After several stories about the parking problems in Miami Springs, and the lack of parking for the new downtown development, and the fact that the City did not create and assess a parking fee (as required by the Gateway Overlay District legislation that could have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the City of Miami Springs), and after a local resident publicly demanded the resignation of the City Manager and the City Planner, the City Administration responded by posting a series of amateurish social media posts defending their position but never formally posted a press release or even a statement on the City’s official website.

So let’s go over what the City Administration said in response:

First, the City Administration said, and I quote “this project did not require any fee since it exceeded the parking required under the parking study.”

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Hogwash

Well, that’s just a bunch of hogwash for a couple of reasons. Let’s start by looking at the Gateway Overlay District.  It says the following:

The City Planner shall have the authority to establish parking requirements for alterations and new construction by counting a combination on-site and on-street parking and other elements identified below. For any on-street parking space(s) counted towards the satisfaction of a property’s requirement, or any spaces otherwise waived as a result of one of the factors listed below, a fee shall be paid to the City for each such parking space, in an amount set from time to time by approved resolution of the City Council. 

The City Administration posted via social media that according to the “Parking Study” (paid for by the developer and not an impartial organization) the development with 51 apartments and 15 retail units only needs 121 spaces.  Seriously?  I mean this alone is good enough reason to fire someone for gross incompetence.  We’ll get into that further below.  But within the Parking Study itself, it says “The development will provide 94 parking spaces on-site and will use 47 on-street spaces.”

Okay.  For arguments sake, let’s accept what the Parking Study says and that they will use 47 on-street parking spaces.  At a conservative parking fee of $20,000 per parking spot, you’re talking about the City collecting $940,000 that could be used to create new parking elsewhere.

Shouldn’t the City Administration have said “Wait.  We can’t approve this project yet until we establish the fee and collect the appropriate funds on behalf of the City?”

As we reported earlier this month, Councilman Walter Fajet asked Chris Heid “Chris, what was the fee we charged the Theater Property Developer?”

The City Planner responded, “Well, we didn’t.  And one of the reasons that we didn’t, unfortunately, is because we never had established a fee.  We talked about a parking impact fee.  But since there was no fee established, it was not applicable to them.  And William is right.  That one is done.  The permits are issued.  We can’t go back to them now and say, ‘Well, you owe us a million dollars.’  In hindsight we wish we would have established a fee and charged them something. But we didn’t.  This is to close the barn doors.”

In other words, the City Administration screwed up on their fiduciary responsibilities to establish and collect fees on the biggest project in downtown Miami Springs history.  We don’t want to imply there’s corruption going on when we can easily show there’s a serious lack of oversight and incompetence.

PROVIDING PARKING

Nevertheless, the City of Miami Springs posted the following commentary via social media:

Administration agreed that 121 parking spaces was the appropriate requirement for this project.  The project is exceeding this requirement.  They have provided 124 parking spaces instead of the required 121 parking spaces.  The 124 spaces the  project is providing include 98 parking spaces in the buildings’s garage and 26 on-street parking spaces which abut their property.

I had to read that a couple of times.  But the City just posted publicly that the developer is “providing us with 26 on-street parking spaces”.  The developer is providing us with 26 on-street parking spaces?  Uh.  No.  They aren’t providing us with anything.  The correct way to say that is the developer is taking 26 on-street parking spaces.  They are using public land to take 26 parking spaces.  They aren’t providing us with anything.  In fact, they are supposed to pay for the on-street parking.  But of course, did the City Administration look out for our finances by halting the project before a fee could be established and charged?  Nope.

But again, as we said above, even within the “Parking Study” it clearly states the development “will use 47 on-street spaces.”  Why did the City fail to mention that in their social media post?  Incompetence?

Parking Study is Bullsh!t

If the City Administration wants to defend itself by hiding behind a parking study, they should be fired.  Anyone who defends that “Parking Study” is grasping at straws.

Don’t take this author’s word for it.  Max Milam did the most extensive research about our parking situation which we shared in December.  As part of the evidence he brought forth, he added an Exhibit with Six Reasons the Traffic / Parking Study is Totally Invalidated / Debunked.  Here’s the full exhibit provided by Max Milam.

EXHIBIT F – LANGAN TRAFFIC / PARKING STUDY (“STUDY”)

Reasons this Traffic/Parking Study is Totally Invalidated / Debunked

THIS STUDY WAS THE BASIS OF THE CITY’S DETERMINATION OF 151 PARKING SPACES FOR THE PROJECT [INCLUDING BOTH ON-PREMISES (WITH ONLY 98 ON-PREMISES PARKING SPACES) AND OFF-PREMISES PARKING SPACES]—THE CITY DID NOT MAKE ITS OWN INDEPENDENT CALCULATION USING THE CODE.

