Miami Beach hotelier calls for crackdown on spring break violence amid nightly gunfire, street brawls

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(Video Credit: Fox News)

A Miami Beach hotel owner who caught the sheer panic of spring breakers running from the sound of gunfire for their lives on his surveillance cameras in South Beach last week is urging city officials to change zoning ordinances to deal with “chaos and mayhem” using “something a little more sophisticated.”

Mitch Novick owns the Sherbrooke All Suites Hotel at Collins Avenue and Ninth Street. He stands against the imposed curfew in Miami Beach which he contends is not working effectively. Instead, he thinks the area should be rebranded using an Art Deco vibe to attract more tourists from abroad and adults visiting the city. He also believes that the waterfront community should be preserved for residents, businesses, and for millions of visitors who travel to the area every year. In other words, the area should appeal to more adults and not college kids who tear the place up on Spring Break.

Last Sunday night, a shooting occurred around the corner from Novick’s hotel. A number of people were wounded in the altercation. Then on Monday, there was another shooting just a block away. That doesn’t count all the physical assaults that are routinely taking place. Spring Break attendees are calling the curfew racist.

“The city zoning, which is known as mixed-use entertainment, that’s the zoning classification in this area, it fuels a carnival-like atmosphere in the street,” Novick told Fox News Digital. “The zoning itself allows the opportunity for businesses, especially along Ocean Drive, to blast their noise… to the shoreline, to have dance performances on the public right-of-way, essentially creating an attractive nuisance, which is the crux of the problem.”

The curfew that is being imposed forces restaurants and bars to close their doors at midnight and liquor stores to stop selling their wares at 6 p.m. between Thursday and Sunday. Novick says that residents are looking for a better solution to the problem.

“In November, the voters of Miami Beach overwhelmingly decided they wanted to see a 2 a.m. rollback and closing time, from what is now 5 a.m.,” he said in reference to the last call time for bars and alcohol-serving restaurants. “This is the third year in a row where we’ve had an emergency declaration declared where there’s a curfew. The streets are fortified with cops. It’s unfair to residents, it’s unfair to businesses, and it’s also unfair to visitors. It’s very disruptive.”

Crime has skyrocketed in the city during Spring Break over the last few years. The curfew does not seem to curtail crime much and the revenue loss for businesses is significant.

“A lot of the time, it’s just fine, we talk about it in March and it makes headlines – but it doesn’t happen a lot,” Mayor Dan Gelber said. “We have the same issues any city with huge numbers of visitors has, but we don’t [always] have what we have in March because Spring Break is an entirely different creature.”

The mayor has already had a number of plans drawn up that call for an investment of at least $25 million on the beachside Ocean Drive.

“I think we’re really selling ourselves short,” he said. “It’s an incredible place with amazing architecture.”

Despite everything Miami Beach has to offer, Gelber contends that people treat the area like “a sort of Las Vegas… where it is like they’re actually in the middle of the desert and there’s nothing else to offer but hard parties.”

“It just is such a desirable location that it attracts young people in March and times around March,” he added. “There are open, free spaces. It would be very hard for us to take all of South Beach and say it’s no longer open to the public. So really, the only options are to try to saturate with law enforcement, to try to counter-program with, perhaps, family-friendly things.”

“Since I’ve been mayor, I’ve asked for and we have 40 more police in our department, almost all of them on patrol, and during [spring break season] we recruit officers from the county, from other departments, we pay for them, so it’s a pretty massive deployment of local law enforcement,” the mayor noted. “But that’s always the best you can do because it’s something organic, and finding a way to get rid of it short of a curfew has been very difficult.”

Even though there are more and more police in the area, the two shootings that just took place were only steps away from officers.


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