The city presented recently an amendment to the zoning code that would vastly restrict development of smaller properties, curtailing the rights and efforts of small property owners and business owners to contribute to the building of their community.

Specifically, the proposal would dramatically alter the minimum lot sizes for development throughout the city of Miami. In the T4 and T5 urban zoning areas, which can be found in neighborhoods like Little Havana, Overtown and Allapattah, the minimum lot size to build a new structure would jump to 10,000 square feet. In denser areas that use the T6 zoning, like Brickell, the proposal would prevent development on lots smaller than 20,000 square feet.

The amendment passed its first reading in October, and headed to a second reading in November where it was deferred to January.


There are several reasons why this amendment would be immensely damaging.


Creates an unfair zoning code that benefits only the biggest developers.

This measure massively increases the barriers to entry for development. By preventing development on smaller lots, the only viable usage of much land comes in assembling for larger developments, the sorts of projects that only larger and well-established companies can handle.


Eliminates community-focused development.

This item raises barriers to entry for development so that only the largest players can participate. Small property owners and entrepreneurs are engines for creative problem-solving, often being the best suited to tackle many of the social ills in our society in secondary neighborhoods. Stifling them is not only damaging to our communities, it is in direct contradiction to the principals on which this country was founded.


Eliminates Fine Grain Neighborhoods

Some of the greatest neighborhoods in the world (think Manhattan’s Lower East Side and NoLiTa, San Francisco, Venice, etc) are composed of medium to smaller lot size, medium density, mixed-use buildings. By raising the lot sizes for development, you permit for the development of only larger, overbearing building typologies. This kills the interesting fine-grain urban fabric that gives these neighborhoods their personality.


Creates a convoluted zoning process by variance

The current zoning code was implemented in 2009 to push principals of new urbanism into our community, but also to codify a simple and easily maneuverable zoning code and to increase the transparency of the process. This amendment directly defies that, setting up a system where small property owners would be required to endure a judicial variance process, where they are at the whims of municipal authorities, and are faced with uncertainty and the temptation of officials to abuse the system to extract favors.


Discourages Investment in our Neighborhoods

This amendment discourages investment in affluent and poor areas alike, but harms the revitalization efforts in some of out most challenging neighborhoods most, areas like Little Havana, Allapattah, Overtown, Liberty City etc., by making small sites undevelopable and by adding most risk and uncertainty to the zoning process.


For the sake of Miami’s continued progression to becoming the next Great Global Metropolis, and to continue to nurture the development of great urban neighborhoods in our city, this amendment must be blocked.


Please share the word, write your commissioners, and attend public meetings.

-Carlos Fausto Miranda

November 23, 2015