; however, if we used the industry accepted multiplier of 1.5, the direct and indirect impact of expenditures would exceed $36.6 billion to the economy of Greater Miami.” [For the GMCVB report, see here.]
- Traffic already tops the list of dissatisfaction by tourists. Tourists are attracted to our area to a large extent by the unique access to both sides of the Bay. Difficulties in crossing the Bay will, without doubt, reduce the appeal of the Miami area.
- The GMCVB annual report for 2015 (the most recent published) notes that 19.7 % of travelers cite traffic as the “least liked” feature of their trip. That is more than half (52%) of all reasons given for dissatisfaction, up from 43% in 2014.
- Beach hotel occupancy will go down, or at least fail to grow as much as it could. The Miami area is currently number 6 of the top 25 Hotel Markets in the US. Moreover, Miami has the 4th highest in room rates in the US.
- Restaurants and other entertainment venues will suffer.
- The all-important generators of business – meeting planners -- will shy away from booking locations where both sides of the Bay are not conveniently accessible. Major events, exhibitions, trade shows, industry or company conventions, and the like will suffer from a decrease in meeting planner support.
- Small business owners will feel the impact of anything that reduces the number of visitors.
- Tax payments to the City of Miami Beach and Miami will decline, putting stress on the City’s budget and either an increase in taxes or a reduction of services. 2015 taxes collected just through hotel and food and beverages reached $69 million for Miami Beach alone.
- Employment, especially at hotels and restaurants, will decrease. Leisure employment in the county reached 136,100 in 2015. The threat of decreased employment for Beach residents should not be underestimated.
- It is also likely that costs for employees and their employers will increase with the lengthening of time it takes for employees to get to The research house “24/7 Wall Street” notes that Miami residents already “have the longest commute of any metro area in Florida.”
- The impact of other major residential and commercial developments in both the cities of Miami Beach and Miami has already increased stress on cross-bay traffic: new condos and apartments on the Beach and the Brickell City Center, Miami World Center, several new residence towers just north and south of MacArthur Boulevard on and adjacent to Biscayne Boulevard.