In election ad, Miami Beach commissioner likens mayor to Putin
Miami Beach politics are always messy, especially when public land is slated for private redevelopment.
- Throw in some bad blood between the mayor and his chief critic on the commission — along with a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and it must mean the Nov. 8 elections are almost here.
Driving the news: In her personal campaign to defeat two real estate projects on the November ballot, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez compared Mayor Dan Gelber to Putin — posting side-by-side photos of the two leaders on Facebook over the weekend.
- "What do these two leaders have in common? Sham referenda!" she wrote, urging residents to vote against Referendums 5 and 6. The measures are related to leasing Lincoln Road parking lots to build office and residential buildings.
- Rosen Gonzalez quickly apologized for comparing the two but not before Gelber shot back, criticizing the commissioner for making "personal attacks," the Miami Herald first reported.
Why it matters: Political drama aside, the elections will determine whether voters side with the more pro-development minds in the city or those who want to preserve public land.
State of play: The ballot questions propose 99-year leases for the parking lots at 1664 Meridian Ave., 1688 Lenox Ave. and 1080 Lincoln Lane North to develop a total of 3.3 acres into mixed-use projects with office, retail and residential components.
- The city would receive a combined $355.8 million in lease payments for all the projects, and the lost parking spots would be replaced.
What they're saying: Gelber and other supporters of the projects say they will help diversify Miami Beach's hospitality economy, attract national companies looking to relocate to Florida and help revitalize Lincoln Road as businesses close there.
- Rosen Gonzalez has criticized the proposals for including lease payments she feels are below market and lacking public input into what gets built on public land.
What's ahead: It all comes down to voters next month. The City Commission has already approved the development agreements for both projects this summer, pending the outcome of the election. If the referendums are approved, the projects will move forward.
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