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Pay the Meter and You'll Still Get Towed at This Private Miami Beach Lot

meter1.jpg
Private lot meter is the same as the ones used at city lots.
There's a new twist to the ol' South Beach towing racket. At 17th Street and Lennox Avenue, just north of Lincoln Road, there's a parking lot that looks identical to scores of other nearby city-run lots. To pay, there's an electronic meter, just like all the city meters scattered around.

But here's the catch: The lot is privately owned, and if you pay in a nearby city meter instead of the one machine in the lot, Tremont Towing trucks are ready to pounce.

See also:
- South Beach towing companies go to war
- Don't Get Your Free Beach Towing VIP Decal Right Here


The setup has led to scores of complaints and action by the city, which recently forced the owners to post more visible signs. "We had a rash of folks coming in [to complain]," Miami Beach Parking Director Saul Frances says.

The changes haven't been enough, though, critics say. Take the case of Kris Conesa, a freelance journalist (and, full disclosure, former New Times staffer). Just before 3:30 p.m. on a Saturday during the height of Miami Music Week, Conesa eased his black Mercedes-Benz CLK 350 into the lot. Noticing a line of people waiting to pay at the lot's only meter, Conesa skipped across the street and paid at another machine.

He placed his ticket, which would expire at 5:13 p.m., on the dashboard and headed to Dylan's Candy Bar on Lincoln Road, where he and his girlfriend shared Slush Puppies. When he returned, his ride was gone. Tremont had towed the Benz less than an hour after he parked it and charged him $241 to get it back. Conesa says the lot's two signs are barely visible.

"These charlatans have a machine that looks exactly like the city's meters just across the way," Conesa says. "They could have an attendant there to differentiate the two, but instead choose to perpetrate as a public lot in an effort to confuse motorists and line their pockets."

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Lot owners Andrew Mirmelli and Solomon Mayberg did not respond to two messages left on their cell phones seeking comment. But a Tremont manager, who identified himself only as Chris, says it is Conesa's fault for not reading the lot's signs more carefully. "That's what the signs are there for," he adds, "to point people to the right meter."

Banana Republican checked out the lot, and it's easy to overlook the signs. One is a green metal square nailed to a tree trunk. The other is white with busy red type that's obscured when there's a crowd waiting to pay the meter.

Frances had Tremont change the signage just two weeks ago to make the type more legible, and says he's had only two complaints since then. He says he's powerless to do more to help parkers.

"It's a free-enterprise issue," he explains. "They don't have to honor parking tickets purchased from a city-operated meter. We feel badly about it."

Free enterprise or not, Conesa complains the city is helping the tow firm entrap drivers. "They have gone out of their way to fool unwitting drivers to park their cars there," he grouses. "It is an outright scam."

Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.

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42 comments
Datrebor
Datrebor

Don't blame the people that own the lot Kris was impatient and instead of paying in the lot he was parked in Assumed they were all connected or can use any pay station, because he didn't bother to read the signs, and left the lot he was parked in and payed else where. Then complained that he was towed. If you don't pay where your parked then what can you expect?

tenzenone10
tenzenone10

Count me among the bamboozled :( Is this too big to stop? Are you going to picket the lots? I thought it would be a good idea to stand out there for a few hours and warn people to not park there. That could save a lot of people from this awful experience. You mentioned a campaign. I am curious as too your plans. I got towed at 17th Street and Lennox Avenue, just north of Lincoln Road. What really angers me is that there are a lot of people in Miami that are honest, hard working, following the rules, and not cheats. This just reinforces the image of Miami being a shady place and hurts everyone. I would like to get my money back.

swinghigh
swinghigh

The city commission voted 4-3 to allow towing rate increase (resolution 2012-28069) . I was the only citizen who attended several public meetings to oppose the tow fee and the tow policies.

Problems to solve:

1) The fees and rules are COMPLETELY different for private property tow versus public property tow and towing vehicles of beach resident versus non-beach resident, but the Towing Bill of Rights does not specify this. This secret allows tow companies to cheat.

