Our Environment is the Economy

Francis X. Suarez, City of Miami Mayor

For the past three years, Miami has quietly pursued a path that combines economic investment with environmental security to protect our properties, save us money, and generate new jobs. From combating flooding to preserving Biscayne Bay, we know that it is no longer an issue of the environment versus the economy: the environment is the economy. Miami residents know that too. This is why they approved the Miami Forever Bond, which has led to green infrastructure projects—from pumps to flood barriers. But infrastructure by itself still requires the economic and legal incentives to reduce costs and boost economic activity. This is why we have built a policy package called Miami Forever that ensures Miami lasts forever and works for everyone. We have done this through reforming our zoning code. And after last week’s City Commission meeting, we took two key steps towards achieving that goal.

During the last Commission meeting, I proposed and the Miami City Commissioners passed PZ. 10, where all newly developed “off-street” parking spaces require at least 20% of the spaces to be allocated to meet electrical vehicle standards, paving the way for Miami to become one of the most electric vehicle-friendly cities in the country. This measure lays out the legal framework and economic incentives for the expanded use of electric cars within the city, driving down the costs of gas and cars for commuters. It saves commuters money and re-purposes existing land to a more productive use. Every parking lot could now serve as a multi-use recharge station and parking area with added amenities and services. Imagine each MPA facility offering parking, recharge stations, convenience stores, and added services. Even now, apartment buildings and condominiums are offering recharging lots for their residents’ vehicles. This ordinance expands this trend, encourages electric vehicle use, and drives down the costs of gas and vehicle use.

I also proposed and the Miami Commission passed. PZ. 11, which now provides a definition of “solar equipment” for our zoning code. This ordinance eliminates solar equipment from height requirements, tearing down obstacles for developers and making solar infrastructure more available from home roof tops to high rises. By extension, this will also allow us to exempt certain green-development projects from zoning height restrictions. Florida is the sunshine state for good reason: the sun offers the cheapest, cleanest, and most available source of energy. Now is the time to integrate solar energy into our building and zoning codes so energy costs for our buildings can be capped and cut over time. Imagine buildings that are entirely energy self-sufficient through integrated solar panels that slash millions of dollars off the energy bills of their owners and renters. Imagine self-lit roads throughout the city that keep us safe and secure through all hurricanes.

We are building a Miami of the future where environmental investments mean economic expansion, lower transaction costs, energy independence, and more financial freedom for our residents, our businesses, and our families.

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