Tourism & Cruises

Beach hotel workers will get a parking discount. But their employer isn’t chipping in

The hard commute and tough day of one hotel housekeeper

Fontainebleau hotel housekeeper Odelie Paret can spend up to four hours getting to work on county buses. Her story is common in the Miami-Dade County hospitality world where high rents in the county have pushed workers farther away from their jobs
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Fontainebleau hotel housekeeper Odelie Paret can spend up to four hours getting to work on county buses. Her story is common in the Miami-Dade County hospitality world where high rents in the county have pushed workers farther away from their jobs

Miami Beach commissioners passed an ordinance Wednesday to provide hotel workers discounted parking.

The city will sell hotel workers 200 parking permits at $100 per month for a parking lot just north of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Resort, the city’s largest hotel. The price, while still expensive for Fontainebleau employees who make the minimum $11.49 per hour, is considerably lower than the $20 per day parking passes currently available near the hotel.

Some commissioners initially resisted the proposal because it doesn’t require the Fountainebleau to pitch in. Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who voted against the measure Wednesday, said the Fountainebleau should buy the passes from the city for $150 or $200 per month and resell them to the employees for $100. The commission ultimately opted for selling the discounted permits to the workers directly in a 5-2 vote.

More than 80 percent of the workers employed in Miami Beach don’t live there, and finding affordable transportation to work each day is a challenge. Many travel by bus, spending 2-6 hours on several different buses each day.

Rick Sanchez, a bellman at the Fontainebleau, urged the commission to approve the discounted parking rates at the commission meeting Wednesday.

“I would have to say that if this doesn’t go through, it would be a catastrophic financial burden on us workers,” he said.

Wendi Walsh, the secretary-treasurer of the local Unite Here 355 hotel union, said the discounted parking permits are a “win-win” for hotel workers and the city because they keep workers from having to search for parking on the streets and in neighborhoods.

The parking ordinance includes 100 overnight permits and 100 daytime permits at $100 per month in the designated mid-Beach lot and 400 more permits at underused lots farther away, with free trolley service, for $70 per month.

Kyra Gurney contributed to this report.

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Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.


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