Miami Parking Authority (MPA) is a semi-autonomous agency responsible for managing and developing on- and off-street parking within the boundaries of the City of Miami. Thus, when the parking garages at Marlins Park were built by the City of Miami, it became the responsibility of MPA to manage these facilities on behalf of the City.
While MPA does not own the garages, nor does it keep their revenues, the agency was, in part, on the receiving end of the public outcry from the community surrounding Marlins Park. Most of the criticism stemmed from the removal of on-street parking in an effort to minimize congestion and allow traffic to flow on game and event days. Although traffic management is not the responsibility of the parking agency, MPA felt a deep sense of responsibility with this hard-working community, which remains one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City of Miami, for which parking is a serious necessity.
To that effect, MPA staff too almost immediately took to the task of reaching out to the community and finding alternative solutions, within their capabilities, to accommodate those neighbors whose parking ability would be affected during game and event days. As a result, the agency designed a decal program to allow neighbors to park, at no cost, in several lots near Marlins Park. With that purpose in mind, MPA refurbished the lots to get them ready in time for the opening of the ballpark.
In an effort to face the community directly, answer questions and demystify some of the issues that became part of the public commentary surrounding the opening of Marlins Park, MPA organized a community meeting. Invitations were delivered door to door to a wide geographic area surrounding the ballpark. And in order to cast a wide information-dissemination net, MPA invited the broadcast and print media to cover the meeting and report about the parking alternatives.
As expected, the meeting became a venue for the community to vent its frustration. MPA knew that from the outset, but it was prepared to face it, as it was the most direct way to interact with the neighbors. In addition, the neighbors who were unable to attend the meeting were given the opportunity to pick up their decals and meet one-on-one with MPA staff in their facilities at a later time.
The communication program used traditional and social media to disseminate information to the public. And the information was delivered in both English- and Spanish-language to ascertain that the community received and understood the messages. MPA staff made itself available to meet with the media and answer their queries promptly and accurately prior, during and after the community meeting. They made a large number of media appearances on TV and radio and messages were delivered via Twitter, Facebook and on YouTube. The media was kept in the loop, as the agency worked diligently to find solutions to neighborhood parking alternatives.