MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Ocean Drive businesses are firing back two days after Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine’s proposal to reform the world-renowned entertainment district.
Business owners from the major establishments that would be affected banded together and said the proposal to restrict alcohol sales and a noise ordinance would affect the entire Miami Beach economy.
“Millions of people travel on 9th Street to 10th Street to go to Mango’s, Ocean’s 10 and the Clevelander. These people fill these thousands of hotel. They come to Miami Beach to go to these establishments literally every night that they’re in town,” said Mango’s owner David Wallack.
“You’re talking millions of dollars in revenue. I mean we’re talking about a major tourist destination that people come from all over the world to enjoy,” said Mike Palma, an executive vice president for the company owning the Clevelander Hotel.
During a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Levine laid out his plan to restrict alcohol sales after 2 a.m. on Ocean Drive from 5th Street to 15th Street and to change the noise ordinance forcing clubs to turn down the music.
The announcement led to a heated exchange with the owner of Mango’s.
“You are attacking business that created the famous label of Miami Beach. You should be talking with respect,” Wallack said.
But not all the hotel owners were in agreement with one another.
Mitch Novak, owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel, is in favor of the mayor’s proposal.
“You’ve scared away our tourist. You’ve scared away our high end retailers. I blame it on you. I blame it on you. You’re greedy and selfish nature,” Novak said, pointing to Wallack and others.
Wallack shot back, saying, “I put triple glass in that man’s building. My money put triple glass in that building because he is a cheap whatever.”
That fight is happening as a different kind of battle is brewing at city hall – leaked emails between Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and City Manager Jimmy Morales.
The commissioner said the chief is “failing at leading his troops and that he is a highly educated and gentile guy. He should be the Chief in Palm Beach. Not Miami Beach.”
Her words come on the heels of a violent Urban Beach Week on Miami Beach, which included a fatal shooting that left two men dead and a street fight caught on camera.
CBS4 caught up with the commissioner, who said we need to give police their power back.
“We’ve kind of immaculate them and they don’t have the ability to defend themselves like they did before. So we are dropping them in these scenarios where there are a lot of violent crimes,” she explained. “They’re shooting rubber bullets and wearing body cameras on and are just afraid to police.”
Morales, who denied an on camera interview, responded to the commissioner’s email, saying:
“A true professional officer should welcome discipline, and should embrace the accountability and transparency that body cameras bring. I think it would send an awful message to undo that program.”
“I will sit down with the senior command and do an assessment of leadership and implementation. But returning to the past should not be an option.”
Rosen Gonzalez said the chief did not deploy police properly on Memorial Day weekend, calling beachgoers “thugs”
“I apologized on social media for saying what I said and maybe I phrased it the wrong way. But, I’m desperate for change in Miami Beach,” she said.
Mayor Levine said much of the trouble comes from Ocean Drive.
“Unfortunately, Ocean Drive is attracting a bad clientele of folks that want to party all night, go crazy and disrespect our city,” Levine said.
“None of the bad, bad stuff happened after 2 a.m. and none of it happened over here,” Wallack said. “We shouldn’t be blamed as a scapegoat.”
Mayor Levine insists his proposal is based on issues that are not specific to Urban Beach Week. He said these are issues that happen year round at any big event on the beach, including Art Basel.
Business owners agree crime is an issue, but Ocean Drive is not to blame.
“It’s not an Ocean Drive issue. It’s an issue of the entire city. At Fontainebleau there was a shooting. No one talked about shutting down,” Palma said.
CBS4 News reached out to Mayor Levine’s officer regarding the news conference and what business orders had to say and we were told he is not commenting at this time.
The proposals are scheduled to be presented at the next commissioner’s meeting on June 7th.