Miami-Dade County

Miami might make public parking more expensive across city

Miami City Hall is already discussing ways to save more and spend less after agreeing to a $53.5 million legal settlement with its police and fire unions.
Miami City Hall is already discussing ways to save more and spend less after agreeing to a $53.5 million legal settlement with its police and fire unions. jflechas@miamiherald.com

Miami’s government might raise parking rates across the city for the first time since 2009, in some cases by as much as $1.50 per hour. The reason city administrators give for the hike is simple: The city needs more money.

The amount of increase would depend on the neighborhood. Some high-demand areas such as downtown, Brickell, and Wynwood would see greater hikes than Little River, Calle Ocho and Coral Way, widening the gap between rates in different parts of the city.

For those who skip the meter because they won’t be parked very long, beware. The city also hopes to double the number of officers checking parking meters.

If the parking hike passes at a City Commission meeting Thursday and in a second vote next month, the hourly rate for metered spots in the heart of downtown and the Design District would increase from $1.75 to $3.25; spots in Little River and around Southwest Eighth Street would go from $1.75 to $2.50; Wynwood rates would jump from $1.25 to $3; and spots in Brickell would increase from $2 to $3.25.

Garage and monthly rates would be hiked, too. In Brickell, the price of a monthly permit would jump from $110 to $200. In Coconut Grove, Omni/Edgewater and around Jackson Memorial Hospital, the monthly rate would increase from $70 to $90.

Residents who register with the parking authority and use the PayByPhone mobile app to pay fees would continue to receive a 20 percent discount. The city expects most of the weight of the fee increase to fall on non-residents who drive into Miami for work.

The new fees will likely be more strictly enforced. Art Noriega, CEO of the Miami Parking Authority, said the agency plans to beef up enforcement by doubling the number of parking officers from 31 to 62, in part as a response to residents who complain of illegally parked cars creating bottlenecks on busy roads.

“We’ve been woefully understaffed on the enforcement side for years,” Noriega said.

The parking authority, a semi-autonomous agency that enforces and collects parking fees and builds garages and surface lots in the city, requested the increases. It estimates an additional $7 million in net revenue for the city if approved — doubling the agency’s current contribution to the city’s budget.

“We have not raised our fees in years. Our parking rates are actually quite low,” said City Manager Emilio Gonzalez. “We’re just playing catch up. We’re looking for more general fund dollars.”

City Commissioners will consider initial approval of the increases and the proposed $1 billion budget at a commission meeting Thursday.

The proposed parking fee ordinance and Gonzalez’s comments shed light on his administration’s outlook as the growth of property values slows, signaling a decline in tax revenue that fuels the municipal budget.

“We just want to make sure we don’t put ourselves in a position where we’re not ready should those numbers continue to decline,” he said.

City officials are also bracing for tighter times ahead of an upcoming vote on a statewide constitutional amendment that would cut property taxes. If 60 percent of voters approve Amendment 1 in the November election, the homestead exemption would increase to $75,000 on properties with an assessed value between $100,000 and $125,00.

Christopher Rose, Miami’s budget chief, said the city estimates it could lose about $8.5 million annually if Amendment 1 passes.

Miami isn’t the only city to raise parking fees in recent years. In Miami Beach, the street parking rate in South Beach more than doubled in 2015. In May this year, garage rates jumped from $1 to $2 for the first four hours. Just like Miami, Beach residents continue to get a discount if they register with the city and use a mobile parking app to pay. The Beach uses ParkMobile.

Even with the increases, parking revenue has dropped in the Beach by about a half-million dollars from July 2017 to July 2018, according to a recent memo. As fewer people use city parking facilities, Miami Beach’s parking staff blames construction, closed streets and greater use of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Noriega said these dynamics have not played out yet in Miami, but he expects they will.

“We’re going to get to a point where autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing becomes a really important piece of how people come and go,” he said.

In the meantime, the parking authority is eying a long-term plan to keep making the city money while trying to limit traffic.

Under Miami’s proposal, the city would also be able to use a pricing system that considers demand on spots to set rates. Under the “demand-based pricing” approach, the parking authority could increase or decrease rates every three months based on how often the spaces are used. Low-demand spaces would be cheaper, and high-demand spaces would be more expensive.

Noriega said even though this system is outlined in the new parking ordinance, the authority is still a year or two away from implementing demand-based pricing because it requires sensors and data analysis officials are still studying. Noriega said that once the system is in place, parking officials would use it to encourage travelers to get out of their cars and use public transit, ride-sharing and eventually, autonomous vehicles, particularly during peak traffic times.

“When you get to those hours of the day, if we tick pricing up, we’ll incentivize people to really explore alternative means of transportation,” he said.

The document below shows the proposed Miami price hikes broken down by parking district.

Miami Herald staff writers Kyra Gurney and Elizabeth Koh contributed to this report.

Labeled one of the hippest neighborhoods by TripAdvisor, Wynwood will have new office buildings, apartments, and even parking.

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