John El-Masry's open letter to Comm. Sarnoff
Commissioner, the Grove is in a crisis:
· There are 21 empty restaurant spaces in Coconut Grove;
· Many retailers serving young adults have gone out of business or chosen to leave the Grove in the last couple of months, including Ritchie Swimwear, XOT, Azul, and Guess;
· Numerous restaurants have opened and closed within the last year;
· All of the dance clubs that existed in Coconut Grove were put out of business by this ordinance.
The perception that has been created by the 3:00 a.m. ordinance is that the Grove is an early, sedate, place where young people are not welcome. Meanwhile, in spite of a difficult economy, businesses in South Miami, Brickell and Downtown Miami, Wynwood and the Design District are thriving. We cannot entirely blame the Grove’s decline on the economy, the Playhouse, the movie theater, or the loss of the Expo Center. The fact is people want to park their car, eat dinner, have some drinks, and go dancing all in the same area. They can do this elsewhere in YOUR District, but not in the Grove.
When you proposed the ordinance, there were complaints emanating from one establishment, Visions, which is no longer in existence. Any of those problems could have been handled by diligent enforcement of existing laws. Limiting drinking in a tiny portion of Coconut Grove does not make sense if your goal is protecting your constituents from drunk drivers. Other places within your District still allow drinking until 5:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., and in some instances 24 hours. You have recently attended PTA meetings at schools in Coconut Grove drumming fear into mothers about drunk drivers harming their children at 5:00 a.m., to gain their support for your 3:00 a.m. ordinance, while you have been supporting 24 hour licenses in residential areas closer to downtown and presumably are not having similar meetings with the mothers there. Is the life of a child in a less affluent neighborhood worth less? If you care about the safety of children in Coconut Grove, don’t you care about the children in Overtown, Midtown, the Design District, Brickell, or the MiMo District?
This was never about drunk driving. You and a few of your supporters chose to purchase homes on Virginia Street, a main artery into the Center Grove commercial district. Now that you are a City Commissioner, you have spent $95,000 on a traffic circle to slow traffic and proposed the 3:00 rule to eliminate late night traffic in front of your house. This may improve your own quality of life, but limits the options available to your constituents, has caused job loss and business failure, and will ultimately lead to a decrease in everyone’s property values, including your own.
We don’t think you meant to decimate the Grove’s business district with this law, but that is what it has done. Please present legislation NOW to place the Grove businesses on an equal footing with the rest of the City, and keep the Grove alive.
With all Due Respect,
Owner, Mr. Moes, former owner, Christabelle’s Quarter
and Barracuda Raw Bar and Grill
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