Letters to the Editor

Coral Gables’ Paseo project deserves community input

Coral Gables government has let its commitment to strict zoning and permitting, resident partnership and lifestyle wane in favor of driving additional non-homesteaded tax dollars under the guise of New Urbanism.

The proposed Paseo de la Riviera project on U.S. 1 at the old Holiday Inn site has more than three times the density of the existing site.

Throughout the evaluation, dozens of citizens have expressed deep concern over the density of the project and its impact on the Riviera neighborhood. There has not been any substantive change to address those concerns.

The dates chosen for key hearings and workshops have been in the dead of summer when many take vacation. When the community asked for a recent deferment, we were denied.

The city has portrayed the outcome of a “visioning workshop” split across a Friday night and Saturday morning in July as being representative of what the residents of the neighborhood wanted. However, it was filled with special interests who do not live or own property in the city. Anyone could attend the workshop, which diluted the input of those truly vested in the community.

The workshop was run by a colleague of the architect for the proposed development who has a conflict of interest through his employer.

Rather than have public questions, those running the workshop chose to have questions submitted through text messaging, which filtered out many of the questions.

I and many of my neighbors’ questions that specifically dealt with height, density, parking and traffic were ignored and never addressed. Friday night turned out to be an infomercial for other projects and the concept of New Urbanism.

The proposed Paseo de la Riviera project is a referendum for the development of the entire U.S. 1 corridor and it deserves a clear process with input from all stakeholders and careful review of previous planning studies already done for the same geographic area.

We need a proper master plan that addresses all stakeholders, including the city and its taxpaying residents. I do not believe a commitment to the process has been followed by the city of Coral Gables and I urge the City Commission to discuss this at length at its next meeting on Sept. 8.

Henry Piñera, Coral Gables