MIAMI – Biscayne Bay is home to the hottest parties in Miami – and residents are fed up with it.
During the pandemic, meetups on boats became the way to escape COVID lockdowns. But when the lockdowns ended, the parties didn't.
"Being a prisoner because laws are not being enforced is frustrating and saddening," said Amy Voci.
For four years, Voci has lived by the bay off Brickell Bay Drive. Before 2021, it was calm and peaceful.
But in March of this year, a boat anchored next to the Rusty Pelican at three in the morning.
Music traveled across the bay, disturbing Voci's sleep.
"Anyone living here, paying rent to live here, deserves peace of mind," she said.
She called Miami PD to silence the party.
"I know there's codes about the level of music. So, I need you [Miami PD] to enforce that law, so I can have peace in my life," she said.
Marine Patrols, affiliated with Miami PD, enforce laws on the water. The city of Miami has an ordinance to keep vessels in check, which reads, "It shall be unlawful at any time to cause or suffer or allow any loud, unnecessary, excessive, or unusual noises."
Noise or music being audible from beyond 100 feet constitutes a violation.
The ordinance stipulates the commission can grant exemptions.
A Wednesday afternoon on the water in Miami was quiet compared to weekends.
Still, Marine Patrol Sgt. Jason Kostowic stopped multiple jet skis in Biscayne Bay. Citations issued to no-wake violators are common.
They patrol 26 miles of shoreline from Upper Eastside down to Coconut Grove – large territory with minimal resources.
Two months ago, they were so short-staffed they didn't patrol weekends.
"Typically go to the hottest areas. It's where a lot of issues are at. If we don't address issues daily, they build up until we can't control it anymore," said Kostowic.
They've increased staffing by four to patrol weekends.
Issues vary from illegal charters to speeding, and other activities, including loud noise.
Since COVID, illegal activity has picked up.
Before the pandemic, yearly arrests on the water ranged between five to 10. In the past two years, it's been around 200.
"At all times of the day, it's just not at night with the loud music. It's the illegal activity throughout the day," said Kostowic.
While they do issue tickets and make arrests related to noise violators, it's hard to do so round the clock.
"It's a matter of breaking up resources and trying to address those issues," said Kostowic.
Still, the parties rage on. Late last month, a boat dropped anchor near Rusty Pelican after midnight.
"It's like a boom, boom, boom, constantly," recalled Nelson Segovia.
Segovia's a flight attendant living near Biscayne Bay. He says the noise gives him panic attacks.
"Physically, I sleep with earplugs all night long. I wake up with pain and headaches. It's not a quality of life," he said.
Psychologist Dr. Thomas Bonner details harmful effects associated with a lack of quality sleep.
"It becomes a mental health problem at that point. It results in a number of symptoms, anxiety, depression, irritability," Dr. Bonner said.
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