Controversial regulation on alcohol sales starts May 22 in some areas of South Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A new rule aims to change the out-of-control party on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue in South Beach, but not everyone in Miami Beach believes it will work.

Business owners who benefit from nightlife’s alcohol sales say that not only will the rule not work, but it will hurt the local economy. Property owners who are worried about the area’s reputation affecting real estate value support it.

Miami Beach commissioners voted 4-3 on Wednesday to ban daily early morning alcohol sales after 2 a.m. from May 22 to Dec. 8. The ban, which used to be at 5 a.m., applies to the entertainment district’s area between Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive — south of 16th Street.

Miami Beach voters will be able to decide in November if the temporary measure should become permanent.

The risks of the coronavirus pandemic didn't stop large crowds from meeting on Ocean Drive in South Beach during Spring Break 2021.

The regulation was Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber’s idea and it had the support of commissioners Micky Steinberg, Mark Samuelian, and Steven Meiner. Commissioners Ricky Arriola, Michael Góngora, and David Richardson were the dissenting votes.

While the regulation has the support of some real estate developers, including Jorge Pérez, it will impact the revenue of dozens of businesses in the most popular section of the Art Deco Historic District.

People in a mostly maskless crowd walk down Ocean Drive in South Beach on March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Billionaire Barry Sternlicht told commissioners they need to salvage the area’s reputation. He is the chairman of Starwood Capital Group, the global private investment firm that operates and manages 1 Hotel South Beach on 23rd Street and Collins Avenue.

“This is just the first step in how to address a situation that has clearly gotten completely out of control,” said Sternlicht during the commission meeting.

The risks of the coronavirus pandemic didn't stop large crowds from meeting on Ocean Drive in South Beach during Spring Break 2021.

Before the commissioners voted on Wednesday, Attorney Alex Tachmes, who is representing the Clevelander South Beach Hotel and Bar on Ocean Drive and 10th Street, told commissioners the measure will result in massive layoffs.

“Cars are blaring music going down the streets with girls twerking on the roofs,” David Wallack said. “There is no enforcement of the law in Miami Beach.”

Wallack, the owner of Mango’s Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive and 9th Street, told commissioners targeting alcohol sales when tourists are already bringing their own drugs does not make sense. He also said that if the goal was to curve crime, Washington Avenue should have been included.

Watch the commission meeting

About the Authors:

Alex Finnie joined the Local 10 News team in May 2018. South Florida is home! She was raised in Miami and attended the Cushman School and New World School of the Arts for high school.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.