What I saw this weekend was unacceptable. We have to do a better job at addressing these high impact weekends when hundreds of thousands flock to our entertainment district in South Beach. I received so many calls and emails: from residents stuck on a Causeway trying to just get home; from people walking around Ocean Drive feeling unsafe; and from others who, like me, can’t stand the image this projects about the City we love.
I listen to every voice because I appreciate it is born out of both frustration with these events and affection for our community. If you want to talk about it, my cell phone is
. Don’t hesitate to call or text, or email me at
The bottom line is we have become so attractive as a destination that we simply can’t process the volume of people that want to come here. And unfortunately, among the thousands that visit with the intent of suitably enjoying themselves are some who come with bad intentions, drink or smoke too much, or just are not capable of comporting themselves in a civilized way.
We have tried many different approaches with some success. But often there are unintended consequences.
For instance, when we slow down traffic to limit access to our City and deploy license plate readers to identify drivers with outstanding warrants, we also create huge disruption for our residents returning to their homes. Many returning from the Heat game Friday night know what I mean. Also, policing huge crowds of young people, many of whom have been drinking heavily and might be predisposed to bad or reckless choices, poses other challenges for our cops.
Tomorrow morning, I have asked the City staff to break down what our challenges have been, how we have been responding, and what we plan on doing going forward to better control the problematic areas. Part of those plans will undoubtedly be increased enforcement on the Beach of violations of our open container and drug use ordinances. It will also include additional law enforcement and enhanced code enforcement. It’s important to me that we let the community know – including those who may be coming to visit – what to expect.
It’s critical that our residents feel safe everywhere in our community, that we don’t address these challenges at the expense of our quality of life, and that we clearly communicate to potential visitors that this is not a community where anything goes.
No one believes this is an acceptable normal, including my colleagues and our City Administration, and we will address it forthright.