Taking cars off stretches of the beach for benefit of hoteliers won't matter as long as violent crime plagues Daytona

Graphic for Headline Surfer® /
At left is crime mapping detail for a 1-mile radius of 900 N. Atlantic Ave. (also known as A1A) where the former Desert Inn is located. The map shows the enormity of 650-plus crimes plotted -- both violent and property -- over the past year through June 19. A luxury Westin Resort is to replace the Desert Inn with cars coming off the beach behind it and parking provided for beach goers on the western side of A1A. The crime totals are after the former Desert Inn's closing.

DAYTONA BEACH -- Taking cars off the beach behind the closed Desert Inn where a luxury hotel resort is planned won't make a difference as long as Daytona Beach's violent crime persists and it shows no sign of letting up.

The 900 block of Atlantic Avenue or A1A is among the most violent on the beachside as electronic crime mapping from the Daytona Beach Police force data shows with 650-plus crimes plotted in a 1-mile radius of the hotel site.

But there was no discussion of this on the dais Thursday.

Why would tourists come to a crime cesspool? They aren't, even with the July 4th weekend races at Daytona International Speedway culminating with the Coke Zero 400 under the lights, the races don't sell out any more and haven't for the better part of a decade now, despite all the hype perpetuated by the Speedway.

Putting 50-plus parking spaces on the west sire of A1A with a pedestrian-controlled traffic signal doesn't mean anything when families with little kids have to cross five lanes of heavy traffic (including a middle turning lane) on A1A, never mind the beach traffic, which is limited to 10 mph.

The parking lot will go unused. Beach-goers will just go to another location where beach driving is allowed, which means even more vehicles in a more constricted driving area on the beach. That increases the likelihood of a child being hit.

But there was no discussion of that on the dais either on Thursday.

When the county closed beach driving in the key tourist area of the beach behind the Ocean Walk nearly two decades ago and trumpeted as the key to Daytona's economic future, along with a massive expansion of the Ocean Center, it didn't turn out that way.

A multi-story parking garage was built north of the Ocean Center to make up the difference for the cars taken off the beach and a free trolley service instituted. It wasn't used. I know, I used to take my grown son for rides on it when he was little as a treat. We had the trolley to ourselves. Less than a year later, the trolley service was discontinued.

And as for the parking garage? It too is a dangerous haven for criminals to ply their trade. It's mostly used for people going to the movies or events at the Ocean Center, but not for the beach.

And speaking of constricted beach driving, now limited to 17 of the 47 miles of Volusia County beaches, it will mean even more more people going to New Smyrna Beach instead of Daytona Beach because of the hassles of restricted driving. In fact, in the latter half of the decade, more drivers are going to New Smyrna as opposed to Ormond, Daytona, Daytona Beach Shores and Ponce Inlet combined.

But there was no discussion of that on the dais either on Thursday.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.