In a letter to the community earlier this month following another challenging Spring Break that resulted in a State of Emergency, Gelber sought the support of City Commissioners but urged residents to act if the Commission won't. “I know that many will be opposed to some or all of these ideas. Many have already opposed them in previous incarnations. My hope is the last few weeks should galvanize our community into action, so I urge my Commission colleagues and City Staff to make these reforms our priority.”
“I would hope we could reach consensus on versions of these, but believe if we are unwilling to act, that our residents should put some of them on the November ballot via initiative if that is what it will take,” Gelber wrote.
If Commissioners cannot agree on legislative initiatives or to place an item on the ballot for voter approval, the City charter gives residents the power to add an item to the ballot. To do that requires a petition signed by ten percent of the City’s registered voters as of the last general election – 4,836 in this case.
Items up for consideration at Wednesday’s City Commission meeting:
R5A MXE Use Regulations (10:05 am, first reading)
Proposed changes to the regulations governing the MXE (Mixed Use Entertainment) District (generally the area from 5th to 16th Streets, Ocean Drive and Collins Avenues):
- A requirement that all indoor entertainment require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) review. Currently, venues with less than 200-person occupancy limits do not require a CUP from the Planning Board. The CUP process allows the Planning Board to include specific conditions within a CUP and call an applicant back for periodic reviews with the authority to suspend or revoke a CUP for repeat violations.
- A prohibition on stand-alone bars meaning bars would need to be an accessory use to a restaurant though there would be an exception for interior hotel lobby bars.
- Limiting commercial rooftop use to restaurants only. (Rooftops would still be able to be used for residential, office, or hotel guest amenities.)
- Allowing artisanal retail and experiential retail as accessory uses. In a memo accompanying the item, Interim City Manager Raul Aguila explained, “With rapid changes occurring in the retail sector, many people are seeking out new and interesting experiences when they visit an area that they cannot find locally. This especially includes seeking unique, locally produced goods at the source. In order to allow for this, there would need to be a blending of retail with low intensity industrial production, known as artisanal retail. Microbreweries are the most popular form of artisanal retail; however, there are others which produce consumer-oriented goods, food, works of art, clothing, personal care items, and others. In such establishments the goods are produced and sold on-site to retail customers.”
Details on the proposed ordinance are here.
C7Y Resolution to study code amendments to the sidewalk café ordinance
This item would direct the City Administration and City Attorney to study and analyze potential amendments to the City's Code “to allow the city to better control quality and behavior of sidewalk cafes on City owned property to enhance tourism and promote quality service, and to prepare the necessary city code amendments as expeditiously as possible for consideration by the Mayor and City Commission.” Among the items suggested by Gelber are “possible regulation and/or prohibition" of the "consumption of oversized alcoholic beverages and hookahs at City sidewalk cafes.”
Item details here.
R5N Noise exemptions (first reading)
While City Code prohibits “unreasonably loud, excessive, unnecessary or unusual noise,” an exemption has existed for amplified sound projecting eastward from properties located from 9th to 11th Street on Ocean Drive. This ordinance would repeal that exemption. Businesses that would be affected include Mango’s, The Clevelander, The Palace, and Ocean’s Ten.
Aguila wrote in his memo accompanying this item, “The purpose of this amendment to the Noise Ordinance is to further reduce negative impacts of noise along Ocean Drive. Additionally, the amendment is intended to re-direct the activities of alcoholic beverage establishments to be substantially contained within private property and not spill onto the public street and sidewalks. This, in turn, will allow for a better activation of the street, as well as safe, unencumbered movement.”
R5O Alcohol hours of sales (first reading)
This ordinance would modify the hours for ending the sale and on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages in the MXE district south of 16th Street from 5:00 am to 2:00 am. The change would impact 44 existing businesses located primarily on Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive, according to Aguila in the memo accompanying the item. (His memo includes a list of those establishments.)
“Over the past decade, the MXE district has experienced increasing challenges associated with alcoholic beverage and entertainment uses, all of which were intended to be subordinate to the main use of residential or hotel properties in the district,” Aguila wrote. “The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages late at night or early in the morning has disturbed neighboring residents, caused undesirable noise, and placed significant demands on the City’s Police, Fire, and Code Compliance Departments.”
“To rediscover the beauty and intent of the National Register Architectural District, and re-focus the urban planning priorities for the broader area, a ‘rollback’ of the permitted hours for the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption is a significant first step,” he wrote.
“It is important to note that the proposed 2:00 a.m. rollback for on-premises consumption within the MXE district is part of a multi-pronged approach. This includes updating applicable regulations; incentivizing a renaissance of the original plan for Ocean Drive; year-round programming; increased enforcement; and creating ways to balance vehicular and pedestrian mobility,” Aguila concluded.
Note, sidewalk café service is currently required to terminate by 2 am.
Details of the alcohol rollback proposal are here.
Commissioners Mark Samuelian and Michael Góngora have placed a couple of items on the agenda to provide additional information as the specifics of Gelber’s proposal are discussed.
Samuelian is sponsoring a discussion (Item R9V) on “the academic research and currently held best practices concerning alcohol sales hours” including a presentation by Dr. Alex Piquero, Chair of Sociology and Arts & Sciences Distinguished Scholar at the University of Miami. According to Piquero’s bio, “He has published over 400 peer-reviewed articles in the areas of criminal careers, crime prevention, criminological theory, and quantitative research methods, and has collaborated on several books…”
Góngora asked for an analysis of 18 points by Acting City Attorney Rafael Paz including:
- Comparison of closing hours and alcohol consumption hours in cities in Florida
- The potential for Ocean Drive to maintain one lane of traffic (currently closed to traffic)
- What can be done to limit hours for outdoor bars
- Potential limits on charter boat rentals
- Limits and enforcement on hotel occupancy
- Regulation and enforcement of short-term rentals
The full memo with questions and answers (item R9AA) is here.
R9Y Update on design process and implementation timeline for the Ocean Drive and Lummus Park GO Bond projects
Gelber has asked for an update on the G.O. Bond schedule that includes the potential permanent pedestrianization of Ocean Drive.
C2A Lummus Park Activation: Invitation to Negotiate
Commissioner Steven Meiner who has advocated for family-friendly activations and programming for Lummus Park as one component of the effort to change the dynamic on Ocean Drive is sponsoring an item to issue an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) to generate proposals for the activations.
According to Aguila’s memo accompanying this item, the City is “seeking sophisticated, family-friendly options for activating the Lummus Park spoil area. The spoil area is defined as the sandy space between the coral wall abutting the Park’s serpentine walkway and the protective sand dunes,” in areas that currently have low or infrequent use.
Proposals could include a band shell, temporary art and cultural activities, fitness programming, a miniature golf course, fountains, gardens, permanent art installations, temporary fairs (which may include a carousel or ferris wheel), ancillary food and beverage concessions with café-style seating with less than 1500 sq. ft. of enclosed space, movies in the park, and conservation/environment/resiliency focused activities which may include small nature centers.
Not wanted: carnival-like games or entertainment, inflatable bounce houses, mechanical amusement rides, or petting zoos.
Full item details here.