2) City staff negotiates the towing contract; therefore the practice of releasing cars at no charge to city of Miami Beach employees (aka “professional courtesy”) must end.

3) There are two commissioners "in bed" with the tow companies.

4) 14,000 annual public tows and probably another 14,000 private tows x $240. Do the math

3) The Towing Bill of Rights is USELESS, it does not protect the consumer as it was intended to. Tow Companies routinely overcharge consumers and consumers are unable to protect themselves.

Towing Permit for Public Tows (performed for the police and parking department. http://docmgmt.miamibeachfl.gov/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=129728&page=1&dbid=0

where is the Private Towing Permit?

mike.burke99
mike.burke99

thank you matti for allowing this problem to fester

swinghigh
swinghigh

attorneys lobbying for tow companies:

R7E Approve Issuance of Towing Permits-Beach Towing Services & Tremont

Rafael Andrade Beach Towing Services, Inc. 09/24/2010 No comp.

David Custin Beach Towing Services of Mia. 02/04/2011 $2,223/month

Russell Galbut Tremont Towing 05/11/2011 No comp.

Randall Hilliard Beach Towing 05/09/2011 $2,500/month

Neisen Kasdin Tremont Towing 03/24/2008 $500 per hour

Eston Melton III Beach Towing 05/06/2011 $1,000 per month

David Nevel Tremont Towing 05/11/2011 $275 per month

Kent Robbins Beach Towing 09/27/2010 $450 per hour

Dori Barouch Martin
Dori Barouch Martin

I was towed a few years ago in the same lot. Everyone I told said it must have been my own fault as I tried to explain about the meters. I wrote actual letters to city hall, chief of police, the county commission, the Lincoln theater( where I had attended a concert when my car was towed) and i never received a response from one person about those thieves . Now, finally after 3 years they are being exposed for the crooks that they are!! I have not been back to Lincoln road since then and I will not go there to give them another shot at me.

Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein
Rabbi_Pedro_Goldstein

What do you get when you cross an Italian and a Jew? A crooked Miami Beach parking lot 

k3pgx
k3pgx

OK folks: Step 1 find out if the property owners have a license to operate a parking lot. Step 2 find out if the owners obtained a permit to install the metering system. Step 3 wipe hands on pants

Miranda Espindola
Miranda Espindola

I got towed by that company once. They only take cash and they treat u like a criminal

tumadreencuera
tumadreencuera

Solution: Visit the meter at night with a heavy duty set of wrenches and take care of this the old fashioned way.

Jannelle Achaval
Jannelle Achaval

Lmao how can I forget! Lol that's the night you went Hulk Smash on a concrete wall jaja Izy Volta

jimjim
jimjim

Guess who owns Tremont towing? Andrew Mirmelli...!

Tony Miller
Tony Miller

Parking on sobe sucks. We all know this. This situation seems to fall in the grey area for me. What do the lot owners stand to gain by this? I find it hard to believe they're getting a kick back on the tows from their lot. I'm also tired of people who are "in a hurry" and don't take the time to read posted signs. When sobe switched there loading zone parking rules everybody bitched about that even though there were new signs up with the new rules. Sometimes you pay the tax for being "in a hurry". Learn a lesson. Pull your face out of your ipad or iphone or your iass and pay attention to the world around you.

juststeve
juststeve

Fuck the those assholes at Tremont and Miramelli & Mayberg. Karma is a bitch you greedy fucking assholes.

internetinternet
internetinternet

I feel bad for the innocent people who thing South Beach is a great tourist destination.  So many scams are pulled on tourists. 

keithjam
keithjam

Someone should accidentally pour a frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity on his precious parking meter.   

mzteachr
mzteachr

Tremont explains very rationally that it's a private lot and that you can only pay using their one machine. Whereas a city lot would give you a ticket for expired time or not buying a ticket, here they tow you. And tremont has tow trucks circulating that lot like sharks around chum. I sadly fell into this trap with those barely visible signs.

mzteachr
mzteachr

Tremont claims that since it is a private lot not city lot that you can only use that one machine (that looks like all the other machines) to pay time. Then they have their tow trucks circulating like sharks. Total scam.

