Residents near the new Marlins ballpark unleashed their fury and frustration on the city and its major-league club Thursday evening, saying a newly unveiled parking plan for the neighborhood will make their lives miserable.
The plan sets aside a few blocks near the ballpark where area residents can park. But it bans residential parking on many more stretches — to accommodate baseball fans coming to watch a game.
People who live on those banned blocks will have to find somewhere else to park on the 81 times a year — mostly night games — when the Marlins play at home.
Francisco Ferra Rosa, a day laborer who lives in 1500 block of Northwest Third Street, is one of those who will have to relocate his car on game nights.
Already, he said, he has gotten two tickets for parking in front of his home. One was for $28 and he couldn’t pay it. Now, with late fees, it’s $47. He met with a Miami Parking Authority representative before Thursday’s presentation to plead his case.
“I make $8 per hour,” he said. “I can’t afford this.”
With less than three weeks before the new stadium’s first regular season game, parking — or the lack of it — remains the biggest headache facing the neighborhood and the Marlins.
Thursday’s town hall meeting was intended to soothe neighborhood concerns, although it may have done the opposite. It was held in one of the gleaming new parking garages along the ballpark’s perimeter and drew a crowd of about 200 residents. When the team is in town, those garages are off-limits to those residents, unless they buy a ticket to the game.
Mercedes San Miguel, 48, lives in a green zone, meaning parking will be allowed by cars with city-issued decals. But she works late into the evening and fears that by then all of the available parking will be taken.
“I’m very worried about having to walk blocks alone,” San Miguel said. “And those aren’t safe blocks.”
Elio Diaz, a 48-year-old construction worker, has no driver’s license and no car to park, but is upset nonetheless. His father, a California resident, comes for extended visits each year and brings along his automobile.
“What’s he going do with his car?” Diaz asked. “He should get a spot.”
The recipient of their ire on Thursday was Rolando Tapanes, director of planning and development for the Miami Parking Authority.
When residents asked questions — usually in Spanish, and on stadium-related grievances that sometimes extended far beyond parking — Tapanes generally either didn’t have an answer or lacked the authority to provide one.
“We’re asking the residents to make a sacrifice,” MPA Director Art Noriega explained before the meeting. “We can’t leave them parking on some of those streets. The logjam we’ll have on these streets, people won’t be able to get to the games.”
Some of those in attendance Thursday came waving freshly issued tickets they received either from police or the parking authority for parking where they have always parked — on their own block.
After it was over, the residents were anything but soothed.
Adela Otero, 57, declared: “We’re still without parking, without solutions, without anything. I don’t know why the city had us come here.”
But Xochitl Perez, 52, was more sympathetic.
“Thank you for listening to everyone’s frustrations,” she said to Tapanes after the meeting.. “I realize that you came here just to deal with the parking issue. It just seems like the Marlins are laughing at us. It’s not you guys. It’s not the city. It’s the Marlins — the ones who have been benefiting from all our tax dollars.”
Meanwhile, another important piece of stadium parking news emerged Thursday, courtesy of the ballclub. On Wednesday, the team began widely selling single-game parking passes to Marlins Park’s garages and surrounding lots — after saying for months they would be reserved for season-ticket holders, players, staff and members of the media.
“There were some spots left over, and we’ve opened them up to everyone,” said Marlins spokeswoman Carolina Perrina de Diego.
The Marlins are charging $15 per spot — a 50 percent bump over what they’re paying the city, which owns the parking garages — and are offering space on-property for every home game, except their nationally televised season-opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 4.