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Reggie Gaskins

Beach Lover
Oct 4, 2018
153
259
58
Blue Mountain Beach
This is the most ridiculous comment. No one ever spoke of our beaches being private until a few years ago when this nonsense started. Growth will always come to any popular, special area. The beaches have always been shared and should be regardless of growth; anywhere, any beach and any community.
It seems quite irresponsible for someone who claims to be a community “leader” to make such a dishonest statement. There is a very real and legally documented history of tens of thousands of real estate transactions, all of which were carefully considered and researched by people wanting to buy their dream; what was marketed and sold to them, as “Private beach”. It’s disrespectful to group them all as “ridiculous”. They are not to blame. To dismiss them with a lie is hurting your cause. Are you telling the hundreds of thousands of people that looked at “Private” beach that they were seeing things in 1920,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,2000,2010? Houses in your subdivision STILL advertise your “private beach” behind security gates keeping the public out. Walton residents deliberately and properly bought private beach, regardless of how you “feel” about it. The entire community believes we have a problem. We all agree something needs to be done. But turning our beaches into a “free for all” Panama City Beach atmosphere kills the very personality we’ve grown to love. CU will do that. It will bring much more restaurant revenue, heck - restaurants will probably expand in anticipation, but that’s pretty one sided. Lying to the public about quiet titles, privatization, taxes, access, trespassing, is only making it worse. Please allow folks trying to make it better to drive now, this carnival show is hurting the community.
 

Teresa

SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
28,755
4,046
South Walton, FL
sowal.com
Sharing the beach is what we've always done in South Walton Florida. We are a beach community with the most beautiful beaches anywhere. Beaches belong to everyone.

‘A beach is unlike any other landscape. It is a dynamic, interconnected environment that invites long walks and long views. Its boundaries are constantly in flux, thanks to the tide, storms and sea level rise.’

GUEST COLUMN: Sharing ‘your’ beach shouldn’t be too much to ask

By Keith Spera | Guest Columnist
Apr 21, 2019 at 8:28 AM

For 20 years, my wife and I have snuck away to the Emerald Coast at every opportunity. We returned even after I was rescued from a rip current. We mourned when the Red Bar burned down in Grayton Beach.

In October, we realized a dream by buying a vacation/rental cottage in Inlet Beach.

And last weekend, we learned that “our” beach is not really ours.

One of the selling points for our neighborhood on the north side of Highway 30A was its deeded beach access. The sand is a 10-minute walk from our door.

But at the bottom of the staircase that descends down the dune, a sign designates the beach to the right as private property. It belongs to a two-story condo development that sits 30 yards back from the water line, high up on the dune.

On the last day of our recent visit, my wife and kids were ordered off this sparsely populated private swath of sand by a condo employee.

So essentially, our “deeded beach access” allows us to get to the beach, but not necessarily use it.

We had just read about the ongoing Walton County controversy pitting “customary use” public beach access against claims of private property. Talk about the news hitting home.

The previous afternoon, thanks to heavy surf and high winds, we had this same stretch of private beach to ourselves. My 11-year-old daughter and I picked up plastic bottle caps and other trash. We’ve always felt a sense of shared responsibility for the beach. A beach is a natural resource; everyone who uses it should also be a caretaker.

At least until you’re kicked off.

Gulf-front homeowners not wanting strangers partying on their patios or in their pools is totally understandable. So is expecting beach-goers to not be obnoxious, loud, littering jerks.

And if a condo complex wants to set up rows of chairs and umbrellas that are reserved for their guests, go for it.

But to claim an entire beach smacks of self-serving, and ultimately self-defeating, overreach.

Some Gulf-front homeowners have taken advantage of a legal loophole that allows them to pay a modest fee to annex the beach behind their houses. Because that beach, some of the most beautiful and desirable real estate in North America, can’t be built on, it technically has no assessed value -- and therefore no property tax obligation.

If a beach is off-limits to the public, it shouldn’t be tax-free. You can’t have it both ways. Invoking the sanctity of private property doesn’t make this arrangement any less unfair.

Blue Mountain Beach resident and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s “Beach Share” proposal suggests property owners who grant public access to “private” beaches should receive a break on property taxes. That sounds like a starting point for a negotiation, provided the beach annexes are properly taxed.

But the ultimate resolution needs to be that the beaches of South Walton are open to all.

Chopping them up into parcels would ruin them. A beach is unlike any other landscape. It is a dynamic, interconnected environment that invites long walks and long views. Its boundaries are constantly in flux, thanks to the tide, storms and sea level rise.

