Updated: Biltmore Covers Up Signs, After Illegally Charging For Parking

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]


The Biltmore Hotel is a City-owned property being managed by Seaway Hotels Corporation.

Over the last few weeks reports came in to City Hall about the Biltmore implementing a pay to park system on the surface parking lot adjacent to the hotel, with large yellow signs and smaller white and red signs, demanding payment to park.

The signs are seemingly threats to those who do not pay, “Park at your own risk.”

However, sources at City Hall inform Gables Insider that the Biltmore did not follow any of the proper protocols in place to implement a payment system to park on the City-owned lot. The signs were also not approved.

This is an issue that has arisen with other privately managed lots within the City, that have brought the ire of the Commission, due to questionable practices.

The Commission had been given assurances the parking signs would be covered up by the Biltmore and there would be no charging. However, these images were taken by Gables Insider on February 3rd, showing the Biltmore is still charging for use of the lot.

Kinney Involved?

The question is whether Parking Director Kevin Kinney has any involvement. Kinney, as you will recall, was behind the taking of parking from residents on Ponce de Leon Boulevard to benefit developers and also tried to implement business parking along Biltmore Way to benefit a friend of former Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli who had just purchased a commercial unit in the David William.

Involved or not, sources at City Hall confirm that Kinney’s job is safe as City Manager Peter Iglesias needs Kinney to ensure his self-acclaimed “legacy project,” the Mobility Hub, is completed.

City Attorney

Gables Insider reached out to Coral Gables City Attorney, Miriam Ramos, who is working on this issue on behalf of the City. In a statement to Gables Insider, she stated, “Charging for parking is not currently provided for. However, the hotel management has been in touch with the City Manager about the possibility of charging for parking. At the moment, the specific terms have not been agreed to. The Biltmore understands that they cannot start charging until the terms are agreed to and they are in the process of covering the signs that were installed so as to avoid any confusion.”

As of 7:20PM on February 4th, the site is still collecting payment for parking at the Biltmore, at a rate of $3.00 per hour or $24.00 per day.

Signs Covered Up

On Sunday evening, February 6th, Gables Insider learned that the Biltmore Hotel had covered its signs illegally charging for parking on its surface parking lot.

Gables Insider has learned that the Biltmore had been charging for over two weeks.

Gables Insider has asked the City Attorney whether the Biltmore has outlined a process by which they reimburse the illegal parking charges and associated fees. We are awaiting a response.

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29 thoughts on “Updated: Biltmore Covers Up Signs, After Illegally Charging For Parking

  1. Jack Thompson….thank you! Looking forward to a response.
    Ramon Mas….totally agree with all your points.

  2. For locals who frequent the Biltmore for lunch (at least once per week) at the Cascade or 19th Hole charging for parking would be a huge mistake. If they are working out a deal with the City so they can charge legitimately they should really rethink that strategy. The Resturaunt service is notoriously slow so, according to the charging list above per hour, it could potentially cost and extra $6 for lunch. No thank you.

  3. aside the parking problem, may I have a moment of your time to make this comment?

    I guess the 5 commissioners were absent from school —maybe home sick— when the teacher had the lesson on “democracy”. In a democracy, the majority rules.

    The ignorance of the 5 commissions was exposed when the “mobility hub” came up. The “mobility hub” was to be a huge glass box for cars on Miracle Mile. Over SIX HUNDRED residents signed a petition AGAINST the “mobility hub”. Not ONE resident signed a petition FOR it. In a democracy, the “mobility hub” would end.

    Oh, no! Not in Coral Gables. All 5 commissioners voted FOR the “mobility hub.”

    Now, the taxpayers in the City must pay over FORTY MILLION DOLLARS for a glass box they don’t want. I guess outside of school the 5 commissioners learned how to spend other people’s money.

    Has anyone looked at the big, ugly mechanical flowers on the two round-abouts near City Hall? They cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars. I guess outside of school the love of their lives never told the 5 commissioners than real flowers are more beautiful.

    The 5 commissioners must be the dumbest people in our town. Anyone who voted for them must be kicking themselves.

    Thanks for your time. Back to the parking problem.

  4. I don’t know when they covered the signs, but driving by on Saturday, the signs were in full display from what I observed

  5. The Biltmore is a five star property with two star management. It is only that way because of payoffs to commissioners.

