The entire state of Florida is at risk with the approaching hurricane Irma. One city was thoughtful enough to open its parking garages to the residents of the city, free of charge, so that their cars would be safe from the oncoming weather and debris that would certainly cause damage to vehicles. But according to the Miami Herald, city officials didn’t expect to have the parking overwhelmed by a local car dealer.
If you live in an area without a garage, the weather can take a toll on your car. What’s even worse is when an unexpected storm hits and you have nowhere to safeguard your only means of transportation. Unfortunately, not all of those evacuating Florida could take their cars with them, and given the traffic, they might not have wanted to. So for those affected by hurricane Irma, the ability to store cars left behind (or for those not evacuating) became the subject of a city-wide promotion to offer Hollywood residents free parking to shelter their cars from the storm – because if businesses have done it in the past, why can’t a city too? Local residents, however, found that one of the garages was filled with something they didn’t expect.
On the intersection of Polk Street and 19th Avenue resides one of the city’s public parking structures. Residents who attempted to park here, however, had to turn away as dozens of spaces were taken up not by residents, but reportedly by luxury cars with no license plates and big price tags on the windshields. One local Florida used car dealer had made the garage their temporary home to allow the vehicles to wait out the storm, consuming over forty spaces in the garage. The dealer, who couldn’t be identified due to their vehicles being unmarked, had taken advantage of the city’s policy. “The lot was designated for residents as a last resort for those who live on the beach and other areas subject to a storm surge – not for a local car dealer,” said a spokeswoman for Hollywood City, Raelin Storey, “We are investigating it, but we have had other priorities. We are taking it seriously.”
Residents are taking the matter seriously as well, feeling cheated and hopeless after one of their only means of vehicle preservation has been taken away. The city has acknowledged that the dealer parking cars on the city property is illegal, as there are ordinances in place which prohibit the use of public property for private gain. As such, according to another local news source, the vehicles have been ticketed for being untagged. The city has still not identified just which dealership the cars belong to, but once the fallout of the storm is contained, the culprit will surely be upset when it notices $30 tickets on each of their vehicles. Additionally, the city has vowed to exhaust their supply of boots on the cars – though it has far less than 40 available.
Each of the three garages in the city were filled by midday on Friday, only hours after the city announced its plans to permit free public parking to safeguard the vehicles. Some owners even double parked in order to increase capacity, but this was still not enough to house the demand of cars. Even though the cars have been ticketed and booted, compared to the number of residents which were turned away, the $1,200 in fines seem like only a drop in the hat. Hopefully there will be far less vehicular casualties than Texas experienced with Harvey.