The image of a fierce party in Miami Beach has become an international embarrassment in the last few weeks. An unmasked spring breaker fired a pepperball to disperse the crowd in a pandemic of COVID-19, an outbreak of violence, and police. The curfew extinguished the fire immediately. But the city needs to do more quickly.
Miami Beach Mayor Dangerber’s idea of imposing a “last call” on alcoholic beverages at 2am in the red-light district of Miami Beach is a good start. Between tourism-led businesses and locals who may feel like hostages at their home during spring break, with the exception that some late-night clubs are built in to obtain a special license. It seems like a reasonable compromise.
The 2am deadline may not be able to address the entire issue of how to manage a party on South Beach, but it’s nice to see Gelber tackling this issue head-on. He understands the urgency. Urban Beach Week, which coincides with the Memorial Day weekend, is two months away. Also, it’s still unclear if the COVID curfew will continue to apply, but during non-COVID hours, drinks can be served throughout the city until 5 am.
Previous efforts fail
Miami Beach had previously struggled with last call questions. In 2017, the referendum to set the last call at 2:00 am failed, with about 65% of voters saying no. Recently in July, Gerber pushed the city council to roll back the last call at midnight. This is part of many changes. Steer South Beach into the future as a district of arts and culture. Critics said the rollback to midnight was useless as the party continued despite the pandemic.
Of course, the companies that may be affected this time are unhappy. Some say that efforts should unfairly pick them out and the city should focus on more effective corrections, such as adding police on the streets. David Wallack, owner of Mango’s Tropical Cafe, said the 2am deadline would have a big impact on the business, especially if Miami and other parts of the beach were open until 4am or 5am. , Mango has been closed since last spring but wants to reopen. April 21st. “If they target Ocean Drive and our area and close early, they will cause depression, severe depression,” he told the editorial board.
But there is no doubt that some Miami Beach residents want change. Dozens of people gathered at the city hall earlier this month to complain about the 24-hour party scene on South Beach and the failure to manage the crowd. This week’s Miami-Dade Community Relations Board “Listening Session” focused on spring break tensions.
Gelber admits that this is a complex issue. The 2:00 am cutoff is part of the Art Deco Cultural District’s 12-point plan to reduce noise, ban oversized cocktails, make ocean drive pedestrians friendly, and strengthen police. There are regulations. You also need to be careful about your late-night license. Companies need to show that they have sufficient security and a record of compliance with the city hall. That way, everyone, including those who go to the club, will be safer.
Gerber told Miami Herald that he would like voters to have a say through a referendum if changes cannot be obtained through the city council.
But the current discussion is important in itself. To create a safer and safer South Beach, businesses must speak out with their residents. This is a community issue. I need a community solution.