The idea of closing Ocean Drive off to traffic and turning it into a pedestrian mall similar to Lincoln Road may have hit a snag once commissioners realized that the parking meters along the street bring in over $1 million in revenue a year. Instead, Miami Beach's Land Use and Development Committee has endorsed a plan to shift the road eastward to allow for a widening of extended sidewalks.
The idea was brought up in May by commissioner Jonah Wolfson, but local business owners had immediate concerns. Hotels wondered how their guests would be able to arrive and leave in taxis, and others worried that decreasing already scarce parking on South Beach would scare away other potential costumers.
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It's not just the scarcity of parking that was a problem either, but the revenue. According to exMiami, a memo sent to commissioners reminded them that in 2013 the parking meters along Ocean Drive between Fifth and 15th streets brought in $1.087 million, and that number is expected to grow.
Of course, Ocean Drive's sidewalks can, at times, get awfully crowded. They're dominated by outside cafe seating, gawkers, promoters, and the occasional death-dropping drag queen.
So a new plans calls for shifting the road eastward, while widening the westside, business-heavy sidewalks. Seems like a decent compromise, though the project would mean construction along one of Miami Beach's busiest (though least essential to regular traffic patterns) roads. It would also cost up to $3.6 million, or about three-and-a-half years of parking meter revenue.