Doral Council brings two items on alcoholic beverages regulations

DORAL, FL – On Wednesday, May 9, the City of Doral Council discussed two items to address alcohol beverages regulations and hours of operations of entertainment venues following Martini Bar shooting at City Place on April 6 that left two people dead.

The item (ordinance George Castellanos in honor of the security guard killed during the shooting) proposed by Mayor Christi Fraga failed, while the other one placed in the agenda by councilwoman Maureen Porras, passed. 

“We had a workshop, several comments and discussions, and I’ve been working with the City Manager’s office as well as with a special council, planning and zoning and what the ordinance would do is roll back the hours of operations for certain establishments,” Christi Fraga explained about the amendments she suggested on the existing code that was put into place in 2022.

Specifically, the ordinance proposed by the mayor wanted to limit the hours of operations as follow: last call for alcoholic beverage sales at 1:30 a.m., and total closure of the establishment at 2:00 a.m.

“We did go ahead and add the safety measures that mostly apply to the extended hours permit to be applied to all business establishments under a group of categories. …moving forward (if approved) any establishment under these categories will have to automatically meet these requirements in addition to the extended hours permit,” she later said. 

This means, establishments that have a specific use, such as bars, clubs and in general entertainment venues, but for example restaurants, cinemas or dance halls would not fall into these categories.

According to Fraga, said amendments had the purpose of putting in mechanisms that can allow the city residents to feel safer and preserve the peace and tranquility of a family-oriented community, understanding that although “we cannot legislate human behavior”, as the mayor stated, some measures can create a safer scenario to decrease the chances of incidents, like the April 6 shooting, from repeating. 

The measures were received mostly with opposition in the public comments portion of the council meeting. Some business owners said rolling back the hours of operation would significantly impact profits and were “a little bit too much”.

“Closing early is not the answer”, an individual said, while another one pointed out that Doral had a “going out late” culture and that a more balanced approach should be taken. Nevertheless, other commenters on the podium were firm in stating “people over profits” or “this is not South Beach and there are other places to party late at night. Not Doral”. Their point of view was that establishments should adapt to the proposed requirements for the sake of everyone’s safety. 

Finally, the mayor’s item didn’t go through as Vice Mayor Oscar Puig, Councilwoman Maureen Porras and Councilwoman Digna Cabral voted against it. 

Later in the same session, Maureen Porras presented her item for which she also explained she had conversations with business owners and residents.

“We’re going to do our best to reduce the occurrence of these different incidents, so this (the ordinance proposed) took a lot of research and consideration, and this is something that was prepared in collaboration and with the expert opinions from different departments, from the legal side, the code enforcement side and the police side…I think if we’re going to do something, we have to do it right,” Maureen Porras said.

Her proposal is to limit serving alcohol first call for 1:30 a.m. and stop serving altogether at 2:00 a.m. appliable for businesses without an extended hour permit or that don’t have a sales time on their licenses.

Establishments with an extended hour permit would close at 4:00 a.m., with the exception of Midtown, City Place and Downtown Doral, areas categorized as DMU, “downtown mix-used districts” because they blend multiple uses including residential, entertainment and commercial and have a high level of concentration of people.

The extended hours permit would allow a business outside of the DMU to serve alcohol until 3:30 a.m. under Maureen’s item.

She also explained her petition is to make the effective date of the ordinance be October 1, 2024, and that in the meantime, establishments should follow the 2022 ordinance. 

After concluding her presentation, Vice Mayor Oscar Puig said he would be more comfortable with stopping selling alcoholic beverages at 3:00 a.m. instead of 3:30 a.m., something that Maureen Porras agreed on. He also pointed out; the city should be treating all businesses the same whether they are in a DMU zone or not.

Councilman Rafael Pineyro, for his part, suggested to have the closing time at 3:00 a.m. instead of 4:00 a.m., and last call at 2:30 a.m., while councilwoman Digna Cabral said she doesn’t agree with treating all establishments the same within the current resolution. 

Upon their recommendations, the council passed the motion by majority, agreeing that in between first and second reading, the attorney would sit down with each one of the councilmembers to come up with a more detailed resolution that includes all their concerns so that the council can vote on it. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend