“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.
“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.
“What’s the problem we’re solving?” Commissioner Mark Samuelian asked. “I’m not aware that we’ve had issues so I’m very reticent, for either of these parts, to do anything that would weaken our Board.”
“I’m also concerned about the talent pool,” he added. By requiring that someone be a current resident in a historic district, “What does that do to the number of applicants you get? We’re looking for very specialized skills here so I’m not yet convinced – though I’ll remain open minded here – but I’m not yet convinced what the problem is and the couple solutions, both parts, give me significant pause and I’m not comfortable with them.”
Commissioner Mark Samuelian was also skeptical about the idea of punting the audit. “It’s sort of like the game is in the third quarter, maybe, and now someone is saying, ‘We’re not sure we like the results,’ but we can’t really see what the results are, so I don’t know how to judge whether that’s a fair complaint or not, and now we’re trying to make a policy decision.’ That doesn’t sound right to me,” Samuelian said.
Here’s a slow-motion video of the implosion from Miami Beach Commissioner Mark Samuelian…
“We don’t want a circus out there,” said Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who sponsored the item.