If sea level rise accelerates and the shoreline eventually ends up somewhere north of Interstate 10, this whole debate over customary use may be moot.

Meanwhile, will most Florida residents and visitors be forced to scamper like sandpipers along the waterline, seeking patches of dry sand that aren’t privatized?

Whether from rules or red tide, the detrimental effect of South Walton beaches being largely off-limits is the same. It’s very, very bad for business. We’re already having second thoughts about our investment.

Gulf-front homeowners gearing up for this summer’s Battle of the Beach should ask themselves this: Why did you buy a beach house in the first place?

Was it intended as a place to relax and unwind, or as a source of anger and frustration?

Does it make you happy to constantly be on guard against interlopers? To confront families and ruin their day? To have the sheriff’s department on speed-dial?

Ultimately, do you want your lovely home to be a source of joy, or of long-term litigation?

Think about how fortunate you are just to own a beachfront home, to enjoy the stunning panorama, feel the Gulf breezes and listen to the surf.

Already, you’re way ahead of 99.99 percent of your fellow citizens.

Sharing “your” beach with them shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Keith Spera is a staff writer at the New Orleans Advocate newspaper and a Walton County property owner.


https://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/20190421/guest-column-sharing-your-beach-shouldnt-be-too-much-to-ask
 
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James Bentwood

Beach Fanatic
Feb 24, 2005
1,327
445
Sharing the beach is what we've always done in South Walton Florida. We are a beach community with the most beautiful beaches anywhere. Beaches belong to everyone.

‘A beach is unlike any other landscape. It is a dynamic, interconnected environment that invites long walks and long views. Its boundaries are constantly in flux, thanks to the tide, storms and sea level rise.’

GUEST COLUMN: Sharing ‘your’ beach shouldn’t be too much to ask

By Keith Spera | Guest Columnist
Apr 21, 2019 at 8:28 AM

For 20 years, my wife and I have snuck away to the Emerald Coast at every opportunity. We returned even after I was rescued from a rip current. We mourned when the Red Bar burned down in Grayton Beach.

In October, we realized a dream by buying a vacation/rental cottage in Inlet Beach.

And last weekend, we learned that “our” beach is not really ours.

One of the selling points for our neighborhood on the north side of Highway 30A was its deeded beach access. The sand is a 10-minute walk from our door.

But at the bottom of the staircase that descends down the dune, a sign designates the beach to the right as private property. It belongs to a two-story condo development that sits 30 yards back from the water line, high up on the dune.

On the last day of our recent visit, my wife and kids were ordered off this sparsely populated private swath of sand by a condo employee.

So essentially, our “deeded beach access” allows us to get to the beach, but not necessarily use it.

We had just read about the ongoing Walton County controversy pitting “customary use” public beach access against claims of private property. Talk about the news hitting home.

The previous afternoon, thanks to heavy surf and high winds, we had this same stretch of private beach to ourselves. My 11-year-old daughter and I picked up plastic bottle caps and other trash. We’ve always felt a sense of shared responsibility for the beach. A beach is a natural resource; everyone who uses it should also be a caretaker.

At least until you’re kicked off.

Gulf-front homeowners not wanting strangers partying on their patios or in their pools is totally understandable. So is expecting beach-goers to not be obnoxious, loud, littering jerks.

And if a condo complex wants to set up rows of chairs and umbrellas that are reserved for their guests, go for it.

But to claim an entire beach smacks of self-serving, and ultimately self-defeating, overreach.

Some Gulf-front homeowners have taken advantage of a legal loophole that allows them to pay a modest fee to annex the beach behind their houses. Because that beach, some of the most beautiful and desirable real estate in North America, can’t be built on, it technically has no assessed value -- and therefore no property tax obligation.

If a beach is off-limits to the public, it shouldn’t be tax-free. You can’t have it both ways. Invoking the sanctity of private property doesn’t make this arrangement any less unfair.

Blue Mountain Beach resident and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s “Beach Share” proposal suggests property owners who grant public access to “private” beaches should receive a break on property taxes. That sounds like a starting point for a negotiation, provided the beach annexes are properly taxed.

But the ultimate resolution needs to be that the beaches of South Walton are open to all.

Chopping them up into parcels would ruin them. A beach is unlike any other landscape. It is a dynamic, interconnected environment that invites long walks and long views. Its boundaries are constantly in flux, thanks to the tide, storms and sea level rise.

If sea level rise accelerates and the shoreline eventually ends up somewhere north of Interstate 10, this whole debate over customary use may be moot.

Meanwhile, will most Florida residents and visitors be forced to scamper like sandpipers along the waterline, seeking patches of dry sand that aren’t privatized?

