Dressing Up As A Condo For Halloween Leads To Woman Being Threatened With Arrest
Catherine Uden lives in Hollywood, Florida — between Miami and Fort Lauderdale — where she has been an outspoken critic of a developer’s plan to build a 30-story condo on city-owned beachfront property.
For Halloween, she decided to dress up like the condo and encouraged others to join her at a city-sponsored block party called Hollyweird on Saturday. For that, she said she was threatened with arrest. Police said such activity could constitute an unlawful gathering.
Related Group, a major South Florida developer, has proposed building a 30-story condominium tower on a 4-acre beachfront site at 1301 South Ocean Drive, where there is currently a one-story community center, surface parking, a small park and mature sand dunes.
Related would lease part of the city-owned land for 99 years for the condo tower, and build a more modern two-story community center for the public on another portion of the land. Related Group has projected that its project would generate over $1B for city coffers over time.
Eric Fordin, a senior vice president at Related who is spearheading the development, told Bisnow in August that new construction would be better than keeping the existing building, as it could be built to anticipate sea-level rise. Hollywood in recent years has been tweaking its zoning to encourage private development.
Some residents oppose the project, arguing it is out of scale, it could harm the ecosystem and sea turtle habitat, and that a 1974 deed restriction limiting the property's use to “open space, park, recreational and other public and municipal purposes” should preclude private development on the parcel. The city commission is expected to vote on the matter later this year.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Uden posted a notice in a Facebook group suggesting people come to Saturday’s festivities with a costume like hers, or bring “No Condo” signs.
“The more condos we have standing together like a condo canyon, the more impact we will have," she wrote in the Facebook post. "This event will be well attended, and it’s a good way to get the word out. #HollyWeird.”
Hollywood activist says cop warned her not to wear condo costume to Halloween party. She’s wearing it anyway. https://t.co/CpIExfjZpl— Susannah Bryan (@Susannah_Bryan) October 29, 2021
She said she later received a phone call from a police officer, who said someone had complained about her Facebook post. He warned that her actions could result in an unlawful gathering. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Uden said he ultimately told her she could wear the condo costume, but to not tell anyone why she was wearing it.
A police spokesperson told the Sun-Sentinel that Uden would need a permit to hold a planned protest march. If she were to lead an organized demonstration at the costume party, she would be warned and asked to leave. After that, she could potentially be arrested, fined up to $500, or be sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Bob Jarvis, a constitutional law professor at Nova Southeastern University, told the newspaper that Uden has a right to wear the costume.
“She has a right to make her views known," he said. "That is protected by the First Amendment.”