Miami Beach mayor, city leaders propose changes for Ocean Drive
City seeks to curtail violence in area after 'downward trend' on famed drive
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The mayor of Miami Beach and other city leaders said Tuesday that they want to trim alcohol sales and do away with a noise exemption on Ocean Drive.
Mayor Philip Levine was joined by Miami Beach police Chief Daniel Oates and City Manager Jimmy Morales at a Tuesday morning news conference as they announced plans that they hope will curtail the escalating violence on and near the famed beachfront drive.
"During the last five, six, seven, eight years, we've seen a downward trend in Ocean Drive, and what we need to do as a city is reform and clean up Ocean Drive," Levine said.
Levine proposed cutting alcohol sales at 2 a.m. along Ocean Drive. He also proposed removing the noise reduction exemption for businesses.
The response comes after a violent Memorial Day weekend in South Beach.
One man died and another man was injured Sunday in a shooting that stemmed from a dispute about a parking space, police said.
Dontavious Johnson was arrested after he opened fire on an occupied taxi cab Saturday afternoon at the corner of Collins Drive and Sixth Street, police said.
A person was stabbed with a bottle during a brawl Monday near Sixth Street, police said.
David Wallack, the owner of Mango's Tropical Café on Ocean Drive, asked Levine if the city had done an economic impact study on how earlier alcohol sales would affect Miami Beach businesses.
Levine said Mango's is one of the businesses that benefits from later sales, but the conversation quickly turned into a shouting match.
"You are talking about a business that created the famous label of Miami Beach," Wallack said. "You should be talking with respect."
"I appreciate it very much, and you know what you did? You inherited a business," Levine told Wallack. "Go get a job, go build a company and go tell me when you've built something. Thank you."
Levine said he believes ending alcohol sales at 2 a.m. could have prevented the Memorial Day weekend violence in South Beach.
Some business owners and bar managers along Ocean Drive said a 2 a.m. cutoff for alcohol sales would hurt business.
Wallack said bars and clubs aren't to blame for the recent violence, and that an earlier last call "would create a severe depression on Ocean Drive."
He also said it would have a ripple effect on businesses in surrounding neighborhoods and fears locals and tourists would go elsewhere for fun.
Richard Van Leuvan, manager at Ocean's Ten, also said an early call would hurt.
"It's just a matter of controlling the alcohol that's out on the street, and I think that's more from the liquor stores," Van Leuvan said. "For example, this weekend, everybody's walking around with bottles. It's controlled here. But once they're out on the street, it's uncontrollable."
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