Miami Board OKs Self-Storage Freeze

Posted by Danielle Lachenauer on Jan 17, 2020 12:00:00 AM


Proposed rule includes 270-day citywide moratorium on new storage facilities and outright ban on new self-storage units near mixed-use residential areas

Miami’s Planning, Zoning & Appeals Board backed two proposed ordinances that will put the brakes on new storage facilities in the city of Miami.

The first rule, banning storage facilities near mixed-used residential areas zoned T5 and T6, passed unanimously during the board’s meeting on Wednesday.

A second piece of legislation, a 270-day moratorium on any new storage facilities throughout the city, barely squeaked by with a vote of 5 to 4, pending a “comprehensive review.”

Planning board member Chris Collins said he was confused as to why the board was asked to ban storage facilities from T5 and T6 areas and then be presented with a city-wide moratorium. “It just seems like we are throwing random darts at that use, and I don’t understand the process,” Collins said.

Esteban Ferreiro, chief of staff for Miami City Commissioner Manolo Reyes, said his office wasn’t even aware that the storage facility ban for T5 and T6 areas was being addressed at the meeting until the agenda came out.

However, he said both actions arose due to concerns over the proliferation of storage facilities in the city, as well as incidents of illegal dumping, which tend to occur near storage areas.

Other cities have placed moratoriums on self-storage development, such as Pompano Beach, which placed a six-month freeze in September.

Miami Assistant City Attorney Amber Ketterer said there has also been discussion about requiring a “special warrant” for new facilities wishing to build in industrial D1 and D2 districts.

In recent years, self-storage facilities have been one of the hottest property types in South Florida. A recent Green Street Advisors analysis revealed that storage facilities have been far more profitable than other commercial properties.

Yet, it’s because of that popularity that Miami has sought to curb the development of new facilities. In March 2017, the city passed legislation mandating that new storage facilities in T5 and T6 have ground-level retail and be at least 2,500 square feet apart.

Ines Marrero-Priegues, a Holland & Knight attorney who said she represents several self-storage companies, told the board she had no objections over either rule. However, she wanted to be sure that the moratorium would be added onto the amount of time an unnamed client had on a special warrant to build a facility at 2915 Northwest 25th Street.

Board member Alex Dominguez said demand for storage facilities may actually increase in Miami as more people move in. He also worried that a moratorium will provide an excuse for storage facility owners to raise their rates. “If only eight companies are doing it, and they know there’s no [other] competition. What’s to stop them from raising their prices?” he asked, later adding: “I just think it’s draconian to say no [new facilities] throughout the entire city. [Why not] in industrial areas? Why wait 270 days?”

Both ordinances must be passed by the Miami City Commission prior to becoming law. However, the board’s passage of the moratorium will prevent applications for new facilities from being processed due to the city’s zoning-in-progress law.