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Equality Florida Action PAC backs Dan Gelber, Mark Samuelian reelection bids in Miami Beach

Both candidates are netting support more than nine months before the November election.

A prominent LGBT rights organization is endorsing a pair of Miami Beach officials seeking reelection this fall.

Equality Florida Action PAC is backing Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and Miami Beach City Commissioner Mark Samuelian in their respective reelection bids.

Gelber is seeking a third and final term leading the city after winning reelection unopposed in 2019. Samuelian first joined the Commission after winning election in 2017.

“I am truly proud to earn the early endorsement of Equality Florida Action PAC,” Samuelian added.

“Together, we have worked to make Miami Beach a more equal and welcoming city, and I remain committed to ensuring we are always at the forefront of tearing down any form of discrimination. I look forward to the continued work with such great organizations like Equality Florida Action PAC, who every day fight for a better and more fair community.”

Both posts are nonpartisan. So far, no candidates have filed to oppose Gelber or Samuelian.

“As municipal leaders both Mayor Gelber and Commissioner Samuelian have defended attacks on conversion therapy bans in federal courts, challenged Tallahassee to end erroneous and unpopular attacks on abortion rights, and have pushed for greater local control when it comes to gun safety reforms. They have kept their promises to advance policies we all believe in and that’s why Equality Florida Action PAC has pledged our support.”

March 30, 2021 | Florida Politics | Equality Florida Action PAC backs Dan Gelber, Mark Samuelian reelection bids in Miami Beach

Miami Beach envisioned after sea level rise

With two to three feet of sea level rise predicted in the next 50 years, what will Miami Beach look like in 2070? This is the question graduate architecture students at Florida International University attempted to answer in a joint effort with the city to re-imagine how historic buildings may be preserved in the future.

Commissioners backed the idea of a public workshop, asking the city administration to create messaging around the event. Mr. Stuart said he offered the course each fall, and could focus next semester’s on a different area,

“We should hold this workshop,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “where we bring the various visions that we have. We’re not looking for one crystal vision, we’re looking for a process. We’re looking for a positive message (and to) highlight a partnership that we value.”

March 16, 2021 | Miami Today | Miami Beach envisioned after sea level rise

Commission meets in Miami Beach as crime continues picking up ahead of spring break

“The vast majority of these incidents are visitor on visitor,” said Miami Beach City Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “The problem that we have is that we’re not policing the same people.”

February 8, 2021 | Local10.com | Commission meets in Miami Beach as crime continues picking up ahead of spring break

City Commission Adopts Tougher Penalties for Iconic Sidewalk Cafés

Sidewalk café operators who receive four or more sidewalk café violations over the preceding 12-month period will now be banned from “applying for and obtaining” a sidewalk café permit for two consecutive permit years following the permit year in which the most recent violation occurred.

“I think this is an important ordinance. We’re strengthening. We’re getting tougher on bad operators,” declared Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who co-sponsored the enhanced penalties. “As we’ve said many times, operating and making money on public property is a privilege, not a right. I think this is good government.”

The ordinance, which takes effect 10 days from the date of adoption, also targets unsightly food displays, visual and physical clutter, overcrowding of the rights of way, along with misleading advertising and bait-and-switch tactics.

January 28, 2021 | MiamiBeachFL.gov | City Commission Adopts Tougher Penalties for Iconic Sidewalk Cafés

Miami Beach extends and expands Slow Streets initiative

“I am thrilled with this pilot initiative,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who sponsored the program.”It’s the result of a community-driven process. We have collaborated closely with the neighborhood. We have done multiple events to engage the community to get feedback. It has been a successful pilot so far, and we look forward to continuing to learn and enhance as we proceed.”

“The city wants to deliver on its Transportation Master Plan,” said Mr. Samuelian, “which prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists. We need to make sure these alternative modes are safe and attractive, and this project is front and center in doing that.” 

The transportation plan, Mr. Samuelian added, focuses on these modes for a few key reasons. Cycling and walking, he said, is more eco-friendly than driving, and many members of younger generations prefer these methods and would like the option of not owning a car. Additionally, he said, from an infrastructure standpoint the city has a limited capacity for cars occupying the streets. 

January 12, 2021 | Miami Today | Miami Beach extends and expands Slow Streets initiative

Miami Beach Continues to Wrestle with its South Beach Entertainment District

In a special meeting to discuss proposals to fix what Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber calls the “anything goes” atmosphere in the City’s South Beach Entertainment District, Commissioner Mark Samuelian summed up the discussion with the word “frustrating.” After praising the City’s Police Department for its work and efforts to increase enforcement, all of the Commissioners expressed a desire to step it up.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian said he agrees with the enforcement push, but he said the area needs more. Referencing the entire package of what Gelber calls “carrots and sticks” – measures that include development incentives, repealing the noise exemption, tying alcohol and entertainment licenses to Conditional Use Permits, and increased penalties for bad operators, Samuelian said, “As I think about the problem, my approach to the solution… is all of the above. I think we need to use all of the tools. I don’t think it’s just an enforcement issue. I don’t it’s just a noise issue. I think we need every tool, and the risk is not doing enough.”

He emphasized the “challenges” with police visibility, noting resident observations as well as his own. “We need to raise the game in terms of visibility” but he underscored a comment the Police Chief made about the impact on other neighborhoods when resources are diverted to the MXE and the movement of crime out of the Entertainment District into nearby areas as a result of increased enforcement in the MXE. Clements said MBPD has seen increased problems on Collins Avenue recently.

