MIAMI (CBSMiami) – CBS 4 News is asking Miami Beach officials and businesses if they believe the closure of Ocean Drive has led to more crime on South Beach.
“It just doesn’t make sense to want to be Bourbon St. on the ocean,” says Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.READ MORE: Man Held Without Bond In Killing Of Baby, Babysitter In Coral Springs
Stern words from Mayor Gelber amid serious calls for change following another shooting on South Beach that left an innocent husband and father dead.
The mayor says over the past decade things have progressively gotten worse in the area.
“It attracts too many people coming to fight or buy drugs or involve gunplay – and that’s just unacceptable,” says Gelber.
On Thursday, the mayor announced immediate measures to combat crime following Tuesday’s tourist tragedy, including more police visibility.
However, Mayor Gelber tells CBS 4 News there is one issue.
“Even though we have increased the size of our police force and are set to hire dozens more, we have actually been down because of the dozens who have had COVID” says Gelber.
CBS 4 News has learned that another issue the city is looking to address is Ocean Drive being closed to vehicle traffic.READ MORE: Report: South Florida Counties Have High COVID Levels, Despite CDC Numbers
All of Ocean has been completely open to pedestrians since last year, originally as a way for many of the businesses to spread out.
“There’s been some real disagreement even among our own city staff of whether it should be always pedestrian or sometimes pedestrian,” says Gelber.
As for those businesses like the iconic Clevelander, they want to see the pedestrian-only setup gone.
“We’ve been complaining to the city to at least open one lane for us since December and they have rejected our request to have that,” says Alexander Tachmes, Shutts & Bowen LLP.
Tachmes is the longtime attorney for the hotel and bar who says the issues are two-fold – the closure creates operational problems for businesses that face Ocean and attracts trouble.
“The closure of the street is facilitating gangs of people walking down the street in groups and wreaking havoc on what’s going on,” says Tachmes.
The mayor tells CBS 4 News that he will rely on the police department to decide what is best for safety.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Testing Site Finder
A decision will be made in the near future.