A law that would double parking rates in Miami Beach during events with a high number of visitors on the island was put on the back burner after commissioners expressed concerns about the impact it could have on employees and businesses in the city.
The initial vote for the ordinance — which would double the price of parking on city-owned meters, lots and garages to as much as $50 a day in some instances — was delayed until October. The decision would require a second vote to become law.
The law would give Miami Beach’s city manager the authority to temporarily raise parking rates before or during a “high impact period,” such as spring break, Art Basel or Memorial Day weekend. 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, like a long 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.
These high parking rates are another step by the city to control crowds and traffic 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.
Some 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 crowds.
The ordinance would help alleviate heavy traffic that results when thousands of visitors descend on Miami Beach for special events. This would encourage people to carpool, use a rideshare service or take a free trolley or bus, said Commissioner Joy Malakoff, who sponsored the law at Wednesday’s meeting.
Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán said she was concerned about hospitality workers on the island being subjected to those rates and wanted to figure out a program that would allow them to avoid paying the higher rates.
“We don’t have transit for them, they’ve got to get here,” Alemán said. “It’s not fair to charge them excessive parking.”
Employees with monthly parking permits and access cards would be honored at the current rate, Malakoff said. Beach residents would keep their discount of $1 an hour.
The majority of workers on Miami Beach don’t live on the island, said Wendi Walsh, the secretary and treasurer for Unite Here Local 355, a group that represents hospitality workers. Weekends where the rate increase could apply are some of the busiest of the year, so more employees would be traveling into the city. There are also a limited number of employee passes available to these hospitality workers.
Walsh said employers need to ultimately provide parking for their employees. It could take workers hours to commute to their jobs on public transportation as high rents and low wages have pushed hospitality employees farther from their workplaces.
Malakoff said the measure would only be applied to concentrated areas, generally in South Beach, declared as high impact for only a few weekends a year. She said it wouldn’t affect many employees.
“One weekend of the year? Two weekends? That’s all that it’s going to be,” she said.
The city would also lose a lot of business because of the costly parking, Commissioner Michael Góngora argued. He said parking is cheaper in the city of Miami.
“I’m not a fan of jacking up our parking,” he said.