Miami Beach alcohol restrictions bottled up
It's been nearly two years since voters approved a referendum supporting a 2am cutoff for selling alcohol in Miami Beach — but attempts to pass local laws restricting alcohol sales have mostly fizzled out.
Why it matters: South Beach's world-famous nightlife scene drives tourism, but city leaders have been divided on containing large crowds that congregate in the streets during events like spring break.
Catch up fast: In 2021, 57% of voters approved a nonbinding referendum in support of rolling back the city's 5am alcohol cutoff to 2am, with some exceptions.
- Most attempts by the City Commission to restrict alcohol sales have either died due to a lack of commission support or been overturned in court.
The latest: The city passed its first major piece of alcohol-related legislation in March, a 2am rollback in the South of Fifth neighborhood that led to the closure of Story nightclub.
- Mayor Dan Gelber, who has spearheaded efforts to enact a 2am last call for years, failed to get commission support last month for a proposal to ban alcohol sales citywide for about 10 days during spring break.
- Gelber plans to bring it back for a vote in September, he tells Axios.
What they're saying: Gelber says residents should be frustrated that some commissioners are ignoring how they voted.
- "I always hear about listening to residents," he says. "It's been really amazing how much we've ignored them on this issue."
The other side: Critics of alcohol restrictions say there is no correlation between disorderly conduct in the streets and late-night bars because many visitors get their liquor from package stores.
- "It has not been proven to me even anecdotally that it makes an ounce of difference," Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who voted against Gelber's proposal, said during last month's meeting.
Bottom line: Gelber, who is term-limited and leaving office in November, says the nightlife industry has a "grip" on City Hall and passing a citywide rollback seems unlikely during his final months in office.
- "I'm hoping, but I'm not going to hold my breath."
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