Miami Beach mayor wants earlier last call for spring break

Mayor Dan Gelber wants to cut off alcohol sales 3 hours earlier in South Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The mayor of Miami Beach wants an earlier last call for alcohol this spring break.

Mayor Dan Gelber wants alcohol sales to end at 2 a.m. in South Beach for 17 days in March. It’s 5 a.m. now across the city.

“No community wants to have (a) hard-drinking, hard-partying, anything-goes atmosphere,” he said.

City commissioners were expected to discuss the issue Wednesday ahead of a preliminary vote.

It could then be finalized at a Feb. 26 commission meeting.

If approved, the reduced drinking hours would begin March 6.

Critics argue it’s too quick of a turnaround. Many bars, restaurants and hotels already have their spring break plans in place, and business owners claim the proposal is really throwing them a curve ball.

“I have 80 hotels just between Ocean Drive and Collins (Avenue). They’re fully booked. They are at the highest rates for March,” Ceci Velasco, executive director of the Ocean Drive Association, said.

The businesses that would be impacted are along Ocean Drive on South Beach, Collins Avenue and part of Washington Avenue and the area surrounding Española Way.

“We’ve been doing it since the 1920s. This has been a 5 o’clock city,” Mango’s Tropical Cafe owner David Wallack said.

Wallack said the early last call would harm the Miami Beach nightlife brand that so many worked so hard to build, and said it could even result in staff changes.

“That would put a lot of people out of work,” he said.

But the mayor said he’s taking a lesson from years past by proposing this early last call.

“Our city has closed the causeways for two consecutive Marches, alright,” Gelber said. “I’ve gotten calls from two different police chiefs saying, ‘Close down the causeways tonight. We can’t control this.’”

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