Miami Beach Continues to Wrestle with its South Beach Entertainment District

In a special meeting to discuss proposals to fix what Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber calls the “anything goes” atmosphere in the City’s South Beach Entertainment District, Commissioner Mark Samuelian summed up the discussion with the word “frustrating.” After praising the City’s Police Department for its work and efforts to increase enforcement, all of the Commissioners expressed a desire to step it up.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian said he agrees with the enforcement push, but he said the area needs more. Referencing the entire package of what Gelber calls “carrots and sticks” – measures that include development incentives, repealing the noise exemption, tying alcohol and entertainment licenses to Conditional Use Permits, and increased penalties for bad operators, Samuelian said, “As I think about the problem, my approach to the solution… is all of the above. I think we need to use all of the tools. I don’t think it’s just an enforcement issue. I don’t it’s just a noise issue. I think we need every tool, and the risk is not doing enough.”

He emphasized the “challenges” with police visibility, noting resident observations as well as his own. “We need to raise the game in terms of visibility” but he underscored a comment the Police Chief made about the impact on other neighborhoods when resources are diverted to the MXE and the movement of crime out of the Entertainment District into nearby areas as a result of increased enforcement in the MXE. Clements said MBPD has seen increased problems on Collins Avenue recently.

Samuelian said he was happy to hear the Administration was giving consideration to not renewing sidewalk café permits at the end of the year for bad operators. Reiterating that the permits are “a privilege, not a right,” he said, “It seems like we just have a hard time reining in this bad behavior despite the legislation that we’ve put forward” in the past few years. “I really hope we can do a better job reining in these bad operators and not giving them the opportunity to make money on the public right of way.”

December 5, 2020 | RE:Miami Beach | Miami Beach Continues to Wrestle with its South Beach Entertainment District

Miami Beach’s Flamingo Park fastest to Slow Streets

Last week this Miami Beach neighborhood became the first in Miami-Dade to adopt “Slow Streets,” a program geared to make residential streets safer by discouraging non-local traffic and educating the community about slow driving speeds. 

The pilot, city Commissioner Mark Samuelian said, has been approved by the county and will run for 30 days before being evaluated. If feedback is positive, he continued, other neighborhoods and cities could pick up the initiative. 

During the pandemic, Mr. Samuelian said, transportation needs evolved and many residents found themselves engaging in more outdoor activities such as running, cycling and walking. This program, he said, is an effort to meet this changing demand and foster outdoor activity in a safer space.

Essentially, he said, residential streets in this neighborhood are now targeted with signs at their entrance discouraging “through traffic,” mandating slow speeds and encouraging biking and walking. The aim, he said, is to get non-residents looking to cut through neighborhoods to get to a destination to avoid these streets.

The program, Mr. Samuelian said, is just one step in a larger plan to make Miami Beach more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. Other initiatives, he said, include adding protected bike lanes on Washington Avenue and the ongoing effort to consider pedestrianizing Ocean Drive. 

“My vision for Ocean Drive,” he said, “is one that puts people and pedestrians first. I view Slow Streets as another important step in this journey.”

October 27, 2020 | Miami Today | Miami Beach’s Flamingo Park fastest to Slow Streets

Demonstration for peace for Armenia

As an American of Armenian descent, Azerbaijan’s recent military operations in Artsakh are deeply concerning. I participated with the Armenian American Community and friends in a demonstration for peace for Armenia in Miami Beach on October 23, 2020.

 

Preliminary consensus on some concepts to fix Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive

This month’s workshop was the first time the ideas were presented. No public comment was taken at the meeting but Gelber, City Staff, and Commissioner Mark Samuelian who chairs the Land Use and Sustainability Committee which hosted the workshop all emphasized each proposal would be vetted in various committees, some before the Planning Board, as well as at two Commission meetings, all of which would include public hearings.

There was general support for the initiatives. Arriola, Meiner, and Commissioner Mark Samuelian said they supported the full pedestrianization of Ocean Drive, something Gelber supports as well. Commissioners Michael Góngora and David Richardson said they were open to the idea.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian who has sponsored a number of the previous ordinances to clean up Ocean Drive said, “We need to get control. I believe that that is going to be the governing principle. We do not have the degree of control that we need. I think we have a major problem on our hands.”

While he said he can “appreciate the history” of Miami Beach’s heydays that Góngora and Richarson highlighted, he noted, “We put a lot of resources, time and attention to Ocean Drive.”

