Regional mass-transit systems are often plagued by the permitting challenges associated with construction in multiple cities, each with its own priorities, regulations, and permitting processes. For example, the cost of the first leg of the Los Angeles light rail system skyrocketed due to the design changes demanded by each of the several municipalities the system was required to traverse. Because the recently proposed expansion of Miami-Dade County’s transit system (the SMART Plan) will similarly traverse multiple jurisdictions, the project would benefit greatly from consolidated permitting and decision making at the regional level.
When constructing the original Metrorail mass-transit system, Miami-Dade County addressed the problem of multiple permitting jurisdictions by adopted the “Rapid Transit Zone” (RTZ), which consolidated zoning and permitting jurisdiction for the entire system within the County. Bilzin Sumberg’s Stanley Price drafted the original RTZ Ordinance, and recently, Bilzin Sumberg developed and proposed a value recapture concept to assist with funding community assets such as transit projects. Now this week, the Chairman’s Policy Council, a subcommittee of the Board of County Commissioners, will consider a new ordinance that would ensure that regulatory jurisdiction over the SMART Plan corridors remains with Miami-Dade County, even for areas that are in the future incorporated into new or existing cities. This new ordinance, which follows the recent implementation of a new value recapture transit financing mechanism for the SMART Plan, is another important step towards the expansion of the Miami-Dade County mass-transit system.