Depending on who you're talking to, the people of the Miami Parking Authority and Miami Beach Parking Department are either the devil incarnate or a benevolent force for good. Valid arguments exist on either side.
After all, while meter maids and South Beach parking woes might be the bane of many a Miamian's existence, there are arguably a lot of things about our city's street-side operations worth praising.
So, in the interest of examining both sides of the coin, here are our top ten reasons to love/hate parking in Miami.
10. Pay-by-phone parking.
Cash is so 1996, and paying by phone might be Miami's most brilliant conception since the all-night liquor license. It's incredibly convenient, cheaper than feeding a meter and makes life easier for those of us forced to park our rides in different parts of the 305. It's hard to believe we ever had to dig change out of our center consoles or beg businesses for quarters. Oh - and you can pay by the minute, whereas some of the machines make you pay by the hour. That's a big financial difference.
9. There's an app for that.
The MPA's app is awesome. It lets you put in multiple license plates, easily add time to your meter, change your credit card info, etc. Plus, it sends you a text when your parking is running low. So you're totally covered. Unless your phone dies ... then you're SOL.
8. They have a 10-minute grace period.
This is a little-known and pretty damn awesome factoid. Once, I got a ticket when my parking was six minutes expired, and after I called to bitch about it, the MPA reversed it for me. No problemo.
7. They listen when you complain.
Seriously. Once, I took to the MPA's Facebook page to bitch about a change from pay-by-minute to pay-by-hour (thereby exponentially increasing parking costs) - as did a lot of other people - and they changed the policy based on negative feedback. So maybe we're not powerless in the face of the parking Gods after all.
6. There are $1 an hour garages.
You can't beat $1 an hour to park on South Beach. Not with a stick, a bat or a metal pipe. It's the steal of the century. So if you're familiar with the many municipal garages of SoBe, you can save yourself a world of pain -- and a buttload of money. Thanks for that, MBPD.
5. You can now pay-by-plate.
If, for some bizarre reason, you don't want to set up a pay-by-phone (or app) account (YOU'RE CRAZY), you can now pay-by-plate at various city machines. No dash receipt required.
4. If you forget to pay your ticket, it more than doubles.
This seems a little unnecessary. With life's daily struggles, it's easy to let a thing like a parking ticket slip for an extra day or two -- does the penalty really need to be so harsh? A 10%, 20%, even 25% cost increase is one thing, but 100%-plus? That's crazysauce. Being one-day late to pay shouldn't up a ticket from $18 to $45. That's just the city counting on the fact that most citizens are operating on Cuban time.
3. Broken meters.
These metal bastards have made many a Miamian go batshit crazy. After all, a broken meter is no excuse for non-payment, so despite the technology fail, people are often forced to wander aimlessly in an attempt to find a working machine. Hell, half the meters on Miami Beach are malfunctioning at any given moment. If the city is going to squeeze $1.75 an hour out of everyone, the least they can do is make it easy to pay.
2. Miami Beach is way behind the times.
Seriously, it's Miami Beach, the epicenter of the tourism universe, and they can't adapt to the 21st century? In this day and age, there's no excuse for forcing tourists (or just those of us from the mainland) to fumble with dollar bills, deal with broken machines and run the eight blocks back to their meter when their time is about to expire. This isn't the stone age.
1. Meter maids.
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They're the worst. Seriously, who's willing to spend their life penalizing people for parking? Miami's got a shit-ton of real criminals running free, and you're levying fines on tourists (who are pumping money into our local economy) and taxpaying locals alike? Not to mention most parked cars belong to people who are out spending money, thereby feeding the economy, upping the city's tax coffers and in turn, paying the salaries of city employees. Slinging fries at McDonald's is a more gainful form of employment. (Ok, so maybe this paragraph was really a rant against Big Brother and his iron fist ... but meter maids are the tools of the tyrannical trade, in Miami and in the rest of the world.)
In conclusion, surveying that list of ten, it looks like the good might outweigh the bad after all. I'm as shocked as you are.
Are we missing anything? Any other loves/hates to note? We wanna hear it, so add your two cents in the comments below.