Mayors Roundtable 2018

Attendees: Mayor Joe Corradino – Village of Pinecrest; Mayor Bermudez & Alfredo Ortega – City of Doral; Matthew Anderson – Sr. Sustainability Analyst, City of Coral Gables; Mayor Oliver Gilbert – City of Miami Gardens; Mayor Daniel Dietch – Town of Surfside; Cindy Lerner – former Mayor of Pinecrest; Yoca Arditi-Rocha, Sr. Climate Advisor -The CLEO Institute; Natalia Ortiz, Director of Development & Natalia Arias, Director of Programs -The Cleo Institute

Opening Remarks | Yoca Arditi-Rocha - Sr. Climate Advisor, The CLEO Institute

Yoca thanked Village of Pinecrest and Mayor Corradino for hospitality and hosting roundtable at Pinecrest Gardens. Spoke about current state of the climate mentioning Ellicott City -1000yr- flood event in Maryland, current levels of CO2 in atmosphere and how CLEO continues to play a pivotal role in educating/engaging our community especially the most vulnerable with our outreach program currently promoting emergency preparedness workshops in Overtown/Little Haiti/Hialeah. She welcomed the Mayors presence and their interest in discussing critical resilience issues, solution opportunities, learn about other work municipalities are doing for cross-pollination and the importance also to rally behind state/federal mitigation efforts since forces of nature do not care about municipal boundaries. Yoca invited all Mayors to learn about the Florida Future Fund idea developed with Center for American Progress.

General discussion on where municipalities are and what thy are doing:

  1. Mayor Dietch – have removed invasive species, all elected have 2-year terms, Surfside is part of the SE FL Climate Compact and has joined the Seawall coalition. At the beginning he struggled with getting his council/commission to discuss climate change. Dietch: there is a difference between urgency and a willingness to act. Sea level polls with marking in feet of SLR – the realtors came out against it. Also member of Coalition of the NE Mayors. Meets monthly with neighboring Mayors. Mayors Beach Alliance work on beach re-nourishment works from Gold Beach to Key Biscayne. Neighbors engagement is high: community gardens, dog parks. Mayor participates on Living with Water Working group from 100RC - Next meeting June 28th.
  2. Mayor Corradino – general environmentally conscious community. Have salt water intrusion, pesticide/arsenic in septic tanks $100-120M plan, $200M of infrastructure projects, great tree canopy + wires that run through it – undergrounding about $36K per house instead residents have been steered to solar co-op. 135 signed up in the last round. There is still a lag of understanding and misconceptions on solar. Education needed.
  3. Mayor Bermudez – Thinks cities must deal with the long-term issue and invest. This issue is not understood by the majority of residents. City celebrates Earth Day. Doral has flood issues in some streets/county roads. Solar co-op has not been in Doral. CLEO to connect City of Doral with United Neighbor for Solar to host joint workshop on Climate Literacy and Roof-top solar.
  4. Mayor Gilbert – we owe it to our residents to make the case. Thinks this is not something we can greatly affect as cities, increasing tree canopy, absence of mass transit in Dade County, people care about what immediately affects them; their residents do not care what happens in Miami Beach. County Commission will find the way to raise taxes and make us pay for it. Unincorporated MDC’s taxes are way too low.
  5. Matt (Coral Gables) – City very advanced in their sustainability action plans. Biggest EV fleet in the county,. First ban of Plastic bags ordinance in the county. Residents now calling out Publix on social media to stop plastic bags. GIS specialist on staff and did a LIDAR map of the entire city. Tapping into universities for solar micro grid pilot. ENVISION - LEED for buildings – keep community engaged to have buy-in. Selected as 1 of 35 finalists Bloomberg Philanthropies to develop an real-time flood app.

Former Mayor of Pinecrest, Cindy Lerner shared importance SE FL Climate Compact and the need to have these municipalities have a sit a the table on 100RC working groups. County report for street road flooding – Mayors have not received it. It came out a year ago. Broward meets every 3 months with their cities to strategize. Plead to those in the League of Cities to collaborate more. MD-County only one in the nation part of the 100RC. Will share Urban Land Institute report & Miami Shore Vulnerability assessment with adaptation strategies to all.

Main take aways/Next Steps:

  • While we know, Office of Resilience is understaffed and under-resourced, Miami-Dade county not doing enough with incorporated cities to prepare them and strategize to be future ready under current/future climate reality.
  • Most municipalities (except Coral Gables) shared there is a disconnect on the overall threat Climate Change represents if it is not happening now or affecting them very directly. All Mayors acknowledge, education is greatly needed in many areas to support changes in policy or new mandates. Out-front cost is a big issue to many; thus technology upgrade/adaptation measure that involve big up-front cost represent an up-hill battle with constituents even if its for their medium/long term benefit.
  • Different cities have different demographics, income levels, geography, and thus different set of issues/concerns.
  • Most municipalities do not have flood/vulnerability risk assessments nor GHG inventories performed to create baseline for reduction planning. Surfside has partnered with Compact of Mayors to do GHG assessment. Coral Gables and Pinecrest have had Carbon Footprint conducted.
  • Most Mayors see Solar advancing in their municipalities but more outreach needed to educate consumer on affordability and current lower costs, tools, options and PACE program. It was recognized that scaling solar improves our resiliency in withstanding more intense storms/hurricanes.
  • Mayors agreed to draft letter to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Jimenez and Board of County Commissioners with key concerns to increase level of engagement between county and municipalities in resilience planning, resources and efforts by asking for a liaison person/organization before budget cuts. CLEO could lead on these efforts with full-time staff coordinator position. Also suggested to have county look at a county-wide housing plan.
  • Final letter will be sent to League of Cities through Mayor Bermudez (Past President) and Mayor Gilbert who is President of board for wider support.
  • Cities to have CLEO implement Climate 101 training with Mayor’s presence for opening remarks to their communities to improve level of knowledge and awareness. Where appropriate, CLEO to host jointly with Solar Coop informational sessions.
  • CLEO can also assist municipalities to implement staff trainings like we have done with Broward County and other cities like South Miami, Palmetto Bay, etc. In addition, CLEO would like to also suggest a -MAYORS & Chief of staff ONLY- training co-lead by Climate Central and members of our Expert Council Advisory in the near future.