Housing Bust Poster-Child Miami Invites More Sprawl

Since 2007, there have been more than 265,000 foreclosures in South Florida’s Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. Almost 50 percent of the region’s homes are worth less than the amount that is owed on the mortgage. In January, the Miami Herald reported that foreclosures had overwhelmed the local court system and that nearly 200 foreclosures a day would have to be processed in order to meet local goals.

Miami-Dade County had a backlog of 100,000 foreclosure cases this January, according to the Miami Herald. Photo: Miami Herald

So how is the region responding? By expanding the total land available for housing development, naturally.

Tony Garcia at Network blog Transit Miami reports that Miami-Dade County officials recently voted to expand the region’s urban growth boundary by 10 acres to make room for an office and business development. In the scheme of things, it’s not much, but Garcia points out how it signifies a refusal to acknowledge broader problems:

Apparently, some county commissioners didn’t get the memo that their love for suburban sprawl over the past decade led to the real estate market tanking, and to the bloated county government that they now seek to reign-in.

They must have overlooked the 2010 EPA report, “Growing for a Sustainable Future” that described an inventory of 16,140 acres of undeveloped land within the boundary. That amounts to 6% of the land within the urbanized area of Miami-Dade County – currently vacant. With so much land within the boundary unused why are commissioners adding more land to existing capacity? Is it that they want to further depress land values and our economic recovery?

When it comes to the [Urban Development Boundary], amnesia sets in about the 16,140 acres of empty land within the UDB waiting for development. Let’s put this in perspective– 16,140 acres is approximately 25 square miles. The island of Manhattan – from Battery City Park to 218 street – is only 22.96 square miles. I would say that we have more than enough development capacity to last the next 100 years and beyond without having to touch the UDB – and that’s just with our undeveloped land. Take into account underdeveloped land and we should never expand the UDB again.

Garcia reports that last week Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez wrote a column for the Huffington Post saying that “absolutely nothing changed in the way the county does business.” Sounds about right.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Stephen Smith at Forbes writes that DC isn’t adding housing units fast enough to meet demand. Human Transit explains why cost/benefit analyses are a flawed tool for evaluating transit projects. And the Active Transportation Alliance announces that the city of Chicago has a new snow plow that will be entirely devoted to bike lanes.