I briefly got a taste of Urban Weekend this Memorial Day Weekend in South Beach and I can tell you I was never more excited to get back to Broward County. My friend, his wife and their 10 month old daughter picked Memorial Day Weekend to literally come across the country to visit us, and then booked a hotel on Sunday in Miami Beach wholly unaware of Urban Weekend. Navigating Collins and Ocean Drive with a stroller Sunday afternoon was…..grating to say the least.
The problems that go along with Urban Weekend have been documented extensively elsewhere (trash, crime, destruction, etc) and are very apparent to the residents of South Florida. Yet the big question every year is what to do about it. The Miami New Times quotes the Mayor of Miami Beach, Matti Herrera Bower, saying:
“We are also up in arms… We have put up with this for 10 years,” Bower said, but “there’s not many options.”
Needless to say, that doesn’t sit well with many who expected a stronger reaction from the Mayor. The Mayor states that the ACLU hamstrings the city enforcement efforts and that a curfew is off the table. However, most importantly, the Mayor claims that because Urban Weekend is not formally organized that there’s nothing the city can do:
“There is no organizer, no event. It’s just there,” she said, emphasizing that the city does not control or issue any permits for any of the long weekend’s events.
The Mayor, though, also just names the solution and it seems self evident if one were just to take a more proactive approach to the problem instead of the resigned attitude that Mayor Bower seems to be exhibiting. If it’s a problem that there is no organizer to control, then have the city of Miami Beach organize Urban Weekend. Or, ideally, if there is another organization or promoter that would like to take it on, then allow them to do so but under restrictive permits.
Instead of the current anarchy that occurs on Urban Weekend, grab the “event” and control it. It would be very hard for the ACLU to target the city if the city is not only running it but also promoting it. Ideas that the city could implement under a permit setup include but are not limited too:
Gated admission which would help with crowd control.
Extra policing would be justified since it is now an organized and official event. As it stands now, it appears that the extra police are there because a lot of African Americans are expected which is obviously why the ACLU dislikes the current setup.
Instead of administering a curfew, the city could control the scheduling or hours of the Urban Weekend. Currently, Urban Weekend is just a mishmash of different clubs putting on marquee events and nights. The sanctioned Urban Weekend should shoulder events and could possibly coordinate more amongst the clubs. Therefore, hours could be softly imposed and avoid an authoritarian and counterproductive curfew.
More knowledgeable and creative minds could find other ideas that would help lessen the blow that Urban Weekend inflicts on Miami Beach. However, it is imperative that Miami Beach does not just accept the status quo and works to a solution.