  6. The Biltmore has been slowly removing all of the original 1926 George Merrick lamp posts in the parking area and replacing them with blindingly bright modern LED lamps. The hotel is a national landmark, have these changes been approved?

  7. Sorry for the typo. Should be Ariel Fernandez whom I am thanking. Having said that, I wonder how the City and the Hotel are coming on the REFUNDS to the people who paid the illegal fees. They have the digital records.

  8. Citizens TV centers on explaining “democracy” to children. The explanation is by example.

    This past week, Citizens TV conducted interviews with the Five Commissioners of Coral Gables, Fl.

    The interview focused on the “Mobility Hub”. Each Commissioner admitted more than SIX HUNDRED residents signed a petition against the “Mobility Hub”. No resident signed a petition for the “Mobility Hub”. Yet, each Commissioner voted for the “Mobility Hub”.

    Citizens TV explained to children, “Don’t let this happen when you grow up.”

  9. It is Sunday @ 5:56 pm, and ALL pay for parking signs at the Biltmore Hotel are covered with Brown paper.

    Thank you on behalf of all residents to Gabriel Fernandez, founder and publisher of Gables Insider for exposing this wrong. Justice Brandeis was right when he wrote “the best disinfectant is sunshine.”

    We now have the least transparent Coral Gables government in my 41 years of living here.

    There must be NO fees for surface parking at the Biltmore, and all fees collected for same MUST be refunded this week.

    Jack Thompson

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Feb 6, 2022, at 9:57 AM, John Thompson wrote:

    Dear Eugene Prescott:

    Gables Insider is presently reporting the above. To make matters worse, someone has covered with brown paper some of the signs demanding these alleged illegal, unauthorized payments while not covering up the rest of them.

    Dumb.

    This is an admission plus a botched cover-up, literally.

    Since Florida’s Public Records Laws require production of documents generated as to such above things by any entity DOING BUSINESS with governments as well as by the government, please produce me all documents pertaining to the charging for surface parking at the Biltmore including but not limited to the digital records as to what motorists have paid such fees. These must be refunded.

    City Attorney Ms. Ramos, same to you.

    Jack Thompson

    Sent from my iPhone

  10. This trend towards charging fees for practically every parking space in the City of Coral Gables has got to stop. Both the city and the business community will eventually be hurt by it. It reeks of insatiable greed and it is beginning to turn people off— people who also happen to be customers.

    It seems the Biltmore has now decided to jump on the parking revenue bandwagon. That is a big mistake. Like many Coral Gables residents, I routinely meet with clients and friends at the Biltmore, usually for breakfast or lunch. Many out-of-town visitors that I’ve introduced to the Biltmore have returned to stay there.

    If the Biltmore pursues this pay for parking scheme, I will no longer patronize the place.

    I’ve started to avoid downtown Coral Gables because the parking fees are out of control. I don’t like having to pay a couple of bucks just to make a quick deposit at my bank or run into a store to buy something. If the Biltmore starts doing the same thing, I’ll bypass it too.

    All of these incremental changes taking place in Coral Gables—whether charging more parking fees, allowing monstrous real estate developments, tracking our daily movements with automated license plate readers, and forcing us to do more things digitally in the name of progress or “convenience”—- are fundamentally changing the nature of our city….and not in a good way.

    We are indeed on the path to becoming another crowded and overpriced Brickell. The quaint village atmosphere we once enjoyed will soon be found only in faded photographs in the Coral Gables Museum…assuming the Museum isn’t digitized as well.

  11. Dear Eugene Prescott:

    Gables Insider is presently reporting the above. To make matters worse, someone has covered with brown paper some of the signs demanding these alleged illegal, unauthorized payments while not covering up the rest of them.

    Dumb.

    This is an admission plus a botched cover-up, literally.

    Since Florida’s Public Records Laws require production of documents generated as to such above things by any entity DOING BUSINESS with governments as well as by the government, please produce me all documents pertaining to the charging for surface parking at the Biltmore including but not limited to the digital records as to what motorists have paid such fees. These must be refunded.

    City Attorney Ms. Ramos, same to you.

    Jack Thompson

    Sent from my iPhone

  12. Mayor Vince Lago loves to give and receive awards. I hope he displays the award for Mis-management in front of his desk at Commission meetings, so all of us can see it, all the time. By the way, what is the shape of this very important award?