Whether from rules or red tide, the detrimental effect of South Walton beaches being largely off-limits is the same. It’s very, very bad for business. We’re already having second thoughts about our investment.

Gulf-front homeowners gearing up for this summer’s Battle of the Beach should ask themselves this: Why did you buy a beach house in the first place?

Was it intended as a place to relax and unwind, or as a source of anger and frustration?

Does it make you happy to constantly be on guard against interlopers? To confront families and ruin their day? To have the sheriff’s department on speed-dial?

Ultimately, do you want your lovely home to be a source of joy, or of long-term litigation?

Think about how fortunate you are just to own a beachfront home, to enjoy the stunning panorama, feel the Gulf breezes and listen to the surf.

Already, you’re way ahead of 99.99 percent of your fellow citizens.

Sharing “your” beach with them shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Keith Spera is a staff writer at the New Orleans Advocate newspaper and a Walton County property owner.


https://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/20190421/guest-column-sharing-your-beach-shouldnt-be-too-much-to-ask
Excellent letter!
 

FactorFiction

Beach Fanatic
Feb 18, 2016
494
409
I'll say it again: Any way you look at it, this ugly negativity that is now pervasive in our community is what is ruining 30A. It isn't any one group, it is individuals who are stirring up hate against whole groups. The posts on various social media sites and the majority of the media continue to disparage a whole group of beachfront owner/entities by claiming all sorts of half truths, calling names, and making disparaging remarks about people's character. Someone please explain how this is going to improve the place we all live or the situation on the beach. I don't see it.
 
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Reggie Gaskins

Beach Lover
Oct 4, 2018
153
259
58
Blue Mountain Beach
I'll say it again: Any way you look at it, this ugly negativity that is now pervasive in our community is what is ruining 30A. It isn't any one group, it is individuals who are stirring up hate against whole groups. The posts on various social media sites and the majority of the media continue to disparage a whole group of beachfront owner/entities claiming all sorts of half truths, calling them names, and making disparaging remarks about their character. Someone please explain how this is going to improve the place we all live or the situation on the beach. I don't see it.
Spot on sir/madam. Intelligent folks like you see the problem, and the solution options, but more importantly; what NOT to do. The damage to 30A is a result of the public noise created by the carnival barkers, not the beach problem itself. But when the entire strategy is too whip up public emotion against a minority group based on hateful language, lies, and public stunts, it makes you wonder why? Publicly shaming private property owners and blaming innocent land owners for county misdeeds is wrong, deliberately advertising it across 20 states is quite malicious. Land Owners overreacting to the these attacks doesn't help either. But REFUSING to either meet, or even TALK about solutions, or REFUSING to consider compromise, indicates to us that things aren't as they seem. There is apparently an unnecessary, expensive, and painful road ahead for the citizens of Walton.
 

Teresa

SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
28,755
4,046
South Walton, FL
sowal.com
I can't imagine being a gulf front property owner and claiming the beach as all mine. Putting up signs and making a stand against customary use of our beaches. What kind of community member comes to this special piece of the planet and does that? What kind of governor signs into law a way for property owners to claim private rights on the beach. Then signs an executive order that says we all have the right to enjoy all of our beaches except the damage is done and his order means absolutely nothing. Then he goes on to become Senator of Florida and leaves Walton County in a legal mess. We are seeing incompetence and corruption at the top. They really don't care. It's up to Walton County to fix this problem created by legislators who are very far from this county. How did that happen? That is the only real question.

Supporting Customary Use is critical to the future of our beach town. Florida beaches belong to everyone.


FB_IMG_1556376400532.jpg
 
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Reggie Gaskins

Beach Lover
Oct 4, 2018
153
259
58
Blue Mountain Beach
I can't imagine being a gulf front property owner and claiming the beach as all mine. Putting up signs and making a stand against customary use of our beaches. What kind of community member comes to this special piece of the planet and does that? What kind of governor signs into law a way for property owners to claim private rights on the beach. Then signs an executive order that says we all have the right to enjoy all of our beaches except the damage is done and his order means absolutely nothing. Then he goes on to become Senator of Florida and leaves Walton County in a legal mess. We are seeing incompetence and corruption at the top. They really don't care. It's up to Walton County to fix this problem created by legislators who are very far from this county. How did that happen? That is the only real question.


