The 14-member committee was formed after The News-Journal published a series of stories in April 2017 about Daytona's beachside struggles with blight, rampant vacancies and stagnation.
DAYTONA BEACH — Nearly a year after they started meeting, the 14 members of the Beachside Redevelopment Committee are ready to settle on a final list of recommendations to improve the peninsula from Ormond Beach down to Daytona Beach Shores.
The temporary committee will meet for the last time at 5:30 p.m. Monday in a meeting room at Daytona Beach International Airport. In addition to finalizing their recommendations, they'll also discuss code enforcement liens on property tax bills, using the tourist tax to subsidize music concerts at the Ocean Center and coordinating projects with the Florida Department of Transportation.
The final recommendations will be presented to the County Council, which formed the committee last spring, at one of the Council's meetings in May or June. Committee members will also be able to give presentations to city officials if they so choose.
It will then be up to the county government, local governments and private sector officials to decide what, if anything, they want to pursue among the recommendations.
At their second-to-last meeting in March, committee members put the finishing touches on a lengthy report packed with recommendations they have come up with to improve the 10.5 miles of beachside that includes showpiece gateways to the beach and State Road A1A.
The long-awaited recommendations they were tasked with compiling include a plethora of specific ideas, projects, policy suggestions and strategies to make the area better for locals, visitors and business owners. Suggestions include everything from making redevelopment rules less strict to offering grants for property improvements to establishing a transit system between Seabreeze and International Speedway boulevards to encourage visitors to pop into businesses throughout the area.
There are also ideas that call for making the beach more of a year-round destination, improving the coordination among the cities and county in redevelopment efforts and revenue searches, more fiercely protecting the surrounding residential neighborhoods and redefining the area as one with plenty of recreational and entertainment activities that don't revolve around Spring Break.
Committee members talked about the need for more concerts and activities, even if it means helping to cover costs, which happened for years when the London Symphony Orchestra regularly performed in Daytona Beach.
Committee members hope they've come up with a guide that will be used, unlike countless other studies in Volusia County over the years that started gathering dust not long after the ink dried.
"The critical issue to all of the Beachside Redevelopment Committee members is implementation and followup," states the draft letter from the committee to the County Council. "We believe that the momentum is building and success can be attained."
The letter to the County Council, which could undergo some tweaks before it's formally submitted in May or June, goes on to say that committee members will continue to work with both private investors and local governments to ensure that their recommendations are put to use.
The 14-member committee was formed after The News-Journal published a series of stories in April 2017 about Daytona's beachside struggles with blight, rampant vacancies and stagnation. The recommendations in the report respond to many of those challenges, and stress that Daytona's core beachside area between Seabreeze Boulevard and Silver Beach Avenue needs help immediately.
A few committee members said strengthening code enforcement in that core area needs to be toward the top of the list. Specific ideas in the report include increasing code officers' presence, making sure homestead exemptions are properly issued and reducing the time lag for code compliance.
An idea that the committee made very high priority would tackle blight from another angle. The idea calls for sending out a request for proposals to use city- and county-owned land between the Ocean Center and Main Street for a mixed-use development that could include residences, a convention hotel, parking garage and public space.
Also discussed is a section of the report that suggests improvements for the beachside's main corridors: State Road A1A, Granada Boulevard, Oakridge Boulevard, Seabreeze Boulevard and Main Street. The report suggests things such as new landscaping, roadways, medians, lighting, crosswalks, traffic signals and underground utilities.
Some of the corridors are also targeted for improvements such as enhanced code enforcement, increased facade grants, stepped up policing, incentives for residential redevelopment and quarterly meetings with neighborhood groups.
The corridor improvements call for creating some similar designs and themes for all of the roadways. On A1A, ideas include improving the pedestrian space up and down the road with a minimum setback for development, calming traffic along A1A with things such as raised pedestrian crossings and narrower road widths, and limiting the hours for trucks parked in the street to unload business supplies to early morning for safe travel. There's also a suggestion to develop coordinated design for lighting on all bridges, crosswalks and regulatory signage.
Another section of the report gets into government rules that can sound dull or complicated, but have huge impacts on what gets built or refurbished, and what doesn't. The upshot is that owners of decades-old buildings sometimes need breaks on code requirements to improve their property.