[Hpn] HOTEL OR HOMELESS SHELTER?

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Fri, 17 Jun 2005 09:21:29 -0400


www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/11914370.htm


Friday, Jun 17, 2005

HOLLYWOOD FLORIDA


Hotel or a homeless shelter?

Lawyers delivered final arguments Thursday in a lawsuit that could force a
Hollywood hotel for the homeless to shut down or move out.

BY JEANNETTE RIVERA-LYLES

jrivera@herald.com


Whether a hotel for the homeless in Hollywood will be able to stay open is
now in the hands of Broward Circuit Judge Victor Tobin.

City officials have opposed the Cosac Quarters Hotel for the Poor at 1203 N.
Federal Hwy. since before it opened, and sued in 2002 to have it shut down.
At least one city commissioner cited the investment of millions of dollars
to revitalize the area as one of the reasons for the suit.

In closing arguments Thursday, the city contended it was simply trying to
correct a zoning violation. Although licensed as a hotel, the 18-room
establishment run by homeless advocate Sean Cononie is in fact a homeless
shelter, said Hollywood assistant city attorney Tracy Lyons.

''They are not operating a hotel, but a shelter in an area that is not zoned
for that,'' said Lyons. ``If you want to operate a shelter, that's fine. But
you have to do it within the industrial district.''

Cononie's attorney, John Thomas David, said that logic is flawed because
``the code prohibits residential use in the industrial district.''

Judge Tobin pressed the city on that point.

''I'm wondering why Hollywood hasn't addressed that in their zoning code,''
said Tobin. ``It can be fixed with a one-liner.''

Lyons could not answer that, but argued that despite the code prohibition,
the hotel would be permitted in the industrial district, because other
residential facilities operate there.

Lyons said Cosac Quarters does not qualify as a hotel, because most of its
clients are permanent residents, and because Cononie provides drug and
mental health counseling on the premises.

''Nonsense'' David said, accusing the city of being politically motivated in
its effort to shut the place down.
''It's not what we do, it's who we do it for,'' David said. ``It doesn't fit
the image the city wants to portray. They're going through redevelopment and
the investors don't like to see homeless people walking around.''

Lyons pointed out that two other homeless shelters operate in the city.
''City officials have bent over backwards to try and relocate this
establishment,'' she said. ``This is not political.''

Cononie, who owns the building that houses the hotel, said it might be
possible to move his operation elsewhere, but the price would have to be
right.

''I understand the city not wanting us to operate in the same area where
luxury condos are going up,'' he said.
``But if they want us out, they need to pay a fair market price. Don't bully
us around.''