Wavna – Water Taxis 5/19/2015

WAvNA Meeting
Minutes by Travis Copeland
6:00pm, The Waverly, 1330 West Ave

Guests: Jose Gonzalez, Director of Transportation, City of Miami Beach
Julian Guevara – Operations Supervisor Transportation Department
Mark Samuelian, Candidate, City of Miami Beach Commissioner, Group VI
Mark Weithorn, Candidate, City of Miami Beach Commissioner, Group V
George Castell, Code Compliance Manager, City of Miami Beach

I. Call to order and Introductory Remarks,  6:06pm

II. Water Taxi Proposal – presentation and discussion: Jose Gonzales and Julian Guevara

a. Six months ago the city began bidding process for Public Waterborne transportation services  concession in the city pf Miami Beach (water taxi services).
b. The winner of the bid , who submitted the sole proposal, is Water Taxi Miami and Sightseeing Tours Management, Inc D/B/A Island Queen Cruises. This company already  runs service between Bayfront Marketplace and the Miami Beach Marina (by Monty’s).
c. The City’s vision is to offer a water taxi service as a viable transportation alternative, bringing people but not vehicles between Miami and Miami Beach and within Miami Beach.
d. Five Miami Beach locations are being considered:

 i. Miami Beach Marina
ii. 10th Street terminus
iii. 14th Street terminus
iv. Lincoln Road terminus
v. Sunset Harbor Marina

 e. The two Marinas have existing facilities and will be the easiest to begin servicing, with service planned to begin by the end of this year
f. The three street terminals would require studies and construction, and would not be operational for another year. The “terminals” would be bus-stop-like facilities
g. Fare: to be negotiated, initial proposal around $10 but trying to negotiate lower, also potential for discounted fare for residents
h. Operating schedule would be every 30 minutes
i. Commissioner Grieco gave his personal support for water taxis, stating that he thought they should begin service limited to the two Marinas
j. Audience questions and comments:

 i. previous water taxi service at the Lincoln Road terminus caused loud noise from boat engines, awful exhaust fumes, crowds that were loud or engaged in drinking/other disruptive behavior. The service was halted due to neighbor complaints
ii. The City should seek more public input from those residents that live near the proposed water taxi docks. How can we get invited to the negotiating table?
iii. What are the hours of operation and specific vessel size?
iv. Why is the private operator determining dock locations and vessel sizes? Of course the operator will opt for the largest size vessel possible in order to maximize capacity/profit.
v. Traffic and idling cars will destroy the neighborhood. Where will auto taxis, Uber cars, and tour buses cue?
vi. Where will water taxi customers wait to avoid the rain, to avoid the sun? I fear they will gather in the entrance way of our condo building.
vii. Where will water taxi customers go to the bathroom?
viii. How big are the water taxis, how many passengers will be in each water taxi?
ix. water taxis are not an efficient way to transport people within our city, though routes from Miami Beach to Miami make sense.
x. Is this for tourists or for residents. How much will a ride cost?
xi. I would never take a water taxi to travel within South Beach, to travel just a few blocks because it would be too expensive and not efficient.
xii. Doesn’t it make more sense to rely on the trolley for transportation within South Beach?
xiii. Where will customers park their cars, we have resident permit parking in our neighborhood, parking zone #12.
xiv. Most attendees agrees that the marina sites were acceptable since they already have bathrooms and parking facilities for passengers. Everyone was opposed to  10th, 14th and Lincoln Road locations
xv. Others expressed concern that the service isn’t cost- or time-appropriate for intra-Beach travel, stating that buses or trolleys are a better option

III. Candidate forum: Samuelian and Weithorn each spoke for approximately 10 minutes, including questions from the audience. A few takeaways:

 a. Samuelian

 i. Opposes Watson Island project
ii. Supports comprehensive program for fundamental change, city-wide, regarding alcohol; believes the few sidewalk cafes open late on Ocean Drive aren’t the problem

 b. Weithorn

 i. Supports synchronizing traffic signals to ease traffic flow
ii. Suggests using empty lot adjacent to Mt. Sinai as a commuter parking lot
iii. Says that the County is “broke,” we have to fund our own priorities
iv. Says cross-causeway people mover is back to the drawing board

IV. Zoning summary by Wavna Board

 a. City will have a second reading on a law to ban alcohol sales/consumption on public sidewalks after 2:00 am (which will be the final reading, making it law), says it will certainly pass
b. We need laws in the books, moving from a by-right model of establishing business to a situation where conditional-use-permit are more easily triggered.
i. States “BTW” had a live band recently despite lack of entertainment permit
ii. New 450 seat Brazilian restaurant coming to 10th and Alton
c. Alton Road height limit increase nixed by City Commission
d. Code Compliance Manager George Castell spoke about noise complaints:

 i. Call, don’t rely on electronic communication (they’re working out some bugs): 305-604-CITY (2489)
ii. Get the complaint/case number at the end of your call
iii. Meet with the Compliance officer: they need to measure noise from within your unit in order to testify to your specific case, otherwise they can only take ground-level readings which are often different from the complainant’s in-unit experience

V. Streetscape summary: Irma Larancuente and Travis Copeland

a. Restriping: City is giving the go-ahead to FDOT, and will let us know when FDOT gets back to them with a definitive schedule/start date
b. Phase I of West Ave reconstruction currently underway (West Ave from Lincoln to 17th, parts of 6th, 10th, 14th, and 17th Streets), to be completed by end of 2015
c. Phase II to begin 2016, complete in 2018 (all remaining streets, 5th to Lincoln, West Ave to Bay)
d. West Avenue Bridge construction: 2016
e. Venetian Bridge construction: June 1, 2015 through March 2016
f. Next Streetscape meeting: Thursday, June 4, 6pm – look for announcements in e-mail and social media

 VI. Adjourned ~7:30pm

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