MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Dozens of demonstrators marched in Miami Beach on Wednesday, protesting a plan to make last call a few hours earlier.
Mayor Dan Gelber believes cutting off alcohol sales at 2 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. will reduce the rowdy behavior that has been plaguing the city and making national headlines.
Voters will get to make their voices heard during the November election.
“You cannot expect our residents to be held hostage to a business model that creates an incredible amount of disorder,” Gelber said.
Gelber and other supporters of the rollback say while the change would be city-wide, it’s really about a very specific stretch of Ocean Drive.
“We created a party district 20 years ago and for some reason think that it’s important to keep. It’s not,” said Gelber. “It doesn’t help our city, it doesn’t elevate our city, it only creates disorder and it’s incompatible with our residential communities and with our status as a culture destination.”
In fact, Gelber says 20 percent of all crime in the city comes from that two-block area.
On the other hand, those who are against the proposal say they aren’t to blame for that.
“We have not had consistent policing on Ocean Drive, and I liken it to, ‘How about you look at your own home, don’t clean it for seven years and then start screaming ‘how come it’s not clean?’ And who are you going to blame,’” said Mango’s Tropical Café owner David Wallack.
He wasn’t alone in those feelings.
“This is the City of Miami Beach passing the buck,” said Mario Trejo, a bartender at Twist. “They’re passing the buck and trying to say the clubs and the bars are responsible for all of the crime when in fact it’s not.”
There is also the allegation that this is not really about crime at all, and that it’s mostly about getting rid of the bars and clubs so they can replace it with something else.
That vote on the ballot in November is not binding, but the city commission will use it as guidance for what residents want to do.