Tag Archives: towing

Belle Isle loading zone spaces cut back, time limits extended

Last week, Miami Beach began enforcing 30-minute time limits on 18 parking spaces around the Belle Isle that were designated as loading zones during the day for workers.

The Belle Isle Residents Association had asked for the loading zone spaces to try to eliminate the gridlock around Island Avenue caused by workers unable to properly park vehicles during weekdays

After a week of enforcing the new rules, a couple of things became clear. Many spaces weren’t being used, in part because the 30-minute time period appeared to not be long enough, said Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer.

Even though the enforcement began after a significant warning period, some people were surprised when they were ticketed and towed.

At the end of last week, Diffenderfer said, BIRA asked the parking department to trim the number of designated spaces and increase the maximum parking time allowed.

Earlier this week, Miami Beach cut the number of loading zone spaces from 18 to 9, and doubled the time allowed, from 30 minutes to an hour.

“The city is being very cooperative with us,” he said. “We are responding to people. We are listening.”

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Miami Beach to refund towing fees, promises to work with Venetian Isle homeowners

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.”

Venetian island residents howl at Miami Beach when cars get towed from their neighborhood

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.”