Promoting the Positive in Daytona Beach and East Volusia
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Daytona Beach IS NOT a "Ghetto"!

    Recently the website "roadsnacks.net" published an article ranking Daytona Beach as the "#1 most ghetto" city in Florida.  They used a photo of an older area of Daytona Beach to demonstrate how "ghetto" Daytona Beach is.  The problem is that the following photos were taken within a mile or two of where the photo they used was taken.

Beach Street Daytona Beach  Daytona Beach pilings and birds
Bandshell in Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach scene  Umbrella on Daytona Beach  
Daytona Beach BoardwalkDaytona Beach downtown
Daytona Beach under the main street pier Sunbathers on Daytona Beach

    The criteria used by "roadsnacks.net" are dubious at best.  They consider as an important factor, the number of convenience stores in the area stating, "Sociologists have indicated that these types of stores are a staple of inner city life."  They didn't however, adjust for the fact that this is a tourist area which at times of the year has up to an extra half a million people in town.  Likewise with their "per capita" crime criteria.  They use the number of permanent residents living in Daytona Beach as the population, making no adjustments for the several hundred thousand visitors that may be here at any given time.  Not considering the tourists and transients in the area negatively impacts every per capita criteria used in their selection.

    There is no doubt that Daytona Beach, like most cities, has areas that are not showplaces and there is a definite lack of economic opportunity in the inner city. However, there is an unmatched natural beauty and diversity to the area.  There are many points of view about what Daytona Beach should do or should be. Once touted as the "World's Most Famous Beach", Daytona Beach's hard packed sand allowed driving and parking on the beach, which made it the perfect place for families to enjoy the surf.  There are many who believe that the heritage of driving on the beach should be preserved and others who believe that times have changed and beach driving should be ended or restricted to promote development of higher end resorts.  

    As a native of Daytona Beach, I have seen cycles of decline, short lived revival and some long term progress in the area.  I've heard of issues and plans and reports for retooling the economic base of the area.  I've seen this cause and that, this politician and that, this group and that, each claiming to have the magic cure for what ails the Daytona Beach area.  What I've never seen is a consensus.  I've never seen a plan for creating a community effort.  When I was a child growing up in Daytona Beach, I remember the influx of "Snow Birds" in the winter, mostly older folks who sometimes got lost or drove too slow.  Once I was riding with my father and I got agitated with a Canadian driver who came to a complete stop at each intersection, struggling to read the street signs I suppose.  
Noticing that I was getting frustrated, my father explained to me that we should be nice to all visitors to the area.  He reminded me that they were our guests who came a long way to visit and out of all of the places they could have gone, they chose here.  I guess that stuck with me.

    When Daytona Beach was the preferred college students' wild, "Spring Break" destination, the city curtailed the Spring Breakers to try to preserve the image of Daytona Beach as a family vacation destination. But the beach could not compete with the theme parks in Orlando when it came to the families, so Daytona Beach lost most of the Spring Breakers to other more accommodating towns like Panama City and Cancun, without gaining the family vacationers it was hoping for.        

    Some time ago, bikers made Daytona Beach the place for motorcycle enthusiasts with a bikeweek rally unrivaled by any, other than possibly the Sturgis rally. Daytona Beach nearly repeated the Spring Break mistake because of the noisy pipes on the motorcycles.  I do not know the details of how this one time "serious issue" was resolved but thankfully, the bikers remain.   

    Daytona Beach will always be the the "Birth Place of Nascar", and given Nascar's recent investments and upgrades to the International Speedway, it is safe to say they will be here for some time to come.

    I don't have the answers to what ails Daytona Beach, nor can I predict the future.  I must say that a little common sense goes a long way.  With all of the money spent by Daytona Beach and Volusia County on consultants and plans, and all of the concessions given to any "developer" who comes along with a promise and a smile, there is something being missed.  How many residents who live in Daytona Beach, love it?  How many who are quick to argue and point out what is wrong with Daytona Beach, go out of their way to be welcoming to tourists and visitors, or shout from  the rooftops what is right about Daytona Beach?  Please, Daytona Beach and Volusia County elected officials, don't hire another consultant.  I could put together a list in a week of residents who have varied ideas and positions, but a few things in common, like a love for Daytona Beach, a desire to see her flourish, and a hospitality that comes naturally to one who loves their hometown!



                 


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