2 a.m. Last Call May Come to Parts of South Beach

The area between Alton Road and West Avenue in South Beach is suddenly a booming nightlife hub. Places like Bodega and Foxhole are pulling crowds over from the east side of the Beach, and other venues are in the works. 

But that doesn't sit well with everyone. Namely, many of the residents who live in the area are less than thrilled with the late-night crowds pouring into the hot spots. 

In response, Miami Beach’s Land Use and Development Committee is backing an ordinance that would cut last call in the area by three hours, to 2 a.m. 

The ordinance would affect future businesses on the west side of Alton Road from Fifth Street to the Collins Canal. The area a few blocks east of Lincoln Road on 17th Street from Meridian Avenue to Lenox Avenue would also be included. 

"I just don't see any reason why a restaurant needs a 5 a.m. license or a sidewalk café needs a 5 a.m. alcohol license when they're within a hundred feet of residential districts," Commissioner Joy Malakoff said during last week's committee meeting. 

The new restrictions would also close sidewalk cafés by midnight and ban rooftop bars after 11 p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends. Outdoor bars would also be forbidden. 

However, places such as Bodega wouldn't need to worry. They would be exempt, as would be some other venues that are about to open. There was debate at the meeting about how far along in planning a business would need to be to be grandfathered in under the old codes. 

"I have some concerns about the message that it sends to folks that are looking to invest in a business," Commissioner Michael Grieco said. "We send the message, 'Well, while you've already made all this investment, and regardless as to whether or not your business is open, we're going to change the rules on you.'" 

Grieco, however, noted he's sympathetic to quality-of-life concerns and plans to introduce a similar ordinance concerning the South of Fifth neighborhood. 

Residents of West Avenue appeared to talk about the noise issues caused by the club. 

"What are people doing until 5 a.m.? They're drinking," one resident said. "Which means they're out on the street. Even if the restaurant can't serve, they're out on the street. Loud." 

The woman noted she likes to get up and walk at 6 a.m. some mornings and encounters people who are "drunk as a skunk" in the neighborhood. After addressing the committee, she returned to her seat in the audience and continued working on a needlepoint project. 

Business owners and their representatives also aired concerns. 

"Miami Beach, of course, is a late town," said one lawyer representing businesses set to open. "Most of the activity occurs later in the evening. It's not the type of environment where most businesses are closed by 9 or 10 o'clock." 

With the backing of the Land Use and Development Committee, the ordinance will now head to the city commission. The first reading is scheduled for the April 13 meeting. 

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