Earlier this year, I was asked to serve on the Advisory Council for ¡Little Havana Me Importa! The goal of this project is develop a Little Havana master plan aimed at retaining the area’s character, density, scale and affordability. Project partners include PlusUrbia Design, the National Heritage Trust, Live Healthy Little Havana (for which I serve on the board), Urban Health Partnerships, the Dade Heritage Trust and the City of Miami.

The project is an outgrowth of multiple efforts. One of these included citizen activism against proposed re-zoning that could have dramatically increased local building heights and led to the razing of historic properties. I played an active role in challenging the proposed re-zoning, which as of yet has not been approved. The Dade Heritage Trust played a role in documenting historic properties in the area affected by the “upzoning,” and they helped get the National Trust for Historic Preservation involved.

The National Trust named Little Havana one of the 11 most threatened historic sites in the U.S. Then in 2017, it named Little Havana a National Treasure.

Miami-based design firm PlusUrbia, meanwhile, was advocating for complete streets approach to pending FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) redesign of the Calle Ocho corridor (SW 7 and SW 8 streets between SW 27 and Brickell Avenue). They created images of a 21st century Calle Ocho with multimodal transportation alternatives such as dedicated bike and transit lanes, comfortable wide sidewalks and additional safe crosswalks in a vibrant urban setting.

These and other stakeholders came together to join in developing the master plan. I have played a role in the Master Plan in several ways. First, I participated in focus group discussions and in=depth interviews conducted by researchers from the National Trust. Second, I attended and participated in community workshops. Lastly, I have had the opportunity to review and comment on initial drafts of the master plan. I look forward to the final results!

For more information on this project, please visit http://littlehavanameimporta.com/