“Some of the signage up there just isn’t 100% clear,” Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian said. “Sometimes it says, ‘2 for 1,’ but the customers got charged. Some of our customers come from overseas. They’re not clear on what they’re getting. I’ve heard from the community. I’ve seen it myself that there are some bad operators taking advantage of people. That has got to stop.”
Miami Beach officials flexed their legislative muscle on Wednesday, passing a new ordinance banning boards advertising specials at sidewalk cafes and giving initial approval to a new Sidewalk Cafe Code of Conduct.
“We’re trying to improve the experience for our customers [and] any issues of deceptive practices,” Commissioner Mark Samuelian.
Developers Russell Galbut and David Martin unveiled the much-anticipated design for the 5th Street pedestrian bridge, a colorful tube conceived by renowned French artist Daniel Buren, to be constructed at one of the entrances to Miami Beach. Miami Beach Canopy, a work in-situ, includes colorful glass panels “to evoke a space that is literally painted with light” using sunlight “to illuminate a transparent cylinder that will take pedestrians across a rainbow of colorful shadows” according to the description provided by the developers. Open panels provide views to the water throughout the tunnel.
The General Obligation Bond supported by voters in November includes $10 million for the bridge. Commissioner Mark Samuelian said the design will be a “nice GO Bond showcase” for residents.
Ordinance sponsor Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, “It’s an issue that we’ve had in this community for way too long.”
“The signage is not clear and can be misleading, it’s aesthetically not pleasing, and anything that slows down pedestrian traffic is a problem,” he said, noting the boards clog the narrow pedestrian walkways and slow things down as visitors stop to read the signs.
I asked Samuelian, the ordinance sponsor, about my experience. “I’m not familiar with the circumstances around that one business,” he said, but added “We are making progress. We are committed to making more progress. My bottom line is, enough is enough.”
“We think that this is going to be a step as part of our overall umbrella to help with / eliminate bait and switch.”
Samuelian acknowledged there may be other ways around the issue such as making a 2 for 1 offer verbally at a table but he said the problem “doesn’t lend itself to one silver bullet. It takes a multi-prong approach.” He noted updated requirements for menu pricing and an increased emphasis on enforcement. “I never expect that one change is going to be that one final solution but I see it as a basket of good ideas that, in combination, I think we’re actually addressing the problem.” He pointed out that some businesses that used to engage in bad behavior are no longer doing so or are gone.
El plan se debe a “algunas manzanas podridas que se aprovechan” de los clientes que acuden a las terrazas de arterias como la icónica Ocean Drive, según dijo a Efe este miércoles el comisionado Mark Samuelian, autor de la propuesta que ya ha salido adelante en la comisión financiera de la ciudad.
“Tenemos que estar seguros de que están haciendo caso y mantienen buenos estándares”, advierte el comisionado Samuelian sobre los propietarios de estos comercios, muchos de ellos con camareros que anuncian las ofertas a los transeúntes.
“La meta es que los clientes tengan la mejor experiencia posible, eso incluye tanto residentes como turistas internacionales”, afirma Samuelian, quien cree que el plan a base de “clientes misteriosos” permitirá identificar con precisión los problemas a los que se enfrentan.
We have much going on in our little slice of paradise. I want to highlight some important accomplishments achieved for Miami Beach residents so far in my second year as Commissioner. My office has made it a priority to promote a better quality of life for our residents, improve Ocean Drive, prudently address flooding/sea level rise and make sound financial decisions for our City.
Fifth Street Pedestrian Bridge: This G. O. Bond project was approved by the Commission earlier this year, and I was a strong advocate. Completion is expected for next year, and I am confident it will bring safety and convenience to our residents.
Inspector General Office: Over 60 applications were received and are currently being reviewed by the selection committee. The current plan is to present the finalist at the September Commission Meeting, and for the office to be implemented later this year.
G. O. Bond: The first round of bonds have been issued and our resident oversight committee has reviewed and prioritized the 24 projects that are currently underway. Some of these projects are termed Quick Wins and include the Mid Beach Beachwalk, park improvements (Polo, Collins, Fairway, Crespi, Stillwater and North Shore parks), and enhanced security for public places.
Flooding/Sea Level Rise: Mayor Gelber appointed me the Chair of the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee, and we are working diligently to improve our approach with enhanced community engagement and third-party reviews. While we continue to execute Neighborhood Improvement Projects, we are simultaneously implementing recommendations from the Urban Land Institute’s review which I proudly sponsored.
Unsanctioned Vendors on City Property: I advocated forcefully to clean up malfeasance on public property and am proud to have sponsored this ordinance. Some of these vendors have bad intentions and include “promoters” of troublesome unsanctioned events/parties which adversely impact our community.
Sidewalk Cafes: Taking advantage of or deceiving customers not only makes the City look bad but affects our quality of life. Proper advertising of prices on menus is now a requirement. And I have been particularly focused on other approaches to address these bad apples. Enough is enough!
Miami Beach Senior High: The safety of our children is paramount and in conjunction with the City and PTSA, accident-prone drop off zones are being improved. There is now better visibility, additional signage and reinvigorated MBPD enforcement.
Better Bus Project: The City is a sponsor of the county-wide Transit Alliance which is working to improve our bus routes. Proper public transportation helps riders and reduces cars on the road.
Miami Beach Website: Engagement Toolbox! A big part of having trust in government is transparency and making information easy to access and understand. I am happy to say that working with Miami Beach United and the City, we have added a one-stop shop on the City website to access information most important to residents. https://www.miamibeachfl.gov/residents/
I have tremendous gratitude to my colleagues on the Commission, the City administration, my Commission Aide, Elias Gonzalez, and most importantly my life partner, Laura Dominguez.
Warm wishes to all for a safe and happy summer. Looking forward to the second half of 2019, and please contact us if we may be of service.
Happy Fourth of July,
Miami Beach City Commissioner
“Our goal is to make sure that all Miami Beach customers are having the best experience possible and unfortunately we have had some problems with bad apples with these deceptive business practices,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who sponsored the proposal.
Although commissioners have only allocated funding for undercover shoppers to patrol the entertainment district, they said they would consider additional funding to expand the pilot to Lincoln Road and Española Way. If the secret shoppers are successful, Samuelian said, the program could eventually be implemented citywide. Miami Beach already has six part-time employees who pose as customers to secretly evaluate trolleys, parking garages and other city services.