Despite a broad prohibition on entertainment in the South of Fifth Neighborhood, City Code currently allows for limited exceptions. But those exceptions won’t be allowed much longer if a draft ordinance approved by the Land Use and Development Committee passes the full Commission.
In a memo to the Committee, City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote, “Over the course of the last two decades… the Mayor and City Commission have adopted a series of incremental land development regulations in an attempt to ameliorate the harms associated with entertainment establishments located South of Fifth Street. Each incremental enforcement regulation has proven to be insufficient in combatting the negative effects that entertainment establishments cause in this residential neighborhood.”
The new ordinance would prohibit outdoor entertainment establishments, open air entertainment establishments, and eliminates a provision for “dance halls and entertainment establishments” within hotels. It also strikes this section of current code: “Additionally for restaurants located in the C-PS2 district, on the south side of Fifth Street between Michigan Avenue and Alton Road, non-amplified piano or string instruments, played at a volume that does not interfere with normal conversation, may be permitted as a conditional use within the interior of the premises, in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 118, Article IV, and only during periods in which full meals are being served, and no later than 2:00 am."
Bakehouse Brasserie has sued the City over the current code when the City attempted to silence saxophone music at the restaurant’s Sunday brunch because it didn’t fit within the guidelines for piano or string instruments. Now the City is attempting to close that provision in the Code.
In a formal process in which testimony was recorded by a stenographer, many residents turned out in favor of the prohibition. City staff testified to the extra burden created by entertainment districts in terms of parking issues and increased sanitation issues and costs and a consultant testified that the proposed ordinance was consistent with protecting the residential neighborhood. No one spoke in opposition to the ordinance.
Commissioner John Alemán said she has received numerous complaints about the entertainment establishments that were grandfathered in prior to the prohibition on entertainment in the area, adding the party always seems to spill outside the clubs. “Tourism is our lifeblood so obviously we love entertainment but we love entertainment when it’s in the right place and it’s clearly incompatible here, South of Fifth.” She said she moved to Miami Beach in 1994, “ten years before the entertainment ban… so I can certainly attest to the incredible transformation South of Fifth since that time.”
Commissioner Joy Malakoff said, “Zoning powers are essential to a City.” The intent of the City’s comprehensive plan, she said, is clear in protecting the quality of life, health, safety and welfare of residential neighborhoods. “The whole viability of a residential neighborhood depends on it and I think it’s up to us to move it forward,” she said before calling for a vote. The Committee unanimously recommended the ordinance be referred to the Planning Board for consideration in June.
Background on the ordinance