Miami Beach 411
Like what you see? Let's talk about how
we can help your vacation --> Contact Us
  • Homepage
  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Forum
  • News & Events
  • Maps
  • Transportation
  • Tours
  • Hotels
  • Travel Tips
  • Reader's Reviews
  • News Archives
  • Need help? Call us! - 1-305-754-2206

Town Hall Meeting Shows City Is Trying to Fix Memorial Day

August 25, 2011 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local News  | 9 Comments


Lucille Acocella is not a fan of being flashed.

The longtime Miami Beach resident and Eden Roc concierge said that when women in her hotel began flashing children and families this past Memorial Day weekend, it was the last straw for her. Something needed to be done.

“I’ve been planning my vacations around this meeting,” she said as she sat at the Loews Hotel Wednesday afternoon. “They need to do something about this.”

And so Acocella along with about 200 other residents of Miami Beach packed a ballroom at the Loews to talk to the City Commissioners about Memorial Day, and suggest solutions to a decade-old problem.

Unfortunately, few would get the chance.



While many had expected a traditional town-hall style meeting – with residents invited to share their ideas with the leaders of the city – Wednesday’s meeting was dominated by speeches from officials and offered little opportunity for residents to say much of anything.

The meeting was the brainchild of City Commissioner Jerry Libbin, who spent the majority of the meeting discussing what the history of Memorial Day in Miami Beach had been, and what he and a group of citizens had brainstormed to help make Memorial Day tolerable for Beach residents.

“We have to do better,” he told the room. “We will do better. Your options for Memorial Day shouldn’t be to hide in your house or get out of town.”



During the initial presentations, from both City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and Hilda Fernandez, who represented the Manager’s Office, we learned that there was in fact no correlation between the number of arrests made on Memorial Day Weekend and the hotel occupancy. We also learned that 60 percent of the arrests made were of people from South Florida. But most of all, we learned that despite residents’ cries to “end” Memorial Day Weekend, it’s not really that simple.

“We can’t just ‘end’ it,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not something we sanction, promote or fund. We don’t approve permits for any events Memorial Day Weekend, so there’s no event for us not to approve.”

“We’re just a city” he said, “We don’t have the power to end a national holiday.”



The City did, however, meet with leaders from all areas of Miami Beach life, from nightclub owners to restaurateurs to the heads of And in lieu of soliciting comments from the room, Libbin instead opted to share the suggestions that these meetings had produced. Among the more promising:

  • Enforcing open container laws, meaning no more “to-go” cups
  • Putting a roadblock at the end of I-395 and only allowing in residents and taxi cabs. (This suggestion drew applause from the room)
  • Creating a bigger celebration of Veterans past the Monday morning ceremony at Police Headquarters (this drew even more applause from the room)
  • Forcing hotels to be stricter about enforcing occupancy limits in their rooms
  • Organizing and permitting large scale events not associated with hip-hop weekend
  • Taking flier fines out of promoters’ bonds instead of the clubs’

The City did its part to keep the meeting short, giving only the two presentations then yielding the floor to a group that wants to put on a large scale Memorial Day concert and family-friendly festival next year. That presentation drew a lukewarm response from the residents in attendance, but at least seemed like a viable solution to many.

Libbin then read from a large stack of emails he’d received, hoisting the five-inch thick stack over his head assuring the room that he had read every one.

This gesture may have been meant to appease an agitated crowd that was relegated to question cards to voice its grievances.



At the end of his email reading, Libbin accepted cards collected from the audience that included questions and comments directed his way. None of the suggestions from the audience offered much past “Enforce the laws better,” or “lets do something to honor the veterans.” Which, Libbin said after the meeting, was why he limited the questions to written ones.

“We could have been here for hours,” he said.

While Wednesday’s meeting was called to give citizens of our small island a chance to voice their suggestions, what it was in reality was an opportunity to see what the City was, in fact, planning to do. Not terribly satisfying for those who wanted to vent, but at the very least educational.

