Customary Use and Our 30A Legacy | SoWal Forum - South Walton Florida
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Reggie Gaskins

Beach Lover
Oct 4, 2018
153
259
58
Blue Mountain Beach
upload_2019-4-25_8-30-52.jpeg
When you see a PCB or Destin bumper sticker, what thought immediately comes to mind? Probably same for all of us with any time spent here - nice, but it ain’t 30A! Do you remember why you started renting/visiting here? What was it? Remember when you bought your first 30A property? Why here?
Because it was DIFFERENT, right? Remember the words you used to describe it to family and friends as you invited them here? “Private” “Quiet” “Intimate” “Less crowded”. That wasn’t by accident. The entire genetic code of Sowal beaches is because of the private ownership and neighborhood beach personalities.
You could rent “private beach”. You could buy “private beach”. There wasn’t a free for all frat party atmosphere because of unlimited public beach access on the sands. That behavior was regulated by the privately owned property where such behavior was immediately squelched. And yet, by custom, no one was ever “Kicked off” of private beaches because owners don’t do that unless bad actors abuse the privilege.
Walton County has always had more than 50% PUBLIC beach. Still does. That hasn’t changed. There are now deliberately misleading fear tactics out there with scary words like “Quiet Title” and “Privatization”, neither of which have affected one single square inch of public beach, not one. Yet, the mob mentality, orchestrated by local carnival barkers eager for fame and notoriety, and dollars, have mislead the citizens and deliberately tried to divide the community in a shell game of Customary Use.
The fact is that the county outran the capabilities of local Commissioners to plan for growth 20 years ago, and we haven’t improved that talent to deal with it even yet. So the County, in failing to plan beach availability, tried to illegally claim private property as public, without following the laws requiring judicial oversight. The local Good Ol’ Boys overreached their authority and got caught by the adults in Tallahassee. So they then decides to sue 4,800 of Sowal citizens to take their property. That’s right, your tax money is being spent, and a lot of it, to SUE almost 5,000 of your neighbors, and steal what they agreed to purchase at a premium, and have a deed to prove it.
Don’t blame them please, they didn’t want or ask for this fight. They live here and care for these beaches just like you and me. Go meet them, they are truly the eclectic fabric of 30A. The signs they had to put up are just in defense of this new orchestrated public attack against them.
The bottom line is this: The minute you release the public to occupy all of Sowal beaches, you IMMEDIATELY get nasty Destin and PCB problems. How will you feel about that 30A sticker then? Nostalgic? Me too.
 

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FactorFiction

Beach Fanatic
Feb 18, 2016
494
409
View attachment 76395
When you see a PCB or Destin bumper sticker, what thought immediately comes to mind? Probably same for all of us with any time spent here - nice, but it ain’t 30A! Do you remember why you started renting/visiting here? What was it? Remember when you bought your first 30A property? Why here?
Because it was DIFFERENT, right? Remember the words you used to describe it to family and friends as you invited them here? “Private” “Quiet” “Intimate” “Less crowded”. That wasn’t by accident. The entire genetic code of Sowal beaches is because of the private ownership and neighborhood beach personalities.
You could rent “private beach”. You could buy “private beach”. There wasn’t a free for all frat party atmosphere because of unlimited public beach access on the sands. That behavior was regulated by the privately owned property where such behavior was immediately squelched. And yet, by custom, no one was ever “Kicked off” of private beaches because owners don’t do that unless bad actors abuse the privilege.
Walton County has always had more than 50% PUBLIC beach. Still does. That hasn’t changed. There are now deliberately misleading fear tactics out there with scary words like “Quiet Title” and “Privatization”, neither of which have affected one single square inch of public beach, not one. Yet, the mob mentality, orchestrated by local carnival barkers eager for fame and notoriety, and dollars, have mislead the citizens and deliberately tried to divide the community in a shell game of Customary Use.
The fact is that the county outran the capabilities of local Commissioners to plan for growth 20 years ago, and we haven’t improved that talent to deal with it even yet. So the County, in failing to plan beach availability, tried to illegally claim private property as public, without following the laws requiring judicial oversight. The local Good Ol’ Boys overreached their authority and got caught by the adults in Tallahassee. So they then decides to sue 4,800 of Sowal citizens to take their property. That’s right, your tax money is being spent, and a lot of it, to SUE almost 5,000 of your neighbors, and steal what they agreed to purchase at a premium, and have a deed to prove it.
Don’t blame them please, they didn’t want or ask for this fight. They live here and care for these beaches just like you and me. Go meet them, they are truly the eclectic fabric of 30A. The signs they had to put up are just in defense of this new orchestrated public attack against them.
The bottom line is this: The minute you release the public to occupy all of Sowal beaches, you IMMEDIATELY get nasty Destin and PCB problems. How will you feel about that 30A sticker then? Nostalgic? Me too.

