For six years, Ocean 9 Liquor has sold beer,
But Doar says the tax receipt was just an excuse. In a lawsuit, he says the city violated state and federal laws as part of "Mayor [Philip] Levine's overzealous campaign" to crack down on alcohol in South Beach.
Doar's lawsuit is the latest spat in an ongoing battle over the identity of Miami Beach's entertainment district, the tourist-heavy, hard-partying area anchored by iconic Ocean Drive. Gubernatorial hopeful Levine and some city commissioners have pointed to alcohol as the culprit behind an alleged increase in crime and have made it their mission to crack down.
But the suit alleges city officials have gone too far.
"Unfortunately, what started as a legislatively legitimate attempt to control crime... has resulted in an intentional, malicious, and now illegal campaign against certain specific establishments that sell liquor," reads the complaint by attorney Phillip M. Hudson, which names the city and its commissioners as defendants.
City spokesperson Melissa Berthier said she could not comment on pending litigation.
Miami Beach's efforts to clean up the entertainment district began in
But then commissioners began scaling back the
Those changes, the lawsuit alleges, are part of "a series of overreaching, unreasonable ordinances designed to bankrupt the four package stores by systematically reducing their legal hours of sale."
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Ocean 9 Liquor, located at 865 Collins Ave., a
On October 6, a code compliance officer issued a notice of violation to Ocean 9 for failing to obtain the business tax receipt. That day, the officer and two cops coerced Doar into closing down by threatening him with immediate imprisonment, the suit says.
Since then, the city has refused to allow him to obtain a new business tax receipt, citing the 2016 ban on new package stores in the entertainment district. The lawsuit alleges the city's actions were designed to spring "a trap" on the entertainment district's liquor stores.
"One store down," the lawsuit says, "three to go."