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MOISHE MANA AND TONY ALBELO, THE CREATORS OF #SAVEWYNWOOD CLAIM THAT WYNWOOD WILL BE SHUT DOWN UNLESS THE PUBLIC RALLIES BEHIND THEM.
THAT'S ALL CRAP! THESE TWO GUYS ARE, AND HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST VIOLATORS OF STATE, COUNTY AND CITY LAWS AND ORDINANCES IN WYNWOOD BECAUSE THEY FIGURED THEY COULD GET AWAY WITH VIOLATING THEM IN ORDER TO MAKE MONEY. IT'S LIKE COAL MINE OPERATORS FAILING TO EMPLOY SAFE WORKING CONDITIONS TO PROTECT THEIR WORKERS, AND THEN ASKING EVERYONE IN TOWN TO COME OUT AND SUPPORT KEEPING THE MINE OPEN WHEN THE MINE INSPECTORS COME SO THEY CAN KEEP DOING THE SAME SHIT
How can Moishe Mana and Tony Albelo who together operated Wynwood Marketplace and The Deck for years without a legal Temporary Use Permit, turn around after they were forced to apply and received a revised TUP, get upset because the new TUP required that they had to obey the laws and ordinances of the State of Florida, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami?
I would argue that it was because those laws and requirements required them to start complying with basic life safety issues such as having real bathrooms instead of portable toilets, proper safety signage and fire escapes, the removal of dangerous portable propane tanks along with DERM and ADA compliance, and to operate their businesses the way every other business in Wynwood has had to do from the being with plans, permits and inspections before opening for business.
Why would that be hard to comprehend?
Obviously, it now seems that it was a lot harder for Mana and Albelo to comprehend than anyone expected because instead of deciding to do things the right way, they decided instead to spend money on a devious and unprincipled PR campaign that included creating a petition on Change.org, and driving people to sign it by coming up with lies about how a bunch of rich developers were planning on shutting Wynwood nightlife down - as if none of these developers didn't rely on the nightlife for their businesses and/or their tenants who cater to the nightlife crowd - all fueled by a bunch of nasty text messages accusing people of being liars and racists.
Clearly it's never a good idea to accuse a bunch of people who have tried to operate legitimate businesses and live honorable lives of being racists because you refuse to obey the laws that they've all obeyed.
Even in the crazy times we find ourselves living in that kind of duplicitous bullshit is totally unacceptable, and has only served to force people who would rather avoid conflict, that this time, everyone has to stand up and be counted!
THE NOISE BOSS, THE NOISE! I HEAR IT OVER HERE
The ULTRA Music festival will be coming to Miami later this month. It is one of the biggest music festivals in the world, and it attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the world - last year attendance was estimated at 160,000, and those people in turn spend upwards of $100 MILLION DOLLARS for hotels, meals and anything else that they fancy during their time here.
Even though all those people show up and spend all of that money the City of Miami requires that ULTRA shut off the music at midnight.
No ifs, ands or buts!
In large part they do this because people live close to Bayfront Park, and because those people know that the city has a noise ordinance that requires loud music at OUTDOOR VENUES to either be turned down or off after 11 PM, and they've spent serious money in hiring lawyers and filing lawsuits to make the city obey it's laws.
Moishe Mana and Tony Albelo, using Special Event Permits, have for years been staging dozens and dozens of outdoor events where the music blares across all over Wynwood and beyond till 3AM, 5AM, and even 7AM, thanks to a sock puppet named Vincent Betancourt who issues these Special Event Permits, and because of a pliable city administration along with a mayor and city commission who never saw a campaign contribution that they wouldn't take, even if it required them to bend over and spread 'em on the corner of Flagler Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
For years, during the administrations of Tomas Regalado and Francis Suarez, complaints from residents in other parts of the city forced their administrations to enforce the noise ordinance in those areas. At the same time Mana and Albelo managed to flaunt and abuse those same ordinances, and there is no question that having the mayor's cousin, Andrew Suarez, on his payroll is believed by many for why they were able to do so.
