Miami Beach commissioners hear from residents about noise problems
By Tanja Edwards
After hearing from a commission chamber filled with residents complaining of noise from outdoor entertainment at nightclubs and hotels, the Miami Beach City Commission instructed staff to look at ways to clarify the county noise ordinance and bring its recommendation to the city planning commission.
"We have a law in the books," said Commissioner Matti Bowers one day after Monday's workshop. "If you can hear the noise from more than 100 feet away, that's illegal, but it seems to be unclear. We're not sure what (the staff) will come back with."
Commissioner Bowers said the laws have been on the books for years but she is not sure why noise only recently became a problem. She thinks a surge in residential building in South Beach, particularly in the area south of Fifth Street, might be the reason.
Frank Del Vecchio, president of the South Pointe Residents Association, agrees. He points to several night clubs and hotels as creating a great deal of noise with outdoor entertainment and disturbing nearby condominium residents nearby.
These residents, Mr. Del Vecchio says, represent a strong tax base in Miami Beach. The South Beach area has added 6,000 residential units since 1997 and residents in high-rise condos such as the Continuum and Murano at Portofino, he says, pay $16,000 to $20,000 a year in taxes.
"The business economy on South Beach will have to be more and more reliant on the residents," he said.
It's not just the high-end residents who complained at Monday's meeting, though, Mr. Del Vecchio said. Neighborhood residents also said they couldn't go out on their balconies at night or listen to their own music because of the noise from the outside entertainment.
Stuart Blumberg, president of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, said the hotels are trying to be good neighbors. Contrary to what some residents seem to think, he said, the hotels are not interested in opening nightclubs poolside.
Instead, he said, hotel owners want to be able to offer guests, businesses and conventions that come to Miami Beach the option of holding the usual hotel functions outdoors, taking advantage of the weather and South Florida ambiance.
"We're offering no changes in the law," Mr. Blumberg said. "We're willing to work within reasonable parameters."
That would mean, for example, ending weeknight functions at 10 or 10:30 p.m. and ending weekend functions at midnight, he said.
"We're not nightclubs," he said. "But we want to hold what hotels normally hold, but do it outside."
It is not certain when the planning board will come back to the commission with a recommendation on dealing with the county noise ordinance. The commission meets again July 30, and then recesses through August.