Miami Beach Announces Street Closures for Restaurants

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Update 5/21: Starting today, May 21, the City of Miami Beach has changed the guidelines for the “Restaurants Restoring Outdoor Seating” pilot program to allow restaurants to use cafe umbrellas. The new requirements for restaurants allow free-standing, flame-retardant umbrellas with a maximum diameter of ten feet. Umbrellas must not be screwed or otherwise permanently attached to the pavement. Fans are still not allowed.

As Miami Beach restaurants prepare to reopen their dining rooms on May 27, city officials have come forward and put in place a Restaurant Recovery Outdoor Seating Pilot Program that will close some streets to vehicular traffic, and in some cases those Seating expanded beyond sidewalks. The closings are expected to remain in effect until at least the end of September.

But in its restaurateurs guidelines, the city appears to have undermined that potential boon by banning the use of umbrellas at outdoor tables.

Of all the constraints restaurant owners face on adhering to the strict guidelines in the 182-page document “The New Normal” by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez, the county’s 50 percent occupancy rule is the one that makes all the difference could be between a successful reopening and an exercise in vain.

According to Miami-Dade guidelines, restaurants can use outdoor seating as long as the tables are at least three feet apart and the total indoor and outdoor capacity does not exceed the company’s maximum occupancy. Restaurants with outdoor terraces automatically have the advantage: they control more square feet and offer a convenience that is likely to be an incentive during the coronavirus pandemic.

Today the county approved the closure of the following Miami Beach streets in support of the restaurant’s expansion:

  • Bay Road from 18th Street to 20th Street: Block the parking lane on the west side and the southbound lane

  • 20th Street from Purdy Avenue to Bay Road: Closing the lane going east

  • Purdy Avenue from 18th Street to 20th Street: Closing the lane going north

  • 73rd Street from Collins Avenue to Ocean Terrace: Close the north sidewalk and parking lane

  • Ocean Terrace from 73rd Street to 74th Street: closure of the western sidewalk

  • 74th Street from Collins Avenue to Ocean Terrace: Block the North Sidewalk and Parking Lane

  • Lincoln Road from West Avenue to Alton Road: Block the North Parking Lane and the West Lane

  • Washington Avenue between Seventh Street and 16th Street: Complete closure. Restaurants can be expanded using the existing sidewalks, parking lanes and outside lanes (north and south). The inner lanes are intended for pedestrians, bicycles and access to emergency vehicles.

  • Ocean Drive from Fifth Street to 15th Street: Complete closure, as on Washington Avenue above

A second list of streets is due for county approval this week, and Miami Beach officials are meeting with officials from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) today to close portions of some state highways, believed to be Collins Avenue and Alton Road to discuss.

In an interview with the New Times earlier this week, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora said restaurant owners could apply for a permit through the Miami Beach Public Works Bureau and that the process would be as simple as possible.

When the city published guidelines for restaurants to apply for approval, one point came up: no umbrellas or fans are allowed.

This line has created confusion and outrage among restaurant owners and local residents alike. More than 150 comments were logged in a post on the Miami Beach Community Facebook group page last night. Some called the rule “stupid” and one rhetorically asked, “Sunstroke is a great way to protect yourself from COVID 19. Is the news?”

In response, Góngora put an item on the agenda for discussion at Friday’s meeting in which he stated that “entrepreneurs have contacted me and stated that umbrellas are not allowed”.

In a text to the New Times, Góngora said he thought the city would lift the roof ban, “but I’ve put Friday’s agenda on the agenda just in case.”

When asked why Miami Beach would ban outdoor fans and umbrellas during the hottest months of the year, the commissioner said he was not sure. “May be [the umbrellas are] take more space? “he stated, admitting that it is” too hot to eat outside without shade “.

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Laine Doss is the food and liquor editor for the Miami New Times. It was featured on Eat Street by Cooking Channel and in the Great Food Truck Race by Food Network. She won an Alternative Weekly Award for her contribution on what it’s like to wait for tables.

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