Beachfront Owners Sue Sheriff and County for Closing Beaches

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by leeboy, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. leeboy

    leeboy Beach Lover

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    More dirty dealing by Huckabee and friends to bankrupt our county.

    Property owners challenge Walton beach closure

    Arguing that they are being prevented from using their “backyards,” oceanfront property owners are asking a federal judge to block a Walton County ordinance that has closed beaches amid the COVID-19 crisis.

    WALTON LAWSUITDownload

    The property owners filed the lawsuit and a request for an injunction Monday in federal court in Pensacola. It came after numerous local governments across the state closed beaches to prevent potential spread of the disease — and as Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted ordering statewide beach closures.

    The lawsuit alleges a Walton County ordinance passed last week is unconstitutional on a series of grounds, including that it is an unconstitutional “taking” of property without compensation and violates privacy and due-process rights. The case focuses on how the ordinance affects the rights of oceanfront property owners, rather than issues related to the general public.

    “The county’s ordinance forces family members into a confined space within their house rather than allow them to social distance and recreate in their sandy backyard,” a memorandum filed with the lawsuit said. “Or it forces them to public locations to recreate potentially closer to many other persons increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. Either way, it is counterproductive. And it is beyond reasonable dispute that any hypothetical, negligible benefit conjured by those who passed the Walton County ordinance cannot possibly outweigh the profound trammeling of the present plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.”

    Under Florida law, privately owned beach property generally extends to a point known as the mean high-water line. The lawsuit also, however, points to property owners’ “littoral” rights, which provide access to the water.

    The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance improperly applies to the private property, including allowing the Walton County Sheriff’s Office to enforce the restrictions against homeowners. Plaintiffs include former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

    Beach closures have been a closely watched issue as Florida has grappled with the novel coronavirus, which causes the highly contagious and deadly COVID-19 respiratory disease. Images of crowds of beachgoers, including spring breakers, flashed across the country last month as the numbers of COVID-19 cases began to escalate, leading to calls for beach closures.

    The Walton County property owners’ lawsuit was filed as a Leon County circuit judge considers a case filed by a Walton County attorney, Daniel Uhlfelder, that seeks to force DeSantis to close beaches statewide. Judge Kevin Carroll is slated to hold a hearing in that case Tuesday afternoon.

    Walton County, between Panama City and Destin, has seen a building boom in recent years, with multimillion-dollar homes popping up along its beaches. It also has been a battleground about a controversial 2018 state law that dealt with public access to beaches.

    The newly filed lawsuit cites an executive order that DeSantis issued last week directing Floridians to stay at home. The executive order includes a series of exceptions, including for recreational activities such as walking, biking, fishing, running and swimming.

    The lawsuit alleges that the Walton County ordinance violates the executive order because it prevents the oceanfront homeowners from fishing and swimming from their properties. It also describes the ordinance, which revamped an earlier version, as “arbitrary and capricious.”

    “The amended ordinance purports to be designed to ‘prevent the spread of COVID-19’ yet it has the opposite effect,” the lawsuit contends. “The amended ordinance prevents the plaintiffs, many of whom own residences along the beach, from utilizing their own backyards to quarantine or stay safe at home. The chances of a family or landowner catching or spreading COVID-19 is far less in his or her own private backyard (where no one else should be less they be trespassing) than traveling to the grocery store or hardware store or other essential business.”
     
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  2. Jenksy

    Jenksy Beach Fanatic

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    What do you want to bet they all think COVID-19 is an impeachment hoax?
     
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  3. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    What a travesty for our community.
     
  4. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    Another example of the ol' Huckster and friends thumbing their noses at the rules (first in their home states and now here) and then using their buddies in the courts/government to give them a way around it. Wonder why they went all the way to Pcola to file,why not Walton Co. or Tallahassee?
     
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  5. gumby

    gumby Beach Lover

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    Wow, unbelievable. These homeowners sound just like adult babies crying because they can`t get their way. The county and sheriff stood up to them and told them no so they call their momma and daddy and sue. I applaud the county for stepping up and doing the right thing.
    WAKE UP PEOPLE. We`re in the middle of a pandemic.
    This has nothing to do with taking anybody`s property or property rights. It`s unfortunate ya`ll live on the beach. The beach seems to be an issue right now with some, not all private owners, inviting groups of friends to the beach and carrying on like there is nothing going on.
    This will pass so for now, step up and be an adult for once and do the right thing. STAY OFF THE BEACH.
     
