On Wednesday, Miami Beach Mayor, Philip Levine, announced he is running for governor of Florida. The news comes as residents of the popular tourist destination are to vote on the politicized and polarizing Ocean Drive liquor referendum proposal on Nov. 7.
The measure would require businesses located between 5th and 15th street along Ocean Drive to stop alcohol sales after 2 a.m. Currently, sales are allowed until 5 a.m at the beachfront destination.
This week, on Halloween Day, a group against the 2 a.m. Alcohol Sales Ban— mostly hospitality industry professionals— gathered outside City Hall to protest the ban. Many cite possible job layoffs and the inability to make enough income.
Miami Beach commissioners were scheduled to discuss the Florida International University (FIU) Ocean Drive study on Oct. 31, which was funded by the City of Miami Beach. The agenda was postponed to be discussed on Dec. 13, well over a month after residents vote for or against the ban.
As reported by "Miami Herald," “The decision to approve the $85,000 study by FIU’s Metropolitan Center came just days before the beginning of early voting and three weeks before Election Day, Nov. 7.”
The FIU study executive summary concludes that the proposed Ocean Drive liquor referendum would have minimal impact on city taxes. However, this revelation deeply contrasts the findings by a previous study prepared by Hank Fishkind for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
The restaurant industry-backed study findings indicate “a loss of over $318,000 in resort taxes” citing surveys which indicate “sales of alcoholic beverages are not evenly divided among all hours of operation” with “sales concentrated in the later hours.”
The association concludes that not only will the City of Miami Beach have substantial revenue losses, but that the ban will result in the loss of 5,500 jobs, as well.
Proposals to shut down alcohol sales in Miami Beach after 2 a.m. originate from a citywide effort to prevent crime in the community after recent incidents during Memorial Day weekend, which resulted in two deaths. It’s important to note that the killings took place over a parking-spot dispute at around 10:30 p.m. away from Ocean Drive.
The push for the ban is also supported by many Miami Beach permanent residents that wish to reinstate a more residential-friendly community. This measure, if passed, could help set a precedent for future efforts to limit alcohol sales in other areas of the popular barrier island.
As reported by “Miami Herald,” the ordinance faces opposition from Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police. Calling the effort “misguided,” union president Bobby Jenkins said that the Ocean Drive liquor referendum “is another example of how our City’s leadership has failed to have meaningful conversations with our law enforcement officers around the issues that are actually driving the illicit behavior and criminal activity on the strip.”
Since no more discussion will take place before Election Day, it is up to the residents of Miami Beach to make a well-informed decision on the matter taking into account economic impacts.