While the Miami Dolphins fought to secure a win from the New York Jets, Miami-Dade residents were across from Hard Rock Stadium still on defense against Formula One.
The Underrepresented People’s Positive Action Council expects a veto from County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in favor of the race but is ready for a fight. UPPAC’s Chairwoman Betty T. Ferguson has lawyered up against Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, who is attempting to add a Formula One to his Miami Gardens-located stadium’s event roster.
Ferguson retained the legal services of Dubbin & Kravetz LLP. On Oct. 31, Samuel J. Dubbin sent a letter to Gimenez asking for a meeting between residents, the Dolphins and Formula One.
Ferguson said the letter is to emphasize that the community is willing to sit and talk if the Dolphins and Formula One give them a copy of their agreement.
“At this point, how can we have any kind of discussion when we don’t know what’s on the table?” Ferguson said. “It’s become apparent the commissioners believed what Dolphins told them F1 would bring to the county. We haven’t seen that in writing.”
Dubbin has represented property owners, condominium associations, and neighborhoods on issues from charter enforcement, protection of public property, land use and zoning to public records. Dubbin won on behalf of Downtown Miami residents to convince the city of Miami to reject Ultra Music Festival’s contract renewal to conduct its annual electronic dance music concert in Bayfront Park. Dubbin also prevented Formula One to hold Grand Prix races in Downtown Miami in 2019 on a proposed route through Bayfront Park, PortMiami and Biscayne Boulevard.
In the letter, in which Dubbin referred to the community as “his clients,” he challenged the estimated amount of money the Formula One event would generate.
$423 IN BENEFITS CHALLENGED
If approved, cars with noise louder than accepted federal levels would race less than a quarter of a mile from homes near Northwest 199 Street and Northwest 27 Avenue.
The event that is estimated to bring $423 million in spending and other benefits to city residents. Formula One is expected to bring more traffic congestion, light pollution, hearing pain or permanent hearing loss, more exhaust from all of the vehicles involved and add millions of pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year.
“Montreal promoters self-reported $65 million. Australia had a major accounting firm do a study and they reported $42 million. Our projection for Miami-Dade at $49 million seems reasonable. So, how do the Dolphins and F1 come up with $400 million?”
Ferguson said the $423 million in direct spending that the Dolphins have estimated is something they “don’t believe, doesn’t make sense and is extremely exaggerated.”
Members of UPPAC and allies of the predominantly Black communities near Hard Rock Stadium protested on Sunday for the second time, and they plan to do so for every home game leading up to the Super Bowl. The group wants Formula One to stay out of Miami Gardens because they are against any harm coming to their health, communities and the environment.
Susan Smith has lived near the stadium on Northwest 27 Avenue for over 35 years. She said Formula One in Miami Gardens would be an example of environmental injustice, a disproportionate exposure of communities of color and the poor to pollution.
“When corporations put anything that would have a negative impact on the environment, low income communities and people of color … this seems to happen more often than not in our communities,” said Smith, who is also a member of UPPAC. “Environmental racism happens more often than not in our communities.”
Smith is also president of the Lake Lucerne Homeowners Association. She is also concerned about the race being so close to schools.
There is Norwood K-5 Center, North County K-8 Center, Robert Renick K-12, elementary schools Crestview, Brentwood and Norland, Norland Middle and Norland Senior High School.
Each Formula One team has 160 tires, meaning each event can use up to 1,600 tires. The tires are made of a steel and rubber combination which erodes as the rubber pushes the asphalt for the tire to roll and move the cars forward at up to 200 miles per hour. The smoke the tires generate is toxic.
“The particulates from the eroding tires will get in the air,” Smith said. “Anything that would impact climate change should be of concern to everyone, not just Miami Gardens but all of Dade County and Broward too.”
Joan Harris came to the protest with students of her Alliance for Musical Arts Youth Drumline who live minutes from the stadium in Lake Lucerne.
“We are out here to make some noise and protest to let the rest of the world know we don’t want Formula One here,” Harris said.
County District 1 Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan’s efforts to stop Formula One in Miami Gardens slowed down the process.
Jordan sponsored an ordinance would put more power behind the voices of municipal residents, requiring a public hearing before county government approves a race in any city, town or village in Miami-Dade County.
The resolution Jordan sponsored prohibits permanent or temporary road closings if an area designated as residential is next to the road. Furthermore, the resolution requires road closure applications be brought to the Board of County Commissioners, an application fee high enough to cover noise, air and traffic studies and the mayor’s office must make sure the studies are done and present all materials to county commissioners.
The resolution passed 8-5 and the ordinance passed on first reading 7-6.
“We were very happy that Commissioner Jordan’s resolution and ordinance passed,” Ferguson said. “Of course, the mayor reminded us that he has veto power. We kind of expect him to veto both items that passed. Hopefully, we can get the votes to override his veto. We don’t know if that will happen or not but that seems to be where we’re headed.”
F1 proponents also need a special event permit from Miami Gardens.
Miami Gardens elected officials have shown opposition to the Formula One proposal, unanimously passing a resolution objecting to the event. However, legislative action from the city’s leadership has not reflected the desires of their most politically active constituents.
Councilwoman Lillie Q. Odom sponsored the resolution which passed 5-0 on Oct. 23. Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro spoke against the event during the Miami Gardens City Council meeting. Ighodaro and Councilman David Williams Jr. spoke against the race during the County commission meeting on Oct. 29.
However, none of them have sponsored a resolution directing city staff to deny the Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium or Formula One a special event permit.
Ferguson said the Miami Gardens City Council should act to deny the special event permit.
“They voted unanimously against Formula One taking place at Hard Rock Stadium so they should certainly deny the special events permit,” Ferguson said. “[The city manager] needs to go on the record saying they will deny the special events permit because the city council voted against the race taking place. Based on what he says the council should move quickly to deny the special events permit.”
Williams said the City Council did not discuss the permit.
“They don’t have to come to us. They don’t have to come to us for special permits for any stuff they do at the stadium like fireworks. I have never seen in my 10 years there, seen a special permit come to us for whatever they do. I’m sure we could block that yeah. We could block anything. We could also get sued for blocking.”