Has anyone ever told you, “Go jump into the ocean!”
For some people, the cost of doing so may go up.
As the spring phases into summer, more and more people will be tempted to go to the ocean strand for a day of fun in the sun.
Volusia County’s beaches, along with those elsewhere around Florida, will get their fair share of visitors, both locals and nonlocals. County officials are looking at raising the charges for out-of-county people to drive or park on the beach — and also charging them for parking in off-beach lots.
“Volusia County, it’s time to stop giving everyone from out of the area a free lunch,” County Council Member Troy Kent said, when the governing body discussed the issue March 21.
The debate is not a new one. The County Council, however, has asked the administration to gather more information and propose charges for off-beach parking. Currently, visitors who do not wish to pay the daily charge to drive onto the shore may park their cars and walk to the beach. However, at prime times such as during heat waves, weekends and holidays, the public off-beach parking lots fill up fast.
Kent said the county could offer free parking in the off-beach lots to locals by charging out-of-area visitors to park. He further proposed raising the price of the beach-season passes sold to non-Volusia beachgoers. Under Kent’s plan, the daily charge to drive a car or truck onto the beach would increase from $20 to $30, and the fee for a season pass would increase from $100 to $150.
“Charging Volusians to drive on their beach makes them pay twice,” he added, noting a large portion of their property taxes goes into the county’s general fund, which pays beach-related expenses.
Those expenses include lifeguards, lifeguard stands, policing and maintenance.
Kent added Nassau County allows in-county beachgoers to drive on the beach “for free,” but outside visitors must pay to take their cars onto the beach.
“C’mon, there’s no free beach,” Council Member Don Dempsey told his colleagues. “I’m more concerned about not raising taxes than I am about people driving on the beach for free.”
When is a beach toll not a toll? What is the correct term to describe what the county charges to drive a vehicle onto the beach and park there? Assistant County Attorney Paolo Soria drew a legal distinction.
“It’s a beach-access fee; it’s not a toll,” he told the County Council.
Council Member Jake Johansson followed up.
“Parking on the beach is a privilege. I’m pretty comfortable with paying for that privilege,” he said.
As the debate continued, Council Member David Santiago moved for the council to “take no action” on the beach tolls. The vote was 4-3. County Chair Jeff Brower was on the losing side of the vote, favoring free access to the beach.
Santiago followed up with a motion to direct the county administration to develop a parking structure for non-county residents to use the county’s off-beach parking areas. That motion won on a 6-1 vote, and Brower was the lone dissenter.
“I would like to see the toll booths go away,” he said.
“I am told regularly, ‘I’m not going to the beach if I have to pay for it,’” Brower added.
A report on the off-beach pay-to-park options will be presented to the County Council at a later date.
Volusia County’s budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year puts beach expenses at almost $24.5 million. Of that sum, daily tolls will amount to approximately $5.6 million, according to the county’s revenue projections, and beach-season passes will total about $1.85 million. Lesser amounts of revenue come from beach concessions owners who pay franchise fees and secure season passes, as well as payments from the Marine Science Center. The budget puts the general-fund contribution to beach costs at almost $14.5 million, which is the greatest share source of revenue for the beach.
If you want to see even more traffic, garbage, bad behavior just make it free for everyone like he said. County residents pay the costs already, but I dont mind paying a fee to shoulder some of the shortfall after receipts and expenses for the beach. But non residents should pay their fair share. With that shortfall, it seems like costs should go up, but hopefully just for those who haven’t paid higher taxes to fund the shortfall.
Daytona Beach is the most famous beach in the world!
Let’s treat it as such, please.
Residents should be admitted without cost. Visitors to the Most Famous Beach must pay . Who weathers the costs of keeping the beach alive? The residents thru taxes! And Visitors are happy to contribute for their visit to the Most Famous Beach in the World. Make it fun and make it safe, people will pay happily for both. More off beach parking is a good idea for the season, and other Daytona Beach events, and during the “off season “, well, invite more events. Promote the Most Famous Beach. We love Daytona Beach!
$20 for daily pass is ridiculous for residents. I don’t know if it should be free for residents, but it damn sure shouldn’t be $20.