Miami Beach commissioners discuss proposals on how to handle crowds during spring break

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The Miami Beach City Commission gathered at City Hall to discuss new proposals on how to prevent chaos on the beach during spring break and other high impact events.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber proposed several new ordinances at the meeting Wednesday, including implementing stiffer penalties to bars that serve minors.

“I do think we need to fundamentally change what’s happening in our city and certainly in these high impact areas,” said Gelber.

Gelber said he also wants to give City Manager Jimmy Morales more authority during certain high impact times, such as allowing him to shut down sidewalk cafes and prohibit non-residents from parking in city lots.

“Really just a tool kit that he can use as he decides to,” said Gelber.

Meanwhile, Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian hopes to crack down on individuals selling things without a permit, like people who peddle fruit.

Miami Beach Police currently do not have authority in such situations because these are civil infractions.

However, Samuelian wants to make it a criminal offense.

“Some folks got the impression that everything goes in Miami Beach,” said Samuelian. “That is absolutely wrong, and we have got to correct that.”

Not all commissioners are fully on board with these new proposals.

“These ordinances, as written, if word gets out about them across the world, we’re going to essentially kill our brand, so I think we need to be really careful that we’re not sending a message you can’t come here and do any special events during any fun times for any purpose in any part of the city,” said Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora. “I don’t think that’s the message that this body intends to send with these ordinances.”

Some commissioners like Gongora feel the ordinances are too broad and that they may do more harm than good.

“I think these are very well-intended ordinances, by the way. I think they’re intended to address specific time periods, spring break, perhaps even Memorial Day, to show the people that we are reacting, we are taking action, we are cracking down,” said Gongora, “but I think these ordinances, if they all pass in their current form, we’re going to spend years undoing all the harm that these are going to do.”

Members of the City Commission have already voted and passed on some of the new proposals, while some are still being discussed.

“If you’ve got 20,000 or 30,000 people coming to a party that has been advertised as anything goes if you’re 18 plus, then don’t be surprised if 30,000 people the age of 18 show up on Ocean Drive or people who want to do anything show up on Ocean Drive or in the Entertainment District,” said Gelber. “That’s really, to me, the problem.”

None of the new ordinances will go into effect just yet.

“I don’t believe these are just a reaction. I think, actually, they’re pretty thoughtful. I think some of them may have an impact,” said Gelber. “Some may not, but we have to send some kind of message that this city can’t absorb and doesn’t want to be part of these shenanigans.”

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