Just when you think things on Volusia County beaches can’t get worse. . .
Enter a few self-absorbed residents of the Condo Canyons of Daytona Beach Shores – the Halifax areas own “Heaven’s Waiting Room” – where even folks who sleep and rise in beachfront luxury can find something to bitch about.
I’ve lived in the Halifax area for over 50-years now, and some of my fondest memories are of going to the beach with my grandfather and a day-old loaf of bread.
We would toss small pieces to seagulls and little shorebirds, then laugh and marvel at their aerobatics as they dodged and darted, snatching the crumbs in flight. I always tried to give my allotment to the timid ones who waited patently out of the fray – only to have some aggressive bastard swoop in and grab it from him.
It was fun.
If you’ve never taken a child to the beach and fed the seagulls, I suggest you do it soon.
While you still can.
As a friend of mine recently pointed out, most bad public policy begins with a “condo owner’s complaint.”
In this case, a few beach-goers who enjoy passing the time feeding birds have found themselves crossways with some condominium owners in Daytona Beach Shores.
According to the condo dwellers, this quaint activity results in the birds swarming their pool deck, perching on railings, wading in the pool – and, like birds are wont to do – shitting anywhere, and on anything, they damn well feel like. (Kind of like birds do whether someone feeds them or not.)
And the denizens of Condo Valley want it stopped. Now.
To take their point to the nth, the offended homeowners have enlisted a “national consortium of bird scientists” to help make their case.
According to an article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, some ninny from something called the American Ornithologist Council, claims that feeding bread scraps to shorebirds is harmful to their health – turning our feathered friends into “junk food addicts” – and depriving them of nutrients, etc.
Look, I’m no Washington-based ornithologist – but do you have any idea the kind of things these birds stuff themselves on at the Volusia County landfill?
Once you’ve seen what they can do to a dirty disposable diaper, you might find that a few Merita Butter Bread heels might be the least of their problems. . .
In typical fashion, our freshman County Councilwoman, Billie Wheeler – a resident of Daytona Beach Shores – has immediately knee-jerked in favor of new signs, laws and regulations.
I mean, if a handful of bored retirees in some high-rise condominium are bothered by birds-being-birds on their veranda – then the only reasonable solution is to ban every man, woman and child who lives or vacations here from bringing a bag of bread and feeding birds on all 47-miles of Volusia County beaches.
Of course, Ms. Wheeler claims she isn’t referring to a child or a family who drop the occasional chip or crumb. Hell, that would be “unreasonable.”
My condolences to any beach police officer who must sort that one out:
“I saw the Wonder Bread bag, sir. It was in plain view – don’t make me get a search warrant.”
“That’s not my bread, officer. Aunt Betty brought it for sandwiches, honest – my kid only dropped a chip, he didn’t know any better. Actually, the bird was the aggressor.”
“Was the Taser really necessary – the boy’s six?”
“Shut your mouth, son. If I wasn’t in uniform, I’d split your skull with the butt of this revolver quicker than you can say ‘police brutality.’ Today it’s white bread, tomorrow a leftover Cheddar Bay biscuit – the next thing you know these poor gulls are hooked, selling themselves for Cheez-it crackers up by the Ocean Deck. You sick bird-feeding bastards are all alike.”
I agree with my friend, Paul Zimmerman – a long-time beach advocate who has worked tirelessly in the public interest for reasonable and inclusive beach policies.
“I would say no to any more rules on the beach, I don’t know why they would remove feeding — just one more activity in which some residents and taxpayers find enjoyment.”
He’s right you know.
It’s high time our elected representatives understand that we don’t need a new law or regulation every time someone gets uncomfortable. And we damn sure don’t need another sign anywhere near the beach.
The strand is so polluted with signage the natural beauty of the shoreline no longer exists.
Signs and sandwich boards announcing the rules are the first thing a beach-goer encounters when he or she pays their $10-bucks at the toll kiosk – and it doesn’t get any better once you’re down on the sand.
Is it possible that, for once, our elected and appointed officials could just keep it simple – perhaps ask the bird feeders to move a few hundred yards – and tell the condo owners to lighten up a bit?
Maybe ask them to focus on the Big Picture problems of condo-living, like the ostentatious decoration on their neighbor’s door – or the grandchildren in B-23 who overstay the deed-restricted visitation limit – or those miscreants who insist on leaving their sandy flip-flops in the hallway?
Hey, Billie – just a suggestion: Not every tempest in a teapot requires the full force and might of government coercion and compulsion.
You’re not debating the findings of the DBS Beautification Review Consortium anymore.
Now, your decisions effect all of us.
Can’t we simply suggest that people use their intellectual and moral faculties to find simple resolutions to isolated issues – like birds shitting on a pool deck – before we tell a kid in Ormond-by-the-Sea that he’s going to jail – or receiving a summons – if he tosses some bread to a bird like his grandparents did?
My God. What is this place becoming?
What are we becoming?