• County leaders approve moving forward on Desert Inn beach driving ban proposal


    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Desert Inn has been plagued with crime and been dubbed an eyesore in Daytona Beach for years, but that could soon change.
    Plans are in the works to make the hotel thrive again, but it could come as a cost to some beach-goers.
    The hotel owners said they want the county to ban people from driving on the beach behind the hotel. That would close off about a 900-foot section of beach to traffic.
    That suggestion created a lot of discussion among county leaders Thursday, but most spoke in favor of it if it means a change to the hotel, which many believe will be a catalyst for future improvements in the area.
    County leaders did not shy away from expressing their opinions of the infamous inn.
    "The Desert Inn is a dump. It's a horrible situation," said Volusia County Council member Josh Wagner.
    Officials with the hotel's new owner, Humphrey Realty Group, are in talks with Westin Hotels and formally presented plans to council members. The plans were met with strong support from the council and other community leaders.
    "Think of what that would mean to our reputation. Think of what that would mean to the value of real estate," said area business owner Hyatt Brown.
    But the real estate company wants the county to ban people from driving on the beach behind the hotel. They said, in exchange the owners would pay to build a public parking lot on State Road A1A, across the street from the hotel.
    County leaders expressed concern about the danger of beach-goers crossing busy S.R. A1A, which has a steady flow of traffic.
    "That will be critical. I've said that to my manager, that we need to address safe crossing," said County Council member Pat Northey.
    That didn't stop leaders who voted 6-1 to move forward with a plan that could take cars off the beach near the old Desert Inn and it may not stop there.
    A group representing the Hard Rock told Channel 9's Blaine Tolison that they're looking into the idea of removing some beach driving.
    Some leaders said the county needs to purchase more land for off-beach parking.

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