I have asked the City Commission to consider a variety of measures (at least 12) related to the current abysmal condition of our City’s so-called “entertainment district.” One of those measures – the 2:00 a.m. cut-off for alcohol sales in this area -- is scheduled for final approval tomorrow. It passed initially with the slimmest of support from my colleagues and I know that some bars in the area are doing all they can to totally halt or water-down final passage.  I thought it made sense to address some of the information that is floating around about this proposal and the arguments that have been presented about it. Here are some of the concerns I have heard...
A 2:00 a.m. cutoff won’t solve anything because so much bad stuff happens before 2:00 a.m. 

First of all, lots of bad stuff happens after 2:00 a.m. In just the last few weeks, there have been a shooting, arsons, and stabbings in this area alone, all after 2:00 a.m. But more importantly, the purpose of the 2:00 a.m. last call is not simply to stop late night misconduct, it is also to allow the district to project out a different image and, ultimately, become a mixed-use, live-work-play district. Right now, it is an “entertainment only” district which has become a magnet for too many people looking for hard parties or worse. What else would you expect in an area that has over 40 late night bars. We must change that image. And we must provide a climate that will attract different investments like residential living, boutique offices, galleries and shopping. And having only bars as neighbors prevents that kind of investment. If you want to hear a real expert, listen to nationally acclaimed urbanist Richard Florida, who also happens to be a South Beach resident discuss the reasons for a 2:00 a.m. cutoff.
2:00 a.m. will just move the chaos to other areas of the City.

You can’t have it both ways. Either 2:00 a.m. will change who we are attracting, or it won’t. But to those that suggest it will send the problem elsewhere, we don’t have any neighborhoods with a remotely similar concentration of all-night clubs, and we can also control them with future ordinances as necessary. But I believe if we don’t take this first, decisive step to change what we are projecting to the world, the chaos will continue to bleed into other areas (which it already has in South of Fifth, Flamingo Park and Alton/West Avenue).
It’s unfair to businesses that have invested in an “entertainment district.” 

While I am grateful for any business that is willing to invest in our community, we can’t allow someone else’s business model to impact our quality of life. Further, plenty of businesses do terrifically without catering to an all-night party crowd. We’re not a desert without other attractive elements like climate, beaches, historic buildings, amazing restaurants and hotels, and exceptional cultural fare. We can do better.
Won’t we lose money, especially resort tax money, if we do this?

I don’t believe that this will impact our tax base in any meaningful way. Of course, the cost of policing, the drain of resources from other areas, and the damage to our brand are all costs we are already paying for. And there is no amount of money that makes what we have been seeing and feeling worth it. 
Shouldn’t we just be putting more police on the job? 

While I do believe we need more police to address misconduct in this and surrounding areas, policing alone won’t suffice. We have tried that and it feels like we are playing whack-a-mole. When you look at “heat maps” reflecting arrests (in 2019 and 2020), an extraordinary amount of police resources are devoted to problems in this area. Also, why does it make sense to try to manage something so chaotic? It just puts police, visitors and residents in danger.
Citywide arrests in 2019
Citywide arrests in 2020
Some say we would solve this if we just enforced our ordinances like open-container and public pot smoking prohibitions.

I believe we should be enforcing all our ordinances, and we have been at levels that other communities don’t come close to doing. For instance, in February to April of this year we arrested 253 for ordinance violations (213 in this district). But even this volume of enforcement hasn’t been able to reduce the chaos.
Shouldn’t we take more incremental steps? 

Hard no. We can no longer afford to take baby steps. For a decade we have been trying to “manage” this area and it has not had any meaningful impact. We need to come to the collective judgment that we are a City that should not have an “entertainment only” district. It is just not working, is too ungovernable and not anything we need in a City that has so much more to offer.
Shouldn’t you let the voters decide (like we did 5 years ago when they said “no”)?

There is nothing about this issue that requires it be put on a City-wide ballot, and we shouldn’t kick the can down the road for another 6 months. Commissioners were elected to make informed decisions, even decisions that might upset people. The only reason to put it on the ballot is because you want to give those making money off of the current business model a chance to spend millions campaigning against it (which is precisely what previously happened). How did that turn out for our community? Things continued to only worsen.
If you are interested in listening in or speaking, we will get to these issues at 10:25 a.m. tomorrow. Virtual participation is encouraged due to COVID-19 safety requirements. 

Residents can participate via Zoom using this link (https://miamibeachfl-gov.zoom.us/j/81392857671) with access ID: 81392857671, or watch online at www.MiamiBeachFL.gov/government/mbtv.

Thanks for taking the time to inform yourself about this issue.