Miami Beach City Commissioners will take another shot at a voter referendum to roll back alcohol sales/consumption hours from 5:00 am to 2:00 am in South Beach’s Entertainment District. The question failed as a binding referendum in 2017 but Mayor Dan Gelber and several Commissioners believe times have changed and they want to hear from the voters again.
Gelber tried to change the hours legislatively, managing to craft a 4-3 majority with Commissioner Micky Steinberg agreeing to the early cutoff only as a temporary measure to get to a referendum. The Clevelander immediately sued the City arguing, among other things, that any change in the law required a 5/7 majority. Judge Beatrice Butchko agreed and the City dropped the early cutoff and continued to pursue the new ballot question.
The deadline set by Miami-Dade County to adopt resolutions to place questions on a special election ballot in November is this week. At their meeting on Wednesday, Commissioners will consider whether to ask the 2 am question for the Entertainment District or MXE as a binding referendum (Shall an Ordinance be adopted) or as a non-binding straw poll (Would you support a change).
The MXE runs from 5th to 15th Streets between Collins Court to the west and Ocean Drive to the east.
Gelber is adding another question to the mix. Following concerns that an early cutoff in the MXE will simply push people into other areas to establishments with 5 am liquor licenses, including those closer to residential neighborhoods, the Mayor is suggesting a non-binding straw poll asking if voters would support a rollback to 2 am “for additional areas in South Beach located south of Dade Boulevard and 24th Street, with areas and related restrictions/exceptions to be determined by City Commission by Ordinance?”
The estimated cost of the special election is $348,803.
The mayor, fed up with what he calls the “anything goes” atmosphere in the MXE, has been trying to get the Commission to pass an early alcohol cutoff for the past year as a means of changing the dynamic of the area from a focus on entertainment to one that plays on the City’s status as an arts and culture destination. The MXE, he has said on multiple occasions, has become “a beachfront Bourbon Street with all-night hard drinking and too much misbehavior where too many people go to do what they would never do in their own hometown. Most of our City’s serious crime occurs in this district and the victims and perpetrators tend to be visitors.”
His first set of proposals dragged on but after another difficult Spring Break this year, he reupped them, this time packaged as a 12 Point Plan. Commissioners and the Mayor made some headway on the proposals in May but compromise on several remain elusive including the 2 am rollback.
The items are anticipated to be heard starting at 9:45 am. Details here:
R7B MXE rollback questions
R7C Straw poll question south of Dade Boulevard
Details on how to participate in the City Commission meeting are here.
Photo: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com
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