Fall 2007 – Brickell residents spend sleepless night

All-night party had permits; Mayor Diaz vows change

If you were one of those neighbors left sleepless the night of October 8 into the morning of the 9th due to the noise from Virginia Key, your frustration was felt by many. Again BHA’s advocate Claudia Bruce tried to get relief for herself and neighbors, only to find further aggravation and roadblocks to peace.

Here’s the email dialog beginning with Claudia reporting to NET Administrator Liza Walton about the night that Carnival festivities were permitted all night long. It’s just another example of BHA efforts to safeguard our neighborhood, and provides surprising, sad commentary on what law-abiding, tax-paying neighbors are subjected to by their own city.

__________________________________

From: Claudia Bruce

Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 9:12 a.m.

To: Walton, Liza

CC: Tory Jacobs; Bert H. Gonzalez

Subject: 10/8 -10/9 Virginia Key Noise Complaint

Hello Liza –

I would like to sum up the disastrous effects of the Carnival that was held on Virginia Key which took place from about 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 8th to 6a.m. on Tuesday.

We have a situation where residents are receiving misinformation from both the non-emergency police responders and the Special Events department; residents were not able to sleep an entire night until 6 a.m. because of extreme noise from an event signed off by someone who doesn’t live in the affected area. This must be remedied, and not by an ordinance that will allow promoters such outrageous noise levels until 3 a.m., nor by an ordinance that will allow waivers for noise levels or time extensions. The thousands of Brickell taxpayers should not be subjected to this type of noise past 11 p.m.

From about 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, I and several walkers along Brickell Avenue heard terribly loud music (extremely loud and annoying bass sounds) and saw search lights emanating from Virginia Key. A lot of the walkers know me and the BHA, and they made several comments about this terrible noise. We discussed how it could not be the night clubs that used to disturb our sleep on a nightly basis several months ago, because the police had finally gotten them under control.

Paul and I received a complaint from a neighbor in the lobby of our building, the Bristol Tower, as soon as we arrived home from the walk around 9 p.m. I received further complaints from neighbors in BT as well as in Brickell Place up until 11:45 p.m. This was while I was calling the non-emergency police number to request that they do something about the noise. These are the responses received from non-emergency:

1. The first call I made was answered by a very disinterested woman who said there was nothing the police could do about the noise. It was a festival that had been going on all weekend and the promoters had a permit.

2. The second call I made was answered by a man. I asked him about the event and if the permit allowed the promoter to make any amount of noise they wanted. He said that they had a permit until 3 a.m. and that there was nothing the police could do about it. When I asked for his name, he hung up on me.

3. Paul called about 15 minutes later, and a woman told him to call the Miami-Dade Police. Since it was an event that they sponsored, they were responsible for the noise.

4. I called M-D police who told me that the City of Miami police were responsible for anything that happened on Virgina Key and that there was nothing they could do about the noise.

5. I called the City of Miami again and finally spoke to a Sgt. Rocha who said that he would speak to the event commander about the noise level. He also informed me that the event was permitted until 6am.

The noise continued through the entire night and early morning. At 8:30 a.m., I called Special Events and spoke to Officer Diaz. She said that she would forward the complaint to the event commander. When I asked who had allowed the event to take place, she said that it came from the NET Office. I asked which one – Coral Way or Downtown – and she said she didn’t know, just that it came from a NET. Lt. Dominguez phoned me later in the morning and said that around 2 a.m. he had asked the promoter to lower the noise levels. I did not discern any difference in the noise levels during the event.

Liza, you told me that the NET Offices had not been informed about this event taking place, let alone sponsored it. When I mentioned this to Lt. Dominguez he laughed, and said that Eddie Padilla of the Downtown NET attended the meeting they had held regarding the event. Of course, the NET Administrators should be notified of such events, but that does nothing to help our area’s residents have a normal night’s sleep while we have ordinances that allow for noise waivers and time extensions – until 6 a.m.?

No major city in this country allows such disturbances to thousands of their residents. There are two very serious problems demonstrated from this event:

1. The non-emergency police response is giving out misinformation to residents and not acting in a respectful manner; hanging up on callers and telling them to call Miami-Dade police.

