Gift of time: Miami, Coral Gables, Miami Beach extend parking meter time for harried holiday shoppers

12/19/2013 11:30 AM

12/20/2013 3:20 AM

It’s a few minutes before the parking meter runs out, and here you are, stuck in a long line getting a last-minute gift.

A few South Florida cities have a present for you: an extra hour of time to avoid a ticket.

In Miami, Miami Beach and Coral Gables, drivers get a courtesy note on the car’s windshield with the gift of time.

“In our limited capacity, this is a way to give back to the community,” said Rolando Tapanes, director of planning and development for the Miami Parking Authority. “It’s a way to spread a little good will during the holiday season.”

Miami has 10,000 public parking spaces and rates can cost as much as $1.75 an hour. But Tapanes said the parking courtesy program, which runs until Dec. 29, is more about the convenience than the money.

“We hope it helps businesses,” said Tapanes, who said the program began about eight years ago. The city averages about 1,250 tickets a holiday season.

“If they are caught up with something, they don’t have to worry about getting a ticket,” he said.

Miami Beach’s one-hour grace period is a yearly gesture to help bring a little holiday cheer. The city’s program lasts through Christmas.

In Coral Gables, the city hopes to encourage people to eat and shop downtown by offering a similar one-hour courtesy extension for the nearly 600 spots in the district —from Andalusia Avenue to Giralda Avenue and from Douglas Road to Le Jeune Road.

The white ticket, with green letters and a pink design, is placed on the car instead of a ticket, which usually runs about $20. The Coral Gables program runs through Dec. 26.

“The city of Coral Gables wishes you a happy holiday season,” the paper reads. “In the spirit of the holidays you’ve been given a one-hour extension from the expiration time on your meter.”

City spokeswoman Maria Rosa Higgins-Fallon said everyone can use a little cheer.

“It’s all in the holiday spirit,” she said.

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