What if Miami annexed all the unincorporated communities around it? What would the city look like?
Over half of Miami-Dade County residents live in an unincorporated area of the county. That means they live in no particular municipality but instead, under the direct jurisdiction of the county. If you are one of the 1.2 million that live in unincorporated Miami-Dade, and live in neighborhoods like Country Walk, Kendall, Golden Glades or Westchester, you probably just say you live in “Miami.” “Miami” is an umbrella term for all of Miami-Dade and its standard for lots of places and things in South Florida to get placed under the Miami name, as it is the region’s powerhouse. But what if all these areas really were within the City of Miami?
In the 2010 US Census, the City of Miami had a population of 399,457 in 55.3 square miles of city area, of which only 35.7 are actually land. That leaves the city with a population density of 11,205 residents per square mile. The median household income in the city was $35,886, significantly lower than the national average.
If we looked at the immediate 13 unincorporated areas around the City of Miami and considered annexation for them, what changes? Let’s annex…
- Coral Terrace
- Glenvar Heights
- Olympia Heights
- Palmer Lake
- University Park
- West Little River
- Westwood Lakes
Suddenly, the City of Miami adds 321,574 residents, 47.4 square miles of land and raises its median household income to $39,352. The new City of Miami now has 721,031 residents on 83.1 square miles of land. Miami goes from being the 44th-largest city in the United States to 17th, larger than Detroit, Boston and Washington, DC.
Aside from new bragging rights of being a dashing big city, what benefits does annexation really bring? Annexation brings higher property taxes on property owners but provides better services to these residents. More parks, stronger police presence, increased investment on city streets, sidewalks and bike lanes and a larger voice in representation at the local level. For the city, it brings a larger tax base, which means more money for the city and its projects (and operations). This money can go to planning and funding bigger scale projects like museums, parks, civic spaces and maybe even transit. Okay, let’s not go overboard. Wishful thinking. But it’s nice to dream big!
What do you think? Should the City of Miami grow by annexing nearby communities or stay the same?