  6. Stone Cold J

    Stone Cold J Beach Lover

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    When the BCC asked about that specific issue at the meeting there was mention of social distancing issues in grocery stores and take out lines but zero examples or evidence that any beach front owners opened their property to the public or violated any gathering and social distancing rules "like there is nothing going on". There was also a warning by the County lawyer that excluding a homeowner on their own deeded property boundaries if they fully were fully complying with State restrictions, would be challenged in court (and it has).

    Question: does the current rules the BCC have in place prevent a non-beach front owner in Walton County from being outside on their deeded property boundaries (front yard and back yard) if they fully abide by State restrictions (no gathering of more than 10 people and social distancing)?
     
  7. bob bob

    bob bob Beach Fanatic

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    I am sympathetic for beachfront owners told they can't go on the beach. But I hope you agree it is a small, temporary sacrifice for the common good of your community. The closing is only about discouraging travel here and keeping all of us safer.

    And give us a break man. The backyard argument is lame. You know the beach backyard is a totally different deal. Legally? Constitutionally? Probably not, but step up to the plate and take one for the team. (It's OK if your tan fades a bit, there is an excellent spray tan product available that'll see you through. It might have a bit of an orange tint but it will allow you to continue to glow).

    Don't be a dick like the Huckster. That is a creep you don't want to be associated with in any way, on any day.
     
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  8. ShallowsNole

    ShallowsNole Beach Fanatic

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    Federal Court for us is in Pensacola. Grrrr. :poop:
     
  9. ShallowsNole

    ShallowsNole Beach Fanatic

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    If my backyard was a place that out-of-town visitors flocked to, thereby bringing us their cooties, and such visitors being seen in my backyard causes visitors who visit the public beach to complain to our already over-worked sheriff's deputies and beach enforcement...Yes, I would agree for it to be closed, for the common good of the community.

    I wish our ordinance was amended to read like Bay County's, where the beachfront owner themselves can use the beach behind their homes, but they have to prove their name in on the deed. And then it is only them...not adult children, not their mother, not any other relatives, and certainly no renters.
     
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  10. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    I really wish you had the guts to post your name. I have known Mike for years and he is one of the smartest, kindest , most caring person I know. If is never afraid to show his face on TV to give his opinion, never afraid to help the people in our community that are less fortunate than others. But most of all he is not ashamed to stand up for what he believes and not hide behind a fake name of fake LLC. Not sure why you havt to use a fake name and like others on this site most of you have more than one. You are are hiding in the dark afraid to come out. Speaks worlds about you.
     
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  11. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Says the woman who posted under a variety of fake names for years.

    Mike Huckabee is just as gross as your buddy Matt Gaetz.
     
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  12. bob bob

    bob bob Beach Fanatic

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    I'm worried about being sent to a bible camp to have my gender identity re-affirmed.
     
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  13. EZ4144

    EZ4144 Beach Lover

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    I don't doubt you like that he's suing the county. The rest of us are not so easily fooled.

    He's a sheister who is in politics for the money and steals money from people in the name of religion. A founding member of the Tea Party and Fox talking head fooling people like you into thinking he's on your side. The worst sort of politician there is.

    His $3mil home (built with campaign funds and church cons) was subject of a Reuters investigation, which reported that it lay on a severely eroding beach, where state regulations wouldn't have allowed him to build. However, permits were approved after he agreed to move the homesite back by 5 feet. As Reuters wrote, Huckabee and his neighbors have "been able to work around some of the most restrictive beach development laws in the country."

    He accused Jay-Z of being Beyonce's pimp.

    Huckabee really went off the rails when he decided to defend Josh Duggar after the news broke about Duggar’s teenage fondling of his little sisters and his molestation of an older girl. Duggar acknowledged wrongdoing and resigned from the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council. Huckabee, who once compared Arkansas Times senior editor Max Brantley to Jeffrey Dahmer, attacked the “bloodthirsty press” for revealing Duggar’s history of sexual abuse, because, after all, Josh said he was sorry and look at what a good guy he’s become, promoting “family values” and going after heretical queers.

    In 1996, when a retarded 15-year-old child became pregnant after she was raped by her stepfather, Huckabee violated federal law and refused to allow Medicaid to pay the $430 cost of an abortion for her. She did eventually get an abortion, thanks to private funds.

