Battle Lines Drawn for Ultra Ahead of Thursday’s Miami Commission Meeting

Ultra Music Festival might still be in the process of clearing out of Virginia Key, but the battle lines are already being drawn for next year’s edition. On Tuesday evening, Key Biscayne held its city council meeting where a Motion passed unanimously to oppose Ultra’s return in 2020. It should be noted however that Key Biscayne opposed Ultra in 2019 and is generally not expected to be friendly towards any events. Key Biscayne’s Mayor will address the Miami City Commission meeting on Thursday to express his opposition.

“It’s not the right place, transportation did not work. Ultra can’t be done with 60,000 people. Can’t be done on Virginia Key. It does not work.”

The license agreement between Ultra and Miami is controlled only by the Miami City Commission, which will meet Thursday. As has been publicized before, the same Commissioner who spearheaded Ultra’s removal from Bayfront Park has added Ultra to Thursday’s list of discussion topics. The City has a period of about 60 days from the end of Ultra 2019 to void the agreement before it locks in for 2020.

Out of the woodwork returns Attorney, David Winker, who sued Ultra to stop the festival on behalf of the Brickell Homeowners Association. With his emergency injunction rejected, he has now resorted to agitating at the Miami Commission Meeting to turn them against the festival. On Tuesday he emailed the Miami City Commissioners and various blogs about what he claims are Ultra’s breaches of the license agreement. He stated in his email:

“Section 4.6.  On Saturday night the event went well past 2am because ULTRA was trying to space out the exit process to avoid a repeat of the traffic disaster on Friday night.  The City is entitled to damages of $1000 per minute for this violation.  
4.16. ULTRA engaged a private company to spray insecticide on Virginia Key prior to the festival.  This is in contravention of the Environmental Plan that was submitted to the City pursuant to Section 4.16.
Section 6.2  ULTRA stored large propane tanks on Virginia Key (despite pyrotechnic displays and fireworks that started a fire) in violation of the prohibition in this section against the storage of “hazardous waste”.” 

Ultra Preliminary Summary Report

While the battle lines are drawn against Ultra, the festival has plenty of important allies as well. On April 9, City Manager Emilio Gonzalez issued the Ultra Music Festival 2019 Preliminary Recap Report, which was generally positive. The report noted that Ultra had problems with egress on Friday due to not pre-positioning buses early enough ahead of time – and that this was due to Ultra lacking jurisdiction over Rickebacker Causeway. Gonzales notes that after the initial difficulty and inpute from Miami PD, Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade PD, changes were quickly implemented that resolved the issues. There were also concerns about noise in coastal neighborhoods despite Ultra staying within its allowable limits.

“The City is confident that, when the event returns to Virginia Key next year, additional operational enhancements and resources can be implemented to further improve transportation and noise mitigation” – City Manager

All in all Ultra had 281 EMT calls, 37 arrests, 13 disturbance calls answered, and 36 noise complaints. Honestly that is staggeringly good for a a brand new location with so many new variables to consider. EDC Vegas 2018 had 33 arrests during the first day. In 2017 EDC Vegas had 443 medical calls on one night alone.

A small brush fire took place on Friday due to a pyrotecnic display, which was quickly contained. There was a subsequent brush fire on Friday night which was extinguished. Pyro was halted for the remainder of the festival by the Fire Marshall.

The report notes that fencing worked well, adequate amount of food/drink vendors, and enough water stations to keep people hydrated. The report didn’t miss the fact that cellular reception was terrible on the island however. You can read the full report below.


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