Miami Beach commissioners deferred a controversial proposal to limit alcohol sales on Ocean Drive daily after 2 a.m., a measure that became a springboard for a lengthy public discussion about all that is ailing South Beach’s entertainment district.
On Monday, Mayor Philip Levine proposed an ordinance to limit alcohol sales from Fifth to 15th streets on Ocean Drive, with a few exceptions for bars and lounges that are enclosed and located entirely within hotels. He said his proposal is an effort to reduce crime in the area.
By the beginning of Wednesday’s city commission meeting, the vote on the ordinance was postponed and replaced with a discussion. Besides opposition from Ocean Drive workers, several commissioners did not want to move forward with the ordinance and instead say they want to explore other options, including increased police patrols, reduction of the number of umbrellas used to cover tables on the sidewalk and enforcement of the city’s noise ordinance and open-container ban.
The discussion at times grew contentious.
“Residents don’t go to Ocean Drive, and I’m not so sure our hotel guests go there either,” Levine said.
“That’s nonsense,” said David Wallack, owner of Mango’s Tropical Cafe, from the audience.
Other commissioners said it would be better if the city took a wider approach to address crime throughout all of South Beach, which is known for nightlife from Ocean Drive to Washington Avenue.
“I don’t think it’s just about Ocean Drive,” Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán said. “It’s about the whole entertainment district.”
Levine said he intended to talk to residents during the next few months before bringing the ordinance back for a preliminary vote in September.