Stop the Paid Parking Plan
By Alexander Lewy
July 22, 2021
Alexander Lewy was elected to the Hallandale Beach City Commission in 2010 and served until 2014. He has worked for national non-profit organizations since leaving office and serves on the Board of Trustees for Temple Beth El of Hollywood.
As a former Hallandale Beach City Commissioner now enjoying family life with my wife and two small kids, I rarely have time to speak up on issues. I respect the City Commission and value our city staff, but I've been gravely concerned about Hallandale Beach's plans to start a citywide paid parking plan since the moment I heard about it. The more I researched, the more I see that this plan does nothing to help residents or increase quality of life; and according to public records, this paid parking plan is strictly focused on revenue.
Public emails between the City Manager and the City Commission state "...the creation of a parking management program are key aspects of our long term plan for increasing revenues..." (Dec. 2020) and that they "…are very focused on our revenue creation in the City from a parking perspective... We are also working on rolling out the parking program to the rest of the City as well, which will definitely mean an increase in revenue from just this one source. " (Feb. 2021)
I have had the privilege to speak to four members of the City Commission (including the Mayor) and the City Manager about the proposed paid parking changes and greatly appreciate their willingness to listen. It is my hope that if you read this and agree, our combined voices will encourage the Commission to reevaluate these drastic measures that will reduce our quality of life and impact everyone in the city.
Mayor Cooper (whom I voted for and consider a friend) wrote a recent article that mentions a “new on street parking program.” She went further to write that “parking will now be a $30 monthly rate.” Frankly, no new laws exist until the Commission votes to change our City Ordinances. I am told those votes are currently planned for August. In the past, the Commission asked for vast public input prior to making such sweeping changes and that unfortunately did not occur here. What is worse, is that the City’s parking consultant, Diane Burgess, is the former Director of Sales for PayByPhone and, according to her own public LinkedIn profile, was “responsible for bringing PayByPhone to Municipal Government locations as well as to private property owners who charge for parking.”
You can review the city’s initial parking proposal here: https://tinyurl.com/dd7f6fsh It compares Hallandale Beach to Lauderdale by the Sea and Surfside which are both small towns on the barrier island which means all street parking is beach parking. It also compares us to Pompano Beach, Hollywood, and Dania Beach. None of those three cities charge for parking in front of their city parks or in residential areas west of the intercoastal.
Hallandale Beach would be the only city to make people pay to park in front of their condos like on Three Islands Blvd., Parkview Drive, Golden Isles Drive, NE 14th Ave., and NE 3rd Street. Passholders aren’t even guaranteed a parking spot. None of these areas are tourist destinations and many are home to working class families. Look at these city websites for a TRUE comparison:
I am also curious why the only park NOT included in the City’s presentation was the Golden Isles Park and Tennis Center which also has on-street parking like B.F. James, O.B. Johnson, and Bluesten Parks and others around the city which are all part of the on-street paid parking plan. We all understand and expect to pay for beach parking, but this plan forces us to pay for street parking at the city’s largest parks. The same parks where the Police Athletic League and others regularly hold sporting & cultural events. Paid parking is against recommendations from consultants who developed our Parks plan, after all, these public open spaces were paid for by our taxes and a bond in which taxpayers voted to approve. It’s reprehensible to now charge to access these parks when the motive is purely profit.
Furthermore, while answering questions from the Commission this May, city staff mentioned that the new money collected would go towards the general fund and is not dedicated to any infrastructure improvements. While the City points to the "International Parking Institute" for research indicating each space costs at least $400 annually to maintain, we know our City has not been spending that.
It was also said that condos “are not paying a thing to utilize City property.” That is an insult to every condo taxpayer who disproportionately pays more for the frontage of their public streets, sidewalks, and parking spaces.
There are areas with parking deficiencies in Hallandale Beach, but those were created by the City's willingness to allow parking variances for developers letting them build more units with less parking claiming that "public transit" will soon be the norm. This is a myth many have peddled, and yet south Florida does not have the infrastructure to make meaningful public transit a reality. The City also allows developers to count on-street parking towards their parking allotment! This happened as recently as the building of Arts Square on NE 3rd Street which was approved by the Commission with less parking than code required and now the Commission wants to charge for that parking.
Join me in urging the Commission to scrap this plan and start fresh. If the Commission's goal is to improve parking management and public safety, there are other enforcement methods to ensure public parking is not abused, allows for turn over, and does not hurt families with no choice but to use street parking. The City can ticket and tow vehicles illegally parked or parked for an extended period and generate revenue from enforcement without charging law abiding residents.
If the Commission's goal is to increase revenue, that is what we pay property taxes for. As a proud American and Hallandale Beach property owner, it's my responsibility to pay my fair share. Please make your voice heard by emailing the Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org or by submitting a voicemail to 954-457-1482.