This month’s workshop was the first time the ideas were presented. No public comment was taken at the meeting but Gelber, City Staff, and Commissioner Mark Samuelian who chairs the Land Use and Sustainability Committee which hosted the workshop all emphasized each proposal would be vetted in various committees, some before the Planning Board, as well as at two Commission meetings, all of which would include public hearings.
There was general support for the initiatives. Arriola, Meiner, and Commissioner Mark Samuelian said they supported the full pedestrianization of Ocean Drive, something Gelber supports as well. Commissioners Michael Góngora and David Richardson said they were open to the idea.
Commissioner Mark Samuelian who has sponsored a number of the previous ordinances to clean up Ocean Drive said, “We need to get control. I believe that that is going to be the governing principle. We do not have the degree of control that we need. I think we have a major problem on our hands.”
While he said he can “appreciate the history” of Miami Beach’s heydays that Góngora and Richarson highlighted, he noted, “We put a lot of resources, time and attention to Ocean Drive.”
MBPD’s recommendations for additional law enforcement are “an important part of the equation,” he said, “but I don’t think we can completely police our way out of the problem… I believe we’ve got an environment where people believe anything goes and I think the alcohol hours and the focus on nightlife, parties all night, has contributed to that problem and the risk is not getting control of that problem.”
“My position is that we do need to rollback alcohol hours,” he continued. “I think that’s part of the equation. I’m not sure if midnight’s the magic hour. I don’t know that’s necessarily the magic point, but I do believe rolling back alcohol hours sends a message to the type of environment we’re trying to create.”
“I share some of the skepticism around an alcohol control board,” Samuelian said. “I understand what we’re trying to do. Right now, I would say I share that skepticism that that may not be the mechanism that we need.”
While supportive of a rollback in alcohol hours, he said the City is “a bit of a balloon. If you push in one area, it shows up in another area, so I want us to be very careful about changes in alcohol hours in one district and what impact it has on the other.”
As an example, he said, “If we reduce hours in the Entertainment District… does that whole environment move to someplace like Alton Road… I think we need to look for some sort of consistency and, I believe, at this moment, getting control of the situation is a priority before we nuance how we get to later hours.”