Dear friends and neighbours,
At the request of the Mayor and Council of the Village of Key Biscayne, we, the immediate past members of the Strategic Vision Plan Board (formerly known as the 2040 Vision Board), volunteered many hours of our time for nearly three years, with the help of our Village’s professional staff, to update the 2020 Vision Plan for the decades to come.
Vision planning is widely considered a best practice for communities to set goals, plan for the future, and strive for excellence. The 2020 Vision Plan, the first ever prepared for our Village 15 years ago, needed updating.
About a week ago, residents of Key Biscayne received an email from Key Biscayne mayoral candidate Fausto Gomez. This email is a serious misrepresentation of our community’s efforts and draft strategic vision plan. We are saddened that a politically motivated attempt is being made to mislead our community and disparage the contributions of several hundred residents in creating an updated strategic vision plan.
We believe it is our duty to correct the misrepresentations contained in this candidate’s email regarding the authority, goals and actions of the Strategic Vision Board and the hundreds of Key Biscayne residents who participated and contributed.
Fake: “Most of us know very little [Strategic Vision Plan] or had the opportunity to participate.
True: The Strategic Vision Board has set a new standard for communication and inclusion in the village of Key Biscayne. All meetings were publicly noticed and open to all and many attended and participated. Articles and announcements were published in local newspapers and media. Surveys were sent out which received over 700 unique responses and the results were shared online and at public meetings. A website dedicated to the efforts of the Strategic Vision Board was created and widely promoted, it has been visited over 7,000 times.
The effort culminated in a week of community engagement events, a dozen three-hour interactive sessions, open to all residents. The level of attendance and participation in these sessions was unprecedented.
It is absurd to suggest that anyone was denied knowledge of the Vision Board or the opportunity to participate in it. It is hard to imagine a more inclusive approach than that adopted by the Strategic Vision Board.
Fake: “The 2040 Vision Plan calls for the demolition of all commercial buildings.”
True: The Strategic Vision Plan is a non-binding vision of how our island paradise could evolve to better manage challenges such as traffic, rising sea levels and storm water, changing demographics and changing the needs of our community. Predictions of “incentives” for landlords, a “multi-year building process” and “business and restaurant failures” are the product of political campaigning and a win-at-all-costs approach.
Residents who wish to know the facts of the Vision Plan can view it for themselves and are encouraged to contact us for more information.
The Strategic Vision Plan is the product of a large and diverse group of residents and experts with a multitude of perspectives and that’s the point. It contains thoughtful recommendations to address the challenges facing the Village and recognizes that landlord rights are sacred.
The plan is a source of information and guidance that elected village leaders can use to make policy and implementation decisions. The plan does not enhance or degrade property rights or affect an owner’s ability to maintain existing buildings. It will be up to the village council and future generations of community leaders and landowners to decide which recommendations of the plan should be adopted and they will need to work together to achieve those recommendations.
Fake: The strategic vision plan contributes to “proposals to enable the overdevelopment of Key Biscayne.”
True: None of the board members, or anyone we know, wants more density on Key Biscayne. This fact is evident from the many public forums and surveys that the Vision Board has been tasked by the Village Council to conduct. The plan that was produced is a set of long-term creative ideas from residents and fleshed out by experts.
It contains no recommendations to overdevelop a single square inch of our island paradise. What it contains is a vision of what could be considered as existing commercial lots and buildings are updated and upgraded to current codes, specifically the higher elevations required, resiliency considerations and future community and business needs.
In fact, several suggestions in the Strategic Vision Plan are intended to highlight the implications of current commercial zoning regulations in our Village, which could result in an overbuilt and otherwise undesirable commercial district. Ideas like mixed use in the commercial district, if pursued, would be balanced in the plan by reducing density elsewhere. Simply put, the plan is intended to help prevent precisely what the candidate’s email accuses them of promoting.
Setting a vision is how future decisions can be guided along an evolutionary path for the greatest benefit of a community. Without a strategic vision plan, the direction of communities will often be determined largely by the short-term goals of developers.
Fake: The Vision Board “spent $160,000 of our money.”
True: The Vision Board had no authority to spend taxpayers’ money and did not. Funding for assistance from DPZ, a world renowned community planning company, to coordinate the development of the strategic vision plan was approved and expended by the elected village council.
Candidate’s ‘dividing conspiracy theory’
What remains of the candidate’s email is a politically motivated and divisive conspiracy theory aimed at undermining residents’ trust and scaring off voters. The candidate does not understand the strategic vision plan or tries to misinform the public and create unfounded fear. Neither should be acceptable coming from a mayoral candidate.
We, the former members of the Strategic Vision Board, helped facilitate a cooperative and communal process. We are proud of the broad and well-communicated collaboration and strategic vision plan that has been produced with our residents. It was a “by the community, for the community” plan.
We hope that our elected representatives will respect the effort and investment that has gone into it and give careful consideration to its recommendations. Excellence inevitably begins with a vision and it is in this spirit that our community has come together.
Former Key Biscayne Village Strategic Vision Plan Board Members: Matt Bramson, Luis de la Cruz, Robert Duzoglou, Mario Garcia Serra, Lucia Marin, Tom McCormick and Jorge Mendia