Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava returned to Kendall on Jan. 26 to greet a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations audience of more than 50 “for the first time since the debate,” she said.
The newly seated District 8 commissioner referred to her only other Kendall appearance in July 2014 during a KFHA political forum with former Commissioner Lynda Bell whom Cava unseated in the Aug. 26 primary.
“It’s great to be back with you,” she began during a half-hour chat before answering questions for 45 minutes that covered dozens of hot Kendall topics, ranging from the Ludlam Trail, which she supports as a county-designed project, to the creation of a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) district to fund a Disney-like development near Zoo Miami — an action she opposes.
“I understand your concerns for the environment and preservation of areas with endangered species, and the need to build better protection into the current process that allows Comprehensive Development Master Plan changes without direct county input,” she said, noting it was the reason she supported placing the recent Florida East Coast Industries’ Ludlam Trail CDMP proposal under the county’s name.
“Projects like these and saltwater intrusion from FPL cooling canals at Turkey Point have a profound effect on our future,” she said, adding at one point that she is working on legislation to provide buffer zones to protect diminishing agricultural land areas from unopposed housing and commercial development, including a new method of regulating zoning densities.
“One of my biggest surprises as a new commissioner is seeing how actions largely reflect interests of each commissioner by the district they represent, rather than the effect on the county overall,” she said.
“My first learned rule was a ‘rule of seven’, you need seven votes (of 13 Commissioners) to get any legislation passed,” she smiled. Other highlights:
• Her office term agenda will include more focus on South Dade, the fastest growing area in Miami-Dade. Other points: building trust and accountancy in government, a campaign pledge.
• State legislation support to prohibit fracking (extraction of oil from minerals) from South Florida’s limestone sub-structure, typified by a recent Naples project that sunk a shaft 10,000 feet in depth and poured acid into it, the extraction method used.
• On Kendall clogged highways, we need to incorporate mass transit funding into an overall planning, including incorporating managed bus lanes on SR 836, the Dolphin Expressway, possibly financed by up to a 2 percent increase in gasoline taxes.
• On Miami Expressway Authority (MDX): review appointive members more closely for background expertise, and the method of appointments at the state level.
“Too many things happen behind the scenes that even commissioners know little about,” she concluded, adding that she sought more open communication with Mayor Carlos Gimenez as one answer.
“I found it strange that our county budget allows transfer of budgeted funds from library to parks or some other use,” she said. “I have already discussed with the mayor how we need a better, clearer budget presentation to see exactly how funding works.
“The county’s government will only be as good as we become active in it.”