Fort Lauderdale’s city commission met virtually on Wednesday to discuss ongoing social distancing measures.
One of the main topics was last weekend's closure of one lane in each direction on Las Olas Boulevard. Mayor Dean Trantalis said pedestrians and businesses appreciated it, as it provided additional space to walk on and expanded restaurant seating.
The commission plans another partial closure this weekend — weather permitting.
Vice Mayor Steven Glassman said he received complaints of people not adhering to guidelines along Las Olas. Trantalis said these issues would be looked on a case-to-case basis, with the city responding to complaint calls and encouraging its staff to be ambassadors.
“We are trying to keep it as an educational campaign rather than enforcement,” Trantalis said.
For businesses that violate guidelines, the first step is to advise them on what they are doing wrong and then conduct a follow up visit the next day. If the violation is not rectified, a civil citation could be issued through code enforcement, and court citations could also be issued if violations continue. After that, repeat violators could face criminal citations.
The commission also considered plans for Fourth of July. City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said he does not believe a beach fireworks display is the right event to have, and proposed looking into smaller but more frequent fireworks throughout the city. The city would inform residents that the fireworks are meant to be enjoyed from home, and said the proposal would cost the city about $90,000.
“I’m concerned about this for a bunch of reasons and I think it might be appropriate to forgo it this year,” Commissioner Ben Sorensen said. “From a cost perspective, from wanting to keep [residents] physically distance … we should choose to save that money and use it for other things at this point.”
Commissioner Robert McKinzie agreed, saying he is “opposed to getting people aroused about fireworks right now.” Glassman also supported the cancellation of this year’s celebration.
Trantalis emphasized that the fireworks display would make residents feel good about themselves and the community after weeks of staying at home.
“People need to vent their feelings about life and about celebration,” he said. “The Fourth of July fireworks are a passive way of staying at home. That would be the message: to stay home and still be able to see fireworks in their own city.”
The commission will discuss the topic again at their next meeting on Tuesday, June 2.