Property Owner Says Miami Beach Thwarting Business | NBC 6 South Florida

Property Owner Says Miami Beach Thwarting Business

"This is definitely David versus Goliath," says a property owner who says Miami Beach unfairly ordered his building vacant

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    A small business owners says he is trying to win one for the little guy in Miami Beach. (Published Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011)

    It's tourists who drive much of the South Florida economy, but one man who depends on visitors to feed his family says the city of Miami Beach is making it impossible.

    Rod Eisenberg owns the 30-room Sadigo Court rental property, but the city has ordered his building vacant.

    City paperwork shows Eisenberg was cited because the building's current license is for apartments and he is utilizing the property as a hotel with short-term rentals.

    Though he does advertise the building as a "hotel and suites," Eisenberg says he obtained an email from a city zoning manager four years ago indicating to another resident that "in an area which does allow hotels, your apartment may be registered with the city as a transient occupancy."

    "The entire month of July was wiped out," he said. "I lost probably $65,000 to $70,000 in business."

    Eisneberg's wife says city police showed up one day to tell the couple there could be no more one night stays, no more apartment leases -- weekly, monthly, or otherwise.

    A city spokesperson said Eisenberg is able to use his building for long-term apartment rentals.

    "They interrupted my good relationships I had with Art Basel," said Eisenberg. "[Attendees] used to stay with us and that’s been cancelled."

    For seven decades the Sadigo Court has been used as a place for South Beach tourists to stay, according to Eisenberg, who claims the effort to close him could lead to the same action against other family operations -- leaving only the big hotels to benefit from tourism.

    "This is definitely David versus Goliath," he said. 

    Eisenberg argues the city wants him to officially register as a hotel and shut him down, not because of anything wrong with the building, but based purely on paperwork. Fire safety inspections made in 2007 required him to install sprinklers, but Eisenberg says that was changed -- and an order issued a month ago stated only that the building's occupancy permit had to be changed to that of a hotel.

    Eisenberg says the city even caused an unwarranted foreclosure action when it told his lender he made an illegal conversion of his building to a hotel.

    "My own father says you can’t fight city hall," said Eisnberg, but he is determined to try. 

    City officials, for their part, declined to speak on camera. They did note they have already won in court before, but Eisenberg will be back in court on Wednesday.

    He says if he loses, other mom and pop operations can expect the same treatment.