Miami Beach passes alcohol ban in Entertainment District to 2 a.m.
Last call to some South Beach clubs will be coming soon a few hours sooner after the Miami Beach Commission voted on Wednesday to restrict early morning alcohol sales in the city’s entertainment district as part of a seven-month pilot program that will allow city staff to study the impact crime policy.
Commissioners also voted unanimously to add a city-wide voters referendum to the November ballot that would make the temporary restrictions permanent, although a binding vote could not take place until July.
Despite protests from club owners – and the recent failure of a 2017 election referendum to curb liquor sales on Ocean Drive – the current 5 a.m. last call for liquor sales will be postponed to 2 a.m. on May 22 for Ocean Drive businesses. and Collins Avenue from Fifth to 16th Street.
The change, which only affects businesses in that specific area, will come into effect a few days before the city plays host to Memorial Day Weekend crowds.
Mayor Dan Gelber initially proposed a permanent 2am flashback and touted it as a tool to cut parties and crime in South Beach. But he softened his stance and agreed to support a proposal for Commissioner Micky Steinberg for a temporary restriction that she says will allow city staff to study how the previous cut affects police calls for service in the area and possible crowd spillovers into adjacent residential neighborhoods.
“It’s an opportunity for them to really understand the problem at a higher level,” said Steinberg.
Commissioners Mark Samuelian and Steven Meiner joined with Steinberg and Gelber in voting to approve the restriction.
But representatives for bars that will be affected by the catering have said that an earlier last call will not work.
And critics of the new law – including three commissioners who voted against – note that for much of the past calendar year, Miami Beach has essentially had a midnight cut-off on alcohol sales due to the curfew. COVID-19, including during a chaotic spring break. which prompted the proposed restoration.
“It looks like the pilot is a bridge to an election,” said Commissioner Michael Góngora, who voted against the restriction but in favor of the referendum. “I am not in favor of a driver without a goal. I am in favor of hearing voters again in November. “
David Wallack, the owner of Mango’s Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive, said he would consider taking the policy to court.
“He’s going to court,” he said. “A judge will decide.”
Wallack said he would meet with officials from Clevelander South Beach, which has threatened to sue the city, “to find out what the right course is.”
Mango’s, which reopened in April after closing at the start of the COVID pandemic, risks losing millions of dollars if it loses three hours of alcohol sales, Wallack said.
“We will lose millions of dollars,” he said. “We will have to redo our business plan to make it correspond to the law.”
The flashback is part of a 12-point plan proposed by Gelber after a controversial spring break that aims to dismantle the South Beach bar block and convert the neighborhood into a live-work-play space with boutique offices and new apartment buildings.
The city said the restoration will affect 44 businesses that are currently licensed to sell alcohol until 5 a.m.
The committee also voted on Wednesday to remove a noise exemption from Ninth through 11th Streets and remove off-street parking requirements for new residential developments in the neighborhood to boost investment. The council is also expected to vote at the meeting on whether to restrict future stand-alone bars in the district.
Gelber said the zoning changes that created the Entertainment District in the 1980s did not take into account the growth of residential communities in and around the neighborhood. Even before the pandemic and spring break, he said, conditions in South Beach became more unruly.
“The pandemic may have exposed more of the region’s fault lines, but it’s pretty clear that over the past decades this region has become an all-well-being zone,” he told reporters. after the vote.
Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Gelber said critics sent him messages calling him ‘cancer’, threatened to sue the city and promised to field a candidate against him in the November mayoral race. .
“I know there is a lot of emotion on this issue,” he said on Wednesday.