    Mike and Janet Huckabee, coming from the parson tradition, believed they were due the many love offerings given them by their political backers. Like the $70,000 in furnishings for the Governor’s Mansion from Northeast Arkansas planter Boe Adams that they once claimed was theirs and not the Mansion’s.

    Advised by the governor’s chief of staff that the $60,000 the legislature set aside to run the Mansion was the governor’s to use as he pleased, the Huckabees spent the money on personal items, including groceries, panty hose, dry cleaning for their jeans and buckets of Velveeta cheese.

    Huckabee, in total, accepted 314 gifts. He did not have to provide the value for 187 gifts that came in during his first three years; his later gifts were worth more than $150,000, according to an Associated Press report.
     
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  14. 30A Skunkape

    30A Skunkape Mr. Small Box

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    Aw, c'mon, I'm sure Mike is the affable guy driving the golf cart at Destiny Worship Center, nothing to do with getting the HB 631 ball rollin' fella he says he is. :sarc:
     
  15. Stone Cold J

    Stone Cold J Beach Lover

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    Let's see if we can actually discuss an issue without name calling and keep to facts and not personalities of the people.

    Bob, do you believe that during the pandemic, the ONLY people that should be allowed in Walton County should be ONLY full time residents? No visitors, outside workers, no 2nd home owners (including non-beach home owners).

    Do you think restricting some owners from using their back yard (limited to the ones that have deeded title that includes property boundaries from the dune/vegetation line to the MWH which the BCC defined as "Beach" in the 2016 ordinances), will make owners that are already at SRB leave? Do you think it will eliminate others (assuming they abide by travel restrictions and social distancing) to use their SRB home? Should a home owner that has a home NOT on the beach still be allowed to use it if they have a home somewhere else?

    Let's leave out of the argument for now IF the BCC has the legal right to close private property to the home owner. Based on comments at the meeting, the BCC lawyer did not think the BCC had legal authority to close private property to owners and that it most likely would be challenged in court, which it did. This is not a case of closing private property to the general public but to the property owner. Base on the court filings it appears property owner's lawyers agreed with the county lawyer that the BCC may not have the legal authority (will see what the court says).

    BTW, there were NO examples of where any home owner violated the gathering guidelines, but more of a impression that if home owners could ONLY use their front yard they would be discouraged from coming to SRB. There were several owners that spoke at the BCC meeting that were already in SRB. Should they be restricted from using their back yard if there were already there weeks before the vote?

    Yesterday in Colorado, Matt Mooney was arrested in front of his 6 year old daughter at the park for playing Tball with her (he was released). There was no one else at the park other than his wife and 6 year old daughter. The parks were not closed and Matt did not violate the social distance guidelines (in this case was limited to groups smaller than 5 people). I guess the police thought their playing Tball might encourage others to gather?

    Shouldn't the issue be if someone fully complies with mandated social gathering restrictions, even if they are at a park with their 6-year old or in their own back yard, and not based if someone does or does not like the person?
     
  16. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    So one wrongful arrest should just end social distancing?

    Don't you have some door handles to lick or something constructive?
     
  17. Jim Tucker

    Jim Tucker Beach Fanatic

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    I'm very happy there aren't a million people here from Atlanta running amok this week. Closing the beach is a big reason.
     
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  18. Poppaj

    Poppaj SoWal Insider

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    There were others in the park and he was released after 15 to 20 minutes with an apology. It does not make what happened right, but It does demonstrate the difficulty we and local governments are facing for lack of a single national policy.
     
  19. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    I think that would be the best way to do it also. Because I bet 75% or more of the beachfront homes are listed in LLCs and "trusts". You can tell that by the names of the BFOs in the CU lawsuit.
     
  20. lazin&drinkin

    lazin&drinkin Beach Lover

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    While one might wonder about you, based on many of your comments, this one re LLC's and "trusts" removes all doubt. Are you a charter member of the know nothings, or do you simply have nothing useful to do with your time? Pray tell us why how land is titled bears on this discussion.

    And for those rhetorically stoning Mike Huckabee, I've known him for >20 years, and he is the very admirable human being Suzanne says he is. If all our pols, indeed, all our citizens, were like Mike, we'd have a much better world.
     

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