Virginia Key business owner thinks City of Miami is targeting her for speaking out against homeless camp proposal

Several days have passed since a Virginia Key business was suddenly shut down indefinitely.

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. – Several days have passed since a Virginia Key business was suddenly shut down indefinitely.

Its owner, Esther Alonso, has been scrambling to help find her workers new jobs.

“If you have positions open please contact me,” she said.

Alonso told Local 10 News the trouble came just weeks after she spoke out against a homeless encampment project that has been spearheaded by City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo.

She also said that she’s received two more letters from the city since Friday.

Alonso rents the land for the Virginia Key Outdoor Center from the City Of Miami. It’s been three days since Miami police arrived there on Friday with code inspectors to say they were investigating violations at the business.

The city said it was indefinitely shut down for several code violations, including operating without a certificate of use, and that their Real Estate Asset Management Department estimates the business owes more than $140,000 in rent.

Alonso denies the accusations.

Instead, she believes the decision to evict her business is retaliation for her vocal opposition to Carollo’s plan to build tiny homes on Virginia Key for Miami’s homeless.

“This is how we lose our countries, with the abuse of power,” Alonso said.

During an interview with Local 10 News on July 29, Carollo mentioned Alonso’s business multiple times, unprompted, when asked about public safety concerns for the proposed project.

“What you and those who don’t want it here for maybe economic reasons like the character back here and the lady up front, what you and others who don’t want it don’t know how they got these leases here, they do have leases,” Carollo said. “She seems to be having a booming business, but I’d like to see how much of that is going to the city of Miami that owns this.”

He continued by addressing plumbing concerns, saying, “We’re not gonna need plumbing; it’s all gonna be done in the adequate way. Not gonna be against our code like you see everything here.”

Carollo also brought up an environmental impact study.

“I would like to do that same impact that you’re talking about, about this stuff here. I see about 12, 13 shipping containers there. All kinds of stuff,” he said.

Carollo said Friday he had nothing to do with the shutting down of Alonso’s business.

Local 10 News reached out to Carollo and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez on Monday but did not hear back from either.

Alonso, meanwhile, has retained an attorney.

About the Author:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.