Months after voters went to the polls and approved a referendum for an earlier last call in the city of Miami Beach, commissioners are now tasked with making it a reality.
In November, voters said yes to a rollback from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. with some exceptions. The vote was not official and now it's up to the city commissioners who must decide how to make the plan work.
“I will never vote for a hard 2 a.m. across the board," commissioner Ricky Arriola said. "There has to be exceptions. That’s what the voters voted for.”
The city's planning director laid out five ways that commissioners could chose to rollback last call with exceptions. A citywide 2 a.m. last call was not listed as an option.
The five options include:
- No. 1 - Allow oceanfront hotels with at least 200 rooms to serve alcohol indoors until 5 a.m.
- No. 2 - Allow oceanfront hotels and fully enclosed restaurants to serve alcohol until 5 a.m.
- No. 3 - Allow options one and two while including bars and clubs
- No. 4 - Allow exemptions for oceanfront hotels and some restaurants, bars and clubs in certain areas of the city
- No. 5 - Base exceptions for a 5 a.m. last call based on performance standards
Some feel making an exception for some would not curb crime in the entertainment district.
“They could have sent a resoundingly loud and clear message that the party’s over," said Sherbrooke Hotel owner Mitch Novick. "But instead, they decided to create all kinds of exceptions. Essentially, watering down what the voters had asked for.”
The voter referendum was held November 2nd in response to increasingly raucous crowds and public drinking in the South Beach entertainment district, where tension has been bubbling for years as party crowds grew from a few weekends into a year-round presence.
Mayor Dan Gelber, who pushed for a 2 a.m. closing time, also won reelection and declared victory for both campaigns.
“This is what our residents want,” Gelber said. He called the earlier limit to alcohol sales a first step toward repositioning South Beach's entertainment district as a “live, work, play” area with new housing, offices and cultural spaces.
Gelber said he would be open to letting bigger hotels with security staffs continue serving alcohol until 5 a.m.
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