City of Miami Beach, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, Florida 33139, www.miamibeachfl.gov
|TO: Land Use and Development Committee|
|FROM: Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager|
|DATE: June 12, 2019|
|TITLE:||DISCUSSION – PROPOSED BALLOT QUESTION PERTAINING TO AN INCREASE IN FAR WITHIN EXISTING PARKING GARAGES|
On May 8, 2019, at the request of the City Manager, the City Commission referred the subject discussion item to the Land Use and Development Committee (Item C4 L).
Under the current code, required parking that is enclosed within a structure is exempt from floor area ratio (FAR) calculations. The Administration has observed increasing instances where required parking, or portions of required parking, is no longer needed due to changes in use or intensity within a particular building. As such, if existing parking spaces within an enclosed structure are no longer ‘required parking’, these spaces could, potentially, be converted to other uses, provided the building site on which the spaces are located has available FAR. However, should the existing building site meet or exceed the maximum zoned FAR, the now excess (non-required) parking spaces would become legal non-conforming FAR.
Under Chapter 118, Article IX of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) of the City Code, governing nonconformances, a nonconforming building or use cannot be expanded. Accordingly, when enclosed parking spaces within a structure become nonconforming FAR, because they are no longer needed but still per code ‘required’ parking spaces, those spaces cannot be converted, modified or expanded. This creates a situation where the building then has essentially abandoned underutilized space.
In order to allow enclosed parking spaces that are legal nonconforming as to FAR to be converted to another use, an amendment to Chapter 118, Article IX of the LDRs would be required. Pursuant to City Charter Section 1.03(c), such amendment would require the approval of the City’s voters:
The floor area ratio of any property or street end within the City of Miami Beach shall not be increased by zoning, transfer, or any other means from its current zoned floor area ratio . . . unless any such increase in zoned floor area ratio for any such property shall first be approved by a vote of the electors of the City of Miami Beach.
The amendment proposed would allow a property to convert, modify, or expand nonconforming FAR, which would result in an increase in zoned FAR “by zoning, transfer, or any other means” pursuant to City Charter Section 1.03(c).
Over the last five years, the data has shown that the demand for off-street parking in the City has steadily declined, both within public and private parking facilities. There are myriad reasons for this decline, including the proliferation of ride share services, such as Uber and Lyft, as well as an increase in the use of alternative modes of transportation, including busses, trolleys, bicycles and now electric scooters. Additionally, within urban areas such as Miami Beach, car ownership and usage has also declined, particularly among millennials.
In order to better utilize and adaptively re-use the increasing amount of vacant parking spaces within existing structures, the conversion of nonconforming FAR associated with non-required parking spaces is highly practical and desirous. This will allow more flexibility for existing buildings, particularly with regard to accessory uses.
The City Attorney’s Office is drafting a ballot question, which will be provided under separate cover prior to the June 12, 2019 Land Use Committee meeting. Pursuant to the direction of the City Commission at the time of referral on May 8, 2019, planning staff has researched the number of garages that would be affected by the proposed ballot question. Specifically, it is estimated that there are approximately 236 accessory garages attached to residential and hotel properties citywide. The following is a breakdown of the location of such accessory garages
AREA Number of buildings with garages (Hotel/Residential)
South of 5th: 29
5th Street to 17th Street: 40
17th Street to 26th Street: 30
26th to 41sht Street: 22
41st to 71Street: 70
Normandy Isle: 11
71st Street up: 34
Additionally, in order to limit the scope of the proposal to those structures with surplus parking, the following additional qualifiers may be considered, as part of any enabling legislation:
• The regulations shall only apply to garages existing as of the effective date of the enabling ordinance, or the approval of the ballot question, whichever comes first.
• The regulations for adaptively re-using surplus spaces shall only apply to existing garages that are attached to or on the same property as a residential or hotel use.
• Establishing a maximum number of spaces that can be converted to enclosed FAR. A typical parking space, including the abutting drive aisle, is approximately 400 square feet; converting 10 surplus spaces into enclosed FAR would result in an increase of 4,000 square feet.
• Establishing criteria to ensure that parking spaces converted to enclosed FAR will not result in the removal of existing parking for residents, employees, valet storage and guests. This could include a review of the parking distribution within a building, whether there is a single owner or a condominium, and what the existing mixes of uses are within the building.
From a policy standpoint, the administration is highly supportive of this proposal, as it will provide much needed flexibility for existing properties to adaptively re-use surplus and un-used parking spaces within buildings.
The Administration recommends that the Land Use and Development Committee forward a recommendation to the City Commission to place a question on the November 5, 2019 ballot.