Sad day for Miami Beach residents as a 2 a.m. booze ban was approved on Tuesday. A majority of voters said “Yes” to the ballot question of whether the city should roll back its 5 a.m. last call for alcohol to 2 a.m. This comes in the midst of a debate on if the city has outgrown its “all-night party” atmosphere, which some argue contributes to crime and disorder in the area.
Voters rejected a similar proposal in 2017, but last summer City commissioners temporarily restricted early-morning alcohol sales in South Beach, before a judge blocked the new law. Commissioners then put this non-binding referendum on the ballot.
Re-elected Mayor Dan Gelber, who ran the campaign to pass the 2 a.m. referendum stated, “This is what our residents want,” after declaring victory Tuesday evening. City staff will develop legislation to codify the referendum, according to Gelber. There may be possible exemptions, which will be determined by the commission, and Gelber stated he would be open to allowing bigger hotels with their own security and indoor queuing to serve alcohol until 5 a.m.
Critics of the referendum state it will cost the city millions in tax revenue and won’t stop the crime in South Beach. South Beach club owners contributed $675,000 in a campaign against the referendum, as well as organized protests at City Hall and paid for voter telephone outreach in opposition.
Citizens for a Safe Miami Beach, the political committee that fought against the ballot question, are concerned the referendum will do nothing to solve crime, but instead will cost thousands of local workers their jobs, increase property taxes, and cut millions of dollars from city revenues.
“Today’s non-binding straw poll was an attempt at misdirection by leaders who have failed to stem the growing problems of crime on Miami Beach”-Citizens for a Safe Miami Beach
Recently, hospitality workers crashed a press conference Gelber held to campaign for approval of the referendum. A win came for protesters, however, when an audio recording was released from a September meeting between Gelber, former mayor Philip Levine, and real-estate developers, in which Gelber could be heard discussing redeveloping the area and pledging his support for building incentives or other proposals approved by city staff.
Critics of the 2 a.m. proposal claimed the audio recording served as proof that the effort to kill South Beach’s nightlife is about money, rather than decreasing crime, as they claim. However, Gelber said he did nothing wrong and criticized the opposing campaign for “throwing every amount of mud” at their campaign ads.
Source: Miami Herald