Owner, The Kahncept Group (marketing, branding, and promotional products company)
B.A., Yeshiva University
1. Sea level rise is obviously on everyone’s mind. Do you think Miami Beach is on the right path?
Enduring the change from a gravitational system to a pump system has created challenges for the City of Miami Beach. We cannot ignore the severity of this situation, we must be prepared and constantly looking to update our plans for the future. This is important not only because of the damage done by the flooding but the impact it has with regards to insurance costs for our businesses and our home owners. As Mayor I promise to promote the continuous education of global warming and its effects with regard to sea level rise and beach erosion as well as welcoming an expert panel to stay ahead of the situation if there is anything additional we can do to better our plan and to continue being leaders and teachers to other cities facing the same issues.
2. The costs of sea level rise are increasingly falling on property owners as well, as efforts like raising roads make homes more vulnerable. What can the city do to help homeowners combat sea level rise?
I believe the city can be more involved in helping inform the residents of the beach and its business owners on matters of sea level rise with regard to insurance ramifications. The City should host information forums for residents and business owners that clearly lays out the City’s plan. Public engagement is a subject our current elected officials have taken for granted. We need to be more Proactive rather than reactive with how information is put out to the public. The residents and business owners deserve to be informed, and as Mayor I will make sure the message of public engagement is a top priority.
3. There is a lot of tension in Miami Beach right now around the question of who the city should plan for: the long-term, year-round residents, or the lucrative tourism industry.
3a. What is your stance on Airbnb and other short-term rentals? (Asked by The New Tropic reader Stephen Michael Fox Jr.)
Miami Beach is a seasonal tourist destination. The newly renovated convention center will hopefully be a catalyst to attract new visitors to our city year round. I believe AirBnB is beneficial not only to property owners on the beach but to the hospitality industry as well. I believe the problem lies with regards to noise ordinance issues and zoning. No one wants to live next to a party house. I would work toward a solution that would benefit the city and the residents and assure safety and compliance. I suggest a mandatory background check for all potential AirBnB renters paid for by AirBNB. I also would require an advanced booking of 3 weeks. If a property that is renting out space to AirBNB visitors receives 3 code compliance violations within a 3 month period then impose the 20 thousand dollar fine and ban the property from the AirBnB database for 1 year. I believe there is room for compromise on the matter and the city needs to be willing to listen to all sides and explore all options before a definitive decision is made.
3b. The proposed change to Ocean Drive’s last call?
I do not believe it will make Ocean Drive any safer. Having been employed in the hospitality industry for over 20 years I can say that this will just move a larger crowd of people westward towards Collins and Washington and create more noise and disturbances on the beach. I believe there are measures that can be taken to make Ocean Drive safer. This includes making all parking on the East side of the street forbidden at all times. This would increase the visibility of police in Lummus Park to see what is happening on the West side of the Street. I also believe the business owners should be responsible to be part of the off duty police officer program. This will increase police presence on the block and act as an additional level of security for the venues. If this ordinance is adopted the city loses more than just ocean drive. It loses the essence of what made Ocean Drive relevant in the first place. The entire city would suffer because of it… and at the heart of those that would suffer the most are the hospitality workers and the business owners in the area.
4. How do you plan to bring in a diverse range of voices in your decision making? Miami Beach has a large immigrant population that often goes unheard, plus a large working class population that helps to support the tourism industry. How will they be included? (Asked by The New Tropic reader Sarah Emmons)
I am an individual that was taught at a young age to listen before I speak. One of the main reasons I am running is to be a voice for those who feel they have no voice. As Mayor I plan on opening new avenues of communication between the residents, business owners, worker and tourists of Miami Beach. Information and the accessibility to it is something the beach has been lacking. It is about being more proactive than reactive. Everyone has their ideas, thoughts, and concerns. As Mayor it will be my priority to make sure everyone has a voice.
5. What is one change you want to make that would improve YOUR life in Miami Beach? (Asked by The New Tropic reader Ruth Klestinec)
We need to become a major destination city again. We have lost a lot of tourists to the negative press that Zika caused. I would like to use a percentage of the tax revenue collected from the resort tax to use solely for the creation of a new marketing division with the purpose of rebranding Miami Beach nationally and internationally. We are a tourism and hospitality driven city. If we want to make make changes and keep our taxes at the rate we currently pay we need to revitalize the Tourism and hospitality industry in any way that would benefit our residents, workforce, and tourists.