Any single item noted below would call into the question the validity of this Study; but, the cumulative effect of all these items totally invalidates this Study and renders it useless for purposes evaluating and approving this project.

    1. Study for parking was based off the critical/fundamental assumption of “Shared Parking” for effective parking management (see definition of “Shared Parking” on separate page). Per the Staff Report prepared by the City Planner and approved by the Town Council and the Zoning and Planning Board, levels 2 and above of the parking garage (providing 70 parking spaces) is gated and is “exclusively for the
      tenants of the apartments” as worded per the Staff Report—the most critical and fundamental element of Shared Parking is not present. Engineer said using the Shared Parking approach/assumption was approved by the city.
    2. Study assumes 47 “On-Street” parking spaces located within 100 feet of the development are for the exclusive/sole use for the project. It assumes the city has excess capacity of public parking spaces. I asked the engineer if this Study looked at the proposed project through a prism as if nothing else existed in the trade and he confirmed that was correct. He said it assumes spaces will not be used by customers
      or employees of other businesses within the trade area. Engineer said the city of Miami Springs allowed them to take credit for all public On-Street parking spaces along Canal Street and Curtiss Parkway.  Engineer stated most cities would not allow them to use (or take credit) for such On-Street parking spaces as they wouldn’t consider such parking spaces to be reserved solely for a development project.
    3. Study lacked preparation of an “Accumulation Analysis” by a qualified engineer. Engineer stated most cities would require this but Miami Springs did not. Engineer said performing an Accumulation Analysis would have been helpful. Accumulation Analysis would have taken into account other businesses operating in the trade area and the traffic generated/parking needed for those businesses and whether such existing parking was adequate or inadequate for such businesses. An Accumulation Analysis would have helped determined if excess capacity (unused spaces) existed for public parking in the trade area.
    4. When calculating required parking spaces for the project, engineer took a 20% credit (reduction in parking requirement) for mass transit–assumes 20% of people visiting site will use mass transit. Engineer stated city allowed them to take this credit for Study. This 20% credit seems significantly overstated based on
      mass transit utilization in Miami Springs.
    5. With respect to added daily traffic generation, the Study indicated total “net” new trips of 31 added trips per day generated—really, should we believe that? This lacks any reality. First, it assumes a big “what if” scenario that the existing structures that were demolished (the old theatre) had been fully operational and generating traffic for the last 30 years (when in actuality, it was closed and generating no traffic). It
      also assumes that 320 people will utilize mass transit to this new development project per day—anyone living in Miami Springs knows this is grossly overstated. If you clear all the smoke, the study indicates that this new development will generate a total of 1,598 trips per day (1,278 per Table 1 + 320 mass transit trips per Exhibit C).
    6. Traffic engineer was engaged and hired by the developer (not by the city) for the purpose of getting the project approved (this is what the traffic engineer told me). This Study inherently lacks independence and would suggest a greater vetting/questioning of the report and all of its assumptions by city staff and
      leadership.

Shared Parking Defined Langan Traffic/Parking Study

Shared Parking (a) means that parking spaces are shared by more than one user, which allows parking facilities to be used more efficiently. It is a type of Parking Management. Shared Parking takes advantage of the fact that most parking spaces are only used part time by a particular motorist or group, and many parking facilities have a significant portion of unused spaces, with utilization patterns that follow predictable daily, weekly and annual cycles. There are various degrees of shared parking. A parking space assigned to a specific user is not shared at all.

(a) defined by the TOM Encyclopedia. It is the world’s most comprehensive information resource concerning innovative transportation management strategies. It describes dozens of Transportation Demand Management (TOM) strategies and contains information on TOM planning, evaluation and implementation.

Per Langan, the Developer of the Town Center hired them to perform this study.

There is No Shared Parking!

The Parking Garage at the Miami Springs Town Center has a Private Entrance for the upper levels.  These upper floors are for residential parking only.  It has long been established that this garage will have 70 residential parking spaces with a private gated entrance.  The bottom floor has 28 retail spaces.

How is it responsible for the City Administration to defend a “parking study” that says the entire garage will be “shared parking” when they all know it’s not shared parking.

