The Volusia County Council passed an ordinance at its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16, that will allow law enforcement and the county manager to issue trespass warnings to anyone who violates any county or state regulation at any county building, park and property — including the beach.
The ordinance states that a first violation could be issued a warning for up to one year, while a second offense is bumped up to a period of two years maximum. A handful of county residents spoke to the issue, the majority of whom were in favor. One Daytona Beach resident said the ordinance would be a "wonderful thing for tourism," explaining she was tired of being harassed for money on the beach.
Daytona Beach resident Ken Strickland said this would be a "weapon in the arsenal" to use against the homeless population in the area. He asked for the council to hold off on passing the ordinance until the First Step Shelter was completed.
“You’re going to criminalize poor people that are homeless — nowhere to go, no shelter, no food, no restroom, no place to sleep," Strickland said.
Another Daytona Beach resident John Nicholson not only asked the council to pass the ordinance but asked for the ordinance to "have teeth to it" to target repeat offenders.
“If people break the law, they should be held responsible," Nicholson said.
The ordinance gained support from the Daytona Regional Chamber, and the chamber's senior vice president of government relations, Jim Cameron, stressed that the ordinance could apply to anyone, not just the homeless.
He said the Chamber's main factor for supporting the ordinance is the effect the Chamber hopes it will have with attracting conventions to the Ocean Center, as convention business is competitive. Cameron also pushed for the opening of First Step.
“We would like that shelter open as soon as possible," Cameron said. "We’re working with staff on that — trying to get business support and private sector support to fund that as well.”
Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post said there are laws in place for a reason, and that society today is becoming "more afraid" to enforce things.
“Without laws in place, it’s detrimental to the quality of life of citizens, and without laws in place you have anarchy," Post said. "And we’ve got to ensure that those laws are enforced.”
However, she pointed out she supported it because it was a "broad brush approach" in working to fix issues that harm the county. If a specific group is being targeted as a result, then the council would need to address that.