What's Next On The $400 Million Miami Forever Bond

Nov 9, 2017

The next steps for the $400 million bond issue approved by city of Miami voters on Tuesday include developing criteria for selecting livability projects, officials championing the bond say.

"The city will not be purchasing any bonds until projects are actually not only decided but underway," said Jane Gilbert, Miami's chief resilience officer, adding that "underway" means shovels in the ground.

In a call with WLRN on Thursday, Gilbert responded to the concerns of some Miami residents and activists who say there's not enough clarity on how money for the Miami Forever bond will be spent.

Read more: 'Miami Forever' What? Breaking Down The City's $400 Million Bond Proposal

The bond allocates fixed amounts of money to several project areas: $192 million for sea level rise and flood prevention; $100 million for affordable housing; $78 million for parks and cultural facilities; $23 million for road improvements, and $7 million for public safety.

But some Miami residents and community organizations say they want to know more about which projects within those areas would get funded.

"We’re excited at the idea that there is funding going to affordable housing, funding going to mitigation around environmental concerns," said Dwight Bullard, political director for the New Florida Majority, which works on climate and equity issues. "But there’s no specificity within the bond in dealing with areas like Liberty City and Overtown and Allapattah."

The New Florida Majority did not take a public position on the bond; other groups, including the Miami Climate Alliance, endorsed the bond but with caveats.

Gilbert said before the city selects projects, planners are waiting for an update to its stormwater master plan, which shows the areas most vulnerable to flooding and what infrastructure needs to be upgraded. And, Gilbert said, the city is still getting input from communities and private partners on potential affordable housing plans.

"We want to stretch each dollar as far as we can for our taxpayers," she said.

Gilbert said the next step is to start work with newly elected Mayor Francis Suarez and his team on creating the project selection process. That process will include a citizens oversight committee and look at projects’ social, environmental and economic benefits.