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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is Parking Waiver increase hurting business?

I reported in April 2009, that restaurants in Coconut Grove pay Parking Waiver Fees. This is a tax that the City charges businesses for parking, which does not exist. Each business is "taxed" according to the size and table count and the money goes to the Miami Parking Authority which promises to use the fees to build parking garages in Coconut Grove. Only after 21 years of collecting the fees, there really are no parking garages being built and the money was used for other things.

As of October 2012, the fees have been raised dramatically for some. Apparently an ordinance change was made to the parking waiver which will affect only properties built after 1960 in Coconut Grove and Midtown Miami and not any other part of City of Miami. Miami 21 removed this type of parking ordinance for the city. Blanket plans and solutions for parking were formulated for all of Miami but somehow Coconut Grove and Midtown were carved out for such purposes.

The new change will cause property owners to pay higher Parking Waiver fees, a change in the status since 1992. A new formula will be used based on total square footage of the property no matter what type  of use it has and on top of that more fees will be charged if there is a restaurant or bar at the property.

Some businesses have had a 250% raise or more. Now remember this is a fee for parking that does not exist, the fee exits, parking does not. It is taxation without representation. It's collected on the premise that parking will be provided in the future.

This new increase which will apply to all of Coconut Grove will have a devastating effect on properties that fall within the new guidelines and will without a doubt make it difficult for small businesses and renters to survive, basically it will raise costs and eventually push rents higher. The increase is to further fund the Parking Improvement Trust that was setup 21 years ago and has done very little to effectively improve parking over the years.

A concern of business owners that I spoke with is that they cannot afford the higher fee and in this poor economy, it is making it difficult to do business. As businesses close, who will want to rent the spaces knowing that these fees await them and in other areas of the city and county, they do not exist?

The ironic part is that years ago when I asked where the money was going, I was told it was going to the BID, so it is not being saved or used for parking facilities. It's been a piggy bank for festivals, advertising, sidewalk repairs and more. You have to remember that restaurants have been paying thousands of dollars a month to operate and in all these years, many have gone under just because they cannot afford this fee. While it's been great for the funding of events and infrastructure repairs, is this fair to business owners?

As one person stated, "The parking funds were setup when the Grove was very busy, now that it is slower and we need more breathing time to improve business. An increase in cost of doing business is really going to put a another choke hold on us. What are the plans for the parking funds, why not take the sidewalk funds and add it to the parking funds to build a parking right away, it can be done, people build and start operating more complex projects in a one or two year span of time than parking spaces."

Why is Miami 21 not being enforced in all of Miami?

With all the new condos coming in and the decline of business, it is believed that Coconut Grove may just end up being a bedroom community and a cash cow for developers who will buy up the land cheap and reap the rewards. Case in point is the former Flavor night club building on McFarlane Road. That was sold at a big loss. It's getting harder and harder to do business in Coconut Grove.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Gabriel Gonzalez said...

I have to attest to this, it is becoming a big problem. As a commercial real estate broker when potential clients (especially restaurant operators) call me many times I hear, "anywhere but the Grove". When I ask why, the response is typically along the lines of, "I don't want my business to go under". In the past 2-3 years this statement has increased in frequency. The Grove has developed a stigma, which is sad considering what this community has to offer.

June 18, 2013 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is this being tolerated?

All Grove and Midtown business owners should band together and stop paying this fee.

June 18, 2013 8:49 AM  
Anonymous That Guy said...

Code enforcement will shut them down if they don't pay the fee. Worse yet, they will show up at the businesses busiest time, clear the property, act as if the owners are criminals, and do their best to destroy the reputation of the business and owners in the process. This happens. Moreover, the parking fee is precisely what Tom says here, an illegal tax. My recommendation - the owners of all business in the grove and midtown should stop paying those fees, put the money into a legal fund, and sue the city of Miami. Use the money they are trying to steal from you to sue them into not doing it any more. It is the ONLY solution.

June 18, 2013 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Paolo Luigis had major problem and possibly a lawsuit with the City regarding that fee years ago.

June 18, 2013 12:04 PM  

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