March 7, 2011
City Council Meeting Highlights by email each Friday,
subscribe to City News.
State of the City:
I want to remind everyone that our State of the City
Address will take place on Thursday. I’ve talked about the format
change for this year’s event and our community conversation. Our
team tells me we are getting some great questions from the web and
social media channels.
I am excited about the event and hope everyone will join us for
State of the City on Thursday at 10 am here in council chambers.
If you can’t join, you can watch the State of the City live at
High Speed Rail:
I want to take this opportunity to personally update you on what’s
happened with our High Speed Rail project.
Last week, the Mayors of Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland and Miami reached
out to Governor Scott to make it unmistakably clear that the Orlando
to Tampa High Speed Rail project could be built without one dime
from Florida taxpayers and absolutely no risk to the state.
Unfortunately, it appears Governor Scott has chosen to ignore these
facts and has reiterated his decision to reject federal funding for
the project as well as Florida’s inclusion in an eventual state and
nationwide high speed rail network.
This is an incredibly disappointing turn of events for the residents
of our state who desperately need jobs and now face a future of
increasingly gridlocked roads and the potential for five and six
dollar a gallon gasoline.
I think it’s important that I let each of you know about the
incredible work that was done by so many people to try to save this
I share your disappointment at this missed opportunity.
I hope that we are able to, at some point in the future, try again
to bring high speed rail to Florida.
Sunday night, 60 Minutes did a feature about the
growing number of children and families facing homelessness as a
result of the economy. They were right here in our backyards
featuring families in Seminole County.
Since then many people have asked what they could do to help. The
Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (CFCH), in partnership
with Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW), has announced the launch of
the Homeless Children and Families Emergency Fund (HCFE Fund), a
temporary fund to provide short-term housing assistance to families
with minor children who are homeless or about to become homeless,
but cannot access available community resources for 30 days or less.
Established with funding support of $125,000 from United Way,
Orlando Magic and the City of Orlando, the Fund is being
administered by the United Way Stewardship Program, which provides
emergency assistance to local residents at risk of hunger,
homelessness and other critical problems.
HFUW will cover all administrative expenses of the fund, thereby
ensuring that all dollars will go directly to help families with
children on the brink of homelessness transition to a safe place to
Items of Note
Church Street Right Of Way
On Monday, the council approved an agreement with the
newly formed Church Street District. Since the opening of the Amway
Center, Church Street is booming with activity and thousands of
Central Floridians. In the City’s continuing efforts to restore
Church Street to its former stature of the late 80s and early 90s –
and to take advantage of the positive economic impact the Amway Center
is having on the District – the City is partnering with the Church
The proposed agreement will allow Church Street to close to
vehicular traffic nightly and will also allow the placement of
vending carts in 20 pre-identified vending locations.
On Monday, the Council approved an agreement with FDOT to accept $2
million dollars in federal funding for Phase 1 of the City’s
Sidewalk Program, Orlando Walks.
This funding will allow the City to create much needed construction
jobs now by accelerating our regular annual sidewalk improvement
schedule and get done in 18 months what would have taken four years
with available City funding.
The additional sidewalks will improve public safety and prevent
pedestrian crashes; provide an alternate, environmentally-friendly
transportation option and help to encourage active healthy living.
Local Government Neighborhood Improvement
In addition to a strong and vibrant Downtown, Orlando is fortunate
to have a variety of neighborhood commercial districts driving our
region’s economy by providing jobs, goods and services for our
In June of last year, City Council convened a seven-member
exploratory committee, comprised of business and property owners
within the Downtown South area, to recommend whether or not the City
should create a neighborhood improvement district (NID) there.
In October, after hearing recommendations from the exploratory
committee, City Council directed staff to prepare two ordinances:
• an ordinance that allows for NIDs within the City, and
• an ordinance that adopts the Downtown South NID.
On Monday, the City Council heard the first reading of the first
ordinance -- an ordinance that would allow for NIDs within the City
Each NID in the City would have an advisory board to serve as an
organized voice for the district it represents, and through
potential district-wide tax and special assessments, could provide
an opportunity for a NID to support and fund their own improvements.
All of our neighborhoods benefit from having stable neighborhood