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Miami Beach rule would limit restaurant seating

MIAMI BEACH Fla. The City Commission here unanimously approved the first of two necessary votes for a new ordinance that would limit hotel restaurant seating to the number of rooms in hotels in the area’s South of Fifth neighborhood, the exclusive, southernmost tip of South Beach. Current law allows for 299 people for any establishment serving alcohol.

Hoteliers and developers are opposed to the ordinance, saying it would limit future business.

City code in this largely residential neighborhood does not allow standalone restaurants and sanctions eateries only as accessories to neighborhood hotels.

City Commissioner Richard Steinberg, also an attorney, said that residents were concerned that “the accessory use was becoming the main use.” Residents have complained that the large hotel restaurants bring unwanted traffic and noise to the area on weekends.

Steinberg said the City Commission was trying to balance the need of area hotels to provide restaurants while protecting the restriction that discourages restaurants from becoming the main use of the hotel property.

“What was going on is that people were using — and even abusing — the accessory use for creating a restaurant for the main use of the building,” he explained. “The concern amongst residents is that things there stay within the residential character of the neighborhood.”

Steinberg cited, for example, the popular Prime One Twelve, an 80-seat steakhouse that is part of the eight-room Browns Hotel.

Also under the measure, the total number of people allowed in a restaurant would be limited to 150 percent of the number of the restaurant’s seats. That number includes those standing.

Afinal vote on the ordinance is scheduled for March 12.

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