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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s a big weekend on South Beach.
With hundreds of thousands of people headed there, it means there’s a lot of money to be made while people are having lots of fun on the sand.
Soli Morgan owns South Beach Liquor. He’s stocked up and ready to ring up sales.
“We expecting a lot of people a lot of business. Good for the city,” Morgan said.
All these people have to have a place to stay. Hotel occupancy rates are up there, but not as high as they could be.
“So how many people in each room? More or less?” CBS4’s Ted Scouten asked a group.
“Like 12, 13 in each room. We got like mattresses,” they replied.
The group has two dozen people staying in two rooms.
A group of visitors from Pittsburgh are using Airbnb. Not everyone knows it, but Miami Beach banned it.
“We’re doing Airbnb, it’s like a block away. First time actually, never done Airbnb, it’s working out so far,” said Airbnb user Nick Petrocelli.
Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales says lodging like Airbnb takes away from tax revenue that’s collected on weekends like this.
“There’s no questions, it’s competition to the hotels and they don’t pay taxes. So it’s something we’re working very hard as a city to try and stop, make sure those units that can do it legally are registered and paying their resort taxes,” said Morales.
Aside from making money, city officials hope visitors have a great time.
Miami Beach Goodwill Ambassadors are stationed around South Beach.
They’re there to work with police by answer questions, direct tourists, spot trouble and warn people about banned items on the beach. They do all of it with a smile.
Beach trash got to be an issue in the past, so now, there are some items that are not allowed.
“We’re telling folks don’t bring coolers, tents, don’t bring floats as part of it because that stuff gets left at the end of the day, we’re not only cleaning things up but sometimes it even gets in the water,” said Morales.
But there might not be as much to clean up.
CBS4’s Hank Tester noted by nightfall there wasn’t quite the crowd seen in the past decade.
“It seems like it is Saturday night right now,” one young man told him.
Yet officials are playing it safe.
There is so much strong light illuminating the streets it sort of feels like daylight.
Plus traffic is going to be heavily regulated.
For the next few days, there is no parking allowed on Collins or Washington.
Collins Avenue is one-way northbound at night from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. up to 17th Street. Washington Avenue is for southbound traffic.
Ocean drive is closed down to cars until Tuesday.
And on the causeways, license plate readers will catch the tag numbers of all cars heading east.