Even the Club District, which for years had blared music 4 nights a week till sunrise was finally forced to obey the law when complaints became so persistent that a legal interpretation of the noise ordinance was asked for and issued by the City Attorney's office in 2017.
NUMBER 56 - MARCH 1, 2020
Copyrighted: 2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
This interpretation also applies to the clubs in Wynwood, but for whatever reasons under the Suarez administration there seems to have been a conscious effort not to crack down like the city had in the club district.
One cannot deny or ignore the influence of money in Miami politics, and the way that policy decisions seem to be affected by campaign contributions as the Miami Herald recently revealed that for $75,000 in donations the mayor essentially let billionaire Norman Braman's attorney write his own anti-gambling ordinance.
A quick scan of campaign records reveal that Moishe Mana gave the Mayor at least $35,000 for his campaign for mayor, and Tony Albelo and his partner Javi Zayas gave Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Joe Carollo and Ken Russell a total of at least $18,000.
One of the arguments that Mana and Albelo have repeatedly made is that Wynwood is different because it used to be a warehouse district before this latest transformation into WYNWOOD, and consequently there aren't any residents that would be disturbed by the loud music at 3 or 5 or 7 AM.
That's not true. For starters, there are hundreds of people living in the immediate area south of Mana's property.
To appreciate their level of hypocrisy in making this claim, consider that they've also been making the claim that all of the other business owners in Wynwood who oppose their scheme to now try and turn Wynwood into a honky-tonk Bourbon Street, have been going around claiming that all of these people are "racists."
This is rich when you realize that the only difference between the folks living downtown and the people living around Mana's property is that the downtown folks are more than likely White and wealthy enough own rent or own a downtown condo, and the folks living around Mana's property are more than likely to be Black and poor and living in public housing who've been living in that part of Overtown decades before Moishe Mana and Tony Albelo ever heard of a place called Wynwood. (The property inside the RED lines is Mana property, and the property inside the YELLOW lines is all residential property.)
Sound travels, and the music both at night and on weekends coming from Mana's property has been heard as far away as the condos along the Bay in the Edgewater District.
Noise has certainly been a significant irritant for a lot of people, but in some ways an equally important issue is that Mana has been operating his Wynwood Market, including The Deck, illegally for years, and that in doing so he has put the very same people who he now claims to be seeking support from in jeopardy.
TEMPORARY USE PERMITS (TUP) AND THE ABUSES THEY CREATE WHEN POLITICIANS DECIDE TO IGNORE HOW THEY ARE BEING EXPLOITED
It will probably come as a surprise to most people that in District 3 which includes Little Havana, TUP's are not allowed. That's because after he was elected, Commissioner Carollo told his fellow commissioners that he didn't want any TUP's in his district and he has now twice had them agree to that in legislation that they've passed.(See Ordinance 13733, .)
Mana sought and received a TUP for the portions of his property that on the East borders NW 2nd Avenue from 22 Lane to 23rd street, and goes west to the perimeter road that runs alongside I-95 in 2016, as part of the Special Area Plan he also obtained.
It was on the east end of this property along NW 2nd Avenue that he built the Wynwood Market and The Deck.
That TUP permit expired in 2017. He never received an extension until the one that was issued to him on February 14, 2020, and only then because so many business people along the avenue were complaining about the unfair competition that he was forced to seek an extension and in so doing opened himself to the language that required that he start complying with the laws and ordinances that he had refused to comply with after the initial TUP expired. ()
As I've previously written, in 2016 Mana had his land use attorney and his architect appear before the Wynwood BID to seek their support for his application for a Special Area Plan.
I was at both of those meetings, and I videotaped both of them. (You can see the videos along with copies of the SAP and TUP .)
There was never any discussion or proposal by Mana's representatives at those meetings about turning Wynwood into an entertainment district like a Burbon Street in New Orleans or a Beale Street in Memphis.
