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Judge rules Miami Beach alcohol curfew not lawful

A South Florida judge ruled Monday that Miami Beach’s 2 a.m. alcohol rollback is not lawful because it’s a violation of zoning rules and denied the Clevelander due process.
A South Florida judge ruled Monday that Miami Beach’s 2 a.m. alcohol rollback is not lawful because it’s a violation of zoning rules and denied the Clevelander due process.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Late Monday, a judge ruled that Miami Beach’s 2 a.m. alcohol rollback is not lawful because it’s a violation of zoning rules and denied the Clevelander due process.

Judge Beatrice Butchko also ruled that the Clevelander does have some vested rights, including playing music at a certain decibel level, but details would need to be worked out with a mediator.

Lawyers for the popular spot on Ocean Drive, known for cold cocktails and a tropical vibe, have argued the mayor’s new 2 a.m. last call is a business killer.

In a Monday afternoon Zoom hearing, Circuit Court Judge Butchko weighed the city’s ability to make regulations with a business’ right to operate.

The Clevelander’s legal team argued the nightlife spot has been an important player in the community for years, and the new owners relied on the ability to play loud music and serve booze late into the night, even spending millions to comply with the rules.

“This is the Clevelander, it’s not a frat house,” said attorney Kendall Coffey.

Judge rules against Miami Beach alcohol curfew

But Jamie Cole, an outside attorney for the City of Miami Beach, said the Clevelander’s conditional use permit did not give it a vested right to play loud music and serve alcohol late into the night.

“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,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “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.”

An earlier last call and the repeal of certain noise exemptions went into effect May 22 following a city commission vote, in response to raucous and sometimes dangerous incidents during Spring Break.

Some business owners in Miami Beach’s entertainment district have argued that bad conduct happens on the street, regardless of hours of operation.

The proposed order is expected to be sent to the judge on Tuesday to sign.

A spokesperson for Gelber said the city’s filing of the notice of appeal will serve to automatically stay the Court’s order, and “for the time being, the rollback ordinance requiring alcohol sales to terminate at 2 a.m. continues in effect, unless the Court issues an order stating otherwise.”


About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.