MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - As Miami Beach prepares for Memorial Day weekend festivities later this month, officials are considering new rules and regulations to help everyone stay safe — including a ban on motorized scooter rentals that is sparking controversy.
City officials have been taking steps for weeks to ensure the city is ready for events, like the Air and Sea Show and Urban Beach Weekend, set to take over May 25-28.
“This is our big weekend. It’s our biggest event of the year,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates.
A meeting that was open to the community was held at the Miami Beach Police Department on Tuesday as part of planning efforts.
Adding to the already heightened energy expected on the holiday weekend, porn star Stormy Daniels is expected to stop at Club Madonna along Washington Avenue. The performer allegedly had an affair with President Donald Trump 10 years before he was elected.
But the major topic of contention is whether to allow motorized scooter rentals during the “high-impact” weekend.
Some officials think the scooters are noisy and especially dangerous within a big crowd.
But lawyers for scooter rental businesses did not hesitate to be on the defensive. “We have an issue here with age and with ethnicity that I think that Miami Beach, as a progressive city, should not be allowing this,” said attorney Juan Carlos Planas.
“I don’t care whether you’re black, white, whatever. We don’t want you on a Whizzy. We don’t want you blaring the radio,” responded Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales. “It’s a message across the board: come here and have a great time, and there’s a lot of ways to do that without violating those rules.”
Electric scooters called the Whizzy Ride are illegal despite still being rented all over the city.
“It could hurt people,” said Morales, who sent a memo saying these foldable, portable vehicles violate state law.
“I’m going to impound the vehicle,” Morales told 7News.
Business owners said this decision is unfair. “My employees will lose work. I will lose my money,” said a scooter rental business owner.
But the biggest concern as the holiday approaches is avoiding what happened last year during the holiday. A man was killed over a parking spot and another was killed during a police-involved shooting.
“It was tragic and sad,” said Oates.
When asked how the department plans to avoid a similar incident from happening again, Oates replied, “You’ve seen the plan and our preparation, and we’re very, very hopeful we’ll have a great weekend.”
City commissioners are expected to make a decision on whether to allow motorized scooter rentals over the holiday weekend sometime on Wednesday.
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