Miami Beach has pledged to refund towing fees to homeowners whose cars vanished during a weekend crackdown on Venetian Islands parking, the city’s parking director says.
The ticketing and towing of cars on DiLido and Rivo Alto islands grew out of an anonymous complaint to Miami Beach’s parking hotline, city parking director Saul Frances said in an email to Greg Carney, president of the Venetian Islands Homeowner Association.
The towed and ticketed vehicles were parked in on the road alongside homes on little traveled island streets. But someone had complained about a car partially blocking a driveway, Frances said.
The widespread enforcement followed.
Frances said the normal procedure would be to issue warnings, not tow.
“Unfortunately, through a miscommunication between our dispatch and the officer, the officer proceeded to cite/tow seven vehicles from West Rivo Alto Drive this past Saturday,” Frances wrote. “Shortly thereafter, we recognized our mistake and two of the seven vehicles were released that same day and the citations were retrieved and will be dismissed. We are in the process of retrieving the information of the other five vehicles in order to process refunds and dismiss those citations.”
Frances apologized for the towing.
“Unfortunately, this broke down this past Saturday during one of the service calls leading to the unfortunate towing of those vehicles,” he said. “We apologize for any inconvenience to those affected by this unfortunate incident.”
Frances said that reports from homeowners — suggesting that as many as 20 cars on Rivo Alto and DiLido were ticketed and towed — were exaggerated. And he said the action was triggered by complaints from island residents.
“We understand the residents’ frustration on this matter; however, please know that our parking enforcement hotline is receiving service calls from residents on the Venetian Isles requesting parking enforcement to take action in the form of issuing citations and towing vehicles.
“In fact, our hotline received a complaint call later in the day this past Saturday regarding a similar complaint of vehicles obstructing traffic on Rivo Alto and San Marino. As per the established protocol, our process worked well and the officer issued 21 warnings. There were no citations issued and none of these vehicles were towed.”
Carney, the homeowner association president, said the city still needs to apply a distinction between thoroughfares such as Venetian Way and Alton Road and residential streets such as those on the Venetian islands.
“Once again our streets are not highways,” he wrote Frances in an email. “No one drives our streets trying to get anywhere other than one of our residences. WE ARE ISLANDS. The only way on or off is the CAUSEWAY, not one of our DRIVES or TERRACES. I really don’t think it reasonable to assume that when the ordinance talks about limitations on parking on HIGHWAYS it meant them to apply to our local streets.
“The only HIGHWAY on our islands is the CAUSEWAY. If someone parks their vehicle on one of the bridges or spoil islands, by all means ticket or tow them. Then they are parking in the travel lane of a HIGHWAY, but not when they are on one of our streets.”
Carney said the city needs to be mindful that most cars in the area belong to residents or workers at residents homes. He said the city should consider creating a parking decal to identify the vehicles of island residents.
“As far as the level of aggressiveness to be applied in ticketing and towing on our islands goes, our position is that the residents’ issues should be of overriding importance. These islands are our homes. We must park here. Our guests must park here. Workers we employ on our properties must park here. At the same time, we need to be able to navigate our streets and the City needs to be able to provide emergency services.”