For too long the City of Coral Gables has maintained a de facto policy of subsidizing on-street parking in the downtown area by undercharging for it. Downtown Coral Gables property values average 25 to 30 percent higher than Coconut Grove or South Miami, but Coral Gables charges 17 percent less for on-street parking than South Miami. The parking meter rate has not been increased since 2009 but the city’s fire fee was recently increased by 40 percent.
On-street metered parking spaces are extremely valuable. Spaces on Miracle Mile turn over an average of 20 times per day and throw off an average of $6,000 per year. The safety and convenience of these spaces are of tremendous value to those who use them. None of the spaces in parking garages are as valuable as on-street spaces for relatively short-term parking.
On Sept. 24, the City Commission approved a new parking replacement fee. This is a one-time fee charged to developers whose projects result in the loss of on-street parking spaces. The money raised is to recover the city's cost of replacing the lost spaces with spaces in parking garages.
The fee was set at $42,000 per space, and that figure clearly reflects the city's conflation of cost and value. A metered space valued at $42,000 and throwing off $6,000 per year reflects an annual return of 14.3%. Investors would take that kind of return in a heartbeat.
Parking fees are the second leading source of revenue for the city despite the fact that downtown on-street hourly rates are about 40 percent lower than they should be. The City Commission should allow the laws of supply and demand to establish the price of on-street parking that will reflect its true value. By failing to do so the city provides a multi-million dollar annual subsidy to downtown property owners. The city would not have to raise other fes so much or so often if those who use downtown on-street parking paid a fair price for it.
Dorothy Diaz, Coral Gables
Find lost pets on new website
Ever since the invention of the telephone pole, the only way to get the word out when you lost or found a pet was to nail a hand-printed flier to one and hope that the other party saw it. This solution has obvious limitations. Last month, Palmetto Bay Councilman Tim Schaffer conducted a Town Hall meeting to address the problem. In attendance was Palmetto Bay resident Mike Muni.
Within days, Muni developed a Website, www.MiamiDadeLostPets.com, which allows for immediate, self-posted, county wide, notices 24/7. The service is free and provides for a photograph and related information to be posted. It even has a place to list animals that you have for adoption. Email alerts also are an option. The service has received the unanimous support of those in the Palmetto Bay village government.
Just like the telephone pole, the success of the process depends on the loser/finder seeing the posted information. The site is now linked to the official Palmetto Bay website and fliers are posted at locations where pet owners congregate, except telephone poles. It is important that everyone become familiar with this free service and save the address for future need, even if you think it can never happen to you.
Since the success of the project depends on adequate funding, it would be nice to show your appreciation by donating to the effort. This is a non-commercial labor of love by Muni, based on his compassion for animals. It is not a profit making effort. Its continuation depends on being able to cover website costs.
James H. Woodard, Palmetto Bay