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Miami Beach Voters To Decide On Ocean Drive Alcohol Sales

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The battle to ban outdoor alcohol sales on Ocean Drive after 2 a.m. now goes to the people.

On Wednesday, the Miami Beach Commission unanimously approved putting the issue on the November ballot for voters to decide, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

The ballot question will ask residents if they the sales of alcohol should be rolled back from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. at outdoor venues between 5th and 15th streets.

The idea for shortened hours was brought about by Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine who said he wants to return the tranquility to Ocean Drive. The mayor also wants to take away an exemption Ocean Drive bars and clubs have in which they can project noise eastbound saying it would bring back tranquility in the area.

The change would affect mostly Mango's, the Clevelander and Ocean's 10.

"He's trying to blame the city of Miami Beach's problems on three businesses on Ocean Drive," said Mike Palma, general manager of the Clevelander Hotel.

Levine's critics have said his proposals are in response to a deadly shooting over the Memorial Day holiday when SoBe was packed with party goers there for the Urban Beach Weekend.

City leaders say they've seen and heard enough and want Urban beach weekend to go away.

Levine said his proposals are not aimed at any particular group or at specific Memorial Day weekend festivities.

"The issues that we have at Ocean Drive do not discriminate based on weekends. It's all year round that we have these issues on Ocean Drive. Now to say that we're going to ban any group of people, any demographic, any race, any religion in Miami Beach could not be further from the truth. We will never do that. Miami Beach is a tolerant, open city," said Levine at a news conference last week. "The city of Miami Beach is not going to allow for anyone's rights to be threatened."

Police Chief Daniel Oates did note the shootings this year were committed by "people who came to town for Memorial Day with guns."

"When we see a cancer, and Ocean Drive has become a cancer, we need to eradicate that cancer because we don't want that cancer to spread to the healthy tissue of the entire city of Miami Beach," the mayor said. "Unfortunately, Ocean Drive is attracting a bad clientele of folks that want to party all night, go crazy and disrespect our city."

The mayor promised that if the 2 a.m. alcohol sales limit does not work, they'll be looking at a 1 a.m. limit.

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