On August 4, 2020, the Volusia County Council directed staff to “review” parking fines.
Actually, it was brought up by Councilwoman/Candidate Deb Denys during her droning comments at the end of the meeting. According to Deb, beachside residents in South New Smyrna Beach were tired of people parking on their street when visiting the beach.
Of course, Old Ed Kelley was all over it. . .
So, this week the County Attorney’s office – working under the cloak of “Thriving Communities,” “Economic & Financial Vitality,” (for who?), and “Excellence in Government,” used Ms. Denys’ request to cobble together a completely revised parking ordinance which more than doubled parking fines countywide.
I suddenly got the queasy feeling the whole damn thing had been choreographed in advance. . .
At Tuesday’s County Council meeting, Bill Redman, a lone homeowner who is apparently tired of beach-goers parking in front of his Bethune Beach home addressed the Council, and, suddenly, we had an all-out crisis on our hands. . .
“The county has increased the number of ‘No Parking’ signs down through there, but it doesn’t seem to matter. They’ll park there anyway because the statement is the fine is so small, they don’t care.”
Did I mention that Mr. Redman is a long-time government solid waste contract administrator and consultant who, with his wife Jean, recently served as members of the “Host Committee” for an October 1st fundraiser in support of Deb Denys of Volusia County Chair?
That’s in addition to the $1,000 donation Redman Consulting Group paid to Ms. Denys’ campaign on April 16, 2020. . .
In my view, in keeping with her desire to kiss the sizeable backsides of her wealthy NSB base – or prove her willingness to bend over backwards for anyone willing to stuff cash into her campaign account – Ms. Denys did what she does best and crowed in her cartoonish “the house is afire” urgency, “We have a real issue here. I’m going to recommend a $50 fine.”
According to Dishonest Deb’s heavy-handed mimicry of Mr. Redman, it is easier for someone to pay the current $15.00 parking fine than it is to purchase a beach access pass for $20.00. . .
Why is that?
However, when Councilwoman Heather Post tried her best to discuss the possibility of lowering the cost of beach access passes for Volusia County residents and increasing it for out-of-county visitors – our doddering fool of a lame duck County Chair, Ed Kelley, rudely shut her down – nonsensically scolding Ms. Post that her question wasn’t relative to the discussion.
Just as he did on August 4 when Ms. Post tried to seek a common sense solution to the parking/beach access problem.
In fact, Chairman Kelley went so far as to quash Ms. Post’s attempt to receive information from county staff on beach access fees – further hamstringing her ability to even discuss the issue outside some do-nothing “workshop.”
In typical fashion – while Dishonest Deb preened for the camera, and Old Ed gazed to the heavens, mouth agape, as though Deb’s screeching was coming from the burning bush – Councilwoman Post was essentially told to sit down and shut up while the important people discussed business.
Fortunately, Deb’s politically motivated push to punish Volusia County residents with a $50 fine at a time when a trip to the beach is all many can afford, died for lack of a second. . .
Eventually, the majority – with Ms. Post casting the lone dissenting vote – more than doubled the cost of parking fines in Volusia County from $15.00 to $35.00 – with a shameless money-grubbing supplemental fine of $10.00, ostensibly to fund school crossing guards.
During a global pandemic – with government-imposed mandates crushing small businesses, leaving thousands unemployed, suffering a broken unemployment system, and standing in breadlines for sustenance – what does $45.00 mean to working families in Volusia County right now?
It means gasoline for the car, co-pays for a doctor visit for a disabled child, school lunches, the difference between nutritious food and cheaper alternatives, paying the electric bill, a seniors medication, diapers, milk, clothes, and keeping the water on, etc.
Considering that Volusia County has all but fenced off and eliminated beachside parking in places like Ormond-by-the-Sea – that can get expensive for anyone who runs afoul of this new county ordinance.
Now, I am not suggesting that Volusia County authorities turn a blind eye toward parking violations – especially handicapped parking ordinances – and we all know how annoying it can be having some noisy family park their Vista Cruiser outside our beachfront cottage – but the timing seems wrong on this one.
Or maybe it is the perfect time if you happen to be running for Volusia County Chair and need to appear “responsive” and “effectual”?
Look, Deb’s churlish political grandstanding aside, with so many of our neighbors hurting – desperately seeking inexpensive and safe diversions for their families – perhaps we could have found a way to work cooperatively to accommodate nontraditional off-beach parking while limiting the inconvenience to those enjoying their beach homes?
This increase isn’t just appliable to Flagler Avenue or Bethune Beach – it now extends countywide – and, despite Old Ed’s feeble-minded obstruction – the time is ripe to begin a discussion on lowering or eliminating the exorbitant fees for daily and annual beach access passes for Volusia County residents – and reversing the piss-poor beach management strategies that have gotten us all into this intractable mess.
In my view, this latest overreach proves that Dishonest Deb Denys could give two-shits about your family or mine during this difficult time – so long as she can drum up another reason to play to her uber-wealthy base at election time.
It is time to show this arrogant blowhard the door.
Please vote Jeff Brower for Volusia County Chair.
Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal