In response to the letter from former Mayor Matti Bower, I agree with her that it is easier to campaign than to govern. The flooding issue is a perfect example of how it is easy to talk the talk, but not walk the walk. No one ever said that the past mayor and commissioners did not talk about flooding. The problem is that the solutions proposed, and therefore the projects that were initiated, were wholly inadequate.
It is true that the prior commission showed leadership in including sea level rise in the Stormwater Master Plan. Unfortunately, the thresholds to which they designed flood mitigation actually resulted in a decrease in flood protection. It was only when I was elected along with the new mayor and commission that we directed staff to significantly upgrade the mitigation to accurately reflect the higher projections for sea level rise (and we convinced FDOT to do the same on their projects.)
We increased the stormwater plan budget to $400 million to install pump stations across the city and raise certain streets to make Miami Beach resilient to both sea level rise and storm surges. We showed political courage in raising the stormwater fees to pay for the first $100 million of this program.
The proof is in the pudding. In those areas where the higher mitigation standards have already been implemented there was no flooding two weeks ago. But in those areas that were finished under the prior standards without pumps there was flooding. We even had to go back to install pumps in projects that had already been completed (e.g. Crespi Boulevard ) and that made a huge difference in addressing the flooding. As such, we have walked the walk. That is what it takes to govern!
Joy V.W. Malakoff, commissioner, Miami Beach