WOW! Beautifully explained, Mr. Gaskins! I can't speak for the last 10 years, but 20, 30, 40 years ago and more, this area was a pristine little rural area with incredible charm to go with the beautiful beaches. Growth is expected and welcomed, but unbridled growth is a destroyer.
 

furymom

Beach Lover
May 13, 2008
56
22
Thank you so much for this post. Shame that people on both sides are causing trouble. Working together is the only solution.
 

BlueMtnBeachVagrant

Beach Fanatic
Jun 20, 2005
1,289
375
Reggie, that was a most EXCELLENT post! It exactly defines the way the beach was - and why the way the beach is now.

It truly is indeed hard to stomach the claims from the carnival barkers (no question who they are) such as this so called stealing beach through quiet title for a mere $400?

And the county just sits idly by letting this happen? REALLY?? Oh, and Mark Davis, our previous Walton County attorney, was the attorney of record for some of these beach front owners filing quiet title. I guess he must have helped in this thieving process.

And yet time after time I hear people I know parrot (regurgitate) the same claim - not having a clue as to what they’re talking about when questioned. It just goes to show what the ignorant masses (not necessarily stupid) will believe when it shores up their viewpoint on CU. One would have to think (hope) they will eventually see the truth and understand that they are being duped by these carnival barkers.

Another carnival barker’s favorite saying is that the sand of private beach front property is not taxed because you can’t build on it and therefore it has no value.

I can’t build in my front and back yards because of setbacks here at home. Does that mean my yards have no value? Does that mean I should have to give up my yards to the government at no cost to them and lose my privacy? This is the most ludicrous concept presented by many on the CU front...a sign of desperation.

Of course the judge must chuckle IF he were to hear either of those above nonmaterial arguments. It’s all just a carnival barker’s publicity stunt in hopes of swaying the masses to think that they as a group can sway judicial process.

What’s that..? Yep, I (and many others) think they just love the limelight and will bark if they think there are any people out there who will listen.

I have always professed here on SoWal, that one should be careful what one wishes for (regarding customary use).


All this CU nonsense was stirred up not for the common man who lives in Walton County and wants to simply enjoy the beach with their family but for

Developers who want to continue developing off beach property and advertise endless beach access - never mind parking and other facilities;

Restaurants and businesses who continue to reap the rewards of more tourists;

Commissioners who only want to follow the wishes of their constituents - most of the voters who believe in CU - otherwise they won’t get elected or re-elected;

I almost forgot... the ECAR real estate association representing all the agents in our area - more residences that are built everywhere means more money for the industry. Can you spell hypocrite? Love the agencies who accept private beach front listings but then support CU. One agency had the guts to come down hard on the industry’s position for the absolute right reason.


I’ve owned beach front for almost 20 years and have seen the changes where there was nobody on our beach except the people walking (BTW, no problem with sand walkers) and our own guests and owners. But it is a new day. The only thing that has remained the same is that our deed still shows we own to the MHWL.
 
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bob bob

Beach Fanatic
Mar 29, 2017
453
219
SRB
You're off on your history. South Walton was charming and generous. The "30A" branding and "30A" people are greedy, entitled, spoiled... A different breed.
 
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jodiFL

Beach Fanatic
Jul 28, 2007
2,479
709
SOWAL,FL
I said back in the 80s,when I saw those first listings that said "Private Beach" that it would come to this. The ones at fault here are those realtors that advertised that way just to get a couple hundred thousand more for that piece of beach front. I felt bad for those people duped into that pipe dream until I saw the type of people it was bringing into this area. They didnt care about anyone but themselves, had no desire to get to know the people that already were here "living the dream". All they wanted was to have that little blue 30A sticker and a "BEACH PERMIT" on their vehicle so they could flaunt it back in Birmingham,Atlanta,etc. Well now you have figured out that those friendly, welcoming people that where here first arent a bunch of doormats that are just here to serve your food/drinks,clean your houses, and fix your toilets. We arent going to stand by and let you ruin the dream we were living long before you found 30A.
 

