Mark Samuelian, the other Commissioner named to the group, has spent a lot of time focusing on Ocean Drive since his election along with Gelber. “I’m really excited about what we’re doing on Ocean Drive and where we’re heading and I think this Panel is going to be a very important contributor. I think it’s fair to say that what we want to do is really enhance the overall experience and environment on Ocean Drive.”
Samuelian also cited progress including the adoption of his menu ordinance requiring disclosure of restaurant meal and drink pricing prominently displayed. “That has really, I think, begun to elevate the game of some of the operators. Some of the operators with problems with customer service are no longer operating or are not operating with sidewalk cafés,” he said.
He also noted the off-duty police program operated in conjunction with the Ocean Drive businesses for a pilot period, the recent noise ordinances sponsored by Gelber, and the plans for the Business Improvement District.
“All those things are steps in the right direction,” Samuelian said, “but I still think we have more to do.” The new panelists, he said, will consider ideas that have been considered before as well as “some new ideas about how do we take Ocean Drive and bring it back to its glory,” a place where tourists have a good experience and that residents want to frequent.
Like Arriola, he noted the potential of the G.O. Bond to infuse significant investment into the area to upgrade the infrastructure and improve public safety.
“I think Ocean Drive really is the heart of Miami Beach in a lot of ways. It’s certainly the place that’s recognized, that a lot of people come to. I recognize the importance of it.” That said, Samuelian added, “I was not comfortable with the experiences that certain customers were having. I saw it with my own eyes and ears. I heard it. And I saw it online and I was not comfortable… We have a lot of good operators on Ocean Drive but I think it’s fair to say we had some bad apples.”