The attorney representing a downtown business owner who opposes closure of streets during Mardi Gras filed a cease and desist letter with the city, a spokeswoman said.
The letter, from the attorney of Allen Flores, is in regards to street closures during Mardi Gras, a city spokeswoman said.
The letter comes after a January debate in which some downtown business owners, including Flores, vented frustration over the street closures associated with the pre-Lenten festival, which begins Friday.
Flores owns businesses such as Shark Shack Beach Bar & Grill, 2402 Strand, and Bliss Lounge, 2413 Strand, among others. He organized Mardi Gras in 2009 and 2010 when it was free entry, he said.
Yaga’s Entertainment, owned by Mike Dean, began organizing the festival in 2011 and charging the entry fee.
Attorney Mark Stevens, who represents Flores, declined to comment on the letter Monday.
Flores declined to comment about the letter specifically, but has vocally opposed charging for entry to the festival area downtown, saying the fee prevents customers from visiting businesses.
“Any contract to lock out the citizens from public streets unless they pay off a promoter is illegal,” Flores said. “I’m absolutely in favor of continuing Mardi Gras both on the seawall and downtown, but it’s time for the city to stop breaking Texas laws.”
A cease and desist letter is a document that asks the recipient to stop a purportedly illegal activity and not start the activity again.
The city has authority to close off streets, spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said in previous interviews.
Barnett confirmed the city’s receipt of Flores’ letter Monday.
“The city has a valid contract with Mr. Dean,” Barnett said. “Our city attorney will advise city council of the letter during an executive session duly posted in compliance with the open meetings act.”
The fee for Mardi Gras helps offset the costs the city would otherwise pay to host the celebration, Dean said in previous interviews.
Before 2011, the city spent $500,000 on Mardi Gras-related costs, but spent only $250,000 in 2018, according to city records.
“We have a contract with the city and Mardi Gras is full speed ahead,” Dean said Monday.
Mardi Gras runs through March 5. Some downtown streets will close Thursday at 5 p.m. to allow crews to set up and will reopen by noon Sunday, according to city reports.