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After Voting to Ban Floating Billboards, Miami Beach Mayor Levine Uses One

The floating billboard off Miami BeachEXPAND
The floating billboard off Miami Beach
Clean Up Miami Beach

Before voting to ban floating billboards in his city, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine told the company behind the concept that it was an "interesting business." He must have meant it: A month and a half later, he's now using their services to advertise.

Levine launched a personally funded campaign against Airbnb yesterday across the bay while the Miami City Commission voted on enforcing short-term rental laws. As noted by Miami Herald reporter David Smiley, that campaign included hiring Ballyhoo Media's boat to carry an anti-Airbnb message off Dinner Key.

"Airbnb: Hosting Tally Politicians. Time to Put #ResidentsFirst," it read.

The mayor was responding to a commercial the home-sharing company began airing a day earlier, which denounced Levine and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado for being "against middle-class Miami families" because they oppose short-term renting in their cities, the Herald reported.

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“Airbnb’s model does not work for our community, or for many others across the country," Levine said in a statement through his spokesman, Christian Ulvert. "Sadly, they have chosen agitation and confrontation to express their views, attacking the virtues of local control and self-determination.”

Asked whether the mayor saw any issue with using a form of advertising he voted to ban in his own city, Ulvert says he was the one to contact Ballyhoo.

Though some Miami Beach commissioners thought they were banning floating billboards like Ballyhoo's from the ocean waters off the city, the regulation they passed actually applies only to certain parts of Biscayne Bay. The owners of Ballyhoo Media, who fought back against complaints that the ads were intrusive, say they are pleased to have the mayor's business no matter how he voted on that particular ordinance.

"Happy Mayor Levine could use our platform for his position," owner Adam Shapiro says in an email to New Times.

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