With Memorial Day weekend approaching, the city of Miami Beach and its police department are expected to ramp up patrols and security to enforce safety measures and prevent people from breaking the law.
Barricades were put into place as early as Wednesday night along Washington Avenue in an effort to try and control traffic and what some worry could be the chaos of past years.
Mayor Dan Gelber posted a video message Wednesday that included promoting events the city hopes will change the tone for one of its busiest weekends of the year.
“The city is once again sponsoring the remarkable national salute to America’s heroes, the feature of the weekend being the Air and Sea Show on Saturday and Sunday,” Gelber said.
The featured event, the Hyundai Air & Sea Show, taking place May 29-30.
“We look forward to welcoming everyone back this year to enjoy one of the country’s largest military air and sea shows,” said Miami Beach City Manager Alina T. Hudak. “This is a terrific way to remember and honor the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for this great nation and those first responders who have stood shoulder to shoulder with our community throughout the pandemic."
All focus, admittedly, is on the party that police and city officials have had struggles with controlling in previous years.
“You also need to know that this weekend will also be challenging,” Gelber said in the message. “We have to assume that even more people will be coming this Memorial Day weekend, especially in the evening, and regrettably too many will be coming to act out.”
Over 250 MBPD officers will work 12 hour shifts starting Thursday while over 550 officers from both Miami Beach and other agencies will be on duty for a three day period starting Friday.
Several "high impact" measures from the city will be in place along the public beach and in the MXE mixed used entertainment district (excluding that portion of the MXE district between 73 and 75 streets); and that portion of the CD-2 commercial, medium intensity district between Pennsylvania Avenue and Collins Court from 5 to 16 streets.
The measures include:
- Direct or indirect consumption of alcohol on beach property will be prohibited unless specifically authorized by a Special Event Permit or a concession agreement.
- Limitations of traffic routes to prohibit vehicular access to non-residents, and permit access only for residents and those patrons and employees of businesses located in the specific area where traffic routes have been limited.
- Capacity limits will be in effect on various segments of the beach to protect the health, safety and public welfare. Additional access will be denied once capacity limits are reached.
- Coolers, inflatable devices, tents, tables and similar structures on the beach may not be permitted.
- The implementation of an LPR Police detail will be utilized on eastbound traffic lanes on the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways, and any other access points into the city.
- The suspension, or the issuance, of a business tax receipt to promoters for any dance or entertainment events to be held at an alcoholic beverage establishment located in the MXE and CD-2 districts.
- The suspension and closure of business entities renting or leasing certain vehicles — including golf carts, low-speed vehicles, autocycles, motorized scooters, mopeds, motorcycles powered by motors of 50cc or less and motorized bicycles.
Officials said other measures, including limitations on live or amplified music and the suspension and closure of all or part of sidewalk café operations could also be imposed if necessary.
“You have our assurance to address every issue we can, no matter how minor, to make this weekend as painless as possible - making sure people can vacation and enjoy themselves as possible,” Gelber said.
Lane closures will start at 10 p.m. Friday on the McArthur Causeway, but starting at 7 p.m. anyone driving east on Interstate 395 will be forced into a traffic loop - one way in, one way out.
“If you are coming home, especially in the evenings, avoid this area as best you can,” Gelber said.
Starting Friday at 7 p.m., a flat parking rate of $20 per vehicle will be imposed at all city parking garages in the Art Deco Cultural District except for access card holders and residents.
Parking shuttles and trolley service will be available at certain locations and at certain times.
Gelber is already looking to convene a special commission on how to change the entertainment district, hoping to continue an earlier “last call” time on alcohol sales of 2 a.m. that started May 22nd.
The mayor said his plan would also include making Ocean Drive a pedestrian only street and creating a code of conduct for businesses in the entertainment district.