In 2016, his stated desire was the creation of an international trade center, and the original TUP was to create a space for food trucks on weekends.
It's also important to understand that the noise issues are not solely related to the activities of Mana and Albelo through the use of Special Event Permits, but also involve a handful of bars clubs with outdoor seating who have also been a problem with loud music blaring through out the night.
Some of these clubs had licenses to stay open till 3AM or 5AM, and I have not been able to discover in my search of years of commission meetings and other records how that was somehow translated into the notion that besides being able to sell liquor to 3AM or 5AM, they were also entitled to ignore the noise ordinance on a nightly basis, not withstanding the noise waivers that the Wynwood District receives for Art Basel and Music Week.
The reason for that, and for the problems of enforcement of the noise ordinance on these businesses centers on three issues.
Any establishment in Wynwood that operates an OUTDOOR establishment that plans to sell alcohol has to apply for an OUTDOOR WARRANT from the Zoning Department.
A portion of that warrant stipulates that:
"It shall be unlawful to play or operate music
boxes, jukeboxes, radios, musical instruments
or any other musical devices on nor about the
premises between the hours of 11p.m. and
7 a.m. the following day, unless said music devices
are played or operated in an enclosed building and
the sound is not audible from the outside of the
building so as to disturb the quiet, comfort or
repose of persons in any dwelling, hotel or other
type of residence."
Records obtained from the Zoning Department by the Wynwood BID indicate that a number of those business currently operating did not do that.
On November 7, 2019, the BID requested a legal opinon from the City Attorney on the question whether the warrant language applied to current warrant holders.
PHOTO OF THE DAY - COMMISSIONER KEON HARDEMON, HIS WIFE, UNCLE BILLY AND AUNTIE BARBARA JOIN MICHAEL SIMKINS AND OTHERS AT THE VIP TABLE FOR THE SOFT OPENING OF CHEF MARCUS SAMUELSSON'S RED ROOSTER IN OVERTOWN
On February 3rd, I sent an email to the City Attorney asking what was, "the status of this request?"
She did not respond to my request, and as of today she nor her staff have responded to this request for a legal opinion, which raises the question of why not?
In recent weeks we've seen examples of the City Attorney issuing legal opinions on the rights and privileges of the Mayor like she was pulling rabbits out of a hat, yet, on an issue of quality of life for residents SHE HAS REMAINED SILENT FOR 3 MONTHS.
The last and most important issue has been the lack of uniform enforcement even on occasions when someone from Code Compliance shows up at one of these clubs in the early morning because of a noise complaint and leaves after either issuing a Ticket or Notice of Violation.
On the rare occasions when the police became involved and shut the club down, the complaints of the owners to public officials and the command staff of the police department resulted in Commander Kerr being told that he and his officers were not to do that.
I know this to be a fact because Assistant Chief Manny Morales in unsolicited comments to me during a phone call that I had with him on an unrelated story at the end of January told me that he had told Kerr that he was not to involve himself in code enforcement issues because his job was only to deal with real crimes.
With the knowledge that they could put pressure on city officials the club owners, starting with Mana and Albelo realized that if they could put pressure on the police on the street not to shut them down, they were home free, because what code violation fines they might be forced to pay were minuscule and could easily be absorbed as just another cost of doing business.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the fines that are levied are against the property owner and not the promoter, who more often than not are the ones willing to push the boundaries as far as he/she thinks they can get away with.
As a result of all of the recent controversy, Commander Kerr told me when I asked him if things were changing that the Code Compliance Department is, "currently exploring the process of cease and desist and injunctive relief with venues that continue to violate the noise ordinances."
GAMING THE PERMITS
In the last two weeks, during the time that they were ratcheting up their campaign to #SAVEWYNWOOD, Mana and Albelo were also going full steam ahead in trying to get Special Event Permits that would allow them to continue staging events throughout March on the parking lot of Mana's convention center that would end at 3AM.
