Miami Beach enacts developer-specific ethics ordinance

Critics say measure falls short; commissioners called it "strictest in the state"

TRD MIAMI /
Jan.January 14, 2016 09:45 AM

Miami Beach commissioners unanimously enacted a new ordinance on Wednesday that prevents commissioners, political candidates and their supporters from soliciting contributions from vendors doing business with the city or lobbyists for PACS.

The legislation was proposed after developer contributions became a heated issue in citywide elections last year that saw three new commissioners elected and Mayor Philip Levine re-elected. A PAC linked to former commissioner Jonah Wolfson raised an estimated $1.4 million – an unprecedented sum by Miami Beach standards – from a slew of developers and others with significant business interests at City Hall.

Commissioners and the mayor praised the new legislation. Commissioner Michael Grieco called the ordinance “the strictest in the state” when it comes to ethics and Levine told The Real Deal that the city now “has a code and ordinance that specifically defines developers,” and said “developers are defined as those coming before the city for a development agreement.” Levine added “those particular class of developers would be unable to directly or indirectly contribute to candidates running for office in Miami Beach.”

But critics said the ordinance does not go far enough. Civic activist Frank Del Vecchio said that while there are positive aspects to the new ordinance, the legislation was drafted “so narrowly, it’s like the eye of the needle.” Del Vecchio said the city’s definition of what constitutes a “real estate developer” is so narrow that the ordinance would only cover two of the 63 developers with city projects in 2015, leaving 97 percent of developers free to make political contributions to candidates or campaigns.

Some commissioners on Wednesday voiced support for expanding the definition of what constitutes a real estate developer, but city attorney Raul Aguila cautioned commissioners that any such move to do so could be challenged in court on First Amendment grounds. “As all of us know the Supreme Court of this land is becoming increasingly liberal with regard to campaign contributions,” Aguila told the commission. He added, “We’re pushing the envelope as far as we can but at the same time we have to be conscious of the law of the land.”


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
A rendering of the monorail

Miami-Dade approves interim contract for monorail to Miami Beach

Miami-Dade approves interim contract for monorail to Miami Beach
Lord Balfour Hotel

Mezz lender forecloses on Ocean Drive hotel in South Beach

Mezz lender forecloses on Ocean Drive hotel in South Beach
Oceanside Fisher Island and a map of condo sales (Credit: Google Maps)

Weekly condo sales volume in Miami drops below $40M

Weekly condo sales volume in Miami drops below $40M
121 N Hibiscus Drive (Realtor)

Waterfront Hibiscus Island mansion sells for $8M

Waterfront Hibiscus Island mansion sells for $8M
Eighty Seven Park (iStock)

Eighty Seven Park’s priciest penthouse sells for $37M

Eighty Seven Park’s priciest penthouse sells for $37M
Jeffrey Soffer and Fontainebleau Miami Beach (Getty)

Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s $1B loan exits special servicing

Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s $1B loan exits special servicing
Developer Camilo Miguel Jr. and renderings of the project

Mast Capital wins initial approval for shorter Mid-Miami Beach condo project

Mast Capital wins initial approval for shorter Mid-Miami Beach condo project
Len Blavatnik, Vlad Doronin and a rendering of the project (Credit: Mike Coppola/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Miami Beach approves zoning change allowing for Aman tower

Miami Beach approves zoning change allowing for Aman tower
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...