2021 Miami Beach Straw Ballot Question 1: Roll Back Alcohol Sales/Consumption Time?

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

2021 Miami Beach Straw Ballot Question 1: Roll Back Alcohol Sales/Consumption Time?:

Non-binding question asks 5 am or 2 am?

On the November 2 ballot, this non-binding straw poll relating to the end time for alcohol sales and consumption citywide. The straw poll is designed to get voter opinion on rolling back hours from 5 am to 2 am, allowing the Mayor and Commissioners to determine policy changes based on the results. Originally the question related only to the City’s South Beach Entertainment District (MXE) but after concerns were raised about an earlier closing time there pushing the party into other areas including residential neighborhoods, Commissioners decided to ask about a citywide rollback.

Straw Ballot Question 1: Changing Alcoholic Beverage Establishments Sales/Consumption Termination Time

Here’s how the question will read on the ballot:
City law allows, subject to exceptions, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at Alcoholic Beverage Establishments throughout the City, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. the following day.

Would you support changing this 5:00 a.m. termination time to 2:00 a.m. throughout the City, with specific locations and related restrictions and exemptions, to be determined by City Commission by Ordinance?

The City’s voters rejected a binding referendum in 2017 to reduce alcohol sale times in the South Beach Entertainment District, but following concerns over unruly crowds and crime there, Mayor Dan Gelber has spearheaded an effort to cut the hours as part of a multi-pronged strategy to change the dynamic of the area. After Commissioners and residents worried that the party would just move to other areas of the City where establishments would continue to have 5 am cutoffs, the question was expanded to citywide. Supporters are betting residents have had a change of heart since 2017.

Note: In general, the end time for sale and consumption of alcohol is 5 am citywide, with hours of service allowed from 8 am to 5 am the following day. However, the hours are 8 am to 2 am in the Sunset Harbour area, 41st Street area, South of Fifth neighborhood and “CD-2 properties on the west side of Alton Road between Fifth Street and Collins Canal, except for Alcoholic Beverage Establishments fronting Lincoln Road between West Avenue, which currently have a 5:00 am time for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages," according to the City's Voter's Guide. There are establishments within those areas that are grandfathered in, meaning those with a 5 am license before the rollbacks were enacted may still remain open until 5 am, but the current end time in those neighborhoods for new establishments is 2 am.

The citywide alcohol straw poll on this year's ballot includes the ability for “exceptions” to be applied though those have not yet been determined and are pending the outcome of the vote.

“So, for purposes of your vote on the issue,” the City’s Voter’s Guide states, “the decision before you is whether you support, in concept, this 2:00 a.m. termination time change in additional areas throughout the City, knowing that if enacted by the City Commission, it would be subject to restrictions and exceptions, presently unknown, to be enacted by the commission.”

Any legislative changes based on the vote, as well as any exceptions, would be subject to public hearings and two readings at City Commission.

As of October 20, the following organizations have taken a position on the question

Supporters (Yes on the question):
Miami Beach United (MBU)
SOFNA (South of Fifth Neighborhood Association)
West Avenue Neighborhood Association (WAvNA)

[The Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) is not taking a formal position but did support the 2 am last call in the Mayor’s 12 Point Plan for the South Beach Entertainment District.]

Opposed (No on the question):
Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce

Photo: Shutterstock