MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine held an emergency news conference to address recent Memorial Day Weekend incidents, including a deadly shooting that have some city leaders calling for the end of Urban Beach Weekend.
“I remember the days on Ocean Drive when it was peaceful. It was artsy. It was creative. Our locals liked to go on Ocean Drive. It was an enjoyable, peaceful place but during the last five, six, seven years we’ve seen a downward trend in Ocean Drive,” said Mayor Philip Levine. “What we need to do as a city is to reform and clean up Ocean Drive.”
Mayor Levine, joined by City Manager Jimmy Morales, Police Chief Daniel Oates and Miami Beach resident and owner of Sherbrooke Hotel Mitch Novak, called for changes in alcohol sales and noise.
The mayor wants to restrict alcohol sales by not allowing alcohol to be sold after 2 a.m. in all Ocean Drive bars. He also wants to take away an exemption Ocean Drive bars and clubs have in which they can project noise eastbound saying it would bring back tranquility in the area.
“We propose to take that exemption away to once again bring a peace level of tranquility to Ocean Drive which truly is what our residents and our visitors deserve,” said Levine.
It’s something that drew protests from some in the crowd, including the owner of Mango’s Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive, David Wallack, who got into a shouting match with the mayor during the conference.
“Go get a job,” the mayor told Wallack.
Ocean Drive businesses are scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday to address a proposal by the the mayor of Miami Beach to reform Ocean Drive.
Visitors had mixed reactions to the mayor’s proposal.
“That isn’t right. Let us drink. Let us have a good time. Just monitor people and control people, you know what I’m saying? We’ll be alright. Let us party. That’s what we’re here for,” said Milton Dickerson, visiting from Washington, D.C.
But Alex and Randy Strom, both visiting from New York, are fans of the plan.
“I think that sounds like a good idea. I feel after 2 am nothing really good happens,” Alex Strom said.
Randy Strom added, “I feel like it wouldn’t drive people away if they cut it at 2 a.m. I feel like people would still come out here and party.”
The change would affect mostly Mango’s, the Clevelander and Ocean’s 10.
“He’s trying to blame the city of Miami Beach’s problems on three businesses on Ocean Drive,” said Mike Palma, general manager of the Clevelander Hotel.
“What happens when you have businesses that are destination businesses and the word goes around the world Miami Beach is closed? We don’t have Disney World. We don’t have Universal. What do we have? It’s our nightlife and the beach,” Wallack said.
The move comes as Miami Beach police are investigating a fatal shooting involving one of their own. Gunshots rang out on Miami Beach Sunday night leaving two men dead.
Ladarian Phillips of Homestead died after being shot in the 200 block of Ocean Drive after getting in an argument with four men over a parking space.
After Phillips was killed, police say the shooter, identified as 19-year-old Jefferey Alexander, and three accomplices fled in a white BMW with New York tags.
A Miami Beach police officer shot one of the suspects following a confrontation.That suspect was rushed to the hospital and died.
Alexander and two other suspects were taken into custody.
“What happened the other night is not us. It’s not what we should be known for,” said Mayor Levine.
City leaders say they’ve seen and heard enough and want Urban beach weekend to be over.
“The message needs to be heard loud and clear.We are no longer going to tolerate this type of behavior. This is not a black or white issue. It’s a right or wrong issue,” said Commissioner Michael Grieco.
Levine promised the move is not aimed at any particular group or at specific Memorial Day weekend festivities.
“The issues that we have at Ocean Drive do not discriminate based on weekends. It’s all year round that we have these issues on Ocean Drive. Now to say that we’re going to ban any group of people, any demographic, any race, any religion in Miami Beach could not be further from the truth. We will never do that. Miami Beach is a tolerant, open city,” said Levine. “The city of Miami Beach is not going to allow for anyone’s rights to be threatened.”
Other incidents that took place over the Memorial Day weekend include a stabbing Monday afternoon and an arrest Saturday night when a man was charged with opening fire at 6th and Collins.
Despite the crime this past weekend, Miami Beach’s police chief says crime has been going down in the area.
“We have 50 percent less arrest this year than last year and they’ve been steadily declining,” said Chief Oates. “In terms of general crime, I think we’ve been managing Memorial Day pretty well.”
But Chief Oates did note the shootings this year were committed by “people who came to town for Memorial Day with guns.”
“When we see a cancer, and Ocean Drive has become a cancer, we need to eradicate that cancer because we don’t want that cancer to spread to the healthy tissue of the entire city of Miami Beach,” the mayor said. “Unfortunately, Ocean Drive is attracting a bad clientele of folks that want to party all night, go crazy and disrespect our city.”
The mayor promised that if the 2 a.m. alcohol sales limit does not work, they’ll be looking at a 1 a.m. limit.
“I want ocean drive to be a place where everybody can come, every weekend, during the week, they can come to great restaurants, they can bring their kids, they can bring their families,” Levine said.