The meeting boiled down to two solutions: Enforce the laws and create a better event that will attract a better crowd.  Clearly,  Miami Beach has reached its tipping point, and another year of Memorial Day madness will not be tolerated.  The City seems to be putting itself on the right track, but only time will tell if residents will ever be able to enjoy this holiday like the rest of the country.



Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

Was This Post Helpful? Please Share It With Others!

You Deserve More Than an Ordinary Vacation.
Travel with Miami Beach 411 Today!
  • Over 10 years of excellent service guiding tours. Awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
  • Large fleet of new motor coaches, tour buses, and luxury vans. Technology you won't find anywhere.
  • Highly skilled, professional drivers and guides. From people who love what they do.
The Miami Beach 411 Travel Store is Open 24/7.
Search for Tours & Transportation

9 Comments on

"Town Hall Meeting Shows City Is Trying to Fix Memorial Day"

Blackford Oakes says:

Was just thinking about a counter event just last week. Even felt strong enough to text a hint to Maria de Los Angeles about it.

The question is, is the city or someone able to spend $150,000 to $200,000 for an event locals are exiting participating in ?  That rules the vets out out. Using them was always a lame excuse.

Posted on 08/25/2011 at 9:06 PM

jess says:

Interesting article. But they can’t really stop the clubs booking hip hop acts and that’s what draws the crowds in. Did anyone from The Opium Group attend? I am guessing no. They most likely love Memorial Weekend for the revenue it brings them and could care less about the devastation it wrecks on our city.

If the clubs made it a house music weekend, the weekend would change for sure to a happier one. Did anyone suggest that?

Posted on 08/26/2011 at 8:45 AM

rtoledo71 says:

Putting up a road block at 395?  How’s that going to stop people?  What about the other causeways? 

And denying non-residents entry?  That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Posted on 08/26/2011 at 10:44 AM

jess says:

The police deny non residents entry after hurricanes. It is totally within the city’s rights to do so. You have to show your ID with a beach address.
If they deem the situation not safe in the city, of course they can shut it down. It’s what we pay them for!

Posted on 08/26/2011 at 11:51 AM

Mike LaMonica says:

While the guy seemed nice enough, I’m not buying the “We use the National Press Corps guidelines” defense. Even though they had a public meeting, it seems like they gave it short shrift. This is not going to be solved in one meeting. It’s still broken guy!

Was an acceptable pant waist level discussed?

Posted on 08/26/2011 at 7:03 PM

Doug says:

While I agree that something needs to be done, when they start kvetching over flashers, they’re losing their sense of balance.  Miami Beach, like New Orleans, is a sexual playground, not a place for a Disney-style weekend.  If they want to crack down on the violence, the litter and the vandalism, I’m with them, but take away SoBe’s sex appeal and you’re left with Boca Raton.

Posted on 08/27/2011 at 12:22 PM

catlin says:

just keep blacks out.  yeah that is the only thing thay will work

Posted on 08/27/2011 at 2:16 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

I think the counter event combined with strict rule enforcement is the combination that’s gonna win. Like put on a large-scale, family-friendly event AND arrest everyone walking around with a beer or “Cruising.” It will take 2-3 years to fully rid the beach of Hip Hop weekend. Libbin talked with the Atlanta Chief of Police and that’s how long he said it took to get rid of Freaknic. So we gotta be a little patient. I think eventually it will happen, they seem to be taking this pretty seriously.

Posted on 08/28/2011 at 4:35 PM

rtoledo71 says:

Jess:  My point is this, in any other situation, keeping anyone but residents out will probably be ok, but considering that everyone who comes to UBW is african-american, preventing them from entering could result in a rash of lawsuits (racial bias).

What about people who just happen to be around that weekend but not there for UBW?

I don’t think that banning people is going to be that effective.

I agree with Matt in that there should be strict enforcement of open container laws and driving to an extreme minimum.

Posted on 08/29/2011 at 10:24 AM

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.
Discuss the surrounding area in our hugely popular Miami forum.
Today's Miami Specials
Like what you see? Let's talk about
how we can help your vacation
--> Contact Us