Volusia approves ordinance banning beach driving

Cars won't be allowed near 2 resorts in Daytona Beach

Beach driving.
Beach driving.

DeLAND, Fla. – The Volusia County Council on Thursday voted to approve an ordinance making it possible to ban driving on parts of Daytona Beach.

The measure passed on a 6-1 vote.

The ordinance will ban driving on the beach for a quarter-mile stretch behind the Hard Rock Hotel & Cafe and the site of the former Desert Inn, which is in development to become a new Westin Resort. The resorts will be required to replace several dozen beach parking spots that would be lost.

Both hotels will now have to meet the criteria before moving forward. The hotels will have to be luxury status, have a certain number of rooms and have a huge economic investment.

The hotels will also have to provide off beach parking for the spots that will be lost. The locations for off beach parking are planned for the east and west sides of A1A.

Opponents of the ordinance said beach driving is a decades-old tradition in Daytona Beach, and they fear that restricting it in spots is a slippery slope that could lead to a citywide ban.

A large crowd attended the meeting, prompting officials to issue a statement before it began.

"No booing, hissing, cheering (or) applauding, so business could be done," County Chair Jason Davis said. "All the meetings are held that way. We'll be following everything by guidelines."

The public comment lasted for about four hours.

"Why is posh better than reasonable? Why is upscale better than affordable? Why is a luxury resort better than family friendly? When did you all get so uppity?" asked Susan Bosquet, in favor of beach driving.

"What about the economics of this? The sales tax, the bed tax, the property taxes, the growing of quality and the changing image?" asked Hyatt Brown, insurance executive.

"We continue to, in my opinion not support projects that I think are going to move us to a point of economic development on a next level that I think we need to go to," said Councilman Josh Wagner.

"I will be voting today because I feel committed that I must do those things, that I have indicated and promised that I would do," said Councilwoman Joyce Cusak, who was the only one to oppose.

"Unfortunately, it's what we expected when we set up our charter amendment. That's why we put the date certain in there for 2014 in anticipation of broken campaign promises which were delivered upon today," said Greg Gimbert, of Let Volusia Vote.

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