Michael Gongora


Attorney, Becker & Poliakoff

B.S. University of Miami; J.D. University of Miami

former Miami Beach commissioner 2006-2013; former chairman of the environmental coalition of Miami and the Beaches, Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce, Miami Beach Bar Association; re-established the North Beach Pro Bono Law Clinic

1. Sea level rise is obviously on everyone’s mind. Do you think Miami Beach is on the right path? Is there more we could be doing?

Miami Beach is on the right path, of course, we could be doing more.

Since I was the creator of the Miami Beach’s Sustainability Committee, I have been working on these issues for many years. We need to create consensus to move forward.  Miami Beach has been on the right path but is now moving so quickly that residential neighborhoods have concerns about the impact of raising roads and how this will affect their property.  This needs to be carefully reviewed because we only have one shot to get it right.

2. The costs of sea level rise are increasingly falling on property owners as well, as efforts like raising roads makes homes more vulnerable. What can the city do to help homeowners combat sea level rise? Help with the costs?

The city, county, state and federal government need to create incentives to assist homeowners.  At the city level, we need to incentivize projects that protect against sea level rise by waiving and/or reducing of fees and costs.

There is a lot of tension in Miami Beach right now around the question of who the city should put at the center of its decision-making: the long-term, year-round residents, or the lucrative tourism industry. What is your stance on:

3a. Whether Airbnb and other short-term rentals should be allowed? If yes, how should they be handled?

Miami Beach has zoning laws in place that regulate this that I previously voted in favor of. Airbnb and short-term rental properties need to follow the law.  Both the residents and the hotel industry are opposed to short term rentals.

3b. The proposed change to Ocean Drive’s last call?

I am opposed to the decrease in hours of operation as I do not believe it will alleviate crime and that we should focus on things that will.

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 we make sure their needs are met?

When I was commissioner previously, I reached out to all residents of Miami Beach who would be impacted by a decision on an issue.  As the son of a Cuban immigrant I have always advocated for those that are underrepresented.

5. What is one change you want to make that would improve YOUR life in Miami Beach?

I can’t limit myself to just one issue. Traffic calming, public transportation and crime prevention are things that would make my life and all our lives better.  Personally, I like forward to better cultural and arts programming to bring about a new renaissance in Miami Beach.