According to current ordinance wording, mixed-use buildings receive a 20 percent discount from non-District parking requirements. Mixed-use buildings are classified as those using no more than 75 percent of the occupied building space.
The proposed change would add the word “new” in front of the word “buildings,” effectively limiting provisions before the ordinance was amended in 2008. Buildings erected during the nine-year moratorium would receive no discount.
According to Sandy Youkilis of the planning board, the intention was to restrict the 20 percent discount to new buildings, even though not explicitly stated. The city planning board recommended rejection by a 5- 2 vote February 8.
Different rules for different buildings “is going to create a lot of problems,” said Commissioner Velma Palmer. “I am for the code but when the code is established unfairly, I am not for it.”
“This would make for an uneven playing field. I agree with the planning board’s denial,” said Commissioner Walter Harris.
Amy Donner, president of the Red Sunset Merchants Association, speaking before the vote, said “We can’t build a building with one set of rules that is always changing. Please partner with us. It is okay to have strict ordinances. Just help us to understand the rules.
We have some really great people in our downtown business area.” she continued, “Some of the greatest merchants from all over the country have opened up businesses here. They have businesses elsewhere, like South Beach.
We know [through them] it is extremely hard to do business here,” she added.
“Though this matter is a big deal to the businesses and people of South Miami, it is only a part of the big picture,” commented Brandon Lurie, vice president of the Richard-Brandon Company. “The big picture in the city is the continued negativity by the staff and commission toward most anything that is pro business and especially new growth.”
Responded Commissioner Brian Beasley: “I go to the chamber meetings, I go to the Red Sunset Merchant meetings. I definitely show support.”
Vice Mayor Valerie Newman also stated that she was “disturbed about the remarks about us not supporting the merchants. I do my shopping in South Miami,” she said “I do my dining in South Miami.
“However, I am also supportive of following our codes,” she added.