MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Parking employees in Miami Beach last week received messages notifying them that their “full-time position is being converted to part-time status at 28 hours/week,” blaming the “drastic measures” on COVID-19′s economic impact.
John Woodruff, the city’s chief financial officer, says they are not privatizing the parking department and that the plan is to offer displaced employees jobs in other departments, while also bringing in part-time staff from outside companies.
“I hate the thought of anything privatized as far as parking,” Miami Beach resident Jean Kulick said. “We have a terrible history here with beach towing.”
In an email, Commissioner Michael Gongora tells Local 10 News that more discussion is needed “for the well-being of not just the forty families affected by this decision, but also the residents of Miami Beach, who will now be subject to ticketing by part-time employees contracted by a private company.”
“Almost the entire department is Hispanic, so these are minority employees, among our lowest-paid employees, that are being cut, and I have a real problem with that,” Gongora says.
But city leaders assured all affected parking employees will be offered jobs at the same pay rate.
They say it’s not just the pandemic but also a shift toward ridesharing, biking and pedestrian options that mean huge parking revenues may be a thing of the past.
“We’re losing parking,” City Manager Jimmy Morales said. “The closing of Ocean Drive, for example, is eliminating what is a million dollars a year of parking revenue off that street.”
The commission agreed Friday to move forward with this plan, but the final budget vote isn’t set to happen until September. If approved, it would take effect starting in October.