South Beach Prepares for Memorial Day Weekend: Traffic Loops and DUI Checks on Tap

Categories: News, Politicks
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South Beach hopes to move past last year's police shooting during Memorial Day Weekend.
​Congrats, South Beach residents! You've survived the beer-bonging, glowstick-waving trafficpocalypse of spring break and Miami Music Week. Now enjoy the fresh air and (semi)abundant parking while it lasts, because you're only a few weeks away from the massive crowds of Memorial Day weekend.

Even worse news: Riptide has gotten its hands on the Beach's tentative plans for preventing this year's festivities from devolving into the police-shooting scene that made SoBe a national embarrassment last year -- and the biggest new idea is a nightmarish-sounding "traffic loop."

At least one community activist says the plans do little to ease his worries over the city's preparations for the weekend.

"My concerns are the same they've been with the last ten Urban Beach Weekends," says Herb Sosa, head of the Unity Coalition, using the informal name for the mostly African-American party weekend. "I applaud the Beach for trying to come up with ideas, but I still don't see any evidence they can handle this kind of a mass of people."

The 20-page plan, quietly presented to commissioners at the end of January by City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, lays out a range of proposals for coping with a weekend that can draw up to 250,000 partiers.

Last year's bacchanal ended in the worst way possible: with dozens of cops shooting and killing one visitor and wounding four innocent bystanders. National TV cameras swooped in, black leaders protested, and some Beach residents such as Sosa called for the city to scale back on Memorial Day weekend.

Gonzalez, who didn't return calls and an email for comment, acknowledges in his memo that crowds are likely to be as huge as ever this year.

His most radical idea for managing the scene is a "traffic loop" that would close all side-street access from Alton Road, Fifth Street, Washington Avenue, and Collins Avenue except to residents; the idea is to keep "cruising" confined to a designated loop. Police would also have the option of closing eastbound MacArthur Causeway if traffic becomes "untenable."

The rest of Gonzalez's plan seems fairly standard: DUI checkpoints, a $1.5 million budget for police overtime and cops from other cities, and a crackdown on open containers and drugs.

Sosa, for one, worries that the traffic loop is untested and that the other measures don't address the huge crowds that amass outside Washington Avenue clubs.

"Once clubs empty out, you've got hundreds of thousands who've been drinking... in the streets," he says. "That's what creates tension. No one wants that, not visitors or residents."

Here's the full memo:

Memorial Day Memo

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12 comments
GONZALEZ MUST GO!
GONZALEZ MUST GO!

Gonzalez has to go. What a complete idiot. First of all, why are these ordinances and laws not enforced throughout the year. I'm sure that during Art Basel it would be nice if vehicles were not allowed to block traffic.Traffic would flow better then as well. Residents of MB, aren't you tired of the traffic? It can be prevented. Have you ever seen a MB police officer give a citation for blocking a lane of traffic. They don't. Do you see tickets being given out for cars parked in bus stops? No way. They don't even get out of their cars to see where the bus stops are. Parking hangs out behind Lincoln Road. They only do the easy work. Do you ever see them walking. HELL NO! So maybe if the laws were just enforced, none of this nonsense would be needed. And maybe the absolute tacky low class environment that has become South Beach would change. We the residents get nothing. The business could care less what it is like for us. All they care about is selling drinks. 

GONZALEZ RESIGN. YOU ARE SUCH A PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A CITY MANAGER. AND COMMISSIONERS, HOW IS IT THAT SOMEONE WHO IS SO COMPLETELY INSUBORDINATE, UNQUALIFIED AND MEDIOCRE IS STILL IN OFFICE? HOW DID YOU ALLOW HIM TO STAY WHEN HE HIRED A CROOK TO MANAGE THE ALREADY TAINTED BUILDING DEPARTMENT? UNDER HIS WATCH PENSIONS HAVE SKYROCKETED, THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IS A JOKE, WASHINGTON AVENUE LOOKS LIKE THE SOUTH BRONX AND HE GIVES OUT FREE TICKETS TO CONCERTS. GET YOUR CORRUPT PATHETIC ASS OUT OF THE CITY. HAVE YOU NOT DONE ENOUGH DAMAGE?

Sdfgsdfg
Sdfgsdfg

Make sure you all wear hoodies.

nanook5
nanook5

after watching the racist, fearmongering, un-constitutional frenzy the miami beachers went through after last year i have zero sympathy for whatever happens to their "poor neighborhoods" and merely hope that the gun-wielding psychopaths we insist on calling police around here don't kill anyone or shoot innocent bystanders this time. 

Syndister
Syndister

Ughhhh.... I guess all the residents need to ONCE AGAIN leave their homes, close their businesses and get the hell out of this beautiful paradise. This is as ugly as humanity gets.

Patriot
Patriot

The key to stopping Urban Beach Weekend is to stop it, period! When a major hurricane comes through here, all the restaurants, clubs, and bars shut down! Why not shut the area down for this event! With people acting like animals and police being pressured to use deadly force, it's at least as bad! Encourage those businesses to sell no alcohol for that time frame with the possibility for some type of compensation to offset their losses. I've read somewhere that hotel prices have been dramatically increased for that weekend. Great idea! Are the businesses here so money driven, that they will not listen to, or respect their local residents and patrons who keep their businesses afloat year round?! Miami Beach residents deserve so much better! Imagine being able to bring your kids down to Ocean Drive on that weekend without having to see disgusting, half naked, loudmouthed, out of towners, walking around getting drunk! The community needs to have meetings with these business owners and city management to stop this event, period! I've seen it done in other cities such as Pittsburgh, PA at the Three RIvers Regatta on the last day due to this same type of crowd! They shut it down and this type of crowd would be shut down before they had a chance to get started in that city and others across the country! And Btw, this is not a racial issue! I am a minority! If the community actually comes together, we can stop this event!  Take back our town and STOP URBAN BEACH WEEKEND!!!!

Sobe55
Sobe55

So you're basically saying the people that actually LIVE here year round should be penalized for the police's behavior on the years prior?,! 

This neighborhood is my home and as a full-time resident I resent your post and think it is very narrow minded, especially given that all of us residents have to either vacate the beach every year come Memorial Day weekend or stay holed up in our places simply to avoid both the crazy destructive partiers and the crazy destructive police antics.  And mind you neither the partiers nor the majority of the Mem Day police force are from this neighborhood, but sure who cares if both sides come into a place they aren't from and leave a mess for the people that call this place home.

Nonookhasntreadtheconstitution
Nonookhasntreadtheconstitution

I'm guessing you have absolutely no concept of the word "constitutional." what was so un-constitutional about the "frenzy" miami beachers went through? 

Helmut Lang Figment
Helmut Lang Figment

Instead of typing all that you could have said "we hate niggers here so stay away" because thats what your post conveys

(random white male in Tampa, FL)

nanook5
nanook5

that would be their continued insistence last year to profile and search everyone at urban beach week based on their "thuggishness." obviously suggesting it is not in itself unconstitutional but encouraging already our already wild and unaccountable police to do such a thing is ridiculously unsafe and would certainly be unconstitutional if you care about such a thing.

anyways, good luck dealing with the consequences of that in our post-travyon freak-out-o-verse. 

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