The city says it’s a Miami dealer who operates Autoline LLC car sales in two Broward County locations.
People who had sheltered their cars in a Hollywood municipal garage or couldn’t find room to park there had a lot to say about the dealer accused of taking a block of spaces during the storm.
City officials say approximately 47 cars without license plates were cited for not having a current tag, a $30 fine. Seven of the cars bore an orange boot on rear tires, briefly making them immobile.
On Sept. 11, dealer Keijo Kiilo of Miami arrived at the garage at Van Buren Street and South 20th Avenue and began removing 24 vehicles, city spokeswoman Raelin Storey said.
A code compliance and a police officer met Kiilo and issued him 24 notices to appear in court for using public ways for private business, a city ordinance and a misdemeanor offense, Storey said.
The remaining cars had been removed earlier in the day before police could write citations for the second offense, she said. The penalty for each violation is a $500 fine and a possible two-month jail term.
No one answered phone calls made Sept. 11 to the Autoline locations, at 600 N. Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach and 520 S. Dixie Highway in Hollywood.
As Broward County’s 10 a.m. curfew ended Sept. 11, residents who had taken advantage of the city’s free offer to park there during the storm were arriving to pick up their cars.
They were not happy that someone took advantage of the city’s offer, and said it inconvenienced them and endangered their property.
“If you own a dealership, you should have a place to put your car,” said Eddie Muriel, who lives in the Regent Park condominiums next door. “Don’t take my spot. I live here, pay for parking here, and I couldn’t get a spot.”
William Brown, who lives nearby on Jackson Street, was astride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and leaving the garage when he stopped to talk about the situation.
“I come here to the Hollywood garage to park my vehicle and I find all the spaces were taken,” Brown said about his efforts to shelter his car before Hurricane Irma struck. “Then later on, I hear a story about a dealership having cars in here without tags, and I was pretty annoyed by that. I left my car at home and protected my Harley in here, and I’m happy that it’s all right.”
During Hurricane Matthew last October, Brown said he was able to park his bike and car side-by-side in the city garage.
“It was a great deal,” Brown said. ”But this year was a little bit different. A few more people found out the secret about Hollywood’s garages.”
He supports enforcement against any dealership that used a city garage during the storm.
“There should be some type of priority,” Brown said. “Residents don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Marcy Roban was at the garage too, and said, “We are very grateful to the city of Hollywood for having opened the garage to residents of the city.”
When asked whether a dealer who does business in the city and may pay taxes there should be entitled to the same opportunity, Roban said, “His business is covered by insurance.”
Robert Dominguez said being squeezed out of a protected parking space “was not fair for the people in the neighborhood that work hard for their cars. This guy just pulls in and takes all the spots?”
Driver Carolyn Boyer, who also lives nearby, said, “What they are showing is their priority is their cars, not the community.”
Storey, the city spokeswoman, said public reaction to situation was understandable.
“I think at the end of the day, people were upset because everyone needed to safeguard their property,” Storey said. “And for one person to take advantage of it when they should have come up with another solution for their business left people out in the storm, and that wasn’t the right thing to do.
“This is definitely not an example of human nature at its best. This is an example of someone taking advantage.”
Sun Sentinel Columnist Michael Mayo contributed to this report.