Ocean Drive May Not Close to Cars, but Sidewalk Could Be Extended

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.

See also: Miami Beach Debates Whether to Ban Cars From Ocean Drive

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.

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.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Munzenrieder

Latest Stories