Yesterday the Miami Beach Commission voted to halt early morning alcohol sales after 2 a.m. as part of a seven month pilot program in order for the city to determine if the law would have an impact on crime.
Currently Miami Beach has a last call of 5 a.m. throughout the city. The new pilot program will go into effect on Saturday, May 22, and will impact businesses located in South Beach’s “Entertainment District” on Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive from Fifth to 16th streets.
In 2017 residents of Miami Beach voted against a similar ordinance that would have banned alcohol sales at bars and restaurants on Ocean Drive starting at 2 a.m. with “no” getting 65 percent of the vote. This coming November voters will have the chance to vote whether they want the temporary pilot program to become permanent.
The new program was proposed by Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber after a highly contentious and sometimes violent Spring Break period earlier this year that made national headlines. Gelber introduced a 12-point plan to convert the entertainment district of South Beach in to a more “mixed-use, live-work-play district” with new condos, offices, and more, and away from the bars and nightlife that have populated the area for decades.
“Right now, it is an ‘entertainment-only’ district which has become a magnet for too many people looking for hard parties or worse,” Gelber said in a statement prior to the commission’s vote. “What else would you expect in an area that has over 40 late-night bars?” He also stated that most of the violence like shootings, arsons, and stabbings, in the area began after 2 a.m.
Many businesses in the area are upset about the ordinance, including the newly reopened Mango’s Tropical Cafe, located at 9th and Ocean Drive.
“The clubs are not responsible for the crime that goes on in the streets,” Mango’s owner David Wallack says to Eater. “Rather than having police enforce our cities laws, four commissioners — in order to prove to certain residents that they are doing something — are targeting, basically, four businesses on two streets in Miami Beach. This will now be decided in court, and possibly by a citywide referendum in November.”
But Gelber disagrees. “For a decade we have been trying to ‘manage’ this area and it has not had any meaningful impact. We need to come to the collective judgment that we are a city that should not have an ‘entertainment-only’ district. It is just not working, is too ungovernable, and not anything we need in a city that has so much more to offer.”