Amid rampant strife from local businesses over ongoing changes to Wynwood parking, the city's parking chief, Art Noriega, is set to defend the new regulations in a discussion with the changes' most vocal critic, local tech entrepreneur Mario Cruz. The parking showdown will commence later this morning at the neighborhood's Waffle Wednesday event at the offices of LiveNinja.com at 120 NW 25th St.
Event organizer and moderator Billy Corben told Riptide the meeting was set up after he had sparred with Noriega about the issue on Twitter. "He told me stop hiding behind social media and meet with him," Corben said. "I said, 'Why don't you come out and actually face the victims of your policies at Waffle Wednesday?'"
So he will: Breakfast will begin at 9, with free blueberry waffles -- Noriega's choice -- and Cuban coffee. The parking discussion is set to begin around 9:30, Corben said.
Amid ongoing changes to neighborhood parking, earlier this month the city announced drivers parking on some previously free Wynwood streets will have to pay $1.50 an hour for meters, the Miami Herald reported, as well as additional limitations and new pricing for the area's employee decal parking permits, set to take effect September 1. Writing in the blog the Starting Gate, Cruz, a cofounder of Wynwood business Choose Digital, complained that the new rules mean his employees will have to pay $200 a month instead of $55 to keep their parking spots.
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"Does the City of Miami Parking Authority and the mayor want to kill new tech and business in Wynwood?" Cruz wrote. "The city, the head of Miami Parking Authority Art Noriega... have now officially made it harder on startups and startups' employees."
Noriega has countered that increasing parking vigilance in the burgeoning neighborhood is essential to Wynwood's growth and that the agency seeks to balance the needs of both visitors and local employees.