City commission votes to keep Ultra Fest in Miami - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

City commission votes to keep Ultra Fest in Miami

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MIAMI (WSVN) -- City of Miami commissioners have voted to keep the Ultra Music Festival in Miami after a motion was filed to ban the festival from the city.

A motion affirming Ultra's contract with Miami and Bayfront Park has passed, 4 to 1, during a city commission meeting, Thursday. The only vote against keeping Ultra in Miami came from commissioner Marc Sarnoff. "What happened here today is just a show," said City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, who is also opposed to the festival's return.

Sarnoff and Regalado had called for a ban of the festival after a security guard was trampled by gate-crashers in March. The security guard was hospitalized for several days with a broken leg and a fractured skull. She is now recovering at home.

Sarnoff and Regalad attempted to make their case at the meeting by showing video of fights and drug consumption at the festival. "Residents complaining that they are prisoners in their homes for three days," said Regalado at the meeting.

Sarnoff noted drug-related problems, including a death, during his argument against the festival. "This year, we have one person who died of a drug overdose at Jackson, two who are in critical conditions from drug overdoses," said Sarnoff.

Ultra representatives spoke about the economic impact that Ultra has on the City of Miami, and how the event has made Miami a global brand. In the end, Regalado's and Sarnoff's demands to ban the festival from Miami was not accepted by the rest of the commission. The commissioners voted instead to affirm the existing contract. "We had a healthy debate like I wanted to, and we are going to make the event much safer," said City of Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo.

Officials voted to keep Ultra in the City of Miami under the following conditions:

  • Ultra will replace private security with police security at the event.
  • A number will be provided for downtown residents to call if they need to report any problems.
  • There will be a zero drug, lewd and lascivious behavior policy that Ultra has agreed to make very public for its attendees.
  • Drug counseling stations will be set-up throughout the event.
Brian May, a lobbyist for Ultra, said, "Everything that they have asked for are things that will actually really help the event be more secure and more safe for our patrons, for the public and for our vendors and staff, so we view that all as a positive step forward, and we're more than willing to comply and happy to do so."

Regalado has said the agreements to keep Ultra are nothing more than a gentlemen's agreement, and it is not necessarily legally binding. "This is a Band-Aid on a serious injury," said Regalado. "I didn't see anything from the Ultra nor the will of the city commission to demand more actions to protect the residents and to protect the party-goers, to protect the workers in Downtown."

Ultra has hired the outgoing Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez as their head of security. "I feel 100 percent confident that we will do everything needed to make sure that this is a safe event," said Martinez.
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