Beach panel to consider proposal to curb house parties
By Charlotte Libov
The Miami Beach Land Use and Development Committee on Monday will discuss a controversial proposal to curb the area's glitzy party scene from spilling over into residential neighborhoods.
City officials say the parties create noise, cause parking congestion and engender complaints.
The meeting is to take place at 4 p.m. in city hall. A second reading of the measure is scheduled for the commission's March 14 meeting.
The commission voted to accept the plan but sent it to the land-use committee for refinement following a contentious public hearing at which several people opposed the measure.
Alex Heckler, an attorney at Shutts & Bowen representing Miami Beach Residents to Protect Homeowners Rights, said that while he agrees with the city's right to crack down on "wild, chaotic parties," the proposed law is so vague that it would outlaw Super Bowl parties and other social gatherings.
Developer Michael Capponi said it would destroy the city's economy, leading to "the downfall of tourism, the downfall of hotel occupancy and the downfall of retail."
The city prohibits most commercial use in homes, but the ordinance would guarantee that events such as charitable functions could take place and impose a schedule of fines that would give the law teeth, Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez said.
Miami Beach code-compliance officers used the current ordinance last weekend to shut down a celebrity-studded party in a private home on Star Island for which tickets were reportedly sold for up to $2,500. The officers raided the party after city officials bought a ticket online, they said.
The proposal would ban parties in single-family homes if the owner receives more than $100 in cash, goods or services for the use of the property or if the event is sponsored for more than $100 ''providing a promotional opportunity plainly visible'' from the street, if it's open to the public or if there's a fee.
It would allow charity fundraisers as long as the city has at least three days' notice and proof of nonprofit status and parking and security plans are submitted.
All donations would have to go directly to the charity rather than through party planners. Political events would be exempt. Real estate open houses would be barred after 8 p.m. and could not be used to promote products.
Fines would range from $1,000 for a first violation in a calendar year to $15,000 for the fifth violation. Some commercial activities would remain unchanged, including permitted home-based businesses, movie and modeling shoots and garage sales.
At last month's meeting, the commissioners voted 6-1, with Michael Gongora opposed, to accept the ordinance pending refinement by the land-use committee.
The proposal will be discussed at a public workshop today (2/8) at the Rod & Reel Club, 208 S. Hibiscus Dr. on Hibiscus Island, said Tim W. Rose Jr., executive director of the Palm-Hibiscus-Star Islands Association, which is sponsoring the meeting. It is being held, he said, due to the "misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding the ordinance."