The City of Miami wants to hear from residents about their concerns over South Florida’s vulnerability to climate change.
The Office of Resilience and Sustainability launched a series of community discussions and workshops in Coconut Grove Monday night, called Climate Ready Miami. The meetings will go through September and then the city will then develop initiatives and strategies to respond to concerns.
“We’re going to synthesize all the information we gather here today,” said Jane Gilbert, the city's Chief Resilience Officer, who led the discussion. “We’re going to get neighborhood-specific priorities but also bubble up what should be citywide-level priorities.”
The Climate Ready Miami draft plan will involve various city departments such as public works, city planning and zoning, emergency management and housing.
“This will become part of the city’s strategic plan for resilience and all departments within the city will have to perform their measures related to that,” Gilbert added.
Monday's gathering included a portion during which residents were split into groups where they discussed four questions: the general challenges of climate change in Miami, sea level rise, rising temperatures and hurricanes.
Residents expressed concern over a decrease in the tree canopy from development, high heat disproportionately affecting low-income residents and a lack of communication for storm preparedness. They also said they were worried about storm surges affecting the coast and increasing levels of groundwater affecting septic tanks.
The meetings will take place throughout August and conclude September 23. A tentative schedule is available on the Climate Ready Miami website. Gilbert said findings from the meetings will be compiled by October as part of the plan.
Clarice Cooper, a lifetime resident of West Coconut Grove, attended the workshop and has been part of the Community Emergency Response Team assisting in emergency preparedness for five years.
“We have immediate concerns, such as housing and food on the table and jobs availability,” Cooper said of her historically black neighborhood. “That’s something since climate control now is a big issue that we need to be more in tune with and I would like our awareness to be heightened.”
Cooper said more residents need to be trained by the city as Community Emergency Response Team members to help spread storm preparedness in low-income neighborhoods.
“We have made the effort in our CERT team of identifying all the homes on the different blocks and we have people assigned to certain blocks based on where we live and that helped out especially during the time of [Hurricane] Irma,” Cooper said.
Hernán Guerrero, a resident of Coconut Grove, is concerned about decreasing green space and tree canopies in his neighborhood.
“Development is not wrong when it's built to code,” Guerrero said. “But when you’re losing trees because developers would prefer to pay a penalty fee rather than to actually go through the proper means to get rid of a tree, then it becomes problematic.”
The next meeting is scheduled to be held at the Little Haiti Cultural Center on August 15 for residents of Little Haiti and the Upper East Side.