Samuelian said he was happy to hear the Administration was giving consideration to not renewing sidewalk café permits at the end of the year for bad operators. Reiterating that the permits are “a privilege, not a right,” he said, “It seems like we just have a hard time reining in this bad behavior despite the legislation that we’ve put forward” in the past few years. “I really hope we can do a better job reining in these bad operators and not giving them the opportunity to make money on the public right of way.”

December 5, 2020 | RE:Miami Beach | Miami Beach Continues to Wrestle with its South Beach Entertainment District

Miami Beach may create incentives for affordable housing developers

Miami Beach’s success in attracting luxury developments means there’s little to no room for affordable housing developers to build projects. But the city commission’s land use committee is hoping to solve that problem.

Committee members Mark Samuelian, Michael Gongora and Ricky Arriola, who are also commissioners, on Tuesday directed Miami Beach planning director Thomas Mooney to draft ordinances that would entice affordable housing developers to build in the city.

Gongora proposed the city pass legislation that would fast track affordable housing projects through the building permit process and waive land use and other fees associated with new developments, which drew praise from his colleague, Samuelian.

“We have talked a lot about affordable housing and how to make sure it happens,” Samuelian said. “This is a movement in the right direction.”

November 25, 2020 | TheRealDeal | Miami Beach may create incentives for affordable housing developers

Miami Beach’s Flamingo Park fastest to Slow Streets

Last week this Miami Beach neighborhood became the first in Miami-Dade to adopt “Slow Streets,” a program geared to make residential streets safer by discouraging non-local traffic and educating the community about slow driving speeds. 

The pilot, city Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, has been approved by the county and will run for 30 days before being evaluated. If feedback is positive, he continued, other neighborhoods and cities could pick up the initiative. 

During the pandemic, Mr. Samuelian said, transportation needs evolved and many residents found themselves engaging in more outdoor activities such as running, cycling and walking. This program, he said, is an effort to meet this changing demand and foster outdoor activity in a safer space.

Essentially, he said, residential streets in this neighborhood are now targeted with signs at their entrance discouraging “through traffic,” mandating slow speeds and encouraging biking and walking. The aim, he said, is to get non-residents looking to cut through neighborhoods to get to a destination to avoid these streets.

The program, Mr. Samuelian said, is just one step in a larger plan to make Miami Beach more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. Other initiatives, he said, include adding protected bike lanes on Washington Avenue and the ongoing effort to consider pedestrianizing Ocean Drive. 

“My vision for Ocean Drive,” he said, “is one that puts people and pedestrians first. I view Slow Streets as another important step in this journey.”

October 27, 2020 | Miami Today | Miami Beach’s Flamingo Park fastest to Slow Streets

Preliminary consensus on some concepts to fix Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive

This month’s workshop was the first time the ideas were presented. No public comment was taken at the meeting but Gelber, City Staff, and Commissioner Mark Samuelian who chairs the Land Use and Sustainability Committee which hosted the workshop all emphasized each proposal would be vetted in various committees, some before the Planning Board, as well as at two Commission meetings, all of which would include public hearings.

There was general support for the initiatives. Arriola, Meiner, and Commissioner Mark Samuelian said they supported the full pedestrianization of Ocean Drive, something Gelber supports as well. Commissioners Michael Góngora and David Richardson said they were open to the idea.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian who has sponsored a number of the previous ordinances to clean up Ocean Drive said, “We need to get control. I believe that that is going to be the governing principle. We do not have the degree of control that we need. I think we have a major problem on our hands.”

While he said he can “appreciate the history” of Miami Beach’s heydays that Góngora and Richarson highlighted, he noted, “We put a lot of resources, time and attention to Ocean Drive.”

MBPD’s recommendations for additional law enforcement are “an important part of the equation,” he said, “but I don’t think we can completely police our way out of the problem… I believe we’ve got an environment where people believe anything goes and I think the alcohol hours and the focus on nightlife, parties all night, has contributed to that problem and the risk is not getting control of that problem.”

“My position is that we do need to rollback alcohol hours,” he continued. “I think that’s part of the equation. I’m not sure if midnight’s the magic hour. I don’t know that’s necessarily the magic point, but I do believe rolling back alcohol hours sends a message to the type of environment we’re trying to create.”

“I share some of the skepticism around an alcohol control board,” Samuelian said. “I understand what we’re trying to do. Right now, I would say I share that skepticism that that may not be the mechanism that we need.”

While supportive of a rollback in alcohol hours, he said the City is “a bit of a balloon. If you push in one area, it shows up in another area, so I want us to be very careful about changes in alcohol hours in one district and what impact it has on the other.”

As an example, he said, “If we reduce hours in the Entertainment District… does that whole environment move to someplace like Alton Road… I think we need to look for some sort of consistency and, I believe, at this moment, getting control of the situation is a priority before we nuance how we get to later hours.”

September 26, 2020 | RE: Miami Beach | Preliminary consensus on some concepts to fix Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive

Free Flu Shots To Be Offered To Students At Miami Beach Public Schools

“The City of Miami Beach has committed $15,000 to make sure our kids who need a flu shot have free access to it,” added Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “We want our community to be prepared during this challenging flu season.”

September 14, 2020 | Patch | Free Flu Shots To Be Offered To Students At Miami Beach Public Schools