Miami Beach mayor defends early alcohol cut off time at commission meeting

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach’s mayor spoke out during a commission meeting, defending his proposed ordinance to end alcohol sales earlier than some visitors and business owners may like.

The commission meeting Wednesday focused on the possible new change. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has said he wants alcohol sales on Ocean Drive to stop at 2 a.m. instead of 5 a.m., in what he says is an attempt to diminish opportunities for crime on the streets of South Florida.

“We have a big problem on Ocean Drive,” Levine said during the meeting. “We need to clean up Ocean Drive. We need to make it family-friendly. Residents don’t go there anymore. It will help reduce crime. We have prostitution. We have drug dealing on the street.”

The alcohol sale cut off time isn’t going over well with many on South Beach. “They can’t. They can’t close it off at 2,” said one man.

Tourists and business owners are finding the ordinance a little too strong for their taste, and it may cost them millions of dollars. “Liquor sales is not the answer. That’s like a knee jerk reaction to the bigger problem,” said Mike Palma, general manager at the Clevelander. “Criminals aren’t coming inside our business spending money. They’re trying to take predatory action on the people.”

Commissioners have about three months to make a decision, but the potential plan is already stirring up a strong debate in City Hall.

“Miami Beach is Miami Beach, and I don’t think we should be changing who we are,” said Vice Mayor Michael Grieco.

Wednesday’s commission meeting was just a discussion. The final vote is scheduled sometime in September.

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