Mayor Bower: Miami Beach Can't Do Anything About Urban Beach Weekend
"There is no organizer, no event. It's just there," she said, emphasizing that the city does not control or issue any permits for any of the long weekend's events. She also claimed heavy monitoring from the ACLU handicaps the city's ability to increase enforcement.
It's a different situation than the city's increased spring break enforcement, she said, because "they're not there saying 'you can't search that cooler'" at spring break.
Is the American Civil Liberties Union that influential over government decisions? "I guess so," she said.
Officials added that more than 500 area police officers were working on South Beach this weekend -- this, combined with staffing costs that included paying those who collected 177 tons of trash in the area, cost the city an estimated $1 million.
Bower said she understood residents' concerns that the damage outweighed the benefits of the weekend's festivities, which drew between 150,000 and 200,000 people but saw one man killed and seven injured in police shootings. In total, 431 people were arrested, up from 382 last year, according to Miami Beach Det. Juan Sanchez.
"We are also up in arms... We have put up with this for 10 years," Bower said, but "there's not many options."
She quickly discounted a suggestion put forth by Miami Beach commissioner Jerry Libbin that a curfew be imposed next year, saying that "I don't know we want to go down in history as a curfew city." She said administrators were still brainstorming ways to make the event safer in the future and mentioned possibly rolling back operating hours of area night clubs that weekend.
The mayor gave no indication that the city would take any official policy against the return of Urban Beach Weekend -- because, she said, it was not an event.
"Four bad apples spoiled the bushel," she said. "This is not the only weekend [residents] don't like."
When asked if the situation was analogous to Fort Lauderdale's issues with college students on spring break in the 1980s, city spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez said that locking out spring break partying proved to be economically damaging, and Bower chief of staff Rebecca Wakefield said, "I don't think we want to be Fort Lauderdale for a lot of different reasons."
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