Who in City Hall was protecting the tax payer interest here?  Who in City Hall said, “Hey, you can’t claim this as shared parking?”  This alone proves the study is bogus and that City Administration is asleep at the wheel…or worse…

But wait, there’s more…

20% Of Visitors will Use Public Transportation

According to the “Parking Study”. One out of every five residents, employees, owners, and visitors to the downtown development will arrive using pubic transportation.  As you can see in the “Shared Parking Summary Table” below, the study takes a liberal 20% reduction in parking because it assumes they will use public transportation in the form of buses.

Snippet of the Shared Parking Summary Provided by Langan with Commentary in red provided by Max Milam
Snippet of the Shared Parking Summary Provided by Langan with Commentary in red provided by Max Milam

In other words, the City Administration wants to look at you with a straight face and tell you that 1 out of 5 visitors to this new complex will arrive via bus.  How many of you get from home to downtown on a bus?

Seriously?  No me diga.

Again, our City Manager and City Planner are supposed to catch these things and call them out on BS like this.  They are supposed to look out for you the tax payers.  But it appears by their actions they are either incompetent or were looking out for this developer’s interest instead. I’m sure you can figure out which is which.

31 Net New Trips?

You want to laugh?  I mean really laugh at what a joke this is?

The Traffic / Parking Study says that this new development will only create 31 Net New Trips per day.  In other words, 51 new apartments and 15 new retail businesses will only add 31 extra vehicular trips per day.  I’m not making this up.  See it for yourself below:

The “Traffic / Paring Study” says the existing shopping center which at the time included Sabores and Burritoville and a couple of other storefronts had 1,247 daily visits.  But, now that the retail is expanding to include 15 retail locations, the retail traffic will go down to 1,136 visits.  The study implies less customers will come to shop there than before.

Do you believe this crap?

The study says the reduction in retail trips compensates for the increase in residential traffic and so on a typical day we’ll only see 31 new daily trips.  Does anyone reading this really believe that monstrosity downtown will only add 31 extra cars on the road per day?

I’ll add the commentary Max Milam provided in his review of this project:

“Traffic engineer was asked how is it possible that the Town Center only adds 31 net new trips per day when you consider that the existing building has been vacant (not used) for over 30 years (the old theatre).  The engineer stated whether the existing building was used or not doesn’t come into his calculation–it assumes existing building was fully utilized/operational.  So, in reality, this new development is generating 1,278 (1,598 if you include the 320 mass transit trips–see Exhibit C) new trips per day because the 1,247 existing trips below hasn’t existed for decades.  The public can expect a significant increase in trips per day to/from this project.”

if this isn’t the biggest bag of horse manure, I don’t know what is.

For the record, I don’t blame anyone on Council.  They aren’t traffic planners and engineers.  I blame the City Administration who is responsible for reviewing these details and who have a fiduciary responsibility to the tax payers of Miami Springs.  Why did they just accept the traffic study?  Why didn’t they reject it for being blatantly flawed?

Again, anyone at City Hall who defends this study should be fired for gross incompetence.

And I don’t blame the people who did the study either.  They were paid by the developers of Miami Springs Town Center to produce a report that was favorable for the developer.  Langan gave them exactly what they wanted.

I blame the City of Miami Springs administration for accepting it at face value and not pushing back on behalf of the residents and tax payers of Miami Springs.

Impartial Study

Again, I don’t flaw Langan for the report.  They had a fiduciary responsibility to produce a report that was favorable to their client, the developer.

The current City Council did identify this as a flaw in the process and requested a “Comprehensive Ordinance that includes cost recovery on technical items such as parking, traffic, landscape, review etc. by consultants depending on the development; notice requirements for site plan review” during the February 22nd City Council Meeting.  In other words, the City Council wants future studies to be impartial with a fiduciary responsibility to the City of Miami Springs and not the developer.  (I haven’t noticed whether this ordinance has come to pass or not, but I suspect it’s still pending.)

Not Enough Residential Parking

According to Miami Springs’ own rules, each residential dwelling in a multi-family dwelling requires 2.25 off-street parking spaces.  In other words, the 51 apartments requires 2.25 parking spaces for each of the 51 apartments for a total of 115 residential parking spaces.  The apartment complex only has 70 residential parking spaces.  According to Miami Springs’ own rules, the apartment complex is short of residential parking by 45 parking spaces.  In other words, using the city’s rules for calculating parking, the developer would require 45 residential on-street parking spaces and should have been required to compensate the City of Miami Springs for 45 residential on-street parking spaces.

