Miami Beach

Judge Rules Change to Miami Beach Last Call Was Illegal

Miami-Dade Circuit judge finds rolling back last call to 2 a.m. violated rights of The Clevelander

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A Miami-Dade Circuit judge Monday found the City of Miami Beach illegally rolled back last call for alcohol to 2 a.m., agreeing the move violated the rights of The Clevelander hotel, an Ocean Drive mainstay.

Judge Beatrice Butchko found the city’s move was essentially a zoning change for the Clevelander — which would require a vote of five of the city’s seven commissioners.

Instead, the city treated the ordinance rolling back last call as a general code change which needs only four affirmative votes — the exact number it received.

“The city has treated alcohol sales as a zoning ordinance in the past,” the judge found. But this time, she continued, the city “arbitrarily for no apparent reason or logic has treated the ordinance change for liquor sales in this case as a general code ordinance requiring a vote of only four.”

That, she said, violated the due process rights of the Clevelander, which argued it relied on the 5 a.m. closing time when the current owner bought the property for what the judge said was $66 million.

The city could seek a stay of the judge’s order — putting it on hold as it appeals the decision — so it remains unclear when or if the 5 a.m. last call will be restored.

The attorney representing the city, Jamie Cole, argued the city was within its rights to treat this change differently than it has previous alcohol ordinances.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the city will appeal as it sees fit.

"Our residents should not be held prisoner to a business model that promotes the all-night hard partying that has generated an unsafe atmosphere in our City," Gelber said. "We will appeal as it makes no sense, legal or otherwise, that the courts would force our residents to endure this kind of misconduct and disorder."

Rather than grant a temporary injunction, the judge said from the bench she decided to strike down the ordinance as a due process violation.A final order has not yet been drafted or signed.

The Clevelander also sought an order reopening Ocean Drive to vehicular traffic, after the city turned it into a pedestrian-only area north of 5th Street.

But Judge Butchko found the city did have the right to bar vehicles on Ocean Drive as it studies alternatives for the roadway.

This is a developing story and will be updated. Please check back for more updates.

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