District 2: Jim Fried

Jim Fried

District 2

https://www.jimfriedformiami.com/

Real estate broker

This post is part of our voter guide for the Nov. 5 local elections. Head to the main landing page for a guide to some other key races.

District 2 runs north, mostly along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor, from just south of Southwest 40th Street to Northeast 54th Street.

This interview has been lightly edited. Fried’s opponents are Javier Gonzalez, Rosy Palomino and Ken Russell.

What would your top 3 priorities be as commissioner?

  1. Planning. I think City of Miami elected leaders and administrators should do a better job of planning for the future. There needs to be better short, medium and long term planning. I can help.
  2. Corruption. City officials excessively pander to connected insiders.
  3. We have a bloated City budget. We have allowed taxes and fees to be too high. Our expenses greatly exceed our constituent’s ability to pay.

What does a resilient and sustainable city look like to you?

I think the biggest environmental problems facing Florida are:

Climate change and inevitable sea level rise. Excessive reliance of fossil fuels for transportation. Government not doing enough to protect the Everglades National Park and its adjacent lands.

I support efforts to use the FEC Corridor to allow local stops to transport residents and tourists. I support efforts to create a greenway/walk/bike corridor along the FEC Corridor.

What will you do to increase transparency and accountability for public officials?

[I would] ask for city expenses to be regularly posted online (I believe that goal has recently been accomplished). Offer office hours once a week in locations throughout the District; encourage a “customer service” attitude for city employees and develop a better relationship between city departments and communities.

How should Miami increase and support affordable housing development?

The city of Miami should offer zoning and financial incentives for developers to build mixed income housing. In addition, the city should streamline the process for getting approvals and permits.

I have been told that Miami is one of the few major cities in the United States that continues to build new and expensive “low income only” vertical housing. The reason why the Federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) demolished over 140,000 units of affordable housing projects throughout the United States was because “warehousing poor people” did not work. They were vertical towers “warehousing the poor” and they became centers of increased blight, poverty and crime.

The city has thousands of properties that are vacant and it has far too many abandoned homes that should be purchased and rehabilitated into affordable housing. We know that new affordable housing units can cost the taxpayers $275 to $350 per square foot through traditional tax credit housing programs. That compares to single-family homes and condos in those same locations or better locations that sell for $80 to $150 per square foot.

Affordable housing can be created that varies income levels. If the city continues to build affordable housing units it should be done with various tiers of household incomes. Rather than “warehouse” a population in single use towers you can improve the living standards for everyone by diversifying the population.

The city must make it easier for owner/users and for real estate investors to buy troubled homes and properties that are encumbered by liens and fines. Too often the obstacles to getting a clean title prevent a perfectly usable home from being occupied.

How should Miami address its income inequality issues?

We need a great school system and we need great vocational training. Not everyone will be a doctor or a computer programmer, but there are many fine vocational careers such as mechanics, plumbers, electricians and so forth. These jobs must pay a living wage. There is no easy solution. There must be better opportunities and better access to skills training. There must be less crime throughout the city so these programs can be broader based, bringing vocational teachers to the neighborhoods that are in the most need.

Do you support the plans for Miami Freedom Park? 

I have many unanswered questions. First, we all know the City of Miami has a shortage of park space. Miami ranks last in park space per capita for cities Miami’s size. Two, I believe we need more grass and trees, not less. We need more open green space, not more concrete, more office buildings, more hotels and more malls. Third, I oppose the use of no-bid contracts to give away taxpayer owned land. Fourth, I support Commissioners Manuel Reyes and Willy Gort who oppose the scheme to demolish Melreese Park and give a no-bid deal to a connected speculator.

What steps should the city take to reduce pollution in Biscayne Bay?

I oppose more dredging of Miami’s Government Cut. The last several times [PortMiami] and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Government Cut it created an environmental disaster for Biscayne Bay. There is almost no sea grass left. There has been incredible damage to our local coral reefs. I support efforts to eliminate septic tanks in Miami-Dade County and connect everyone to the County sewage system.

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