Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Good news! Crime is down on South Beach. Bad news! It's still a toilet.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine: "South Beach is awesome, so
stop yer bitching!"


Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is a happy camper these days. Nothing annoys him.

He was on Fox News the other day and when the host misidentified him not once, but twice, Levine didn't even bother correcting him.

But not all of Levine's constituents are as happy as he is.

Take long time Beach resident Mitch Novick, for instance. Novick is pissed.

He's the owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel at 9th Street and Collins Ave. He's been at that location since 1992.

On his YouTube page where he posts videos of the comings and goings on his block, Novick complains that his neighborhood "has become a cesspool of humanity."

In a commentary attached to his latest video (below) posted just a few days ago, Novick writes:
From my home, I have witnessed drug deals, prostitution, public inebriation, defecation, and urination, stabbings which precipitated murder, sexual assaults, robberies (up 35% this past year), and the list goes on and on. The MB Police Department have visited me regularly to view my CCTV public right of way footage which has assisted in the arrest and conviction of hardened criminals. I also have little doubt that the problems which plague Washington Avenue along the districts western boundary, are causally related to the nearby MXE zoning district which spans from 5th to 16th Street along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue.

The area is congested with all kinds of riff-raff, it’s dirty, dangerous, loud, and the vacancy factor has skyrocketed. The three streets are saturated with tee shirt shops, 7-elevens, pizza joints, liquor stores, tattoo parlors and smoke shops.

Due to the continued degradation of the neighborhood, this past year we’ve seen the departure of national tenants including: Barney’s Co-op, Urban Outfitters, Benetton, Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren and just recently, Levi’s announced it too, will be leaving. As a hotelier, I can attest that international tourists are also finding safer destinations to spend their dollars.

Novick told me today that he believes a majority of the problems along Ocean Drive and the adjacent entertainment district can be alleviated by requiring businesses to "contain or substantially reduce their noise levels."

Coincidentally, in a letter sent yesterday to the Mayor and City Commissioners, City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote, "major crime along Ocean Drive decreased by 19.6% in 2015, with a 2.15% reduction in violent crime and a 21.82% reduction in non-violent/property crime." (The report is embedded below)

But as Mark Twain once wrote, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics."

However, not everyone agrees that Ocean Drive needs fixing.

Late last year, Miami New Times' scholar-in-residence Kyle Munzenrieder floated a proposal to "Keep Ocean Drive Tacky."

"Do [we] really want Miami Beach to be like the rest of Florida?" Munzenrieder asked.
Yes, [Ocean Drive] has come a long way since the Cocaine Cowboys era, but let's not try to turn the scene of the Scarface chainsaw massacre into Rodeo Drive.

So sure, Ocean Drive might need some updates and changes, but trying to erase its history won't get us anywhere. We can't pick and choose what kind of tourists visit Miami Beach and what they do while here. Who are we, Donald Trump? Is Miami Beach going to build a wall on the MacArthur Causeway and make sure tourists are "refined" and "classy" before being allowed in?

Ocean Drive is what it is and what it always will be, and anyone thinking it can be turned into some generic Florida beachside is fooling themselves.


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