Thursday, February 13, 2014

No Parking For You

Did you watch the commission meeting on television this week? Oh wait, they don't broadcast them anymore even though Atlantic Broadband is required to carry the meetings free of charge.

I was there for the live show and once again, it was North Bay Village Crazy™.  There was a lot on the agenda but I want to skip to the part of the meeting that started around 11:45 PM.  

The item under consideration was a poorly conceived, badly structured stab at solving the Harbor Island parking problem.   There is simply not enough street parking to accommodate all the residents.   

This is not a new problem.  It is one that has been building for years and the Vice Mayor, who was elected from Harbor Island, has not once in his three years on the dais nor in his previous position on Planning & Zoning held a public workshop, engaged his neighbors in discussions about how to fix the problem. ,much less presented a plan. Apparently it's gotten more inconvenient for him to park lately so he asked the Village Manager to create a parking proposal.  

The Village Manager does not see community stuff as his job so he looked around and found the only person in the Village less interested in the community and assigned the job to him. Police Chief Daniels, the designee, then decided that the best thing to do was first make a list of properties that someone told him had sufficient resident parking and propose that they be prohibited from parking on the street.  

Not surprisingly, since he never reached out to verify the stuff that someone told him, he got that wrong.  Getting it right would have involved talking to the building managers and residents, and he doesn't enjoy those interactions since they often lead to other questions such as "Where are the police?" and "Are you new in town?"  

So anyway, the Chief created a list of 25 properties that he deemed had sufficient parking and summarily removed them from the eligible list for residential parking.  

Luckily, some people from the Islander were there (it was on the no parking list) and they were able to point out the obvious. The Islander has only spot per unit and neither the Village Manager nor the Police Chief had done the basic work of involving the community.

Vice Mayor Eddie Lim was visibly upset at the questions from the residents of Harbor Island and along with fellow Harbor Islander Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez voted to restrict parking on Harbor Island to a small number of buildings, allowing only one guest pass. Lim went so far as to lament that the permit charges were not high enough. Lim would prefer $100 for the first car and $150 for the second.

Commissioners Chervony and Duvall looked at the proposal, saw that no one had done their most basic homework and voted No.  Chervony and Duvall asked that the Village engage the residents and come back with a workable program. 

Which left Mayor Kreps as the tie breaker. Mayor Kreps gets tired at these meetings. By about 10:30, she lost control of the floor and never really regained it. Kreps had clearly not read the proposal, which contained the onerous restriction of allowing only one guest pass per unit meaning that if for example you have two adult kids you'd like to invite for dinner, you better decide who you like better as that's the one that gets the parking pass. Instead, Kreps heard from somewhere that there would be a $5 charge for each guest. That might actually work if it was in the plan which it was not. Kreps objected loudly to that phantom voice and joined in the No vote.

So it failed to pass, as it should have. Parking will remain open on Harbor Island, which is a shame. Had the Village engaged the Harbor Island buildings and crossed the bridge say to Miami Beach, they would have been able to create a workable parking plan for the residents modeled on other plans that well, work. Not perfectly but not punitively.

Interesting side note, during her dialogue with herself, Mayor Kreps asked Commissioner Gonzalez if the 360 would consider allowing parking on their unused land. Gonzalez, President of the 360, ignored her as roundly as the 360 ignores their legal obligation to open the waterfront to the public.

Now here's what could happen. The Village could approach the residents and the associations on Harbor Island, could get an accurate count of the parking spaces available and figure out an interim solution that won't be perfect but could work. But you know, when you have a village manager and a police chief who have never engaged the community in anything, and when you can push the discussion to so late in the night that it's impossible to engage residents, why should you do actual work? Much easier to just shove some bs at the commission and ignore them.

Kevin Vericker
February 13, 2014

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