Davis views serving on council as lesson in civics

By Richard Yager….

Patricia “Shannen” Davis wields gavel on West Kendall zoning.

Patricia “Shannen” Davis likens service on Community Council 11 to “Civics 101 on the front lines.”

Twice-elected as chair of West Kendall’s local Zoning Appeals Board, Davis, at the outset of a new year weighing issues that change the community’s landscape, also believes incorporation of Kendall is not likely to occur soon.

“Even the charrette study Community Council 11 voted for will probably need some private source of financing to become a reality,” said the 64-year-old social worker and mother of two sons, now well experienced in community development and growth issues.

Since 2006, Davis has served on the council in its first and only “at large” seat, three years later succeeding Domingo Castillo who retired from the council in 2009 without seeking reelection.

“During the ’80s and ’90s, Kendall was growing by leaps and bounds,” recalled Davis, a native Miamian with a Master of Arts degree in sociology from Barry University.

Described as a bedroom community, West Kendall particularly attracted families seeking large homes, new schools, some greenery and local services.

“Our area became a major tax contributor to the county, but in return, we really have received few services back.”

Davis said that was her motivation to begin speaking publicly for the need for incorporation that has now largely been stifled by economic priorities of current times.

“Unfortunately, our area has been hit hard by the housing crisis and revenues are down,” she said. “The sort of study to address the possibilities would need to be privately financed through some sort of incorporated planning committee. And I don’t see that happening in the next couple of years.”

At the last non-zoning meeting conducted since the county did away with the sessions, Council 11 asked for a charrette for a proposed center of West Kendall to provide guidelines for its future growth.

The boundaries were a one-mile circle radiating from the intersection of SW 137th Avenue and Kendall Drive, lengthened south to include SW 120th Street.

Although Davis voted with a majority for the study, she said a single focus on a center for Kendall “doesn’t make sense when you are trying to explain an area from Bird Road to Quail Roost Drive between the turnpike and Krome Avenue.

“A charrette only covers one square mile of that area. Charrettes cost about $80,000 so in a time when services and jobs are being cut it is an unlikely expenditure,” she advised.

“Since developers have done all sorts of research on our area, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could acquire and filter those existing studies?”

It was a question she asked with a diplomatic touch that may come from Davis’ career in social causes.

A certified addictions professional, today she works for Spectrum Programs/Miami in behavioral health and family intervention services. She has managed cases for Dependency Court and facilitated groups in “batterment” intervention, anger management, DUI and substance abuse.

She once served as an assessor and facilitator for Lifeline of Miami and has a business background in financial management as well as both creative director and writer for an advertising agency.

“My goal as council chair has been to present a welcoming demeanor and tempo,” she stated. “Some extra control is required when things get heated so I have tried very hard to stay fair and impartial.”

Davis won nearly 60 percent of the total votes cast in an August primary vote with a count of 7,080 to newcomer John P. Arrien’s 4,751. She pointed out that her most recent victory saw “support from some folks whose applications I have voted against.”

A resident of the Forrest Lakes area of West Kendall, Davis said the use of her nickname, Shannen, came in the 1970s when “several teenaged friends on Miami Beach were changing their names to find their ‘true selves’ and not liking our bequeathed monikers.

“I picked ‘Shannen’ and since we all kept hanging around together, the nickname stuck — but I always answer to both [Patricia and Shannen].”

What does she look forward to in 2011?

“It’s a shame the non-zoning meetings ended,” she said. “l hope Commissioner [Joe] Martinez steps up soon to hold a town hall meeting out of his budget. Some others have done so.”

As for her work with the Zoning Board, she said, “None of us will get rich in our jobs but all of us choose to serve our community in as many ways as possible. We’re open-minded and everyone gets heard.

“I believe we represent smart growth, jobs, preservation of resources and striking a balance between the right of individuals who own land and the overall good of the community.”

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