Op-Ed

Florida must invest in infrastructure

As the mayor of a coastal city, I have seen what good government can do to identify and invest in innovative solutions to address environmental and infrastructural deficiencies. Through strategic and decisive action, Miami Beach is implementing a plan to make the city more resilient against sea-level rise. However, let’s be clear — most cities cannot afford to do it on their own, nor should they. To better safeguard our environment, real estate market, and tourism-based economy, state leaders must do their part, and:

▪ Create a resiliency commission, to be chaired by a chief resiliency officer, appointed by the governor. Made up of leaders and experts from across the state, this commission could coordinate with existing regional planning councils, providing expertise and a tailored blueprint — city by city, town by town — on how to make our local communities more resilient against environmental threats, whether they are hurricanes, sea-level rise, diminshed water quality, infectious diseases, agricultural pests, or any other natural disaster.

▪ Create a dedicated resiliency fund, with which state government would investment in our cities’ infrastructure. This fund would partner with local municipalities that have identified weaknesses and want to co-invest. Through this, we can create new jobs and boost the economy, while simultaneously creating properly flowing waterways in Lake Okeechobee, stronger bridges, higher sea walls and raising roads in low-lying coastal cities, or even creating new underground power systems protected from hurricane-force winds.

3. Upgrade to a new, high-tech state-of-the-art hurricane communication system, connecting all of our government agencies. There is no reason that the tragedy that occurred at a Hollywood nursing home should happen in our modern information age. By creating a fast-acting network among police, fire, first responders, FEMA, Red Cross, NOAA and the governor’s administration, the state can react quickly to minimize dangers and prepare for impending disaster.

These ideas are only a starting point for discussion and a springboard for action, while creating a better-prepared Florida. More than ever, Floridians need fewer talking points and more solutions.

Philip Levine is the mayor of Miami Beach.

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