MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Though voters rejected it, the Miami Beach City Commission has voted in favor of a proposal to temporarily end late-night drinking on South Beach.
The proposal, which passed by a narrow 4-3 vote, came as a response to the recent increase in violence along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue over the past few months, including this year’s spring break.
“Our city has matured, and it’s time the entertainment district followed suit with that,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said. “That’s what we did today.”
Last call in the city’s entertainment district, which includes businesses between Fifth and 15th streets, will be rolled back from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. The rollback will last until November, when the proposal will go to voters for a final decision.
The ordinance will go into effect in 10 days.
Members of the city commission expressed their opinions on the matter ahead of the vote.
“We’ve had a perfectly controlled experiment for 14 months,” Commissioner Ricky Arriola said. “The bars and clubs have been closed. They’ve only recently reopened.”
“I am supportive of hearing from the voters again in November,” Vice Mayor Michael Gongora said.
“I think we are addressing the problem in the wrong way,” Commissioner David Richardson said.
Some business owners appeared before the commission to express their disdain for the new proposal.
“Residents voted the super majority of 67%, that’s the residents, not to reduce hours of alcohol and beverage service on Ocean Drive,” said Mango’s Tropical Café owner David Wallack. “We can regulate. We can create more regulation. That can totally raise the standard if you wish to do it.”
“The clubs aren’t the issue,” one business owner said. “The illegal drugs, open containers, dealings, assaults and various other code violations are.”
“You have created the party atmosphere in the middle of this street,” club manager Ian Hendry said. “You’ve opened it up. You’ve encouraged these people to party.”
A potential noise ordinance change may be announced, as well.
Gelber said he supports the changes in his city, and the move is to garner a better work, life and play environment for all those who visit.
“We have to do something about this chaos that is happening in this small little entertainment area,” he said. “It’s become a magnet for disorder, and I think we have to act in a big way and not a baby step.”
However, critics, like Wallack, said the bars and restaurants are not the cause of the problem.
“The problem is out in the streets because there’s no enforcement of the law,” Wallack said. “With the closure of the street, now you have the space to have a playground there.”
The business owner added he is mulling over whether or not to take the new ordinance to court.
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