Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade builders may be forced to prep for electric vehicles in new parking lots

A proposed Miami-Dade law would require developers of new projects to rig parking lots and garages with the wiring needed to create charging stations for electric vehicles like this one.
A proposed Miami-Dade law would require developers of new projects to rig parking lots and garages with the wiring needed to create charging stations for electric vehicles like this one. AP Photo

New apartment complexes, shopping centers and office buildings throughout Miami-Dade County would need to have hook-ups for charging electric vehicles under a proposed ordinance that cleared a committee Wednesday.

The law wouldn’t mandate the stations, but would require developers to install electrical systems needed to connect future charging spots to the power system.

While the county ordinance wouldn’t apply inside city limits, the law would add Miami-Dade to a small but growing list of local governments adding electric-vehicle rules to their zoning regulations. Miami Beach already requires electric-vehicle charging for some projects. Atlanta, Denver and other major cities have rules for readying new developments for stations.

“People say they would love to drive electric, but they don’t know where to charge,” said Alejandro Burgana, owner of Brickell Energy, a company that sells charging equipment and who is helping push for the county law. “As soon as people feel they’re surrounded by places to charge, they’ll make the decision to to drive electric.”

A 2017 study by U.S. PIRG, an advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader, predicts Miami will need more than 500 charging stations by 2030 to accommodate a fleet of nearly 14,000 electric vehicles. The study estimated Miami only had about 50 stations across the city in 2017.

The proposed Miami-Dade law exempts single-family homes and townhouses, as well as churches. For developments covered by the new rules, 10 percent of the parking spaces in a project would need to be convertible to electric-vehicle charging spots. After 2022, the requirement would climb to 20 percent.

Developers would be under no obligation to create the stations, only to have the infrastructure in place as part of the construction process.

Sponsor Daniella Levine Cava said the county needs to ramp up for more demand as electric vehicles become cheaper and more popular. She said the law attempts to accelerate the process locally by combating fears among electric-car owners that their overnight home charges won’t last long enough. “It creates something called range anxiety,” she said.

The ordinance passed unanimously through the commission’s transportation committee Wednesday, setting up a final vote before the 13-seat commission.

Rules allowing parking providers to collect fees for the charging also helped make the ordinance “palatable,” said Truly Burton, executive vice president of the Builders Association of South Florida.

Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo voted for the proposal in committee, but raised concerns about the county mandating that developers spend money to accommodate what’s currently a niche portion of the automotive market.

“Any time the government is playing in the private sector,” he said, “I get cautious.”

Doug Hanks covers Miami-Dade government for the Herald. He’s worked at the paper for nearly 20 years, covering real estate, tourism and the economy before joining the Metro desk in 2014.


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