Izy Volta
Izy Volta

remember thisss?? Jannelle Achaval

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

Just easier to impose economic sanctions on South Beach. Just spend your money and time somewhere else, that money better be the last they ever expect to need, becasue word of mouth travels fast on the internet, steer business away from the community too. It won't take anyone long to accumulate more in costs than they charged. How many lunches or dinners does that work out to ? How many drinks over a few weekends ? How many/much in parking fees at the longer term garages ? And next is shopping, the business community will be hurt for what they did to you over a parking spot. And steer everyone you come in contact away from there too. There's getting even and then there's a lifetime ban and economic sanctions.

Bryan Halda
Bryan Halda

WARNING! I found myself scratching my head yesterday afternoon along with several others when I pulled in to what was the original Epi-Cure parking lot only.

Richard Greenfield
Richard Greenfield

those machines are awful. The county, city and other local municipalities should pool their buying power and get ONE machine.

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

Why would you go across the street to pay a parking meter that should be right in front of your car ? Of course, I would've laughed at him "skipping" across the street, that must've been hilarious ?

Seriously though, the $ 241 charged by Tremont is absurd, unless he left it there for a day or two trying to figure out where it was taken ? I don't know so much that $ 106 is the rate anymore, but even that's highway robbery for the few blocks they steal your car and extort you for cash for. Had to have my SUV towed for a real breakdown a few months back and it was $ 85 for about a 10 +/- mile tow, and that was to a dealership. Common sense tells you that the parking meter closest your car is where you pay for that spot. Is there a numbering system ? I ask because things have changed in South Beach and I refuse to drive down there any more because parking is such a mess and exactly for the reasons these people play their towing games. Once they have you car, they hold you hostage and demand a ransom that is always cash only. And the rate changes arbitrarily from a phone call to getting there in person. They towed my RX7 out of my apartment complex a few years back, car was insured wasn't in disrepair, Tremont basically stole the car, so sometimes it doesn't matter whether you're legally parked or not.

Dirk DeSouza
Dirk DeSouza

Because that's the only automated parking machine brand on earth

sugees69
sugees69

@tenzenone10 I agree that what is being allowed to happen with these lots will only hurt the local businesses and drive people who want to go there away. If the city is in with the tow company, they are total fools. They are only hurting the cities businesses and sending that business elsewhere. How does that help make money for the city? 

mzteachr
mzteachr

@Tony Miller don't you think that possibly tremont towing is the owner of the private lot?!? Of course they are getting a kickback!

mzteachr
mzteachr

@internetinternet and residents

mzteachr
mzteachr

@Richard Greenfield this is that private lot with the look alike city machine I told you about that I got towed from.

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

@jgcamp99Jose & ivxx, evidently those standing around the pay station understood, probably why there was the line in the first place. In this case, impatience was a $ 241 tow bill. I think he got gouged the Mercedes Benz extortion rate, then again they raise the rates. Know what you get in South Beach, a shell game for parking, better to bicycle in and avoid the towing scam/scum. PDF download of the rules, I think that is as recent as 2009 ?

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CD0QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.miamibeachfl.gov%2FWorkArea%2Flinkit.aspx%3FLinkIdentifier%3Did%26ItemID%3D48110&ei=m1FjUdmvFoik8gSW04DoCA&usg=AFQjCNF0WVKJPP0y64vTbQYjsUP3ftCmww&sig2=1fS_ELxh0N_BZYMuEtlyyA

ivxx
ivxx

@jgcamp99 The city has multiple meters near lots to avoid lines... go to any regular beach lot and you'll find a couple of machines placed throughout the lot. This was obviously a scam, a fluke someone at tremont probably noticed afterwards and said "let's see how long we can ride this out"

JoseDuran
JoseDuran moderator communitymanager

@jgcamp99 He went across the street because there was a long line at the one in the lot. Normally, city meters you are allowed to pay at any nearby meter. Whether it's close to your car or not doesn't matter. Tremont is obviously hoping people like Conesa screw up and do exactly what he did. They aren't looking to make money from the lot but from the error of drivers.

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