Reggie Gaskins

Beach Lover
Oct 4, 2018
153
259
58
Blue Mountain Beach
Jodi, Help us understand. How are beach front owners treating locals like "doormats"? In my neighborhood, we find that the beach front owners we know are indeed part of the community. They get involved with local charities. They look after the beaches, visitors, and turtle nests. They're the first ones to help vacationers with local information. We never have conflicts with them as long as we're respectful of their property. Most of them are the first ones to step up in time of need. And they're always keeping a low profile about that local philanthropy. They are just as upset about this county and local activist action against them as the rest of us. Remember, they didn't pick this fight. They didn't behave badly. Until people started deliberately coming onto their property and demanding it for themselves. How would you feel if it were your yard?
I said back in the 80s,when I saw those first listings that said "Private Beach" that it would come to this. The ones at fault here are those realtors that advertised that way just to get a couple hundred thousand more for that piece of beach front. I felt bad for those people duped into that pipe dream until I saw the type of people it was bringing into this area. They didnt care about anyone but themselves, had no desire to get to know the people that already were here "living the dream". All they wanted was to have that little blue 30A sticker and a "BEACH PERMIT" on their vehicle so they could flaunt it back in Birmingham,Atlanta,etc. Well now you have figured out that those friendly, welcoming people that where here first arent a bunch of doormats that are just here to serve your food/drinks,clean your houses, and fix your toilets. We arent going to stand by and let you ruin the dream we were living long before you found 30A.
 

James Bentwood

Beach Fanatic
Feb 24, 2005
1,277
416
Jodi, Help us understand. How are beach front owners treating locals like "doormats"? In my neighborhood, we find that the beach front owners we know are indeed part of the community. They get involved with local charities. They look after the beaches, visitors, and turtle nests. They're the first ones to help vacationers with local information. We never have conflicts with them as long as we're respectful of their property. Most of them are the first ones to step up in time of need. And they're always keeping a low profile about that local philanthropy. They are just as upset about this county and local activist action against them as the rest of us. Remember, they didn't pick this fight. They didn't behave badly. Until people started deliberately coming onto their property and demanding it for themselves. How would you feel if it were your yard?
If your group is so thoughtful and kind then you would do what is right. Roping off a beach is indefensible under any circumstance. Period.
 

Jenksy

Beach Fanatic
Oct 25, 2012
891
430
Jodi, Help us understand. How are beach front owners treating locals like "doormats"? In my neighborhood, we find that the beach front owners we know are indeed part of the community. They get involved with local charities. They look after the beaches, visitors, and turtle nests. They're the first ones to help vacationers with local information. We never have conflicts with them as long as we're respectful of their property. Most of them are the first ones to step up in time of need. And they're always keeping a low profile about that local philanthropy. They are just as upset about this county and local activist action against them as the rest of us. Remember, they didn't pick this fight. They didn't behave badly. Until people started deliberately coming onto their property and demanding it for themselves. How would you feel if it were your yard?
The beach is not your yard. The beach belongs to mankind. If you don't believe it then you are part of the problem and should leave.
 

FloridaBeachBum

Beach Fanatic
Feb 9, 2017
463
112
Santa Rosa Beach
Unfortunately, no customary use facts or rational reason to the contrary will persuade the ignorant. Does any legal doctrine of customary use include the affect on the local economy? What if beachfront property owners prevail? Our family have owned beachfront for many decades. I for one will enforce my property rights we have had (since Walton became a county and Florida a state) and have now (as shown by the 2015 Sheriff's trespass SOP) to the fullest extent of the law after beachfront owners have to spend their money, and millions of tax dollars, to defend Constitutionally protected property rights. I have never felt that way until 2015 when the Walton BCC and Larry Jones started this assault on private property rights by declaring customary use without due process - a process that was corrected by FL Statue 163.035.
Without FS163.035 property owners would have had to be Plaintiffs defending their Constitutionally protected property rights with the burden of proof to show a negative - that customary use does not exist (because the BCC politicians said it did) instead of the proper legal due process that FS163.035 had to make this BCC (and any FL County that had done the same) do.
 
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