Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz wrote his new book, Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time, because he wanted to make a statement that “politics in America has to change.” That was among one of the handful of topics Diaz discussed February 5 on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus, where he participated in a sit-down conversation with UM School of Architecture Dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.
The Cuban-born Diaz, who earned a law degree from UM in 1980 and served as mayor of Miami from 2001 to 2009, talked about his administration’s successes, from leading and implementing sustainable initiatives to spearheading Miami 21, an ambitious overhaul of the city’s zoning code.
Speaking inside the Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center’s Glasgow Hall, Diaz said that he was proud of the efforts implemented during his term in office to help ease economic hardships among some of Miami’s poorest, noting matched-savings account and affordable housing programs.
One overriding goal of his administration, he said, was to change the city’s image. “We were competing with Cleveland in terms of being the brunt of jokes,” Diaz said. Now, Miami is viewed as “a cool place to live.”
“We all came together and stopped shouting at each other and worked together to build a city,” he said.