Not Enough Retail Parking

According to Miami Springs’ municipal code, the new complex should have one parking space for each 300 square feet of gross floor area, with a minimum of three per establishment. The smallest retail unit has 1250 sq ft.  That means the smallest unit has 4 times the 300 sq ft threshold for a parking space.  In other words, the smallest retail unit would require 4 off-street parking spaces.  The largest retail unit is 2,955 sq ft.  Divide that by 300 sq ft and you would need 10 parking spaces for that larger unit.  Let’s be conservative and just say we need 4 parking spaces for each retail unit and you’re talking about 60 retail parking spaces.  The parking garage only has room for 28 retail parking spaces.  That means the developer should have been required to compensate the City of Miami Springs for 32 on-street parking spaces.

Add it All Up

  • 45 residential on-street parking spaces to meet code
  • 32 retail on-street parking spaces to come close to code (we underestimated here)
  • 77 total on-street parking spaces to come close to code

Add the 98 parking spots in the garage with the 77 total on-street parking spaces and you get 175 total spots.  The “Parking Study” states the development will provide 94 parking spaces on-site and will use 47 on-street spaces.  That’s 141 total parking spaces according to the “Parking Study.”  The difference between the 175 parking spaces I calculated using the City’s code and the 141 total parking spaces calculated by the “Parking Study” is 34 parking spaces or 19%. In other words, our calculations match up with the “Parking Study” calculations when you consider they took a 20% public transportation parking reduction.

Maybe there’s a new MetroRail station coming to Curtiss Parkway we don’t know about.

  • Total Minimum Parking based on code requirements:  175
  • Total Parking spaces as calculated in the “Parking Study”: 141
  • Parking shortfall: 34 spaces or 19%

Again, who stood up for the residents at City Hall and said “there’s no way 20% of the visitors to this project are coming in via Public Transportation?”

City Administration Needs to Be Held Accountable

Is it time for Miami Springs City Manager William Alonso to Resign?
Is it time for Miami Springs City Manager William Alonso to Resign?

I’m going to double down on a recent letter by Jim Llewellyn calling for the resignation of the City Manager and the City Planner.

This has been gross incompetence.  Lord knows I’ve fired people throughout my career for less than this.  This is totally unacceptable.

And the City Administration only embarrassed themselves further with their amateurish social media post and attempt to discredit a long-time resident of the City of Miami Springs.  Shameful.

As for the City Council, I hate to put them in this position, but the truth about this project is all starting to come out.  The City Council can only hire and fire three people:

  • City Manager
  • City Clerk
  • City Attorney

If the City Manager chooses not to resign, the City Council will be placed in a tough position.  Nevertheless, for the good of the City of Miami Springs and in order to help foster public trust in the City Administration, the City Council should hold the City Administration accountable and give a vote of no confidence to the City Manager.

Furthermore, it sets the standard that this type of behavior will not be overlooked or swept under the rug.

And that will only happen, if you, the residents of Miami Springs demand accountability.  Of course, if the City Council doesn’t listen to you, then you can hold the council members accountable in April.


Contact Your City Council Member

Mayor Maria Puente Mitchell

Tel: (305) 805-5006

Email: mitchellm@miamisprings-fl.gov

Councilman Bob (Robert A.) Best, Group I

Tel: (305) 805-5006

Email: bestb@miamisprings-fl.gov

Councilwoman Jacky Bravo, Group II

Tel: (305) 805-5006

Email: bravoj@miamisprings-fl.gov

Councilman Walter Fajet, Group III

Tel: (305) 805-5006

Email: fajetw@miamisprings-fl.gov

Councilman Victor Vazquez, Group IV

Tel: (305) 805-5006

Email: vazquezv@miamisprings-fl.gov


PDF References

Past Stories on this Issue

Did the City Lose Over a Million Dollars By Not Establishing a Fee?

 

Downtown Parking: A Problem that Promises to Get Worse

 

Miami Springs Parking Study Reveals Huge Shortage – Part II

Miami Springs Parking Scandal – Part III in our series

 

Resident Calls for Resignation of City Manager & Planner

 

 

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The city manager doesn’t live in Miami Springs, he cares less on what happens here, you will never see Alonso on the streets or in a restaurant o in any store. He doesn’t like our city, all he what’s is the huge under served salary we, the tax payers give him. Council should not delay his termination.

  2. I blame the former city attorney for this more than the city manager but the city manager was part of it too. If the city planner simply did what he was told, he needs to speak up and say so.

  3. Lost trust! How did the city manager and planner let the developers get away with this? How do we trust these people in the future?

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