City of Sunny Isles Beach / Public Parking Abuse
As a former government employee, I feel uncomfortable to write about a city worker but I realize that nobody should go through my recent experience. On July 3rd, 2011, I entered the Public Parking lot situated at the end of 167th Street and Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach. I was desperate looking for a parking space, when I saw a car leaving. I noticed an individual with a monogrammed shirt signaling me in with a very imperative gesture to approach him. I drove my car next to him and lower my window when this individual abruptly said “Didn’t you see the sign that I put at the entrance? It says that the lot is full” It was then that I noticed that his monogrammed shirt belong to the City of Sunny Isles Beach. I responded “Yes” but since I noticed a car leaving the parking lot, I just tried my luck. In effect someone was leaving and I could park. The city worker continued saying to me while I was parking in the empty space “you should play the Lotto” which I responded “I do”. I proceeded to pay in the parking fee in the automatic parking machine and place it in my car, when my wife and daughter walked toward the sidewalk. Since we had relatives staying at the Newport Hotel, we decided to stop by the hotel before going to the beach. It was then when the city worker, who now identified himself as an “Officer” again abruptly addressed me asking “where are you going?” which I responded, I am going to the Newport Hotel to see some relatives and then to the beach”. The officer said to me “then you have to move your car”. I asked why since I was properly parked and paid already $15. He responded that the parking was only for beachgoers and since I was going to the hotel, I could not be park there. I explained that I was not a guess of the hotel, therefore I could not park at the hotel and I needed to park in a public parking. Then he treated me to tow my car. I indicated to the officer that I did not appreciated the way he was addressing me and I wanted to know the legality of this rule. He showed me the phone number to call for any complaints. I asked him if I can get refunded for the parking since I did not know such a rule before I paid. The officer responded that with the parking ticket and my credit card statement I could go to the Sunny Isle Beach City Hall and get refunded. I proceeded to call the number but he told me that nobody will answer since it was Saturday. That was not correct because someone answered and I began to explain my problem. When I mentioned to the person who responded the call (at [protected]) that I was talking to the officer onsite, he said to me “if you are talking to an officer why are you calling me” I said that according to the officer, this was the number to call. I asked how I can get refunded for my parking which he responded that I will not get refunded. It was then when the officer onsite, contrary what he said before, told me that I will not get refunded. The person who responded at the City of Sunny Isles got upset about my complaint and hung up. When my 16 years old daughter questioned him why he lied about the refund, he rolled his eyes and asked her “are you done”. Since his behavior was unprofessional and disrespectful, I asked for his name and badge number, that is when I noticed that he was a Code Enforcement Officer and his badge had no number. This officer refused to give me his name and said “you can say that I am the only officer working today here”. Be that I am a law abiding citizen I proceeded to leave when he sent another person that was looking for a parking space to paid for my ticket and take my space.
I have several questions that I would like to get answers: How important is to the City of Sunny Isles a 23 spaces parking lot to place a Code Enforcement Officer on a weekend to run it? Is this “officer” receiving overtime pay for running a parking lot on the weekend? Did the City of Sunny Isles made this rule that only persons going directly to the beach can park in this public parking lot? Are you City staff trained to be rude and unprofessional? It is legal for an “officer” (he reiterated to me that he was an officer many times) to refuse to identify himself? It is acceptable that this officer lied about the refund? Why you have a phone number on the parking machine to call if you have a problem but they do not want to hear your problem?
This was a very unpleasant experience that will make me reluctant to return to Sunny Isles Beach.