What Gives?

Open letter to Commissioner Russell and the Police Commander for Downtown, by Roly Masferrer.

As a resident of downtown, I am writing in hopes of bringing your attention to the current decline of quality of life in downtown Miami. My family and I have lived here for six years — you know my wife Cristina Palomo — and I must say our quality of life is trending down.

There has been a sharp decline to the safety and cleanliness of the streets and a decidedly lower police presence. The current strategy of stationing empty police cars (on sidewalks no less) may work to prevent speeding in the suburbs, but it does little to improve safety downtown. Yesterday, I witnessed a clear drug dealing operation on the corner of 3rd Ave and NE 1st at 2:00 pm. I include the picture below because that police car was parked on the other side of the street (Flagler), clearly visible to the activity happening at the end of the throughway.

Combining yesterday’s walk and this morning’s walk to Starbucks, my family and I encountered three instances of nudity in plain sight. The homeless population is increasing and becoming aggressive again. This morning, aside from the nudity, we were followed for half a block in an attempt to antagonize us between Flagler and NE 1 St, again on 3rd Avenue. This area is clearly a problem.

This second picture is of SE 2 Ave. Two lanes are blocked for filming at approximately 2:30 pm on Saturday. This is obviously causing considerable congestion in Downtown. It is also the only place I saw a police officer, presumably being paid by the film production.

I am all for the film industry and bringing economic development to downtown. What is tiresome is being used as the City’s piggybank and receiving very little in the way of quality of life improvements in return. Bayfront Park is a park in name only, and as of late our streets are constantly reserved for film production.

When will the residents benefit from all of this? Clearly not in the near future, but maybe our tax dollars and film permit fees can at least pay for a few police officers to patrol during daylight hours. Not during the week, when, again, downtown is the economic engine of the City and County, but on the weekends when the taxpaying residents walk a few blocks to grab a cup of coffee.

As a point of comparison, my four-year-old son takes music lessons in the Mayfair, Coconut Grove. When I walk to Starbucks on Grand Ave on Saturday mornings (9 am), I routinely see several City of Miami police officers.

What gives?

Roly Masferrer, Downtown resident.

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