  13. The Florida and International Board of Mayors on Mis-Management have announced this month’s winner. The award goes to Vince Lago, the Mayor of Coral Gables, Fl. He won the award this month for the parking problem at the Biltmore Hotel. He was a strong runner up in prior months for approving the Mobility Hub, opposed by the vast majority of residents.

    The award will be presented in the Comedy Room at City Hall. Due to an anticipated over-flow crowd, it is by invitation only.

  14. Kevin Kinney has no clue about the parking fee. He’s by far the laziest director in the city. Zero work product, zero charisma, zero initiative. Basically taking up space.

  15. This email was sent this morning to our Big Government Mayor to [email protected]:

    Dear Mayor Lago: The City has now been caught, thanks to Gables Insider, illegally coercing funds for surfacing parking at the Biltmore.

    This is theft.

    I demand that you immediately sequester these stolen funds and return them to those folks who paid them since there is a digital record of these illegal collections.

    You have five days to prove you have done this.

    Jack Thompson

  16. So the golfers play five hours more or less on a city golf course. Now they have to pay $15.00 or more for parking?
    This is unbelievable! If someone play everyday, how much will that be? The members of the gymnasium that excessive everyday, also have to pay, on top of the membership? Wow!

  17. It appears that the City of Coral Gables has a history of failing in its obligation to The Biltmore as one of our most important landmarks.

    If you would like to learn about this read the following article lauding the 30 year history of the company in management. This article was provided in a comment on the recent Gables Insider piece regarding Coral Gables Country Club.

    https://coralgablesthemagazine.com/the-passion-of-prescott/

    The Biltmore prior to the pandemic “exceeded the 65 percent benchmark that defines success in a hotel” and hosted some “300 weddings a year” the article explains. It stands to reason that until the hospitality industry normalizes The Biltmore must consider measures that compensate for the impact of the pandemic such as charging for leaving automobiles in the surface lot.

    This is definitely displeasing to Coral Gables residents and regulars such as myself and my family and friends however under current circumstances it is altogether logical.

    Then again the solution is simple.

    The City can direct funds earned from developer deals such as The Plaza under construction on Ponce de Leon to assist The Biltmore and in so doing offset in some increment the devaluation caused to the character of our town by that inappropriate conglomeration of concrete now looming over residential neighborhoods and ruining the formerly graceful Boulevard.

    This is appropriate instead of directing funds toward multicolored chalk drawings on the street in front of City Hall or light shows projected onto buildings or metallic flowers in roundabouts while The Biltmore needs support in a pandemic and the remaining White Way Lamps designed by the great artist Denman Fink rust away and the historically significant fountains crumble at our most valuable landmark of all Merrick House on Coral Way.

  18. Kinney would not lift a finger without the blessing of Mayor L’ego. Lago is regressing us to the darkest days of the Slesnick mayoralty, when Don told us the Biltmore was “our partner” and we should forget about the $5mm Cason ended up getting back for us.

  19. There is a long history of the Biltmore making changes that aren’t up to code but that are never permitted or inspected and that in some cases are unsafe, but they just do what they want, without the normal compliance. So this parking charge is rather typical. The policy clearly is: don’t ask, just do what we want, then we’ll deal with it if we get any heat.

  20. ” Kinney, as you will recall, was behind the taking of parking from residents on Ponce de Leon Boulevard to benefit developers” YES!!!!! this is truth. I live adjacent to Ponce and literally know that the business have “residential parking permits” I did call this out and was told to look the other way. LOL

  21. This nickel and diming by the Hotel is emblematic of the way the City has allowed these vendors to operate. They feel they can do this with impunity, which is why the signs went up in the first place.
    These are public facilities, and they should stay free for the benefit of the residents of Coral Gables.

  22. At this rate Vince Lago will be charging us for the Gables air we breathe. This is outlandish. City Attorney Ramos thinks the City can negotiate this regressive tax with Seaway? Not gonna happen. Ever.

  23. The City of Coral Gables has been one of the few junior golfer friendly cities in Miami Dade County. Charging high school aged players “hotel” parking rates while practicing individually or with their teams will discourage their participation in a healthy lifelong sport. I strongly oppose doing so. The same applies to city residents who are retired and on limited incomes. Several get their exercise utilizing the putting and chipping areas and driving range.

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