On Saturday, the tow trucks rolled to Rivo Alto and DiLido islands on the Venetian Causeway, at the orders of the city of Miami Beach.
They towed more than a dozen cars.
Some belonged to island homeowners. Some belonged to their friends. Some belonged to workers with jobs at one of the homes.
Here’s an account from Rivo Alto resident Tony Santos:
“A complaint was sent in by someone on Rivo Alto that there were cars parked on the pavement in front of homes. Based on that complaint, MB Parking Enforcement came out and ticketed and towed cars parked on the city streets on Rivo Alto.
“I stopped them from towing my wife’s car this morning because I heard a terribly loud noise of a truck in front of my home for a little while; otherwise there was no warning of any kind at any time. The MB Parking Enforcement officer confirmed that to me as well. While she was very professional (and I have to admit that given the fact I rousted out of bed, I was not taking too kindly to the situation), she stood by her orders. Upon promising to move the vehicle, I placed it in neighbor’s driveway.”
By the count of some residents, the city had at least seven cars towed from the front of homes on DiLido Island, in addition to cars ticketed and towed from Rivo Alto.
The action created a furor on the islands during the weekend, and demands that Miami Beach city hall back off.
The issue, according to Venetian Island Homeowner Association president Greg Carney, is the city classifies the tiny streets on the three city Venetian islands — Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino — to be highways. And ordinances say “that vehicles cannot be parked in the travel lanes of HIGHWAYS,” Carney said in a letter to homeowners.
“The idea is twofold as I understand the Parking Department’s or CIty Attorney Office’s interpretation,” Carney wrote. “First, you don’t want cars being parked to create a hazard. The idea here is if cars are parked in travel lanes on major through streets like Alton Road or the Venetian Causeway, fast moving traffic will be forced into the path of oncoming fast moving traffic, which creates an obvious safety issue.
“Second, vehicles should not be parked in such a way as to force pedestrians out into fast moving traffic for obvious safety reasons.
“In addition, there is another requirement that there be enough of a travel lane maintained on any public street whether HIGHWAY or not that emergency vehicles (e.g., police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, etc) be able to get by without hinderance for obvious reasons.”
Of course, the roads on the Venetian Islands do not function as thoroughfares like Alton Road or the Venetian Causeway.
One resident, who has lived on the island for 18 years, posted this note on a message board:
“I got a ticket 4 months ago for parking in front of my house but not in my driveway. I had no room because maids, maintenance, pool guy, etc. were there. This is a problem and should be addressed. We should be able to park near our homes…. there is no where to go. There needs to be a way to handle all of this!“
Carney said the city ought to apply some logic to its enforcement.
“The only rational solution, as I have discussed with the City on a number of occasions, is to have the City interpret that the ordinance does not apply to non-HIGHWAYS and to deem our streets not to be HIGHWAYS,” Carney said.
“I strongly urge them to get this resolved once and for all: it seems as if it should be easy – modify the official interpretation of the ordinance and tell Parking to leave the residents alone. I think it highly unlikely that the county or the State will come after the city for how it enforces parking on local city streets even if the county or state thinks our streets are HIGHWAYS. Cut the residents some slack.”
He called on island residents to contact the city manager and their commissioners “to express frustration over this issue. It sure has frustrated me.”