Miami Beach’s efforts to quell the unruly spring break crowds expected this weekend — after two fatal shootings this past weekend — will close package stores and city-owned parking lots early, the city announced.
The urgent effort to enhance safety during spring break will also bring 60 more state troopers to beef up current law enforcement efforts that have been straining city and county resources. But safety officials decided against instituting another curfew.
The announcement of additional law enforcement personnel came through Republican Rep. Fabian Basabe, who had criticized the city’s Mayor earlier in the week for not reaching out for more state help.
“Help is on the way Miami Beach!” read his statement in all caps.
Basabe had criticized Mayor Dan Gelber’s response to the boisterous — and occasionally dangerous — crowds that spring break was bringing to the barrier island.
Gelber had said Basabe’s statement to the media was the first he heard of the state’s offer to help.
Basabe said state officials were responsive to Miami Beach’s plight, which was straining the law enforcement strength of both the city and Miami-Dade County, according to Sunday’s emergency declaration.
“Thanks to (Executive) Director (of the Florida Department of Highway Safety Dave Kerner, in collaboration with Gov. Ron DeSantis, these additional resources will help keep our community safe,” Basabe’s statement said. “We must deliver a safe, world-class experience to our guests.”
Separate from the state’s help, the city is targeting trouble spots. The city’s announcement will affect stores that sell alcohol for off-site consumption within an area of South Beach. The enforcement action prohibits sales of alcohol between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. starting Thursday and continuing through Monday.
The affected area is bound by the intersection of 23rd Street and Dade Boulevard to the north, Government Cut (a man-made channel) to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
“The city remains focused on the safety of our residents, visitors and businesses as our top priority,” said Alina Hudak, Miami Beach City Manager. She ticked off support from the county police, neighboring jurisdictions and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives among the agencies helping Miami Beach police.
But Basabe panned the idea of closing down businesses.
“Certain elected officials have failed this city long enough,” Basabe wrote in an email. “Instead of being adequately proactive, they prefer the production of theatre through inciting emotional reactions and attacking any of our businesses. It’s time to enforce our laws, all of them.”
The closure of the package store and city-owned garages in the defined area has echoes of the curfew that was announced Sunday afternoon and took effect between 11:59 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday.
More curfews would likely lead to business lawsuits against the city, Basabe warned earlier in the week.
The city will also restrict the flow of traffic in certain places, the city news release said.
City-owned parking garages in certain areas of the city will be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., throughout the same weekend stretch. Resident and employee access will still be allowed, however and vehicles will be able to leave the premises at any time, according to a news release from the city.