On Thursday afternoon Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held it's November meeting.
Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Jim Ricketts gave a preliminary summary of the 2009 season. For the year to date, occupancy is down 1.03%, led by a huge drop in the Northampton Boulevard Corridor. September occupancy was up 4.7% over a year ago, so we may be turning the corner. The per capita income of our visitors continues to increase.
Captain Tony Zucaro, commander of VBPD's 2nd Precinct, covered Resort Area policing. Arrests were down in 2009. The only major problem 2nd Precinct had to deal with was the Peppermint Beach Club, which recently surrendered it's ABC license. There are over 130 establishments with ABC licenses at the Oceanfront, and VBPD is working with them to improve dealing with habitual problem children.
Probably the biggest news of the day was that a Resolution reported out of the GREEN Committee was passed unanimously by the full RAC. The Resolution advocates that Virginia Beach study offshore wind as an alternative energy source, including it's potential impact on government facilities. (Yes, the word "radar" came up.)
The amusing item of the day was The Hippo, a proposed inflatable large water slide that would be placed on the beach. There are a number of issues. First, while only 4-5 feet high most of it's length, the tower would be 36 feet high. That makes placement a problem. Both Staff sketches involve putting it in front of a public park, either at 17th Street or 24th Street. That would prevent it from blocking the views from hotel rooms or condos. Second, is the possible proliferation of such ventures. As a rule, the City of Virginia Beach does not allow businesses other than beach umbrella and chair rentals onto the beach itself. Would it be opening a Pandora's Box? Third, given the capital outlay for purchasing the slide ($80,000), the usual matrix wouldn't be observed. Rather than having an one year pilot program before granting a franchise, a five year franchise would be granted off the bat. The RAC's Resort Investment Committee (RIC) endorsed on Wednesday, with the full RAC endorsing to study it at Thursday's meeting, with Commissioners Henry Ryto and Art Webb abstaining.