Miami Gardens residents plead as last resort to block F1 race

Francis Ragoo, right, participates in a protest outside Shirley M. Gibson's Town Hall in Miami Gardens, Fla., Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Activists rallied to oppose the introduction of Formula 1 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Francis Ragoo, right, participates in a protest outside Shirley M. Gibson’s Town Hall in Miami Gardens, Fla., Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Activists rallied to oppose the introduction of Formula 1 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

[email protected]

Just weeks before the start of Formula 1 races outside Hard Rock Stadium, locals made a last-ditch effort in court to stop the Miami Grand Prix, saying the noise would be “intolerable”.

The lawsuit of Miami Gardens residents, led by former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Betty Ferguson, seeks to block the event from May 6 to 8. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Alan Fine on Wednesday expressed his “frustration” at having to consider the matter under such a tight deadline, but said he would make a ruling on whether to dismiss the case. . starting Monday.

Residents’ lawsuit says noise levels from Formula 1 races ‘will cause severe disruption and physical harm to Miami Gardens residents’, citing an engineering firm’s estimate that the event will generate noise up to 97 decibels in homes located within a 2.5 mile radius of the stadium – “similar to sound levels produced by a chainsaw.”

But attorneys for Hard Rock Stadium and the city of Miami Gardens said the judge shouldn’t take it steps that could prevent the Miami Grand Prix from moving forward before the city decides whether to issue a required special events permit.

It should be up to the city, not a court, they said, to decide whether the event complies with the city’s noise ordinance. This law states that noise must not “unreasonably disturb the peace and comfort of adjacent residences”, but does not define noise levels that would meet this threshold.

“Many courts before me have resisted the temptation to jump into something that hasn’t been released yet,” Fine said. “Shouldn’t I wait to see if the city manager issues the special events permit?”

F1B.jpeg
Artistic representation of the course of the Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix, which will be held each year at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Miami Dolphins

WATCH THE VIDEO: A yacht club in a parking lot? See what the Miami Grand Prix looks like

Sam Dubbin, an attorney for the residents, said the judge didn’t need to wait for the city to issue the permit before stopping the race from proceeding.

“They live in a dormitory community and they are entitled to the protection of the law,” Dubbin said during the hearing.

But Joseph Serota, an attorney for the city of Miami Gardens, said residents would only eventually have a lawsuit if the city first issues a permit and then fails to enforce its own noise ordinance.

Fine said the case creates a difficult situation, given that the city has not yet made a decision on the permit and could potentially wait several days before the event.

“We are in this state of uncertainty before a special events permit is issued,” Fine said. “It’s a very uncomfortable place for a court.”

ferg.jpg
Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Betty Ferguson holds a sign during a protest outside the Super Bowl. Martin Vassolo [email protected]

Miami Gardens residents filed their lawsuit on March 1 after a federal judge dismissed a civil rights lawsuit last July, saying residents failed to show the event was racially discriminatory. .

In that case, District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. wrote that while it is “plausible” that any harm caused by the Grand Prix will disproportionately impact black residents, as more than 70% of the Miami Gardens’ population is black, “that alone is not sufficient to demonstrate discriminatory intent.

The Miami Gardens City Council last April approved a 10-year deal for the annual Formula 1 event in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot, a deal that includes a $5 million community benefits package. The city council previously opposed the event but changed course after several new officials were elected in 2020.

Serota, the city’s attorney, argued Wednesday that residents lacked standing to try to overturn the city’s approval of the event in court. Instead, he said, “if you don’t like what they are doing, you have an election.”

“There’s really nothing for the court to do,” he said.

This story was originally published April 13, 2022 7:45 p.m.

Aaron Leibowitz is a city government reporter for the Miami Herald. He writes about local politics in every city, town, and city in Miami-Dade County and sometimes beyond.

Comments are closed.