Miami Beach, FL

The Miami Beach alcohol curfew was ruled illegal by a judge

Desiree Peralta

A court concluded late Monday that Miami Beach's 2 a.m. alcohol ban is unconstitutional because it violates zoning standards and that the Clevelander was denied due process.

Judge Beatrice Butchko also found that the Clevelander had some vested rights, such as the ability to play music at a particular decibel level, but that the nuances would have to be worked out with a mediator.

The legal team representing the Clevelander claimed that the nightclub had been a vital part of the neighborhood for years. The new owners relied on the freedom to play loud music and sell alcohol late into the night, paying millions to comply with the restrictions.

This is the Clevelander; it’s not a frat house,” said attorney Kendall Coffey.

However, an outside attorney for the City of Miami Beach, Jamie Cole, said that the Clevelander's conditional use permit wouldn't grant the ability to play loud music and serve alcohol late at night.

“Our residents should not be held prisoner to a business model that promotes the all-night hard partying that has generated an unsafe atmosphere in our city,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “We will appeal as it makes no sense, legal or otherwise, that the courts would force our residents to endure this kind of misconduct and disorder.”

Following a city commission resolution on May 22, an earlier last call and the revocation of some noise exemptions went into effect in response to rowdy and occasionally hazardous situations over Spring Break.

According to some shop owners in Miami Beach's nightlife zone, bad behavior occurs on the street regardless of hours of operation.

South Beach alcohol selling will stop at 2 A.M. for now

Previously, the city of Miami Beach has a 5 a.m. curfew. The new trial program took effect on Saturday, May 22, and it affected establishments on Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive between Fifth and Sixteenth streets in South Beach's "Entertainment District."

Miami Beach residents voted down similar legislation in 2017 that would have prohibited alcohol sales at bars and restaurants on Ocean Drive beginning at 2 a.m., with “no” receiving 65 percent of the vote. Voters will be able to decide if the temporary trial scheme should be made permanent in November.

Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber introduced the new program following a very controversial and occasionally violent Spring Break period earlier this year that made national news. Gelber unveiled a 12-point plan to transform South Beach's entertainment sector into a more "mixed-use, live-work-play district," with new condominiums, offices, and other amenities away from the bars and nightclubs that have dominated the area for decades.

Right now, it is an entertainment-only district which has become a magnet for too many people looking for hard parties or worse,” Gelber stated in a statement before the panel voted. “What else would you expect in an area that has over 40 late-night bars?” He also indicated that most of the violence in the region, such as gunshots, arson, and stabbings, occurred around 2 a.m.

For a decade, we have been trying to ‘manage’ this area, and it has not had any meaningful impact. We need to come to the collective judgment that we are a city that should not have an entertainment-only district. It is just not working, is too ungovernable, and not anything we need in a city that has so much more to offer.” Said Gelber.

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