Miami Beach to lose billions from alcohol ban; no reduction in crime, study finds

Ban puts Miami Beach brand at risk to economic harm, study says

By Paradise Afshar - Digital Editor

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Go ahead, picture Ocean Drive at 2 a.m. Think of the loud music, the traffic and the familiar sight of tourists and locals knocking back drinks.

People travel around the world to be a part of that scene.

On Nov. 7, Miami Beach residents will be able to vote on a referendum that would terminate the sale of alcoholic beverages from Fifth to 15th streets on Ocean Drive at 2 a.m., instead of 5 a.m.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine believes the change will result in a lower crime rate for the city, but a study prepared by economic consultants Fishkind & Associates paints a different picture.  

It said that the alcohol ban won't reduce crime and will have a "dramatic, negative impact on the economy of Miami Beach and significant consequences for the city's budget." 

"Since the ban is not going to reduce crime on Ocean Drive or in the city of Miami Beach, the ban cannot contribute to the brand value of the venue," the study said. "Instead, the ban puts the brand and the economies of Miami Beach and Ocean Drive at risk to serious economic harm."

The study paints a picture of Ocean Drive if such a ban is placed that will see $340 million annual combined loss of sales, a $1.7 billion drop in property values and 5,500 jobs lost.

The state is estimated to take a hit of $20 million annually in sales tax revenue.

City officials have long said that the ban will reduce crime rates. In fact, the referendum was scheduled in response to concerns over places on the popular strip that critics claim are loud, open too late and contributing to increased crime.

The study found that calls for service peak between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. within the Ocean Drive area, and there is a 34 percent reduction in calls for service between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Levine said earlier this year that extra police patrols are to be credited for the lower crime rate in the Ocean Drive area, but that five out of 10 officers assigned to the strip have been injured over the past six weeks.

Meanwhile, in August, a 57-page lawsuit was filed by Mango's Tropical Cafe and 13 other Ocean Drive businesses that are fighting back against the city's decision to allow voters to decide this issue. 

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