Downtown News Editorial
Lack of Safety Affects Your Wallet
Insurance rates get more expensive. New real estate buyers are scared away…
Five residential towers are located less than one block away from the “little house” shown above. One week earlier, the lady inside the ‘little house’ was removed from that same spot for having sex on the sidewalk and alleged acts of prostitution. “Now,” a resident emailed Downtown NEWS, “she provides a roof to her clients, comfort & privacy.”
Up to 10 thousand residents confront this on a daily basis, including children. Miami Dade College is just up the road.
The law clearly indicates that no one can obstruct the sidewalk, and doing so is an enforceable offense. Judging by the photo, it can be argued that a pedestrian can squeeze by, but what about someone with disabilities, on a wheelchair? And another resident pointed out that she was almost hit by a car because the sidewalk was obstructed and she was forced to the street and oncoming traffic.
For years now, downtown residents have been pleading for safety measures with the police and officials, both at city and county levels. Downtown NEWS receives daily complaints about incidents of violence, threats from aggressive panhandlers, about children having to witness lewd behavior, and the problem of homelessness that has spiraled out of hand.
One resident suggested: “Citizens should bring legal action against the city for not ensuring our streets are safe, and against the Parking Authority for not providing adequate security. Every day you see half a dozen people loitering, drinking, defecating around the College Station Garage.”
A real estate broker indicated that one client had decided to rent an apartment in the Central Business District but rescinded because two aggressive panhandlers approached him and the broker when they exited the building. The same thing happened, the broker reminisced, at a Park West building. Her client had a pet and wanted to see Maurice Ferré Park across the boulevard. At the entrance, people were hanging their clothes to dry, further down a seminude man was sleeping on a bench, and the deal-breaker, a man was urinating into a large soda cup right in front of everyone, despite having a bathroom less than twenty yards away.
On June 14, Downtown NEWS and the Downtown Neighbors Alliance sat with Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina at Commissioner Ken Russell’s office and discussed the need to keep our streets and parks safe. Chief Colina observed that he has assigned a shift to patrol specific areas that are the responsibility of that team and if something goes wrong, then it is towards that team that he will turn to hold them accountable.
If cities, districts, and large neighborhoods are made up of smaller units, mini-neighborhoods, it would be helpful for residents to know who is in charge of each team assigned to each mini-neighborhood, including parks.
Downtown is one of the only places where modernity and history coexist. One can see great new and old architecture such as One Thousand Museum Park, designed by the late Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, and the Neo-classical US Old Courthouse (David W. Dyer Building.) Downtown has become a mecca for culture, with world-class opera, theater, and science, art and history museums. With restaurants ranging from Mexican to Argentinian, from Italian to French, from Mali to Indian, and hamburger joints to American gourmet. More importantly, with a vibrant, diverse, smart and hard-working population.
Yet, residents who pay upwards of $20,000 in property taxes annually are considering further taxing themselves to patrol streets and parks. Why? How is it possible that our leaders can’t curtail this increasing safety issue? Documentarian Bill Corben — Cocaine Cowboys — speaking at a recent Urbanism Sumit, ventured an answer: “21st-century challenges, and 20th-century leadership.”
The great thing about democracy is that citizens do have an instrument to hold elected officials accountable, it's called voting. With city and county elections coming up, it’s time citizens demand more than words and promises, it’s time to get out and show who is in charge!