Mar 6, 2024 - News

Miami Beach business owners worry about spring break crackdown

Illustration of a hand turning off the sun with a pull chain.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

South Beach shootings get global news coverage every spring break, but this year, the government crackdown on the party crowds is making headlines instead.

Why it matters: Miami Beach — which floods the city with police every year — is imposing new restrictions this week to prevent the violence and overcrowding that have led to curfews the last three years.

  • The city's marketing video announcing that it's "breaking up" with spring break has gone viral on social media.

State of play: A large police presence, including dozens of Florida Highway Patrol troopers, will blanket South Beach, as in years past.

  • From Thursday to Sunday, the city is shutting down all public parking lots south of 42nd Street and most public garages in South Beach. (Residents and local employees can still park in the closed garages by showing identification.)
  • Friday through Sunday, Miami Beach Police will set up license plate readers on the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways, along with a DUI checkpoint on Fifth Street.
  • The temporary restrictions will end Sunday and resume next weekend.

There will also be road closures, beach access restrictions and a $516 nonresident towing fee in South Beach.

  • The city has also warned the public to expect a curfew, though none has yet been announced.

What they're saying: Miami Beach Commissioner Alex Fernandez tells Axios the city is imposing the "strictest, harshest, most proactive policies" it can in order to keep the public safe.

  • "This is the shared sacrifice we make in the name of public safety."

Friction point: Hector Luis Santos, who owns Royal Palm Barber Shop in Mid-Beach, tells Axios he doesn't know where his non-local customers are going to park during the next two weekends.

  • The city is shutting down the surface lots along 41st Street and imposing a $100 fee at the 42nd Street garage for nonresidents who don't work at local businesses.
  • "That's the craziest thing I've ever heard in my life," he said.

The Ocean Drive Association, made up of business owners along South Beach's most popular promenade, criticized the city's decision to shut down sidewalk seating in a letter to commissioners last month.

  • The all-day suspension of sidewalk cafes on Ocean Drive will take place Friday to Sunday and again the following weekend.

What they're saying: Club owner David Wallack, who owns Mango's Tropical Cafe, tells Axios the sidewalk cafe suspension will hurt his daytime business and a curfew would kill the rest.

  • "This is devastating to businesses," he says. "It's been devastating every year that [spring break] has been going on. This is even more devastating. It's preparing for a war."
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