2. The existence of ordinances that allow events to disturb the peace beyond 11 p.m., and that can be altered by noise waivers and time extensions. The city commissioners and others responsible (something I still haven’t been able to find out on this event) should not have the power to cause such outrageous disturbances to residents, especially when they do not live in the affected area.

Thank you for your assistance and quick response on Tuesday.

Best regards,

Claudia Bruce

1st Vice President, BHA

__________________________________

From: Walton, Liza

To: Claudia Bruce

cc: Tory Jacobs, Bert Gonzalez, Ronald Papier, Bobby Stark, Wilfredo Perez, Heriberto Padilla

Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 10:55 AM

Subject: RE: 10/8-10/9 Virginia Key Noise Complaint

Claudia, Thank you for taking the time to document the incident on Monday night. I spoke to the City’s Office of Special Events (Parks, not Police.) There were two events permitted by their Office on Virginia Key. One until 3 a.m., and another at the Bayside Hut until 6 a.m. When I mentioned that these events kept a good many residents of Brickell Avenue awake on a Monday night, they apologized, and said that it would not happen in the future.

As discussed, the City is revamping its Special Event Permit process. Sadly, because these events were on city park property, there is no requirement for notification of the NET office or the neighbors. In addition, events on city park property are precluded from any requirements regarding noise. Hopefully, the new Special Event Permitting process will address these issues.

I’ve asked that the Parks Department send me a courtesy notice of future events. (Since they are not in the Coral Way NET area, notice is not required.) Perhaps that way I am able to let the residents of Brickell know ahead of time, and see if we can address any concerns before the fact.

I’ve also copied Commander Papier so that he is aware of the issue, and so that he may address any inconsistencies in response from Police.

Kindest Regards,

Liza Gallardo Walton,

Administrator, Coral Way NET

__________________________________

From: Tory Jacobs

Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 11:46 AM

To: Walton, Liza; Claudia Bruce

Cc: Gonzalez, H. Bert; Starke, Bobby; Rentz, Lorraine; Papier, Ronald (Commander); Perez, Wilfredo; Padilla, Heriberto; Diaz, Manuel A (Mayor); Sarnoff, Marc (Commissioner); Hernandez, Pedro G. (City Manager)

Subject: Re: 10/8-10/9 Virginia Key Noise Complaint

Liza,

Thank you for your efforts to protect and enhance the Brickell Neighborhood Quality of Life. BHA & the NET Office share these goals. It appears the City does not. They are just unaware of the consequences of their collective actions.

It is my intention to discuss with our District 2 Commissioner, Marc Sarnoff, the need for the City to initiate an awareness program, a sensitivity program, perhaps along the lines of programs that raise sensitivity to sexual harassment, etc. We should have a city-wide program with leadership from the top, starting with the Administration and, in time, to all our citizens.

There should be a climate throughout the City that would make occurrences such as the one from Virginia Key last Monday night/morning impossible. If we instill a POLITENESS, GOOD MANNERS, CONSIDERATE state of mind in our community, it would benefit the residents directly and also increase tourism which is money in our pockets.

Best, Tory

T. Sinclair (Tory) Jacobs

Brickell Homeowners Association

__________________________________

From: Diaz, Manuel A (Mayor)

To: Tory Jacobs, Walton, Liza Walton, Claudia Bruce

Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 8:19 AM

Subject: RE: 10/8-10/9 Virginia Key Noise Complaint

Tory: I agree with you and Ms. Bruce. It is absolutely unacceptable to me that the City permit any outdoor event to run through 3 or 6 a.m. I believe we dealt with this issue previously at Bayfront Park and the hours were shortened dramatically. If these festivals find such restrictions unacceptable, they can take their festivals elsewhere. They come and they go…but our “permanent” constituents deserve a much better quality of life. This practice needs to be changed.

Manny

Thanks, Manny, it needs your leadership. You can count on BHA’s support.

From BHA News, Fall 2007, Vol. XVII, No. 3