DeLand, FL – The Volusia County Council approves a new ordinance which comes down harder on those who repeatedly commit violations on county-run land, including the beach.
By unanimous vote during today’s (October 16th) meeting in DeLand, that new regulation gives law enforcement and the Volusia County Manager the option to ban repeat offenders of any county regulation or state law from a section of the beach or any county-owned buildings or parks.
Those who are trespassed the first time could be told to stay away from whatever property they were trespassed from for up to a year. If it happens again, the ban could be extended for another two years.
In the case of the beach, any trespass warnings would extend 1,000 feet north and south of wherever those people were at the time officers trespassed them.
The ordinance – which you can read in full by clicking here – does include an appeals process for anyone deemed to be in violation.
The City of Daytona Beach enacted a similar policy last August which saw many of them trespassed from city parks, some of whom then moved on to under the Pier and other areas.
County officials insist this ordinance, like the Daytona one, is not specifically targeting any group, but opponents have argued that it could violate the constitutional rights of the area’s homeless, in particular those who currently hang out around the Daytona Beach Pier.
One of those who spoke to the VCC during public comment time before the vote was Ken Strickland, the chair of the Justice For Homeless Committee with the Volusia/Flagler chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He says the ordinance is clearly targeting the homeless who hang out by the beach and other areas filled with tourists.
“I can assure you, if I go over and do some of the same things over there that the homeless are doing and break out a driver’s license that says I live on Halifax Avenue, [the police] will not issue me a citation,” Strickland added. “They’ll tell me to behave and go on about my business.”
Another public comment speaker was Jim Cameron, the senior Vice-President for Government Relations at the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce. He pushed “wholeheartedly” for its passage, saying having the homeless issue unresolved is hurting the area’s business image.
“The convention business is very competitive out there,” Cameron added. “We’re hearing a lot from our businesses over there, especially in the core tourist district. It’s not just the convention folks.”
Both men did agree on the need to get the First Step Shelter project completed, with Strickland urging the council unsuccessfully not to pass the ordinance until it was built.
VCC District 4 Representative Heather Post cited her law enforcement past as a big reason for her support, saying that she feels law enforcement in the area can ensure that no one group is being picked on unfairly.