Miami Beach replaces July 4 fireworks with ‘shine a light’ moment to honor Surfside

As a tribute to the first responders, victims and families of those missing in the partial condo collapse in Surfside, Miami Beach announced Thursday it will replace its originally planned fireworks celebration with a moment for residents to “shine a light in a symbolic gesture of unity,” according to a city press release.

Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian said the “shine a light” ceremony is a chance to recognize the moment and “honor our first responders.”

July 2, 2021 | Miami Herald | Miami Beach replaces July 4 fireworks with ‘shine a light’ moment to honor Surfside

Miami Today Features Aris Papadopoulos in its Annual ‘Best of Miami’ Issue

MIAMI, June 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Resilience Action Fund (RAF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and guiding the public on creating more resilient homes and communities, announced today that it has been featured in the annual “Best of Miami” issue of Miami Today.

This year’s theme, “Best of Miami in Recovery Mode,” highlighted the people, businesses and organizations who are setting the course for the future of Miami in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aris Papadopoulos, founder and chair of Miami-based RAF, was included in the “Making Miami Resilient” category. Papadopoulos was nominated by Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian for his expertise in the field and efforts in helping the city with a long-term resilient vision project.

“It’s an honor to be nominated for this distinction by the Commissioner and be part of this impressive group working to better our community,” said Aris Papadopoulos, who is also the Distinguished Expert in Resilience at Florida International University. “Particularly for cities like Miami, who face the combined impacts of hurricanes and climate change, it is vital to raise awareness and engage residents in envisioning a resilient future. I look forward to working closely with the City of Miami Beach and FIU to ensure that local input is combined with global thought leadership to create an inspirational blueprint for a vibrant and sustainable 21st century city,” he added.

June 9, 2021 | PRNewswire | Miami Today Features Aris Papadopoulos in its Annual ‘Best of Miami’ Issue

Miami Beach plans more temporary public art

With the economy reopening and talks starting about a pedestrian promenade connecting Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road and Española Way, Miami Beach officials are looking at installing more temporary public art in the city in the next few months as a way to encourage the economic rebound.

This idea, Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, dovetails nicely with the proposal for a South Beach Promenade that would connect Española Way, Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive, and the committee asked that the items be brought back together. Of two possible installations, Mr. Arriola said, this idea should receive priority.

June 8, 2021 | MiamiToday | Miami Beach plans more temporary public art

Miami Beach isn’t Vegas. A 2 a.m. last call makes sense | Opinion


Much has been made about Miami Beach’s spring break experience, especially in 2021, and residents are outraged. Even though we are amid a pandemic with curfews, that did not stop thousands of people from converging on our region to take a break from their lives — many attracted by an anything-goes perception.

The problem, of course, was not just the much larger crowds concentrated in a very small geographic area. It was also the chaotic scenes, fights, stampedes, arrests and crimes that emerged. Indeed, during the period February 3-April 5, 2021 there were over 1,300 arrests in Miami Beach with 58% made in the entertainment-heavy Art Deco Cultural District. Most people do not come to Miami Beach with nefarious intentions, so blaming people is not the solution. As lessons from criminological research shows, we can address crime by altering the situation.

One of those solutions involves stopping the sale of alcohol earlier, such as the 2 a.m. proposal by Mayor Dan Gelber. This is a good first step of a comprehensive program, one focused on public safety as its primary rationale, and here’s why.

First, when we compare Miami Beach to other cities and locations with entertainment districts that closely abut residences, the majority of dining and entertainment establishments do not stay open and serving alcohol until 5 a.m. This includes a long list of cities, like San Antonio, Texas, and even some in Florida, like Tampa. Right now, Miami Beach operates more like Las Vegas than anyplace else.

Second, criminological research shows that a combination of too much alcohol and late-night activities act as crime generators and attractors. Lessons learned from various studies confirm that extending closing hours is associated with increases in crime, including DUIs and DWIs, while rolling back closing hours is associated with less crime. The bottom line: Limiting alcohol sales relates to lower crime.

Third, the world of professional sports has also successfully implemented alcohol restrictions. Many Major League Baseball teams, including the Miami Marlins, end alcohol sales at the end of the seventh inning. As well, many NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins, end in the third quarter. The research is clear: Limiting sales in this manner has been found to be related to less crime, including driving while intoxicated and aggravated assault.

Finally, savvy business leaders recognize that in the medium- and long-term, this change will likely have a positive financial impact. Many of the trouble-making visitors were not patronizing businesses, and the resulting images have certainly not been helpful to the city’s brand. At the same time, reduced alcohol hours will lessen overtime demands on the Miami Beach Police Department and its partner agencies improving the financial equation for the city, which is currently operating at an estimated $6 million deficit in the Art Deco Cultural District.

We are mindful of that fact that businesses have been hurt during the past year. Jobs lost, profits gone unrealized — a world turned upside down. The proposed solution is a good first step, but it is not the last. Miami Beach can and should study the public safety and economic impacts of this strategy. If it does not work as planned, then let’s try something else. Perfection should not be the enemy of the good. This is a good lesson to remember as we all seek to welcome our visitors and ensure that they have a pleasant and safe experience, while also making certain that our residents continue to be happy and secure in the place they chose to call home.

Mark Samuelian is a Miami Beach city commissioner, and Alex R. Piquero is chair of sociology and arts & sciences distinguished scholar at the University of Miami.

April 20, 2021 | Sun Sentinel | Miami Beach isn’t Vegas. A 2 a.m. last call makes sense | Opinion

Equality Florida Action PAC backs Dan Gelber, Mark Samuelian reelection bids in Miami Beach

Both candidates are netting support more than nine months before the November election.

A prominent LGBT rights organization is endorsing a pair of Miami Beach officials seeking reelection this fall.

Equality Florida Action PAC is backing Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and Miami Beach City Commissioner Mark Samuelian in their respective reelection bids.

Gelber is seeking a third and final term leading the city after winning reelection unopposed in 2019. Samuelian first joined the Commission after winning election in 2017.

“I am truly proud to earn the early endorsement of Equality Florida Action PAC,” Samuelian added.

“Together, we have worked to make Miami Beach a more equal and welcoming city, and I remain committed to ensuring we are always at the forefront of tearing down any form of discrimination. I look forward to the continued work with such great organizations like Equality Florida Action PAC, who every day fight for a better and more fair community.”

Both posts are nonpartisan. So far, no candidates have filed to oppose Gelber or Samuelian.

“As municipal leaders both Mayor Gelber and Commissioner Samuelian have defended attacks on conversion therapy bans in federal courts, challenged Tallahassee to end erroneous and unpopular attacks on abortion rights, and have pushed for greater local control when it comes to gun safety reforms. They have kept their promises to advance policies we all believe in and that’s why Equality Florida Action PAC has pledged our support.”

March 30, 2021 | Florida Politics | Equality Florida Action PAC backs Dan Gelber, Mark Samuelian reelection bids in Miami Beach

Miami Beach envisioned after sea level rise

With two to three feet of sea level rise predicted in the next 50 years, what will Miami Beach look like in 2070? This is the question graduate architecture students at Florida International University attempted to answer in a joint effort with the city to re-imagine how historic buildings may be preserved in the future.

Commissioners backed the idea of a public workshop, asking the city administration to create messaging around the event. Mr. Stuart said he offered the course each fall, and could focus next semester’s on a different area,

“We should hold this workshop,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “where we bring the various visions that we have. We’re not looking for one crystal vision, we’re looking for a process. We’re looking for a positive message (and to) highlight a partnership that we value.”

March 16, 2021 | Miami Today | Miami Beach envisioned after sea level rise

Commission meets in Miami Beach as crime continues picking up ahead of spring break

“The vast majority of these incidents are visitor on visitor,” said Miami Beach City Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “The problem that we have is that we’re not policing the same people.”

February 8, 2021 | | Commission meets in Miami Beach as crime continues picking up ahead of spring break

City Commission Adopts Tougher Penalties for Iconic Sidewalk Cafés

Sidewalk café operators who receive four or more sidewalk café violations over the preceding 12-month period will now be banned from “applying for and obtaining” a sidewalk café permit for two consecutive permit years following the permit year in which the most recent violation occurred.

“I think this is an important ordinance. We’re strengthening. We’re getting tougher on bad operators,” declared Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who co-sponsored the enhanced penalties. “As we’ve said many times, operating and making money on public property is a privilege, not a right. I think this is good government.”

The ordinance, which takes effect 10 days from the date of adoption, also targets unsightly food displays, visual and physical clutter, overcrowding of the rights of way, along with misleading advertising and bait-and-switch tactics.

January 28, 2021 | | City Commission Adopts Tougher Penalties for Iconic Sidewalk Cafés

Miami Beach extends and expands Slow Streets initiative

“I am thrilled with this pilot initiative,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who sponsored the program.”It’s the result of a community-driven process. We have collaborated closely with the neighborhood. We have done multiple events to engage the community to get feedback. It has been a successful pilot so far, and we look forward to continuing to learn and enhance as we proceed.”

“The city wants to deliver on its Transportation Master Plan,” said Mr. Samuelian, “which prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists. We need to make sure these alternative modes are safe and attractive, and this project is front and center in doing that.” 

The transportation plan, Mr. Samuelian added, focuses on these modes for a few key reasons. Cycling and walking, he said, is more eco-friendly than driving, and many members of younger generations prefer these methods and would like the option of not owning a car. Additionally, he said, from an infrastructure standpoint the city has a limited capacity for cars occupying the streets. 

January 12, 2021 | Miami Today | Miami Beach extends and expands Slow Streets initiative

Miami Beach Continues to Wrestle with its South Beach Entertainment District

In a special meeting to discuss proposals to fix what Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber calls the “anything goes” atmosphere in the City’s South Beach Entertainment District, Commissioner Mark Samuelian summed up the discussion with the word “frustrating.” After praising the City’s Police Department for its work and efforts to increase enforcement, all of the Commissioners expressed a desire to step it up.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian said he agrees with the enforcement push, but he said the area needs more. Referencing the entire package of what Gelber calls “carrots and sticks” – measures that include development incentives, repealing the noise exemption, tying alcohol and entertainment licenses to Conditional Use Permits, and increased penalties for bad operators, Samuelian said, “As I think about the problem, my approach to the solution… is all of the above. I think we need to use all of the tools. I don’t think it’s just an enforcement issue. I don’t it’s just a noise issue. I think we need every tool, and the risk is not doing enough.”

He emphasized the “challenges” with police visibility, noting resident observations as well as his own. “We need to raise the game in terms of visibility” but he underscored a comment the Police Chief made about the impact on other neighborhoods when resources are diverted to the MXE and the movement of crime out of the Entertainment District into nearby areas as a result of increased enforcement in the MXE. Clements said MBPD has seen increased problems on Collins Avenue recently.

Samuelian said he was happy to hear the Administration was giving consideration to not renewing sidewalk café permits at the end of the year for bad operators. Reiterating that the permits are “a privilege, not a right,” he said, “It seems like we just have a hard time reining in this bad behavior despite the legislation that we’ve put forward” in the past few years. “I really hope we can do a better job reining in these bad operators and not giving them the opportunity to make money on the public right of way.”

December 5, 2020 | RE:Miami Beach | Miami Beach Continues to Wrestle with its South Beach Entertainment District