Miami Beach Activist Blasts Proposal to Legalize Booze on Beach UPDATED
Miami Beach near the Sixth Street lifeguard stand
courtesy of Frank Del Vecchio
Today, Miami Beach city commissioners are considering a proposal to legalize drinking on the sand. But according to one local activist, the idea is idiotic.
"Nobody wants kids getting drunk on the beach," says South Beach gadfly Frank Del Vecchio. "They already throw bottles, vomit, and urinate all over the place. If this passes, we will be inundated!"
The former prosecutor provided this photo of SoBe's trash-strewn sands -- taken Monday -- as evidence.
UPDATE: Late last night, Interim City Manager Kathie Brooks asked that the proposal be deferred at the behest of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association.
Del Vecchio says he and scores of South Beach residents will protest the proposal when it's brought up during today's commission meeting.
The idea of allowing companies with beach concessions -- such as hotels that already serve food and soft drinks -- to also sell alcohol on the beach was first proposed by commissioner Jerry Libbin in 2010.
At the time, however, Del Vecchio rallied dozens of protesters to oppose the change. The idea was scrapped.
Del Vecchio accuses Libbin of once again trying to sneak the language into law without locals noticing.
"It's a stealth agenda item," he says. "Nobody knew about it. No neighborhoods knew about it. Restaurants on Ocean Drive didn't know about it. And they are worried it will be unfair competition [to allow certain hotels to serve alcohol on the beach]."
Libbin did not return several calls for comment. He was hosting a $500 event at Monty's Sunset Tuesday evening to raise funds for his upcoming mayoral campaign. In a 2012 interview with Riptide, however, he touted his efforts to clean up the island's beaches.
As we reported Monday, the proposal wouldn't allow anyone to bring booze onto the beach. Rather, hotels or other concession-holders would be able to sell drinks to guests in certain areas. If passed, the proposal could make lots of money for the City of Miami Beach.
But the measure could be a moot point. Del Vecchio thinks Libbin's political ambitions will force him to abandon the booze battle, at least until after the November 5 election.
"Libbin will try to bury the proposal because it's damaging politically," Del Vecchio says. "I predict a pusillanimous retreat with his tail between his legs."
In a letter sent to Brooks on Tuesday, GMBHA president Wendy Kallergis asked for a discussion of the proposal because the organization did not have "the opportunity to discuss and meet with our stakeholders to formulate a plan and recommendations in the best interest of our citizens and visitors."
"A tactical retreat to fight another day," Del Vecchio said of the decision.
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