The above-referenced Ordinance is submitted on First Reading for consideration by the Mayor and City Commission at the September 16, 2020 City Commission meeting.
The Miami Beach Marina is a public facility that sees heavy boat traffic entering and exiting the Meloy Channel. At the same time, boats and jet skis coming from Government Cut pass quickly through the channel, sometimes at alarming speeds.
In 2015, the City Commission adopted Ordinance No. 2015-3961 establishing an idle speed, no wake zone in that area of Meloy Channel between the Miami Beach Marina and the U. S. Coast Guard Causeway Island. The intent was to reduce the threats to safety and quality of life posed by boat speeding through the channel and those reducing or picking up their speed to enter or exit the Miami Beach Marina.
However, the City only had authority to establish the no-wake zone within a 500 foot radius of the launching and landing facility on the western boundary of the Miami Beach Marina. Due to regulatory restrictions and the width of the channel, an area approximately 260 feet wide on the western edge of the channel remained outside the City's authority to establish a no wake zone
In 2019, the City initiated a permitting process with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (“FWC”) to establish waterway markers around the Miami Beach Marina to advise the public of the existing idle speed, no wake zone. During the process, the City was alerted by the FWC that the 260 feet sliver of the channel created an unregulated high-speed corridor. If that area were to remain unregulated, it would present the opportunity for boaters to pass around the restricted area creating a dangerous high-speed corridor within close proximity to the USCG Island.
Designating the entire area with the consistent designation of “Slow Speed, Minimum Wake” would mitigate the potential hazards and allow for consistency in enforcement of the entire Meloy Channel waterway.
The City submitted an Ordinance Review Package to FWC in April 2020. The FWC reviewed the ordinance and determined by substantial competent evidence that the ordinance is necessary to protect public safety pursuant to this paragraph. In August 10, 2020, FWC held a public meeting on the City’s ordinance, giving the public the opportunity to comment.