Expect more cops, more enforcement and street closures as needed in the Miami Beach Entertainment District to crack down on what the mayor sees as out-of-control spring break rowdiness.
The District runs from the beach west to Washington Avenue and from 5th Street north to 15th Street.
In a virtual city commission meeting Wednesday, Mayor Dan Gelber said that area is being overrun with tens of thousands of visitors and by locals who come at night to party.
“if you have fifty or a hundred thousand people coming there and just half of one percent are rowdy or drunk or high to the point where they need to be controlled, it becomes a situation which is truly chaotic and unmanageable,” Gelber said.
Gelber pointed to the incident Monday night in which a young man was shot to death as an example.
However, in the daytime, you won’t find many crowd control issues or rowdy spring breakers. The problems generally start after sundown, and that’s what Gelber is concerned about.
“It has felt at times like this city is under a level of siege simply from the volume of people that are coming,” Gelber said.
Despite the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, Wednesday night seemed to be a much quieter night on South Beach.
It also coincided with day two of those amplified enforcement efforts from Miami Beach Police to help get a handle on spring break.
Police say their efforts are working. “We believe it’s the extra police officers we have out here tonight and the traffic measures that we have in place,” said Assistant Chief Paul Acosta. “As you can see we closed off the Collins Avenue corridor to mitigate the traffic that comes into this particular area.”
Acosta said traffic was much quieter Wednesday night thanks to those new road closures. He says that helps police respond to calls faster and allows them to be more proactive.
The spring break volume is good for some businesses. Sergio Infantes is the chef and manager of Prana Cafe at 6th and Collins. He told us after being closed during the pandemic, spring break has fueled a recovery.
“So now we are really busy in this season, so all the business, we are hiring more people, because we need more workers for the business,” Infantes said.
While the city is bringing in Miami-Dade Police officers to help its own police force deal with the issues, we asked out-of-state visitors if they’re feeling safe on South Beach.
“I do personally because I travel a lot, I mean it’s a different atmosphere but I don’t think it’s unsafe,” said Rylan Brickhouse, a spring break visitor from Texas.
“Uh, a little, I mean to a certain extent. I mean we’ve had a few -- you know what I’m saying -- complications, but other than that, as long as I have my friends and we stay together, we’re good,” said Unique Mason, who is visiting with a group of friends from Atlanta.
People who live in South Beach have a different perspective on the Entertainment District’s nightly party.
“Please immediately block off the residential neighborhoods to protect from what’s happening in the surrounding areas,” said Robin Andras, who spoke up during the public comment period of the virtual meeting.
Visiting for spring break is one thing, living here is another. The mayor is promising to do whatever it takes to control the crowds to keep everyone as safe as possible.