Proliferation of storage facilities in Miami comes under fire

Self-storage facility
Self-storage facility

The city of Miami’s Planning, Zoning, and Appeals Board asked for more stringent regulations that will limit the development of new public storage facilities in most parts of the Magic City.

“Nothing takes away from the city more, and adds so little, as these buildings,” grumbled board member Adam Gersten, during the board’s Wednesday meeting.

Currently, self-storage facilities are allowed in industrial zones, as well as places zoned T5-O and T6-O. In T5-O and T6-O zoned areas, commercial buildings with retail and residential are permitted. Also, after the passage of Miami 21, the 2,500-foot distance requirement that existed under the city’s previous zoning code was removed. As a result, 20 applications for storage facilities have been approved by the city since the passage of Miami 21 in 2010. Of those, four storage facilities are complete and 10 are under construction.

City planner Joseph Eisenberg presented a proposed ordinance that would require that future storage facilities in T5-O and T6-O zoned areas be at least 2,500 feet apart and with no exceptions. In other words, developers won’t be able to obtain a variance. Self-storage buildings in T5-O and T6-O zones will also be required to have ground floor retail with at least half of the space leased to a business that is “unrelated to the public storage facility,” according to the proposed legislation.

“There is obviously a market demand for these storage facilities,” Eisenberg said. The ordinance’s intent, Eisenberg said, is to encourage the development of storage facilities in places zoned industrial (D1, D2, and D3 under the Miami 21 code) and discourage them in T5-O and T6-O zoned places.

“This is a first step,” Eisenberg said.

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But planning and zoning board members complained that the first step didn’t go far enough.

“That distance is less than half a mile,” observed board member Betty Gutierrez. “They could have [a new storage facility] every six blocks.”

PZA board member Jennifer Barnes, an Upper Eastside resident, said two storage facilities are proliferating along 79th Street east of I-95.

“I am seeing storage facilities everywhere on 79th Street,” Barnes said. “It’s creating an issue.” At the very least, Barnes said that storage facilities should be prevented from setting up anywhere near areas zoned for single-family houses.

The board unanimously continued the proposed storage facility ordinance until its next meeting on Dec. 7. By then, the planning department staff is to analyze the feasibility of enacting greater distance requirements for storage facilities outside of industrial areas and prevent future storage places from being built within 500 feet of a single-family zoned area.

The Miami City Commission is expected to rule on the storage facility ordinance by January.