Miami-Dade County

Miami to consider drone regulations

A drone flies at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
A drone flies at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. AP

Add the city of Miami to the growing list of municipalities seeking to regulate the flight of drones over public streets and major venues.

On Thursday, Miami commissioners will consider legislation that would restrict the use of drones over and around stadiums and large gatherings, such as the Calle Ocho festival. The proposed law by Commissioner Frank Carollo also would bar hobbyists from flying drones heavier than five pounds and ban the use of drones with detachable cargo or weapons.

Carollo said the legislation mostly mirrors existing federal regulations. But he wants to give the city power to enforce the law given limitations on the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to patrol on the local level as the small, unmanned aircraft become increasingly popular and inexpensive.

“Although the FAA is the one who monitors drones, we need to give the local authorities the resources to protect the public,” Carollo said.

Carollo’s proposal would require that anyone operating a drone within a half-mile of a stadium, protest or any type of large gathering to first get a permit from the city. Anyone who breaks the law would be punishable as if they’d committed a misdemeanor offense, and could also be sued by the city. The city would also be allowed to confiscate drones flown without a permit.

Carollo said requiring permits would give the city more information about who is operating the small aircraft that sometimes hover above large gatherings. He mentioned a September incident in which a drone crashed inside a venue hosting a U.S. Open tennis match as an example of why local regulations are needed.

The most pertinent question, however, may be whether Miami’s police department can enforce such a rule if someone ignored the law.

“I'll let the police address if it is enforceable or not,” he said. “From my discussions with them, they believe it is a tool.”

Also on Thursday, commissioners have been asked by Miami’s administration to throw out the only bid submitted to the city for the proposed redevelopment of public waterfront land along the north bank of the Miami River.

Alex Mantecon of MV Real Estate Holdings wants to build a four-restaurant complex on the city’s land and his own property next door. In a memo this month to Miami's city manager, the city's director of real estate holdings said the city cannot accept the bid because it has been unable to ensure fair market value for its properties, as required by law.

If commissioners reject the bid, the city would likely restart the competitive process and give developers another 90 days to submit offers.

Commissioners will also weigh whether to approve a $2.5 million settlement with the guardian of Mary Mifflin-Gee. Miami paramedics found Mifflin-Gee incapacitated in her car three years ago. A lawsuit alleged that they dropped Mifflin-Gee on her head while attempting to move her on a stretcher, leaving her in a vegetative state.

Mifflin-Gee’s trustee would only be entitled to $200,000 from the city due to a statutory cap. The Florida Legislature would need to approve a claims bill for the remainder to be released.