View attachment 76435
I'm glad to hear your thoughts Teresa. We are saying the same thing, you and I.
We all came here because of the beach.
We all love the old lifestyle here that we fell in love with.
We all got along on the beach.
We wish we could go back there.
We all hate any signs and ropes on beach.
We all hate mean and unreasonable beach owners.
We all hate this community fighting.
We all think government is to blame.
We need to take back control of our quiet community lifestyle.
The difference, in our current community, is how we believe we should fix it.
Some believe in fixing it while still respecting private family investment, and recognizing their legal rights that came with what they paid for, documented with a deed.
Some believe that we should remove private property rights altogether.
Some believe in a Customary Use path.
Some don't believe Customary Use exists without a court order.
Some believe that State laws changed last year.
Some believe no law changed anything about private beach property.
Some believe there is a middle ground where everyone wins. That's most of us, and sounds like you too.
Unfortunately, the slash and burn tactics are designed to prevent that dialogue.
 
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FloridaBeachBum

Beach Fanatic
Feb 9, 2017
463
112
Santa Rosa Beach
This is the most ridiculous comment. No one ever spoke of our beaches being private until a few years ago when this nonsense started.

Dave Rauschkolb's ridiculous comment is the most ignorant and if not ignorant intentionally misleading.

2002 Destin’s hired attorney David Theriaque (sound familiar) authored an ordinance to regulate (take) private beach that resulted in the Florida Attorney General rendering opinion 2002-38. That was 17 years ago.
I know many beachfront owners have called the Walton Sheriff for trespass and posted signs for decades to protect their property rights. The property right all Walton property owners have had and have today. I hope Florida Beaches for All attorney Mr. Uhlfelder take these property owner's depositions.

2007-10-09 BCC Customary Use. That was 12 years ago.
Mr. Burke [County Attorney] discussed four options that should be considered for Walton County. Option one (1) is to do nothing and allow the private citizens to file suit. Option two (2) would be to adopt an ordinance establishing Customary Use definitions. This option could cause possible litigation. Option three (3) would be to file a class action law suit by the Board to determine whether the Doctrine of Customary Use applies. Mr. Burke did not recommend this option. Option four (4) would allow the Board to seek easements from private land owner for a Customary Use. This option may offer the property owner ad valorem tax relief and would probably be more successful. Mr. Burke suggested the Board review and to consider options two and four. Commissioner Comander made a motion to proceed with options two and four. Motion died for lack of second.
http://www.clerkofcourts.co.walton.fl.us/document_center/Minutes/Regular_Meetings/20071009.pdf
Why was BCC asking about CU in 2007?

2007 BCC included Cindy Meadows, Larry Jones - now county administrator, and Sara Comander who with current commissioner’s inept spending of Walton taxpayer’s annual $100-$170 million dollars sought an ancient medieval English property rights common law doctrine of custom to a political problem of their own making. Why shouldn’t the commissioners? It’s not their personal money, it’s tax payer’s and private property owner’s money. Commissioners get votes whether they win or lose. If owner’s prevail it only cost many millions of tax payer’s money for Theriaque’s $425/hr and the property owners legal fees.

"You buy next to a cow pasture, get used to the cows." Not if the cows (Dave Rauschkolb's word) are on my private property. I'd call the Sheriff - if he would enforce the law.

“The beaches have always been shared and should be regardless of growth;...”
Private beachfront was shared because beachfront owners had the right and chose to share. By license to those who were not invited I think is the legal term. Owners can revoke that license as is their Constitutional right. I for one will share no more, you can thank past and present Walton commissioners, Dave Rauschkolb, Dan Ulhfelder, and REALTORS like ECAR CEO Keith Dean (Floridians for the Preservation of Customary Use Executive Vice-President) and 2018 former REALTOR ECAR President Liz McMasters (first Director of Florida Beaches for All).

Okaloosa and Bay counties do not have customary use ordinances (nor do 65 other counties) and the real estate market is increasing as well as Walton's.
That Walton real estate and economy will collapse is baseless (fact-less) fear mongering. Even if there is a downturn the supply will not meet demand and property values will continue to appreciate - just like after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

CU ignorance (misinformation) is not bliss. It cost everyone millions of dollars and ill will.
 
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FloridaBeachBum

Beach Fanatic
Feb 9, 2017
463
112
Santa Rosa Beach
Sharing the beach is what we've always done in South Walton Florida. We are a beach community with the most beautiful beaches anywhere. Beaches belong to everyone.
‘A beach is unlike any other landscape. It is a dynamic, interconnected environment that invites long walks and long views. Its boundaries are constantly in flux, thanks to the tide, storms and sea level rise.’
GUEST COLUMN: Sharing ‘your’ beach shouldn’t be too much to ask
By Keith Spera | Guest Columnist
Apr 21, 2019 at 8:28 AM
We could post published opinions on property rights but would likely be removed by Administrator so we don't.
 
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