After ruling, Miami Beach won’t enforce 2 a.m. booze ban

South Beach bars with early-morning liquor licenses can once again serve alcohol until 5 a.m. after the city announced late Tuesday it would no longer enforce a 2 a.m. prohibition on the sale and consumption of alcohol in its South Beach entertainment district.

The announcement came a day after Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko granted the Clevelander hotel a temporary injunction blocking the city of Miami Beach from limiting the hours of alcohol service at the Ocean Drive business for the duration of the lawsuit.

The Clevelander sued the city last month over the new law, which was enacted May 22. The prohibition applies to businesses with licenses to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. in the city’s mixed-use entertainment district, also known as the MXE, along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue from Fifth to 16th streets in South Beach.

The city appealed the order Tuesday to the Third District Court of Appeal, triggering an automatic suspension of the order. Butckho lifted the stay Tuesday at the request of the Clevelander.

“Effective immediately, the City will NOT be enforcing the 2 a.m. alcohol sale/service/consumption prohibition as the Court has entered an injunction and vacated the Stay,” a city spokeswoman said in a statement to the Miami Herald on Tuesday evening. “As such, those alcoholic beverage establishments in the MXE (Clevelander and all of the others) with 5 a.m. Alcohol Licenses may once again sell/serve/allow patrons to consume alcoholic beverages until 5 a.m.”

In her order, Butchko said the 2 a.m. prohibition “was not properly enacted” because the city commission passed the legislation with affirmative votes from four of seven commissioners, instead of the five necessary to approve zoning changes.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said Tuesday that the city is focused on its appeal. Gelber, who is running for reelection, proposed the 2 a.m. ban as a way to curb crime and hard partying in South Beach.

Commissioners approved the legislation as a temporary pilot program, with the intention of calling a citywide referendum in November to ask voters whether to make it a permanent policy.

“This is a safety issue, pure and simple,” Gelber said. “There’s simply to much disorder in this area and we must take action. We will vindicate the rights of our residents in every venue available.”

Clevelander attorney Alexander Tachmes said he was “glad” the city decided to stop enforcing its new law. He said his hope was that the decision would foster cooperation between the city and the businesses that run its world-famous nightlife scene.

“The ordinance was approved improperly, and we’re confident that at the end of the litigation the 2 a.m. ordinance will be struck down,” he said.

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Martin Vassolo covers the politics and government of Miami Beach for the Miami Herald. He began working for the Herald in January 2018 after attending the University of Florida, where he served as the editor-in-chief of The Independent Florida Alligator. Previously, he was a general assignment reporter on the Herald’s metro desk and a political reporting intern.