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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

By MARK SAMUELIAN AND ALEX R. PIQUERO

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

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 | MiamiBeachFL.gov | City Commission Adopts Tougher Penalties for Iconic Sidewalk Cafés

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

Preliminary consensus on some concepts to fix Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive

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.”

September 26, 2020 | RE: Miami Beach | Preliminary consensus on some concepts to fix Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive

Miami Beach to start shutting down Ocean Drive early to control coronavirus spread

The city of Miami Beach is pushing to reduce large gatherings along Ocean Drive — one of the region’s most popular social spots — amid efforts to hold stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

A Saturday release from the city notes the street had been closed to vehicles since Thursday.

“Effective immediately, the city will be reopening Ocean Drive to northbound and southbound vehicle traffic and will eliminate parking on the east side of the street,” the release reads.

“They will also be closing the beach from 7th to 10th streets ‪starting at 4:30 p.m. To enforce this, Miami Beach Police will begin clearing the beach from 7th to 10th streets ‪at 5 p.m.”

Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian said he backs the efforts of the city to control the spread.

“The warnings from the health professionals have been clear regarding large crowds and the increased risk of spreading COVID-19,” Samuelian said.

March 14, 2020 | Florida Politics | Miami Beach to start shutting down Ocean Drive early to control coronavirus spread

Miami Beach votes to remove happy hour signs from sidewalk cafes

“Some of the signage up there just isn’t 100% clear,” Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian said. “Sometimes it says, ‘2 for 1,’ but the customers got charged. Some of our customers come from overseas. They’re not clear on what they’re getting. I’ve heard from the community. I’ve seen it myself that there are some bad operators taking advantage of people. That has got to stop.”

July 17, 2019 | WSVN 7 | Miami Beach votes to remove happy hour signs from sidewalk cafes

Miami Beach bans specials boards from sidewalk cafes, introduces new code of conduct

Miami Beach officials flexed their legislative muscle on Wednesday, passing a new ordinance banning boards advertising specials at sidewalk cafes and giving initial approval to a new Sidewalk Cafe Code of Conduct.

“We’re trying to improve the experience for our customers [and] any issues of deceptive practices,” Commissioner Mark Samuelian.

July 17, 2019 | Miami Herald |Miami Beach bans specials boards from sidewalk cafes, introduces new code of conduct

Et tu, News Café? an Ocean Drive classic succumbs to the 2-for-1 game

Ordinance sponsor Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, “It’s an issue that we’ve had in this community for way too long.”

“The signage is not clear and can be misleading, it’s aesthetically not pleasing, and anything that slows down pedestrian traffic is a problem,” he said, noting the boards clog the narrow pedestrian walkways and slow things down as visitors stop to read the signs.

I asked Samuelian, the ordinance sponsor, about my experience. “I’m not familiar with the circumstances around that one business,” he said, but added “We are making progress. We are committed to making more progress. My bottom line is, enough is enough.”

“We think that this is going to be a step as part of our overall umbrella to help with / eliminate bait and switch.”

Samuelian acknowledged there may be other ways around the issue such as making a 2 for 1 offer verbally at a table but he said the problem “doesn’t lend itself to one silver bullet. It takes a multi-prong approach.” He noted updated requirements for menu pricing and an increased emphasis on enforcement. “I never expect that one change is going to be that one final solution but I see it as a basket of good ideas that, in combination, I think we’re actually addressing the problem.” He pointed out that some businesses that used to engage in bad behavior are no longer doing so or are gone.

July 16, 2019 | RE: Miami Beach | Et tu, News Café? an Ocean Drive classic succumbs to the 2-for-1 game

Miami Beach quiere mandar “clientes misteriosos” para atajar el abuso de precios

El plan se debe a “algunas manzanas podridas que se aprovechan” de los clientes que acuden a las terrazas de arterias como la icónica Ocean Drive, según dijo a Efe este miércoles el comisionado Mark Samuelian, autor de la propuesta que ya ha salido adelante en la comisión financiera de la ciudad.

“Tenemos que estar seguros de que están haciendo caso y mantienen buenos estándares”, advierte el comisionado Samuelian sobre los propietarios de estos comercios, muchos de ellos con camareros que anuncian las ofertas a los transeúntes.

“La meta es que los clientes tengan la mejor experiencia posible, eso incluye tanto residentes como turistas internacionales”, afirma Samuelian, quien cree que el plan a base de “clientes misteriosos” permitirá identificar con precisión los problemas a los que se enfrentan.

July 7, 2019 | Hoy | Miami Beach quiere mandar “clientes misteriosos” para atajar el abuso de precios