Miami’s District 5 has long been the city’s most perplexing and troubled band of neighborhoods.
From Overtown through Little Haiti and up into Liberty City, no neighborhood offers a better view of the glitzy new condos that tower over downtown Miami. Look east from almost any part of Overtown, and the skyline is only a stone’s throw away — though seemingly out of reach.
Many areas of the city’s poorest district are wracked with crime and sky-high unemployment. It’s a problem that has grown over the past 50 years, since Interstate 95 construction tore through the community’s core and split what was once a vast cultural destination. Riots only added to the district’s woes, scaring away possible development and forcing residents to flee.
Now, because of redistricting, candidates vying to represent District 5 on Nov. 5 must learn to straddle between the inner city and at least a portion of a quickly developing waterfront neighborhood. The district, which has historically run from Overtown to Liberty City, suddenly absorbed the neighborhoods of Buena Vista, Oakland and Palm Grove, Shorecrest and Belle Meade.
In addition to dealing with crime and public-works woes, the candidates are suddenly facing constituent concerns over controversial height restrictions and complaints from shopkeepers about parking meters driving away customers. The change in boundaries last summer increased the district’s population by about 5 percent to 80,193. Though registered black voters still constitute the vast majority of voters at 65 percent, the number of Hispanic and white non-Hispanic registered voters both made significant gains, jumping to 26.5 and 6.5 percent, respectively.