MBPD’s recommendations for additional law enforcement are “an important part of the equation,” he said, “but I don’t think we can completely police our way out of the problem… I believe we’ve got an environment where people believe anything goes and I think the alcohol hours and the focus on nightlife, parties all night, has contributed to that problem and the risk is not getting control of that problem.”

“My position is that we do need to rollback alcohol hours,” he continued. “I think that’s part of the equation. I’m not sure if midnight’s the magic hour. I don’t know that’s necessarily the magic point, but I do believe rolling back alcohol hours sends a message to the type of environment we’re trying to create.”

“I share some of the skepticism around an alcohol control board,” Samuelian said. “I understand what we’re trying to do. Right now, I would say I share that skepticism that that may not be the mechanism that we need.”

While supportive of a rollback in alcohol hours, he said the City is “a bit of a balloon. If you push in one area, it shows up in another area, so I want us to be very careful about changes in alcohol hours in one district and what impact it has on the other.”

As an example, he said, “If we reduce hours in the Entertainment District… does that whole environment move to someplace like Alton Road… I think we need to look for some sort of consistency and, I believe, at this moment, getting control of the situation is a priority before we nuance how we get to later hours.”

September 26, 2020 | RE: Miami Beach | Preliminary consensus on some concepts to fix Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive

Rooftop cinema could be coming soon to 1212 Lincoln Road

Commissioner Mark Samuelian added a requirement for a sound study as part of the Planning Board process which was included in the approval. He also asked for a status update to the Commission after one year with regard to the operations and impact which would be over and above any progress reports that may be required by the Planning Board in any future issuance of a Conditional Use Permit.

September 26, 2020 | RE: Miami Beach | Rooftop cinema could be coming soon to 1212 Lincoln Road

FIU partners with City of Miami Beach to combat sea level rise

“Historic districts make Miami Beach special and are strong economic drivers,” added Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “I am very much looking forward to seeing the students’ planned mitigation and adaptation measures as they envision our future.”

September 25, 2020 | FIU News | FIU partners with City of Miami Beach to combat sea level rise

Free Flu Shots To Be Offered To Students At Miami Beach Public Schools

“The City of Miami Beach has committed $15,000 to make sure our kids who need a flu shot have free access to it,” added Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian. “We want our community to be prepared during this challenging flu season.”

September 14, 2020 | Patch | Free Flu Shots To Be Offered To Students At Miami Beach Public Schools

Tougher scooter ordinance proposed to curb “Anything Goes” behavior on Miami Beach

Miami Beach City Commissioner Mark Samuelian said “enough is enough” when it comes to the unsafe behavior of scooter drivers. After hearing last week that scooter operators were not adhering to a new ordinance that made business owners responsible for renter violations, he quickly worked with the City Administration to come up with proposed legislation to limit the number of rental scooters, make overnight rentals illegal, and increase the penalties for violating the scooter law.

Samuelian’s proposed ordinance, co-sponsored by Commissioner Steven Meiner, would limit the maximum number of scooters in a fleet to 25. In addition, overnight rentals would be prohibited with rental hours restricted to between 7 pm and 7 am each day. Businesses would be responsible for ensuring scooters are returned by 7 pm; if not, the City would have the authority to “impound and confiscate” any scooters on public property between the prohibited hours of 7 pm through 7 am.

“These motorized scooters are dangerously violating our rules,” Samuelian says. “They’re disturbing quality of life for our residents and adding to a perception that anything goes in Miami Beach.”

“Other cities have gone down this path too,” according to Samuelian, including Panama City which, like Miami Beach, has also had difficulty with unruly Spring Break crowds. They have “taken the step, with some success legally, to actually ban the rental of scooters,” Samuelian said. In November, an appeals court upheld Panama City’s plan to ban rental scooters beginning in September 2020.

July 25, 2020 | RE: Miami Beach | Tougher scooter ordinance proposed to curb “Anything Goes” behavior on Miami Beach

WIOD clips with Mark Samuelian on flooding and raising roads

Short clip on flooding and raising roads in Miami Beach

Long clip on flooding and raising roads in Miami Beach

Miami Beach officials discussing plans to remedy flooding issues

Concerns like that prompted Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian to ask for more discussion before the city moves forward on elevating roads in the west avenue corridor.

“As I like to say, nothing good happens to properties below the street,” he said.

 Samuelian worries about the challenges of marrying raised roads to existing lower properties, even with the protection of pumps to handle overflow.

“At the end of the day, we need to think about protecting our properties, our neighborhoods and our residents,” he said. “Not just dry our streets.

June 22, 2020 | Local10.com | Miami Beach officials discussing plans to remedy flooding issues