MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The crush of spring break crowds is crushing Miami Beach’s image, according to residents and the beach administration.
Lending itself to evidence, chaos from Monday captured on video went viral on social media.READ MORE: Grandmother Hopes For Justice One Year After Murder Of Chassidy Saunders
One video showed young people with drinks in hand, swarming the streets of South Beach and blocking traffic.
Another video showed scantily clad women gyrating and twerking on the hood of a car.
Mayor Dan Gelber has had enough.
In his state of the city address, Gelber demanded, “We need to end it and replace it with a true Art Deco cultural district. The entertainment district must go.”
The mayor wants to reform the whole entertainment district, but is short on details.
Vice Mayor Michael Gongora thinks that’s a little aggressive as clubs, restaurants, and shops are the lifeblood of the beach’s economy. Gongora said the mayor’s plan needs details.
“But that has to have a detailed plan. And that detailed plan has to have more police on the streets,” Gongora said, “That plan has to include closing down bad businesses that are contributing to the problem.”
The police department is listening.
Chief Richard Clements, at a news conference about a Monday night homicide, requested help from the Miami-Dade and Coral Gables police departments.
The chief wouldn’t say how many extra officers there are, but they were visible Tuesday night.
He’s also expecting large spring break crowds this weekend and said he isn’t afraid to shut down the MacArthur Causeway if the beach gridlocks.READ MORE: No Major Accidents After 'Wheels Up, Guns Down' Bicyclists Hit Miami Highways
Gongora believes it’s a start.
“When people see officers in uniform on the streets, they’re not going to engage in bad, rowdy behavior,” he said.
Raquel Pacheco lives on the beach. She’s the chair of Miami Beach United, a nonprofit advocating for Miami Beach residents.
her organization has a meeting with Mayor Gelber at the end of the month.
Pacheco supports Gelber’s vision of an arts and cultural district, but says it can’t come soon enough.
She, like other Miami Beach residents, feel, imprisoned in their own homes, trying to avoid the packed beaches and the chaos that ensues when the sun goes down. She’s saddened by the reputation the world sees, especially during spring break.
She calls the entertainment district a missed opportunity saying, “We have amazing art. We have amazing architecture. We have amazing beaches. And we have a very active populous that loves to work out and exercise and feel good. And in my personal opinion there’s a lot of money in that. It’s a big industry. So I would like to see more of a focus towards that.”
The entertainment area certainly has a lot to offer.
Pacheco agrees with Gongora that beefing up patrols will help cut crime, but the vice mayor said it’s more than that to improve the area.
“We want to make sure the businesses aren’t contributing to the problem. Right now from what we see on these images, the problems are happening out on the city streets,” Gongora said.
Since Feb. 3, Miami Beach police have made almost 900 arrests, 332 of them felonies, and they’ve seized 78 firearms. It speaks volumes there’s a crisis on the beach, which is now being handled with a no-tolerance policy.
“We’ve seen madness and criminality gone awry. So the message is, ‘Come to Miami Beach, mess up, violate the law and you’re going to get arrested,’” Gongora warned.MORE NEWS: Butler Gets Triple-Double, Heat Hold Off Raptors 104-99
Gongora said another part of the problem is the hotels and Airbnbs have drastically dropped their prices during the pandemic. It’s easy to get six or seven people paying almost nothing for a room. The commission has implored the hotels “not” to drop their rates, because it says it’s attracting rowdier crowds.