Party’s over? Miami Beach voters to decide on earlier alcohol cutoff time

Polling shows residents have become concerned about crime in Miami Beach.

Miami Beach residents will vote on a referendum Tuesday that would require bars to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m.

Bars in South Beach — one of the top party spots in the state — currently serve drinks until 5 a.m. The debate over how late the liquor should flow has persisted throughout the year and could impact the city’s mayoral election as well.

Tuesday’s referendum is a nonbinding straw ballot item meant to gauge resident support for moving the last call time up by three hours. But multiple members of the City Commission have said they would honor the voters’ decision and approve an ordinance should voters endorse the change.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Commission has sought to take action. In May, the Commission agreed via a 4-3 vote to immediately move the last call time to 2 a.m., subject to giving voters the final say in November.

But after the Clevelander, one of South Beach’s most popular hotels, sued over that move, a judge overturned the ordinance. Attorneys for the Clevelander argued its permit allows for a bar next to the hotel to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. and that time may not be altered by the Commission.

Any future changes would likely require talks between city officials and bar and restaurant owners to settle those disputes. But some officials, such as Mayor Dan Gelber, argue a change is needed to move Miami Beach away from its party-heavy reputation and make the city safer.

Polling shows residents have become concerned about crime in Miami Beach, and in South Beach in particular. Gelber and those stumping for an earlier last call time argue ending alcohol sales earlier will cut down on South Beach’s rowdiness and deemphasize the bar scene.

Opponents argue there’s no evidence that ending alcohol sales earlier will reduce crime and say the change will cost the city millions in tax revenues. The city has countered with data showing police and emergency costs outweigh any tax revenue benefits and that an earlier alcohol cutoff could curb those costs.

As both sides debate the numbers, the shift is ultimately about the type of city residents want to live in. While out-of-towners and younger residents alike flock to South Beach for its glitzy nightlife, Gelber has expressed a vision of a more arts-heavy focus for the area. Voters will choose their preferred path during Tuesday’s final referendum vote.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].

One comment

  • Alex

    November 2, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Ft Lauderdale went overboard with something similar many years ago.

    Don’t do the same Miami Beach, or you may regret it like Lauderdale did.

Comments are closed.


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