Beach poles behind Florida hotel block driving in Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Driving on the seaside sand, a long-lived tradition in Daytona Beach, is now threatened along one short stretch where poles are blocking any vehicles.

The Hard Rock Hotel erected the poles along a 410-foot (124-meter) section of beach to prevent driving there. The chair of the Volusia County Council, Jeff Brower, has made beach driving a priority since his election in November.

Driving is permitted on about a third of Volusia County’s 47-mile (75-kilometer) coastline. It’s been a part of the region since the early days of the automobile, when a car nicknamed the “Bullet” zipped down the hard-packed sand in 1903 at a then-astounding 69 miles (111 kilometers) an hour.

Brower told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that the poles are treated with harsh chemicals that could harm beachgoers and that he won’t appear at any events at the Hard Rock until they are removed.

“I can’t in good conscience support it when my constituents don’t support it,” Brower said. “I think it would be a tremendous gesture on the part of the Hard Rock to remove those.”

Brower now intends to meet next week with the Hard Rock’s owner, Abbas Abdulhussein, and its general manager. A local group called Sons of the Beach had planned a driving rally to coincide with the meeting, but that has been called off.

“I think it’s important Jeff has a successful term as chairman and we don’t want to get in the way,” said Paul Zimmerman, president of Sons of the Beach.

Abdulhussein has declined comment until he meets with Brower.

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