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Semi-Legal Handicapped Parking in South Beach

April 24, 2010 By Matt Meltzer in  | 9 Comments


Florida, in case nobody has told you, is popular among retirees. And as these retirees come to our state, they tend to bring with them a laundry list of physical ailments that rate them handicapped parking placards. Which is all well and good, since while their ability to drive may be debatable their need for close parking is not. But when said retirees take that final retirement to the great beyond, those handicapped placards seem to find their way into the hands of another group that is popular in Florida: Crooks and Scam artists.



Looking at cars parked on the street in South Beach, you would assume that nobody could walk more than 50 feet without some sort of assistance. And while this may have been true in 1985, the streets aren’t exactly teeming with walkers and power chairs anymore. As a matter of fact, aside from the homeless population, I haven’t seen an actual handicapped person walking around South Beach since I visited my Great Aunt Sylvia back in 1991. But still, somehow, every third car parked in the Beach seems to belong to an amputee.

For those not familiar, a handicapped parking placard is worth its weight in diamond-encrusted platinum in South Beach. Take a serious dearth of spaces and combine it with a City that seems to think a $15 flat rate is reasonable for a day at the beach. Then throw in a towing company with the moral conscience of Pol Pot, and you get a populous that would run its own grandmother over if it meant finding a good space. And I mean that literally. When grandma up in Boca croaks, her most disputed asset is rarely her canal-side condo or her 1998 Mercury with 27 miles on it. It’s the handicapped placard hanging from the rear-view mirror.



Because in South Beach, a handicapped placard is your amulet against the Darks Lords of Tremont Towing. It allows you to park in residential, metered, and short-term parking spots anywhere in the city. It also allows you to park free in municipal garages. But this requires photo ID that matches the owner of the pass, so obviously nobody uses that one. That aside, if you can somehow get your hands on one of these babies, you have successfully given the city and its parking racket the proverbial finger.



This raises an interesting moral question: Is someone using an illegal handicapped placard doing something immoral? I mean, yes, anyone who parks in a legitimate handicapped space with a placard that isn’t theirs is likely the same sort of person who runs over puppies for his own amusement. But what about the guy who just doesn’t like to pay for parking? What about the girl who’d rather not have to leave the beach every 2 hours to put $4 in quarters into her meter? Are these bad people? Granted, what they’re doing is illegal. But the only victims here are the ever-incompetent City of Miami Beach and the crooks at Tremont.

So I say, if you can pull one over on the bad guys, go for it. Even if grandma couldn’t leave you enough money to get rid of all of life’s aggravations, at least her legacy can get you out of one. At least until 2014 when that placard expires.

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About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

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9 Comments on

"Semi-Legal Handicapped Parking in South Beach"

Miami Culinary Tours says:

Hey Matt, I have been following you for a while now. Your comment about “grandma up in Boca croaks” is hilarious! It is ridiculous though how the towing-mafia operates. Yep, parked the other day in front of Mia (jewelry store) on Alton Rd and when I am going back to my car (I swear I spent 2 minutes), the mafia was taking my car. I had to run to the ATM, 5 $20s and hand it to him - I hate them!

Posted on 04/27/2010 at 6:28 AM

Carlos Miller says:

But what about the real handicapped people who is unable to park because the scammers are in their spaces?

Posted on 04/28/2010 at 7:39 AM

CHUD says:

I think he’s championing it’s use in “residential, metered, and short-term parking spots” as a way to get out of having to pay for the parking and not getting towed, and not in actual handicapped spots

Posted on 04/28/2010 at 10:56 AM

CHUD says:

As for the scammers who use real handicapped spaces… what can you do?

Posted on 04/28/2010 at 10:58 AM

contact says:

and about the real handicapped people who is unable to park because the scammers are in their spaces?

Posted on 04/29/2010 at 3:59 PM

CHUD says:


Posted on 04/30/2010 at 7:33 AM

NoneOfYourBusiness says:

Standing in line to get a plate (in GA): Clerk (to applicant in front of me): “What happened to your handicapped hang tag?”  Applicant:  “Was stolen from my car.”  Clerk:  “This is the 4th time?”  Applicant:  “Guess so.”  Clerk:  “Here’s your new hang tag.  Try to keep you car locked.”  Applicant:  “Yeah.”  What do these things go for on the open market?  See a problem here?  Same in FL?

Posted on 05/14/2010 at 5:27 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Yep. I"ve actually seen people steal these out of cars down here. The person in front of you may have been selling their pass too. I’m not sure what they go for, but I’d pay a grand for one that lasted 4 yeears.

Posted on 05/17/2010 at 12:13 PM

Jigga J says:

Ask the Haitians…when I worked at a bank, all the Haitains guys there had handicap hangtags and they clearly were not physically handicapped.

Posted on 08/09/2010 at 7:48 AM

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