Miami Beach

Miami Beach wants to limit traffic during big events, so it may double parking rates

Miami Beach may double parking rates during spring break and other big events.
Miami Beach may double parking rates during spring break and other big events.

Miami Beach commissioners will vote Wednesday on an ordinance that would double the price — up to $50 a day in some instances — to park at all city-owned parking meters, lots and garages during events with a high number of visitors, such as spring break, Art Basel, or Memorial Day weekend.

The decision would require a second vote that probably would be held on Sept. 25.

Miami Beach’s city manager would have the power to authorize these measures before or during a “high impact period,” according to meeting documents. Hourly city parking meter rates could increase by 100% during these periods. In city parking lots and garages, it could cost $5 per hour to park, $30 for six hours and $50 for a full day.

A “high impact period” is any event, activity or period of time, such as a holiday weekend, within a “high impact zone” — which includes the beaches and the South Beach entertainment district — with between 10,000 to 25,000 people in attendance, depending on the type of event.

The city manager could implement the measures for up to 72 hours without getting approval from the commission.

The higher parking rates would be one more step by the city to control crowds during big events. After this year’s spring break, the City Commission passed several other measures to control the party atmosphere in South Beach’s entertainment district. “I think we need to make it a lot less fun to be here, unfortunately,” Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán said as the commission voted on those measures in March.

The rules include keeping promoters from holding events at South Beach bars and clubs during peak tourism periods, which city officials hope will prevent unauthorized events from bringing in large crowds.

Commissioner Joy Malakoff, who is sponsoring the item at Wednesday’s meeting, said the ordinance would help alleviate traffic issues that arise when thousands descend on Miami Beach for special events.

Malakoff said this would encourage people to carpool, use a rideshare service or take a free trolley or bus. This would help reduce traffic as thousands of people descend on the city and look for parking.

A discount for Miami Beach residents of $1 per hour would still apply during these times, she said.

“For our visitors during these times of high impact, we believe that doubling the rates makes sense,” she said.

Employees with monthly parking permits and access cards will be honored at the current rate, Malakoff said.

Because these are some of the busiest weekends of the year, more workers are traveling into the city, said Wendi Walsh, the secretary and treasurer for Unite Here Local 355, a group that represents hospitality workers.

While the city is excluding employees with monthly parking permits and access cards and city residents from the price hike, Walsh said the majority of hospitality workers on Miami Beach don’t live there. There are also a limited number of employee passes available to these hospitality workers.

“We would certainly be concerned about employees in doubling those rates and work with the city to ensure those employees are not impacted,” Walsh said. Although Walsh said the city has been generous in resolving some of the parking issues for employees, she said employers need to provide parking for their workers.