Scheming Homeless, Parking Mafia, and Meter Fairy: Just Another Day in Miami's Parking Hell

One thing I like about living (and working) in the 'burbs is that not having to fight for cheap parking or pay through the nose for expensive spots. Not so for people in Miami. Apparently, the scarcity of parking there has created much violence, a cottage industry involving the homeless, parking mafia and even a "magical meter fairy."

Gus Garcia-Roberts from the Miami New Times explains:

In 2004, Kendall native Xavier Cortes was a 37-year-old out-of-work actor in desperate need of a gig. Opportunity came in the classified pages of this newspaper, where an advertisement sought "an extroverted, fun individual, male or female, who knows how to ride rollerblades and isn't afraid to wear a tutu."

Cortes immediately answered the ad. He was hired by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce. He donned a hot-pink wig and matching tutu, carried a wand, and began each shift with $40 in dimes. For his wage of ten dollars an hour, paid each day by a different Grove business, Cortes skated through the neighborhood putting coins in meters that were about to expire. He left a calling card tucked under windshield wipers. "You've just been saved by the Coconut Grove parking-meter fairy," it read, and included a coupon to the business that had donated the dimes.

Cortes's new occupation was the counterattack strategy employed by Grove business owners who felt under siege by MPA enforcement officers scaring away customers. [...]

Cortes was catcalled by construction workers and berated by teenagers, but to the Grovites who understood his purpose, he was a hero worthy of tips, cigarettes, and free meals. Soon though, he says, a cold war developed between him and MPA officers. "They would try to intimidate me, telling me it was illegal to feed another person's meter," he recalls. "They'd try to figure out my routes and shifts. I'd see them hiding behind walls spying on me. It got ugly, and it went all the way to the top of the MPA."

Link (Photo: C. Stiles)

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yeah, i used to live in coconut grove as well. with the newer pay station's instead of the old meters, once you left the parking spot, nobody could use any extra time you payed for.

parking around there has always been a mess. it's best to ride your bike through the grove. certainly more enjoyable as well.
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Around here, if two motorcycles park in one spot, both will get a ticket. Stupid, as more parking is better for businesses. Not to mention it's not the fault of the first biker to park.
I think some meters have detectors that will reset the meter if the car leaves, so the next guy gets no free time. Crappy/expensive parking is the sole reason I never shop downtown.
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