When Miami Beach residents go to the polls Nov. 5, they’ll be voting on changes to the city charter — the constitution of city government.
Residents will also weigh-in on whether Miami Beach should support medical marijuana.
Here’s a look at each of the proposed charter changes, and the medical marijuana issue.
Miami Beach is making plans to renovate its aging convention center in a bid to attract more business to the city-owned facility. Part of the plan also contemplates leasing out surrounding, public land to a private developer. That’s where the charter question comes in.
As the Beach’s charter currently stands, voters have to approve leases of certain land within the Convention Center district, which surrounds City Hall and abuts Lincoln Road. Only a simple majority of voters have to approve the lease.
Miami Beach commissioner Jonah Wolfson led a petition campaign to get a charter amendment on the November ballot that would instead require a super-majority of voters to approve leasing the land. The charter change would also expand the geographic area subject to a public vote.
The proposal could make it more difficult for the convention center project to pass. For example, even if 59 percent of voters approve the plan, it would still fail to pass because a 60 percent approval rate is needed.
Wolfson has derided the project as a giveaway to developers, while supporters counter that the city would charge market-rate rental rates. Others complain the scale of the project — which includes an 800-room hotel to service the convention center, and potentially 90,000-square feet of retail and restaurants — would create a traffic nightmare.
Citizen’s Bill of Rights
Three changes to the citizen’s bill of rights are being considered.
The first would ban discrimination in the city’s hiring and assignment of benefits, such as health insurance. If passed, the amendment would not allow the city to discriminate based on “an employee or job applicant’s race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status, familial status or age.”
A second proposal would “codify city policy to cooperate with Miami-Dade County Public Schools ... to strive to improve the quality and quantity of public educational facilities” in Miami Beach.
The third proposed change to the citizen’s bill of rights would create a new paragraph to “acknowledge” that city staff should help condo and co-op owners with permitting issues and to act as a liaison between owners, management firms and the city.
Residents will also be asked whether the city should urge the federal and state government to decriminalize medical marijuana. The item is only a straw ballot, meaning it’s non-binding and the city doesn’t have to do anything whether the measure passes or not.
Straw ballots are often used to measure the community’s support for an issue.
If the ballot measure passes, the commission could decide to send a resolution to the state and federal government asking that medical marijuana be decriminalized. Like a straw ballot, a resolution is non-binding but is often a symbolic show of support or disapproval for a particular issue.
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