Council Mulls Next Move on “Racist” Hotel Policy
Ald. Lewis considering license options. Three hotels have policies rejecting area residents.
The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously rejected a zoning change Tuesday morning for a new sign for the Comfort Suites hotel at 10831 W. Park Pl. on the city’s far northwest side.
But it’s not about the sign, it’s about a hotel policy that bans guests from within 30 miles. And now the council must figure out what, if anything, it can do about the policy.
“Sorry we just can’t support such a racist policy,” said Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II earlier this month after the council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee heard a presentation on the sign from Greg Jens of Oshkosh-based Mid-State Sign Service.
“I have family here in Milwaukee,” said Jens. “I travel to Milwaukee to do so sign work, to visit my family. I have to state that I spoke to several of the hotel employees on my recent stay here. They are very happy with this policy, in that it allows the people of Milwaukee, the residents of Milwaukee, to have their family come to this location and be free of any potential dangers that they believe happen at any other hotels such as drug use.”
“My hope is to really dive deep into this policy and ensure that you can’t do business like this in the city,” said Lewis in an interview with Urban Milwaukee after the vote. She said she is requesting an opinion from the independent City Attorney’s office.
Her concern is about more than this one hotel, “because they’re not the only ones operating under this 30-mile rule,” Lewis said. “So I want to make sure Milwaukeeans aren’t negatively impacted number one,” said Lewis. “Two, you don’t get benefit off the [Democratic National Convention] if you are literally and explicitly excluding Milwaukee residents.”
Her raising of the issue in November led to the file being sent back to committee, where Jens made his presentation and defended the policy. But the committee wanted to hear from the hotel’s owners.
It might take some time for that to happen.
Neither the owners nor a representative were on hand last week when the issue came before a council committee nor on Tuesday morning when the hotel was again before the full council. The 15-member body rejected the change without discussion.
The hotel’s license won’t expire until February 2020.
Multiple calls to the hotel’s ownership group, Monona Lodging, have gone unanswered. The group is recognized as a “foreign business corporation” in state records with an Illinois address. It acquired the hotel in May for $3.9 million. State records indicate Anup Patel is the company’s registered agent.
What Other Hotels Have This Policy?
After calling a number of area hotels, Urban Milwaukee was able to find two other area hotels offering a similar policy and four hotels that require area residents to place an extra deposit.
Quality Suites, 4488 S. 27th St., requires a $100 deposit for guests from within 50 miles. Quality Inn, 11333 W. Silver Spring Dr., requires a $100 deposit by credit card for guests coming from within 30 miles.
A Candlewood Suites in suburban Brown Deer has posted a requirement for a $500 deposit via credit card for residents within 30 miles. That mirrors a policy at the Holiday Inn Express located across the parking lot.
The northwest side Comfort Suites policy is posted on the hotel’s website. “This property does not rent to local area residents, you must live outside a 30-mile radius from the hotel,” reads the hotel alerts section.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.