Crimes and Courts

No Trespassing Private Beach

New beach law would make it harder for the public to access some beaches

A bill waiting for Governor Rick Scott’s signature will make it harder for the public to access parts of the beach owned by homeowners and resorts.

Currently, the public is entitled to walk on the beach below the high tide line. However, that line is determined by the waves of the ocean and waves are never consistent from day to day.

High tide lines determine the private owner’s property on the beach and they can do what they want with it like posts signs or at some locations have bodyguards patrol the sand. The borders are often vague to the naked eye. The inconsistency has caused some fighting between landowners and the public.

Local governments like county commissioners in Walton County, Florida, passed customary use laws, which would allow all private beaches to be accessible to the public. The customary use laws have resulted in dozens of legal complaints filed against Walton County.

The new bill would force local governments to go before a judge before they can pass these laws. What the local governments have to prove is the beach in question has always been used as a public beach before it was bought.

Proponents of the bill argue it helps private property rights and opponents argue it undermines the authority of local governments.

So, what do you think?