Among those is Wynwood St Patrick's Day event. You can look at the complete permit application .
If you will look at the first page of the permit application below - it's a PDF that you can open to read the other pages, you will see that the item in Red says:
"All events needs to abide by the Noise Ordinance as
per Chapter 36 of the City of Miami Code."
That's the skimpy fig leaf of legal protection on this application against anyone coming along and trying to sue the city along with a promoter or club owner for a failure to comply with the noise ordinance.
In truth that notice in and of itself would probably not survive a good lawyer's prodding and probing.
First of all if you open the PDF you'll NOT a single word or a single question having to do with the music or sound being produced at the event, or about the requirements of the Noise Ordinance.
If the city was serious about the enforcement of the Noise Ordinance, the language of City Charter Section 36-5 would be included:
"Sec. 36-5. - Same—Hours of operation of jukeboxes, radios, etc.; exemption for events on city-owned property; relaxation.
It shall be unlawful for any person owning, occupying or having charge of any business establishment, or any part thereof, in the city, to cause or suffer to cause the playing or operating of music boxes, jukeboxes, radios, musical instruments or any other musical devices on or about the premises between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day, unless such music boxes, jukeboxes, radios, musical instruments and other devices are played or operated in a closed building and the sound is not audible from outside the building so as to disturb the quiet, comfort or repose of persons in any dwelling, hotel or other type of residence. Upon a second conviction of violation of this section the county judge may at his/her discretion revoke and terminate any license issued under chapter 31 to the licensee.
All of the above and foregoing shall not apply to activities and events held in or upon any city-owned facility or other city-owned property.
The city commission may relax the time restrictions contained in paragraph (a) above or declare them inapplicable on special occasions by resolution.
In business as in life, you highlight the things that are important to you, and skip by the things that aren't.
After providing the applicant with the language of the Charter, there should be specific questions about the nature of the entertainment, the hours of the entertainment and a very specific question that states:
Having read and understood that if you play loud
music in an open area, or if the music and/or noise
from your event in any spece after 11 PM can be
heard further than 100 feet from the establishment,
you can, and will be SHUT DOWN.
There is now the beginnings of a debate about the future of Wynwood, and Linda Robertson raises the question of whether "The soul of Wynwood is at stake - if it hasn't already been lost."
That's a question beyond my ability to address, and while important, not as important I believe as the larger question about the current state of the City of Miami, and the breakdown of municipal governance that we are witnessing.
The problems that I have spent writing about in this 10 Part Series deal not with the "soul" of Wynwood, but with the practicalities of basic governance, starting with the equal application of the law, without political interference or favoritism.
That discussion would start with the influence that campaign donations amounting to tens of thousands of dollars has on how elected officials make decisions behind closed doors, and how those decisions get translated into policy, again behind closed doors.
That discussion would also deal with how Code Enforcement does, or does not do their job, and how the City Attorney's Office has refused for the last 3 months to issue a requested legal opinion on the application of the city's Warrant process applying to Wynwood establishments.
That discussion would focus on why one of the mayor's cousin's and a city official could walk into a new business establishment and allegedly make the offers that I started this series with:
"We were visited by Andrew Suarez, the mayor's cousin,
and also Vinnie Bettencourt, the head of Film and TV for
the city (previously Asst City Manager), who both said
that they want to help us open and get the best liquor/
warrant scenario possible."
A discussion about philosophy is certainly worthwhile, but a discussion as to whether the City of Miami is up to and willing to operate in the best interests of it's citizens, or to continue down a spiral of greedy, self-serving and self-interest deal making by the Mayor and the City Commissioners on behalf of rich developers and people who keep walking in the door with campaign contributions that would cause apoplectic shock if they were discovered being given to politicians in many cities in this country.
Before you can worry about the ascetics of the color and the shape of the barn, I think you need to worry about fixing the barn door so that a couple people don't take it apart beam by beam.
It's Miami. Bitches!