The three adult entertainment venues operating in North Miami Beach are one step closer to being able to have their patrons legally drink an alcoholic beverage while watching dancers perform.
The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to lift a nearly 23-year prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol in nude establishments — one that apparently went unenforced by city officials for years.
It also complies with state law that allows for straddle dancing and private performances by entertainers in those venues.
Since the law was enacted in 1989 the city’s adult entertainment establishments filed annual business tax receipts, and other documents, with the city with no problems.
“Unfortunately, for whatever reason, these codes were not followed,” said Councilwoman Barbara Kramer at the meeting. “And I have a stack here of applications from all these different venues.”
She said some of the applications state “full nudity” “with alcohol being served,” on approved he applications.
“I am not in favor of closing down a business we allowed to be here for all these years,” she said.
It wasn’t until an anonymous complaint came to the city manager’s office earlier this year that the violation came to the city’s attention. The informant claimed that the city’s three all-nude adult entertainment clubs, Dean’s Gold, Swinging Richards and GFive. After the complaint was filed city officials started looking into whether the law was being violated.
“The proponents of the establishments basically said that they were grandfathered in and that the council back in 1989 allowed for this activity to occur, and the city should have known it was occurring,” said City Attorney Darcee Siegel at a council meeting.
In 1994, the city council passed an ordinance restricting adult establishments to the city’s
Industrial district; however Solid Gold, now Dean’s Gold, and Miami Gold, now Swinging Richards, which are located on Biscayne Boulevard were grandfathered in.
Earlier this month, the council voted on an ordinance that would have permitted alcohol services and nude dancing in the city’s three existing adult establishments by exempting them from the ordinance.
The measure failed on a 3-4 vote with Mayor George Vallejo, Kramer and Councilwoman Marlen Martell voting to lift the ban.
Council Philippe Derose said he has been in contact with people on both sides of the issue since the last council meeting.
He went over the city’s history with these establishments and pointed out at the meeting that people used to drive from all parts of the county to attend adult entertainment venues in North Miami Beach.
“This is not something new,” said Derose, adding that North Miami Beach has always had those type of clubs.
There were some residents at the meeting who expressed their concerns over lifting the ban, which included a negative impact on the community by bringing in crimes such as prostitution and spousal abuse.
Residents who spoke for lifting the ban said they didn’t want the council to leave people unemployed or to see a closed storefront in the city, and gave other reasons.
Siegel said the city will continue to monitor the clubs in the future and if any illegal activity is found the establishment’s licenses can be revoked.
SMG Entertainment, the group that owns the adult-entertainment Swinging Richards, filed a lawsuit against the city in June.
The lawsuit claims that the city exempted Miami Gold, the former name of Swinging Richards, from the provisions of the 1989 ordinance.
The city has filed a motion to dismiss the case, which was set to be heard on Aug. 24 before a judge. Since the vote by the council that court date has since canceled.