South Beach Parking Alphabet

i actually took this picture a little over a year ago, when i was first apt hunting on the beach. the caption was "the holy grail"...

I actually took this picture a little over a year ago, documenting my struggles of trying to find parking when i was first apt hunting on the beach. The caption was “the holy grail”, which should have been more of a warning to me, I suppose.

Parking on the beach is a terrible ordeal. Especially when you first move here. Oh it can’t be that bad, you say? *clears throat*

If you move to South Beach with a car but without an official parking spot (ie – you moved into one of about 98% of South Beach apartments), you WILL:

A: Pay a million dollars in paid parking lots, meters, or garages in the first week while you try and figure out where the heck people who live here park. (Okay, not a million, but if you parked in a lot like the one close to my apartment, you would pay about $15.75 per evening during weekdays [assuming you work a normal 9-5 job and your car is not in the lot at all during daytime hours] and $63 for the weekend, which equals 141.75 a week, or $567 a month. May as well be a million dollars. Not to mention you’ll have to move you car around every 10 hours to avoid getting ticketed for staying in the same parking spot too long…)
B: Spend hours circling said meters, looking for an opening in one of the “cheaper” spots
C: Build a small collection of $20-30 parking tickets for parking too long, incorrectly (don’t you DARE back into a space), or in the wrong spot
D: Be confused by the painted curbs (red=okay, yellow=as IF… what?)
E: Finally get to the parking office for your residential pass only to realize their hours of operation are not the same as the ones posted online
F: Go back to the parking office, wait for an hour, then beg and plead for a temporary pass because your proof of residency is not sufficient. (Seriously, I just moved here, it’s after 2010 so I have e-bills, and you want hard copies of things like bank statements and insurance payments? Do you realize how challenging it is to have all that stuff in hand, with your new address, within the first week of being at a new address? My one piece of advice to anybody moving here is to somehow change your address a couple weeks early, and get all your bills in the mail for a couple months, just so you are sure to have valid proof of residency right away.)
G: Get confused by the zone map and “resident meters”. (I have yet to figure out the meter thing)
H: Learn which lots have free parking after 3am, which lots have free 3 hour parking, which lots you need to be out of by 9am, what streets have free parking during the week (bonus points for knowing which days specifically), and which lots have 10 hour time limits.
I: Experience an unmistakable sense of pride when you see “residents only” signs put up during nefarious events such as “Urban Beach Week”. (Side note, you learn what “Urban Beach Week” is.)
J: Perfect your parallel parking skills and simultaneously fall in love with your back-up camera. If your car doesn’t have one, you wish it did.
K: Resign yourself to the fact that your bumpers will be bumped by people less skilled at parking than you. Or by people who are lazy, in a hurry, drunk, etc.
L: Begin to hate scooters. Mostly because they can park anywhere/ruin a full-size parking spot and you are jealous.
M: Fall in love with the parking lot kitty-cats. Until you realize they sleep on top of your car and leave footprints all over your windshield. You’ll probably still love them anyway, just because they are cute.
N: Contemplate selling your car and biking everywhere, but simultaneously be in a constant state of fear that your bike may be stolen. Broken bike-locks literally litter the sidewalks.
O: Find a good parking spot and avoid driving anywhere for as long as possible just to keep the spot, even though you realize this is kinda stupid behavior.
P: Fully utilize hazard lights. We’re talking, car off, next to parked cars (in the middle of the street, in other words), flashers flashing, while you unload groceries, change an outfit, take the dog out, etc. The whole time, you’re not quite sure if it’s legal, so you keep an eye out for tow trucks and police cars, but everybody else on the street does it, so why not.
Q: Try to avoid the occasional confrontation from parking somebody in while quasi-legally “parked” with flashers in the above-described manner. Realize you don’t speak whatever language the other person is speaking and just try to smile and move your car as quickly as possible.
R: Finally have valid proof of residency, but can’t get a permanent residents pass because now you need to renew your car’s registration. Oh hey, it’s still registered out of state. What’s that, it’s a lease? Oh and you haven’t switched your insurance yet either? Have fun figuring that out.
S: Bonus points if you also need to renew your drivers license and figure out where you go to do this. Hint, it’s a totally different office than where you went for parking, or your license plates. Nobody at either office will know anything about the other office, and websites will most likely be out of date and have incorrect information. Office phone numbers may not even work.
T: Get your residential pass. Do a victory dance. Find a ticket on your car the next morning anyway because you managed to park in the one block of your zone that is actually part of a different zone. Seriously.
U: Finally figure out exactly where you can and can’t park, legally, without paying extra. Spend every evening searching for a spot that fits those criteria.
V: Realize that there’s a spot about 5 blocks from your apartment that almost always has spaces that you qualify to park in. Stop parking anywhere else and just spend 15 minutes walking to your car every day. Simultaneously stop wearing high heels to work in the morning.
W: Start walking or biking everywhere within a two mile radius. Do. Not. Move. Car.
X: Shake your head knowingly when you see cars getting tickets for things like backing into spaces.
Y: Shudder with fear every time Tremont Towing rumbles past
Z: Give yourself a pat on the back for figuring out how to park on the beach on a daily basis without getting towed or ticketed. Realize that your lease is up in a few months. Briefly consider staying just because of all the effort you put into figuring out parking. #Nope


I’m leaving South Beach. I’m not moving too far, just far enough. The beach has been fun, for most of my year-long lease. I’ve moved several times over the past few years, and while each move has brought it’s own challenges and adjustment periods, South Beach was definitely on the “more of pain in the ass” side for a few reasons, the parking alphabet being one of ’em. That said, even with the challenges, living here has been an adventure that I am grateful for.

Adios, South Beach. I will actually miss you, I promise. [Sidenote – I did not start this post intending to come up with a full alphabet’s worth of  list content. There’s really just that much. Yikes.]


Alissa Jean

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