After neighbors’ complaints, robberies and reports of late-night noise on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is proposing to limit liquor sales on the street with some of South Florida’s hottest bars and lounges.
Levine, in an email blast Monday, said that he will propose an ordinance that would limit alcohol sales after 2 a.m. on Ocean Drive from Fifth to 15th streets. His ordinance will be discussed Wednesday at the city’s regular commission meeting.
The ordinance would not apply to bars and lounges that are enclosed and located entirely within hotels. Last year, the city banned alcohol sales from 2 to 8 a.m. at sidewalk cafés.
“This lawless disruption is unacceptable to everyone who comes here and everyone who lives here, it has escalated to the point that many residents feel compelled to avoid the area altogether,” Levine said in the email. “Let’s not allow this incredible street, which symbolized the rebirth and renaissance of our city, to now signify decay and decline.”
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The mayor’s proposal comes after neighborhood uproar over the King of Diamonds strip club potentially coming to Ocean Drive. The property’s owner, former rapper Akinyele Adams, said he’s opening a restaurant at the space.
Police also arrested three men last month after they allegedly robbed and sexually assaulted a Texas woman in the area.
Joshua Wallack, chief operating officer for Mango’s Tropical Cafe, said the mayor’s announcement was unexpected. He said he respects Levine’s attempt to address the issues and facilitate discussion but he thinks the approach is wrong.
“The way to handle it is to get tough on crime and send a message to the kids committing these crimes,” Wallack said. “He just needs to be mindful of how long it took us to get out of the doldrums and be mindful of what got us out of the doldrums, and that was nightlife.”
Levine said he doesn’t necessarily expect the item to pass but called it a conscience-clearing initiative and said it’s the best plan for Ocean Drive.
“I think that we have a situation where we can’t allow three bars to control the brand and the safety and security of the city of Miami Beach,” Levine said.
Last year, when the city restricted alcohol sales at sidewalk cafes, Levine said Ocean Drive was turning into “a Bourbon Street. It’s turning into a terrible place that’s become a blight, a cancer that spreads to our entire city.” The city also established a task force that presented ideas earlier this year on how to make the popular strip safer and cleaner.
The Miami Beach commission meeting begins 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr.