It looks like Miami-Dade County is not going to give up their fight to overly regulate adult entertainment in their jurisdiction. The modern history of this battle dates back to 1996 to when Miami-Dade County passed zoning and licensing ordinances to regulate adult entertainment. Rumor has it that county commissioner Javier Soto had an adult establishment in his district that was 670 feet from a residential area. Lo and behold, Soto insisted on a regulation banning adult entertainment 660 feet from residential areas. So began the long battle.
Two separate United States District Court Judges threw out the zoning ordinance throughout the years. First Judge King ruled that it was unconstitutional. Then Judge Graham found that there were inadequate alternative avenues of expression for adult entertainment and threw it out again. The county has mud on its face and they are falling all over themselves to try to clean up. Somebody in Miami-Dade County government must have travelled to Tampa or attended a municipal government lawyers’ convention and met a guy by the name of Richard Fee. Fee is a very conservative attorney who the City of Tampa hired to battle for their adult entertainment ordinance years ago. (More on the Tampa battle in a moment)
Benjamin & Aaronson have received numerous unconfirmed reports that Richard Fee, who has been named a special city attorney for the City of Tampa in the adult entertainment ordinance battle in that city, has been hired by Miami-Dade County to draft new adult entertainment regulatory and zoning ordinances. There was a news release just this week announcing that Miami-Dade County has hired an outside counsel, none other than attorney Richard Fee. Somehow Miami-Dade County government was convinced that he has a successful track record in Tampa. Nothing is further from the truth!
You see, all of the adult entertainment establishments in the City of Tampa are operating exactly the same as they had before the introduction and enforcement of the adult entertainment ordinance passed by the city council years ago. Fee can claim that he won a couple of small skirmishes but the war in Tampa is far, far from over. Presently there are over 100 pending county court cases wherein dancers have been charged with violating the patron-dancer separation ordinance. Numerous appeals have been taken of previous decisions of the various county courts. There are motions for rehearing pending on some of those appellate decisions. There are several civil injunction lawsuits still pending before the various circuit courts in Tampa. There has, to date, not been one final appellate decision that is binding on any court on the issues raised in Tampa. Richard Fee has not won. These cases have been pending for over three years and each and every club is still operating as it was before the ordinance was ever passed by the Tampa City Commission.
It seems that the Miami-Dade County government is desperate to try and salvage some type of adult entertainment ordinance in their jurisdiction. Richard Fee has been on the lecture circuit lecturing at Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education seminars and various conventions of municipal and county government leaders across the country. He must have sold himself well. We must anticipate what type of ordinances that Fee might draft for Miami-Dade County.
Foremost in the possibilities that exist for the passage of new ordinances is a dancer-patron separation ordinance mirroring what Fee did in Tampa. Every club in Dade County should be aware of these upcoming legislations that if upheld by the courts will doom the lap dance in Dade County. Clubs should anticipate years of litigation over the terms of these ordinances and be putting away funds for a war chest to battle what is yet to come.
Benjamin & Aaronson submit to you that these ordinances can be fought. These ordinances can be overturned. These ordinances are unconstitutional.
If the reports are correct that Richard Fee has been hired by Miami-Dade County to draft new ordinances regulating adult entertainment, rest assured that we will see ordinances which are designed to be economic homicide for adult entertainment venues in that county. Benjamin & Aaronson are ready to fight just as we have for three long years in Tampa.