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Doral Council brings two items regarding alcoholic beverage regulations

DORAL, Fla. – On Wednesday, May 9, Doral City Council discussed two items regarding alcohol regulations and entertainment hours following the April 6 shooting at City Place’s Martini Bar that left two people dead.

The item proposed by Mayor Christi Fraga (George Castellanos’ ordinance in honor of a security guard killed during the shooting) did not pass, while the second item, placed on the agenda by Councilor Maureen Porras, was adopted.

“We held workshops, some comments and discussions, I worked with the Mayor’s office, as well as with the special council, planning and zoning, and the ordinance would result in the withdrawal of operating hours of some facilities, Christi Fraga explained what amendments she suggested to the existing code that was introduced in 2022

Specifically, the mayor’s proposed ordinance sought to limit business hours as follows: last call for the sale of alcoholic beverages at 1:30 a.m., and complete closing at 2:00 a.m.

“We have gone further and added safety measures which mainly relate to allowing extended hours to be applied to all business establishments within the category group. …in the future (if approved), any establishment that falls into these categories will automatically have to meet these requirements in addition to allowing extended hours,” she later said.

This means that specific purpose facilities such as bars, clubs and entertainment venues in general, but for example restaurants, cinemas or dance halls, do not fall into these categories.

According to Fraga, the mentioned changes were intended to introduce mechanisms that will allow the city’s residents to feel safer and maintain the peace and quiet of a family-oriented community, understanding that although “we cannot legislate human behavior,” as the mayor stated, some measures could create a safer scenario and reduce the risk of a repeat of incidents like the April 6 shooting.

These measures were mainly met with opposition during the public comment portion of the council meeting. Some business owners said reducing working hours would significantly impact profits and was “a little too much.”

“Closing early is not the answer,” one person said, while another noted that Doral has a “late leaving” culture and that a more balanced approach needs to be taken. Nevertheless, other commentators at the podium were adamant that “people over profits” or “this isn’t South Beach and there are other places to party late at night.” Not Doral.” In their opinion, in the interest of everyone’s safety, plants should adapt to the proposed requirements.

Ultimately, the mayor’s proposal was not adopted because Vice Mayor Oscar Puig, Councilor Maureen Porras and Councilor Digna Cabral voted against it.

Later in the same session, Maureen Porras presented her point of view, on which she also explained that she had interviewed business owners and residents.

“We are going to do everything we can to reduce the occurrence of these different incidents, so this (proposed regulation) required a lot of research and thought, and this was prepared in cooperation and based on the opinion of experts from different departments. From the legal side, from the code enforcement side and from the police side… I think if we’re going to do something, we’ve got to do it right,” Maureen Porras said.

Her proposal is to limit the serving of alcohol on first call to 1:30 a.m. and to stop serving it altogether at 2 a.m. This applies to companies that do not have a permit for extended working hours or do not have sales hours recorded on their licenses.

Establishments authorized for extended hours will close at 4 a.m., except for Midtown, City of Doral and Downtown Doral, areas classified as DMUs, “mixed-use downtown districts,” because they combine multiple uses, including residential, entertainment and commercial buildings and are characterized by a high level of human concentration.

Allowing extended hours would allow non-DMU businesses to serve alcohol until 3.30am under Maureen’s position.

She also explained that her petition concerns setting the entry into force of the regulation as October 1, 2024, and that until then the plants should comply with the 2022 regulation.

After the presentation, Vice Mayor Oscar Puig stated that he would feel more comfortable if the last sale of alcoholic beverages was made at 3:00 instead of 3:30, to which Maureen Porras agreed. He also emphasized; the city should treat all businesses the same whether they are in a DMU zone or not.

Following his recommendations, as well as other recommendations from Councilor Digna Cabral and Councilor Rafael Pineyro, the council passed the motion by a majority vote, agreeing that between the first and second readings, the representative would meet with each councilor to determine a more detailed resolution that would take into account all the councilors’ comments.