Miami Beach commissioners pass rule limiting alcohol sales during spring break

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach commissioners have passed into law an ordinance that will limit alcohol sales in the city’s entertainment district during spring break.

The new rule, which was passed on its first reading on Feb. 12, was passed by a 5-2 vote on its second reading during a commission meeting on Wednesday.

“We’re being promoted as a place where anything goes,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said on Feb. 12.

The ordinance, originally proposed by Gelber, will stop liquor sales at 3 a.m. from March 13 – 19 to areas between Fifth and 15th streets. Several major roadways, such as Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue and Española Way, are affected by the new rule.

While some commissioners were against the measure, the business owners affected by the ordinance were against the earlier last call.

Those in opposition said a rollback on the time when alcohol is allowed to be served will ruin Miami Beach’s party-all-night brand and the working wages of locals who work overnight at bars in the heart of the city.

“Some of these people live on the beach,” one man said. “They’re going to have to make decisions between baby formula and rent.”

The employees and the owner of Twist Nightclub could be seen at the meeting wearing T-shirts with the establishment’s name on the front.

“There is a crisis in this city, and you got a crisis coming,” the club’s owner said. “Some of them ride the bus to work. Some of them try to live on South Beach. At these rates, it’s not easy, and I worry about them. They’re going to lose over $20,000 in wages, just at Twist, folks.”

Miami-Dade County leaders met Wednesday morning to discuss this year’s spring break.

“We’re going to be out in full force,” a police officer said at the Wednesday morning meeting. “We’re going to make sure that we enforce the rules and the laws as it pertains to Miami Beach.”

Gelber’s original proposal aimed at rolling back alcohol sales at 2 a.m. However, following pushback from those in the business community and from some commissioners, the 3 a.m. rollback was agreed upon during the first reading.

“At the end of the day, when your police chief says, ‘You have to help us. Our cops are tired. This place is too crowded. We can’t control it.’ You have to do something,” Gelber said after the meeting.

Spring break on Miami Beach in 2019 and in previous years had become nationally and virally known as a place for fights on the beach and bad behavior that irked locals and alarmed city officials.

“Certainly, public safety does come number one,” Miami Beach Commissioner Steven Meiner said on Feb. 12.

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