Miami-Dade County leaders have spent decades grappling over incorporation, fighting to maintain control of county land and resources against constituents who want a city government closer to home.
The saga resembles a soap opera: Longtime allies spewing insults at each other over new city proposals. Dueling lawsuits. Multimillion dollar payouts to the county from cities claiming extortion.
The latest episode will be written on Nov. 6, when voters decide whether to make it easier for unincorporated neighborhoods to break away from the county. A proposed charter amendment would give residents more time to gather fewer signatures to petition for a new city — and would force county commissioners to approve or deny petitions, instead of delaying them indefinitely, as they have done in the past.
Those changes may seem dry and bureaucratic, but they get to the heart of big questions about the future of the county. Should Miami-Dade follow Broward and turn all of its neighborhoods into cities, leaving the county to focus on regional issues? And if only portions of Miami-Dade incorporate, what happens to the county’s remaining communities?
County Hall leaders have generally resisted allowing relatively wealthy enclaves — and their tax dollars — to “cherry pick” their borders and leave the county, forcing the rest of unincorporated Miami-Dade to make do with fewer resources. Indeed, the difference in quality of life between those living in incorporated and unincorporated neighborhoods is often staggering.