COCOA BEACH, Fla. – During a warm weekend in Cocoa Beach, Mayor Ben Malik was driving downtown on State Road A1A when he encountered “people with coolers stumbling into the road” en route from the beach to their vehicles.
And Malik said day-trippers and spring-break partiers helped generate more than 150 police calls that weekend in downtown Cocoa Beach, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
“This is not the visitor we want. I’m tired of talking about it,” he said during last week’s Cocoa Beach City Commission meeting.
Malik proposed to limit bring-your-own-bottle alcohol consumption on the beach from Second Street North to Second Street South.
“If you want to drink, there’s plenty of places that’ll serve you. Beach Shack and Coconuts can serve you,” Malik told commissioners.
“But if you’re just going to come here, not going to spend any money, trash our town, trash our parking garage, jaywalk, get in your car — hammered — and drive back, that’s not the visitor I want,” he said.
“And I don’t think anybody wants that,” he said.
“I don’t want to spend a lot of resources — and police resources — babysitting these people,” he said.
No decisions have been made. Interviewed Monday, Malik said he hopes to discuss beach-drinking regulations during the March 18 Cocoa Beach City Commission meeting. However, because of the length of the agenda, the alcohol discussion may instead occur April 1.
City police are compiling data on call volume and alcohol-related reports in advance of the City Commission discussion, he said.
Malik said he would like to introduce beach alcohol rules modeled after those in Treasure Island, near St. Petersburg.
That Gulf of Mexico shorefront city restricts alcohol along a section of beach from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day from the first weekend in February through the last weekend of September. Signs mark each end of the restricted area.
For years, Cocoa Beach officials have wrestled with options to control nuisance drinkers who congregate each spring near the beach end of Minutemen Causeway.
The beach ranger program was introduced in 2012. Riding all-terrain vehicles, beach rangers enforce city code and are trained in CPR, basic first aid, water rescue and traffic control.
Last March, city officials imposed $500 fines for possession or consumption of alcohol on the beach during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when much of the economy was shuttered. Commissioners also limited groups of beachgoers to 10 or fewer over Fourth of July weekend to discourage large gatherings. Those executive orders have since expired.
General beach rules in Cocoa Beach, per the City Hall website:
- Fires are only allowed on the beach with a permit in certain areas during certain times of the year.
- No fireworks on the beach.
- No glass on the beach.
- For safety reasons, digging large holes is prohibited.
- No camping.
- Leave no trash or cigarette butts on the beach.
- Stay off the dunes.