Looks like City of Miami residents can expect a show-down between Elected City officials and the Miami Parking Authority at the ballot box in November. Control of the MPA is being contested between City of Miami Commissioners /Mayor who want a greater piece of the parking money pie, and the independant Board that exists to run the MPA. A semi-autonomous entity, the MPA is currently managed by a governing board that is not answerable to the City Commission.
Critics have correctly noted that the City’s lack of financial stability is concerning as the City seeks control over yet another government agency. Municipal officials can counter that other cities get greater profits from their parking authorities. Still others see this as a solution in search of a problem that does not exist. The MPA is solvent and sends the City yearly million dollar checks. Why change? All are valid points, but they miss the big connection between public parking management and transit.
A recent Herald article on the subject pointed to the Toronto Parking Authorityand their 2009 contribution to the city of over $50 million in revenue. What the article fails to mention is that Toronto has the third largest transit system in North America and respends the $50 million they get from parking on transit (many times over). After the slow and quite demise of the streetcar proposal, he City has been sleeping with regard to transit planning. If the City expects voters to side with them they are going to have to show that they understand the connection between parking supply and transit/mobility by using parking revenue to address the mobility needs of city residents.
The potential increased revenue from the MPA could be leveraged to bring premium transit expansion to the city. The long planned streetcar, the Brickell Metromover loop, and other local city projects must have local support and funding. As our downtown and surrounding suburbs densify and become ever more urban, City of Miami officials will not be able to look to the County to solve their mobility problems. The proposed MPA restructuring could be the beginning of an overhaul of how the City of Miami fulfills its mobility needs. City Commissioners should look to the example of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which is the agency responsible for transit, bike infrastructure, and parking in San Francisco. Reflecting the close relationship between urban mobility and parking, this agency is a model for the City of Miami in deciding how to establish control of the MPA. How Commissioners choose to take advantage of this opportunity will determine whether voters see the wisdom in fixing something that is not broken.
“But if Downtown Miami develops into a thriving retail hub as local leaders and stakeholders plan, the parking authority, as well as private operators, she said, are “going to have to step up to the plate to create more parking facilities.”
Even now, merchants have “expressed concerns about the lack of enough customer parking,” she said.”
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