Miami Beach mayor, business owners clash over proposed regulations

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine clashed with business owners, Tuesday, during a press conference held to discuss proposed regulations affecting local businesses.

Levine is proposing several changes to the Ocean Drive area after a host of violent events took place on Miami Beach during Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday night, a man opened fire into an occupied taxi cab, injuring one person.

Sunday night, an argument over a parking spot on Ocean Drive led to a police-involved shooting, two deaths and three arrests.

Monday afternoon, a man was stabbed with a broken bottle after a fight broke out near Sixth Street and Ocean Drive.

Monday night, surveillance footage captured a fight between several people, just a block away from Ocean Drive. The fight resulted in a man getting knocked out. However, he did not speak to police upon regaining consciousness and refused medical treatment.

After the chaotic few days, Levine is now proposing that several changes should be implemented year-round in order to get rid of the party environment. These include restricting alcohol sales on Ocean Drive after 2 a.m. and removing a noise ordinance exemption, which currently allows Ocean Drive restaurants, bars and clubs to play music higher than ambient.

Ocean Drive business owners did not take kindly to the news and confronted Levine during a press conference.

As business owner David Wallack was protesting, Levine interjected and proclaimed, “That’s the owner of one of the big clubs, who, by the way, constantly goes and convinces our commissioners that his business can serve till 5 a.m. because he does not want to reduce his income.”

Levine went on to say, “But meanwhile, we don’t have the owners of the Fontainebleau here, the Faena here, the Eden Roc here, every club and restaurant here who needs,” however, he was cut off by Wallack, who owns Mango’s Tropical Cafe.

As Levine went on listing the hotels, Wallack began speaking again, stating, “You’re talking about businesses that created the famous label of Miami Beach. You should be talking with respect.”

Eventually, Wallack was cut off again by Levine, who said, “You know what you did? You inherited your business. Get a job, go build a company and go tell me when you build something.”

During the press conference, Levine stated it’s irresponsible to let businesses operate as they are now.

“And to have three or four or five or six clubs that generate income for themselves, and very minimal tax receipts for the City of Miami Beach, to allow them to damage the Miami Beach brand, from a business man’s point of view, that is literally – I’ll use one word – dumb.”

However, Wallack felt the restrictions are far from fair.

“We’re the victims. Our customers are the victims. We are the ones that want to solve this more than anyone, but they don’t want to sit down and talk about how to solve it,” Wallack said. “They want to use an atom bomb to kill tourism.”

City officials said they have been working on this issue for some time.

The Miami Beach Police chief also joined Levine at the podium and said despite the shootings, there were 50 percent fewer arrests this Memorial Day weekend as compared to last year.

Before anything is finalized, Levine will need support from commissioners.

Business owners along Ocean Drive said they want to continue the conversation and are expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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