Music News

Ultra Music Festival 2013: Commissioner Wants To Kill Second Weekend Because Attendees Are On "Mind-Altering Drugs"

Yesterday, Crossfade broke the news that Commissioner Marc Sarnoff had introduced a resolution "disapproving" of the second weekend of Ultra Music Festival.

We still don't entirely understand whether the commission could actually force the festival to cancel its second weekend, and repeated messages Crossfade left with the city attorney and Sarnoff haven't been returned. But minutes from a city meeting held on December 13 show that the resolution was brought after Ultra Music Festival requested that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) close the northbound lanes of Biscayne Boulevard from Chopin Plaza to Northeast Sixth Avenue.

Sarnoff makes it clear that he doesn't have a ton of respect for Ultra concert goers, telling the festivals organizers that he thinks "about 70 to 80 percent of these kids are on some sort of mind-altering drug."

UPDATE Tommie Sunshine lashes out against City of Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff's resolution "disapproving" of Ultra's second weekend, saying: "way to demonize the visitors of your city who make you money to cover your own asses."

UPDATE #2 Ultra 2013 organizers willing to work with city on downtown traffic, security concerns.

UPDATE #3 Trainspotting author and Miami resident Irvine Welsh defends Ultra: "I'm disappointed in Miami, the fest breathed life into a dead downtown."

UPDATE #4 Marc Sarnoff's spokesperson says commissioner doesn't want to "shut down" Ultra.

UPDATE #5 Miami mayor Tomas Regalado says: "One [Ultra Music Festival] weekend is enough ... people complain about the kids."

UPDATE #6 The resolution has been voted down. And City of Miami commissioners have approved Ultra Music Festival 2013's second weekend.

See also:
- Ultra 2013: City of Miami to Vote on Resolution "Disapproving" of Second Festival Weekend
- Ultra Fest Generates $79 Million Annually for Miami Economy: Can EDM Save the Country?

-Ultra Music Festival 2013 Expands to "Two Big Weekends!"

-Ultra Music Festival 2013 Announces Phase 1 Lineup

In the meeting, Bryan May, a representative for Ultra, attempted to plead the festival's case before the commission.

"I guess I should start by saying, we certainly [heard] testimony at your meeting here about a month ago with regard to a number of issues that were -- you know, that dealt with some of the disruptions that do occur of an event this size," said May at the meeting. "I think we should all just be mindful, this is an event that generates -- you know, on one weekend, it will bring in about 160,000 people to the community, and it does have its challenges. It does have its disruptions, but it also has a tremendous economic benefit. And we have heard testimony over and over again from downtown restaurants, businesses, clubs that it's something that they all -- quite frankly, we had testimony at the DDA that this was their best weekend of the year. So there are benefits to the event. "

But Sarnoff doesn't seem to want to play nice with Ultra, denying both its economic impact and saying it's a disruption to downtown Miami.

"I happen to have an office in the Miami Center. We average about 30 people a day either urinating, defecating, or throwing up in our building, in the traffic garage," said Sarnoff. "It's all captured on video. If you want to see it, we have it for you. I surmise that they're going to somehow get somebody to clean that up and that'll be paid and that satisfies somehow.

"About 70 to 80 percent of these kids are on some sort of mind-altering drug. You've been very, very lucky. You put two of these weekends together in a row; I don't think you're going to be so lucky, but that's for each Commissioner's conscience. If money's that important to you, you'll vote the way you're going to vote. "

Downtown business owners also came out to testify against the festival.

"Ultra is huge, but you're going to close down Biscayne Boulevard for two weekends on north bound," said Holly Lewis, owner of Fiesta Cruises which operates out of Bayside Marketplace. "Well, people aren't going to come down and ride the boats when they can't get down there to get parking and that there's a couple hundred thousand people in the street."

The meeting on the resolution concluded with Commissioner Frank Carollo moving to defer the vote on the resolution for January 10 -- this Thursday.

And that's where we are now folks.

Crossfade is still awaiting comments from Ultra's organizers and Sarnoff.

M City Commission 96-107

[h/t TalkNightlife]

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran