Customary Use and Our 30A Legacy

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Reggie Gaskins, Apr 25, 2019.

  1. EZ4144

    EZ4144 Beach Lover

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    Typical post from a victim troll.

    Do you even realize you remain trapped by the person who abused you as a child?
     
  2. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    He will never let it be known...he even called himself a "ghost" in a previous post. That says it all right there.
     
  3. L.C. Bane

    L.C. Bane Beach Fanatic

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    Ha!
     
  4. Dave Rauschkolb

    Dave Rauschkolb Beach Fanatic

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    Renourished beaches are not private. Period. Get organized and do something Destin residents. They should ignore these fake "Private" beach signs and just go where the beaches have been renourished. Educate the public to IGNORE the "Private" beach signs where renourishemnt has occurred.

    The Destin City Council and Destin TDC are complicit in this lie if they don't educate the public and locals to IGNORE the private beach signs up to 20 feet from the waterline as stated below.

    The Destin City Council should make the beachfront owners take down every private beach sign or they are complicit in a lie.


    Okaloosa Sheriff:

    ‘We won’t make them move’
    Since the ECL line was never clearly physically marked, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office uses a “20-foot rule” when enforcing trespassing on Destin beaches.
    “It’s a general order that we have. We’re not saying that the beach is public beach, we’re saying that we’re not going to enforce trespassing laws in that area because it’s just not clear whether or not it’s public beach,” Fulghum said. “There are people who say it’s public, there are people who say it’s private, and until there’s a definitive answer we’re not going to enforce trespassing.”

    Fulghum said he had a large volume of trespassing calls “several years ago” but since then it has died down. He’s seen an uptick in calls since the Walton County customary use kerfuffle. House Bill 631 took effect July 1 and sent Okaloosa’s neighboring county into turmoil.

    “If someone is set up anywhere on the beach in Destin and they’re within 20 feet of the water’s edge, we will not arrest them for trespassing and we won’t make them move,” Fulghum said."





    Why Destin's beaches are almost entirely private, and whether it's supposed to be that way



    By Annie Blanks
    Posted Aug 4, 2018 at 12:00 PMUpdated Aug 6, 2018 at 5:45 PM

    DESTIN — Yao Lo, a tourist from Atlanta, walked out to the Shirah Street public beach access at 6 a.m. one recent morning to stake out a spot for his 15 family members.

    Lo said he was paying $6,000 to rent a house for the week just one block from the beach, but was dismayed to learn on his first day of vacation that there was little to no beach for his family to enjoy. Ropes on either side of the Shirah beach access near his house designated nearly all the beach behind the ropes as “private.” Between the ropes, the access was only about 60 feet wide.

    He said he was forced to come to the small sliver of beach access before sunrise every morning to reserve a spot for his family before people were “packed like sardines” in the one small section of public beach.

    “You’re down here for the summer paying six grand a week and you learn there’s no space for you to bring your kids to the beach?” he asked as he screwed an umbrella into the sand. “I think we’re going to choose another place to vacation next year.”

    Lo’s dilemma is one of many faced by tourists who visited Destin this summer only to learn that the vast majority of the city’s six miles of beach are private, marked off with ropes and no trespassing signs, and guarded closely by territorial beach chair vendors.

    What’s more, large swaths of Destin’s beaches that should be open to the public due to past restoration projects funded by county and state money, have been unlawfully marked as “private beach” for years — and confusion on the part of city and Okaloosa County officials, as well as law enforcement, has created a culture of apathy that has further muddled the issue.

    In a two-part Daily News series, running in the Aug. 5 and Aug. 12 Sunday editions, we look at how Destin’s beaches have come into increasingly high demand over the past two decades, how and why the public’s access to the beach has increasingly dwindled, and what — if anything — can be done to restore the public’s right to access the beaches.

    Okaloosa County’s beaches are heavily marketed by the Tourism Development Department as sand that’s “shockingly fine” and “so clean that it squeaks underfoot.” The water, the TDD’s website says, are a “brilliant emerald-green” color that “provides such a contrast with the blue sky and the white sand below.”

    What’s more, the TDD’s website says, is that “the most amazing thing about our beaches is that the very best belong to you, the beach-loving public.”

    But more and more tourists who visit the Emerald Coast, especially Destin, are learning that’s not entirely true.

    Almost all of Destin’s six miles of beach are “private” — marked as belonging to the private homeowners and towering condo associations that line the beachfront roads on either side of Henderson Beach State Park. Ropes and “no trespassing signs” begin on either side of the city’s 13 public beach accesses, limiting the spaces accessible to only a few dozen feet at best.

    According to Daily News measurements, taken both with measuring tape at the public beach accesses and by analyzing property appraiser records, only about 1.4 miles of Destin’s beach is open to the public. That includes Henderson Beach State Park, which divides Destin down the middle and has a little over 4,700 feet of public beach. The park charges beachgoers $6 per car to visit.

    Nine of the city’s public beach accesses, dispersed throughout the Crystal Beach and Scenic Highway 98 areas, have a combined total of less than a half mile of public beach. Some of the smallest beach accesses in the city are Tarpon Street, the Shores at Crystal Beach and Pompano Street, which have roughly 11.5, 40 and 50 feet of public sand, respectively.

    Next week

    We look at how the problems on Destin’s private beaches are playing out in real time, and what some city officials propose to do about the problem.

    On the west side of Henderson Beach State Park, there are only two public beach accesses (not including the Norriego Point and Holiday Isle accesses). The Calhoun and Silver Shells/June White Decker accesses, near the Back Porch restaurant, have a combined 138 feet of public beach.

    Visitors who don’t stay in a Gulf-front condo or neighborhood that has a roped-off private beach are directed to any one of the city’s public beach accesses. That sounds like a simple solution in theory, but in practice it means that many of the millions of visitors who come to Destin and don’t stay in beachfront property have almost no access to the beach.

    And those visiting the Crystal Beach accesses must contend with extremely limited parking — most of the accesses only have seven to 12 spaces. Some have no parking at all.


    Beach restoration projects

    But are the so-called “private” beaches actually, legally, private?

    During two major beach restoration projects in Destin in the past 20 years, officials determined an Erosion Control Line that runs along the portions of the beach that were restored and maintained using taxpayer money.

    The ECL line is, essentially, where the Mean High Water Line was located before the beach was restored. In some places, like on Holiday Isle and in Crystal Beach, the water was lapping up at property owners’ front doors. The taxpayer-funded restoration projects moved the Mean High Water Line back several feet in some areas, creating wide swaths of beach in front of the properties.

    Those large swaths—those south of the ECL line—are, by law, public beach, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

    “Where beaches have an established ECL, everything seaward of that line is property of the state, or sovereign land,” Dee Ann Miller, a spokeswoman for the DEP, said in an email to the Daily News. “Where there is not an ECL, the MHWL is the boundary, unless the upland property owner’s deed states otherwise. Each upland property owner deed can potentially vary on where it states they own down to the MHWL or some other property line location.”

    Miller also said that before all beach erosion control projects, an ECL “must be established along the shoreline to define the property boundary between sovereign submerged land and upland ownership.”

    Public money, private beaches?

    Two major beach restoration projects that took place in Destin in 2006-2007 and 2012-2013 altered the landscape of many of the city’s beaches and provided much-needed expansions to sand that had been critically eroded during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.

    The first beach renourishment project was a joint venture with Walton County that restored about seven miles of beach, including two miles of beach in Destin from Henderson Beach State Park to the Walton County line and the remaining five miles of beach in Walton County from the county line to Topsail Hill State Park.

    The project cost a total of more than $27 million, with Destin’s share clocking in at $9.8 million. The cost was split between the state of Florida and the then-Tourist Development Council (now the Tourist Development Department), both of which kicked in $4.9 million.

    The second renourishment project took place on Destin’s Holiday Isle in January and February 2013. About 1.7 miles of beach was restored, with a 2,600-foot gap in between due to legal challenges by beachfront property owners of single-family homes and condominiums.

    The Holiday Isle project cost almost $8 million, with the TDC contributing about $6.7 million. The remaining money was raised through the county’s Municipal Services Benefit Unit, which was created in 2009 to cover the cost of beach restoration. Beachfront property owners bore the greatest burden of the MSBU fees, paying $150 to $200 annually, while inland property owners paid about $55 a year.

    Since 2000, the city of Destin has kicked in about $450,000 in taxpayer money on various beach restoration projects, including things like cost-sharing and post-project monitoring, according to Doug Rainer, the city’s public information manager.

    During both projects in 2007 and 2013, engineers used surveying to establish an Erosion Control Line. The ECL runs essentially unobstructed from the East Pass to the Walton County line, with the 2,600-foot gap on Holiday Isle and a 4,700-foot gap at Henderson Beach State Park.

    The Okaloosa County TDD has records that dictate where the ECL line is located, thus making it clear where the public beach begins and the private beach ends. But TDD officials claim that the line would be impossible to determine without a new official survey.

    “The Erosion Control Line (ECL) is based on an elevation, not a fixed line in the sand,” the TDD said in an email to the Daily News. “As a result, the location of the ECL may seem to ‘move’ as the beach erodes or accretes, but it does not. It is important to note that you can’t just walk out on the beach and locate the ECL unless you survey for that elevation.”

    But the DEP says the ECL is clearly a “fixed boundary.”

    “As private property owners, coastal property owners are afforded some rights as all other owners are; however, they cannot impede public access to sovereign lands or established public access routes,” Miller, the DEP spokeswoman, said in her email to the Daily News. “All of the operative ECL lines are recorded in the local County Clerk of Circuit Court, and DEP has electronic copies of those files in our OCULUS system.”

    She added that the DEP “does not get involved with land rights disputes or physically marking private property lines” but they “do work with private surveyors on projects such as those marking private lands near an ECL or MHWL to correctly identify property lines.”

    Greg Kisela, who was Destin’s city manager during the 2007 project and currently is the deputy county administrator for Okaloosa County, said the ECL line is a clear, fixed line, although it’s difficult to determine without a survey.

    “Some of that land south of the ECL is under water now, and some of it is still dry sand,” he said.

    Kisela said nobody marked the ECL line with stakes, signage or other markings when it was first established in 2007, which would have made property lines explicitly clear. But city and county officials do have devices they can take to the beach to determine where the ECL is within about one foot.

    About two years ago, he said, “using basically a GPS device, we were able to determine around 30 to 40 percent of the ECL beach was still dry,” he said.

    But Taylor Engineering, the firm that the county contracted to execute both the 2007 and 2013 restoration projects, said in 2015 that the Holiday Isle project contained about 80 percent of its initial sand volume, and the Crystal Beach project contained between 94 to 99 percent of its original volume.

    ‘We won’t make them move’

    Since the ECL line was never clearly physically marked, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office uses a “20-foot rule” when enforcing trespassing on Destin beaches.

    Sgt. Jason Fulghum said deputies will not trespass anybody who puts their things within 20 feet of the water’s edge, even if it’s behind “no trespassing” signs and ropes or in front of beach chair vendors.

    “It’s a general order that we have. We’re not saying that the beach is public beach, we’re saying that we’re not going to enforce trespassing laws in that area because it’s just not clear whether or not it’s public beach,” Fulghum said. “There are people who say it’s public, there are people who say it’s private, and until there’s a definitive answer we’re not going to enforce trespassing.”

    Fulghum said he had a large volume of trespassing calls “several years ago” but since then it has died down. He’s seen an uptick in calls since the Walton County customary use kerfuffle. House Bill 631 took effect July 1 and sent Okaloosa’s neighboring county into turmoil.

    “If someone is set up anywhere on the beach in Destin and they’re within 20 feet of the water’s edge, we will not arrest them for trespassing and we won’t make them move,” Fulghum said.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  5. Reggie Gaskins

    Reggie Gaskins Beach Lover

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    Admins,
    Given this current display of mindless banter, regurgetated/reprinted articles, along with the recent trend to hijack this once constructive thread with class warfare propaganda, It's obvious the discussion has run its course.

    Since the title was changed, it has been a struggle to keep cojent thoughts forthcoming. I know that our positions, yours and mine, are at odds. But thank you for continuing this thread. There was a quality community engagement on CU found here, that was not available in either the press, or other digital media forms. True and factual discussion occurred on the history, the laws, the people, the community.

    As much as I know this volume of eyeballs is a great revenue source for SoWal, it's time we close this one. We'll create another one down the road as developments towards compromise are eminent.

    With all due respect to your discretion on such matters, and to protect the dignity of both your brand - and this thread's original purpose, as the originator of this collectively powerful thread, I respectfully ask that it be closed for further comment.

    As documented in the original letter here, it is my personal opinion as a long time resident, that should this public battle and frivolous lawsuit continue, then, no matter who wins,
    Customary Use Will Destroy Our 30A Legacy

    Thank you to all who provided the constructive discussions on both sides of the issue.
    Reg
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  6. Dave Rauschkolb

    Dave Rauschkolb Beach Fanatic

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    Your veiled caring for the well being of the folks at SoWal. Your pathetic attempt to scare SoWal into submission because you think you have some sort of influence or power over their brand and revenues is ridiculous. Your attempts to manipulate this thread are ridiculous. You truly are delusional.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
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  7. Reggie Gaskins

    Reggie Gaskins Beach Lover

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    Dave, you and I are both businessmen. If you don't understand impression demographics math, don't blame me for that. And don’t you dare assume my caring for Walton is a veiled attempt. Many true leaders are out here trying to build solutions while you and your kind are only tearing this community down.

    Living in a private gated community with miles of private beach, forever excluding the great unwashed is the apex of hypocritical speak and veiled concern for beach access.

    I have zero power over what SoWal does. Don't care to. But as a businessman, I respect their very successful revenue model and it's relevance to ad customers. They serve a great purpose in both the civic and business community. I'm impressed with SoWal success in this market. I choose never to use power to scare anyone, I don't operate like that. Some do, you associate with them.

    My request to close the thread was to end the childish crap that it has been reduced to, EVIDENCED BY YOUR RESPONSE!

    Keep attacking me, you're exposing yourself

    Keep avoiding answering any questions, you're exposing yourself

    Keep lying to the public, you're exposing yourself

    Keep refusing to meet me in public for a true community dialogue for all to hear, Mano y Mano, you're exposing yourself

    Keep throwing out false images and lies online, and refusing to take questions, you're exposing yourself

    You've done everything to attack me, but nothing to defend this s*#t show you've promoted

    Your repeated whining without any true conversation bores us all.

    My "delusional" work here is done.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  8. mputnal

    mputnal Beach Fanatic

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    Reggie, I think it might say something about who you are and what has been accomplished in this thread by wanting to quit. I must say that I am a little surprised because you have done nothing but attack The People for all sorts of things. Man if I were just a little more insecure I would believe that I am in the loser class that you believe in with an almost religious conviction. Your posts expose your view of society as two classes: winners (you) and losers (anyone who does not agree with you). That view is linked to power which comes from wealth. You and the other power brokers have really exposed your agenda. Your words have little truth about the reality of this community and of society in general. IMO it is because you have disconnected from reality and live in a world very different than most of us. If you have been disrespected I blame it on the "fact" that you believe in beach exclusion over community good will. Your belief in putting up signs to keep people off the beach is not exactly good will in our community or good for society at all. All you have to share with us is a lot of provocative banter about property rights. Really, that's it? Is that the only human value that exist on this planet? I was hoping you would explain to the community how you became such an authority on what "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" means in your world.

    Yes, I doubt you. No, I don't disrespect you. Yes, I would like to be able to enjoy a view of the beach. No, I can't because your building has taken that view from me. Yes, I would like to watch my children and future grand children and know that they will always be able to smile and play and heal their souls on such an important resource. No, they will not be able to if wealth is allowed to take this resource from them.
     
  9. Tyler T

    Tyler T Beach Lover

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    I enjoy your posts on this thread. But I think you are too careful and pulling punches. As a matter of fact therre is a lot of passive aggressive games going on. A few people have truly spoken their mind on here instead of posting propaganda.

    The OP is so proud of his thread. Until now. Now he wants it shut down because he has been revealed as a spin artist and a bully.

    As for the opposition, you can easily see they have gotten under the skin of beachfront owners. This whole thread has been a response to that which has happened on other social media. They came here for a platform for retribution. It ended up backfiring and revealing their true nature as bullies with money and lawyers. And they transparently cry victim. Typical gaslighting.

    On the other side you can clearly see is outraged at being kicked off the beach. Who are these despicable people that would close the beach to people who have enjoyed them for generations? They are trying to hide behind property rights issue. If they get shut down then we will see even more vitriol spewed at the common man and simple beach lovers. Trying to paint everyone who comes to the beach as low lifes and rule breakers. 99% of visitors are families with children. Kicking sand in the face of children is what it all comes down to. Shameful.

    Here we have yet another forum topic where the board is invaded by people crying fowl, attacking, getting stern responses, crying victim, then disappearing in failure and frustration while blaming everyone else, including the very site they tried to use and abuse....
     
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  10. bob1

    bob1 Beach Comber

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    The title of the thread has nothing to do with anything. It is the content that matters.
     
  11. Auburn Fan

    Auburn Fan Beach Lover

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    You often use the term "The People".

    Please define that term for us. What do you mean when you say "The People"?

    Then, while you are at it, please explain how a "legal declaration of customary use", in which all property owners' rights are obliterated, is actually conservative.

     
  12. Dave Rauschkolb

    Dave Rauschkolb Beach Fanatic

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    Absolutely brilliant stated!
     
  13. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    What originally started as an interesting and informative post, albeit a personal perspective sharing information to support that perspective and create open dialogue, has now gone completely off the rails. This is definitely not the Walton County I once knew and, frankly, it isn't just about the beach, it's about the way people treat each other and the lack of respect shown to those who have differing opinions. The fault lies with every individual who can't keep on topic and communicate respectfully regardless of his/her opinion. This is a pervasive problem, not just a beach problem. We can do better than this.
     
  14. Auburn Fan

    Auburn Fan Beach Lover

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    Dave, what difference does it make whether a beach is private?
     
  15. Auburn Fan

    Auburn Fan Beach Lover

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    Dave, your personal attacks are the last resort of one who lacks rational, sound arguments. Personal attacks do not belong here.

    Reggie has likely concluded that one cannot reason someone out of a position that he did not reason themselves into.
     
  16. Dave Rauschkolb

    Dave Rauschkolb Beach Fanatic

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    No personal attacks just stating the facts.
     
  17. mputnal

    mputnal Beach Fanatic

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    AF, In a representative democracy, The People are supposed to be the "represented". We elect representatives that are supposed to represent The People. So, we The People need to always be aware of an abuse of power and not let political propaganda divide us with fear. In this thread the purpose was to cover up a sicking desire of power to exclude The People from the beach. Unfortunately, the BPO's who are not part of this power play have been mislead and unfortunately for them they are caught in the crossfire of emotion from all sides. Listen, these power brokers are not from around here. They represent elite wealth and power. They do not care about your property rights. I am no authority on anything so if you believe they care about you (at all) then that is your right of course. They certainly do not care about this community otherwise they would have compromised on excluding respectful people from the beach. Compromise is a shameful word to power brokers. It is the way wealth and power manage to stay in wealth and power. We The People are learning how to recognize this abuse of power even though it is cleverly hidden within the power broker BS pie.

    I believe The People would compromise on beach use. Keep the beaches open to a respectful public. Give BPO's the right to choose their spot on the beach. I understand the devil is in the details but my point is this should have been a compromise and not a lawsuit. I believe most BPO's would also like a compromise. The only reason we don't have one is because those in power wanted to test CU against Constitutional Law believing that they will win this in court and hoard yet another resource. I hope that the County has sufficient representation to link customary use with their beach development approval process by way of public beach easement. It is very possible that CU and Property Rights will both be moot...
     
  18. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    Did he/she really just say that?
     
  19. mputnal

    mputnal Beach Fanatic

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    ForF, I agree with you about respect and would like to know if you believe that Reggie Gaskins etal are the standard by which respectful people should behave? If your answer is yes then I assume you know these people and willing to defend their behavior. The thread "Customary Use will destroy our 30A legacy". The elements of the title are community (30A legacy), destructive accusations (destroy) and personal (our). If you believe that these people are members of this community, are without fault regarding accusatory behavior and finally did not get "personal" then I would have to disagree with you.

    Society will always have differing perspectives on issues but the one basic ingredient of a sustainable civilized society is the ability to equally and fairly distribute resources. Many resources are already taken by wealth. Excluding people from the beach was never a good idea. The resource keeps people happy and hopeful. Reggie etal believe that beach exclusion should not be compromised ever but he/she did not stop there. Reggie etal made this about The People "taking" something that is not theirs. I am surprised that you would not see how wrong that is. He was not thru. In one post he believed that a child should be punished for simple exercise on the beach. Who made Reggie this authority? Does a lot of money make you an authority? Please tell me that you understand why this thread exploded with emotion!
     
  20. mputnal

    mputnal Beach Fanatic

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    AF, I forgot to answer your 2nd question. Let me give an example of how a court ruled in my home town located in Florida. A property owner was given a deed for a property that he bought and paid taxes on for many years. The survey showed the fence with the neighboring property was off by 15 feet yet that fence had been there for many years and trees and very old trees had grown into the fence. The neighboring property benefited from that 15 feet and used the property for cattle grazing for many years before being asked to move the fence to the property line. The neighbor paid no taxes on that property yet the court ruled that the traditional use or customary use is the conservative use of the property and must be obeyed. The resource was distributed according to this traditional/conservative/customary use. The deeds were modified and those paid taxes made no difference. You might say the property owner that paid the taxes had that money obliterated. Not fair huh? This is why I believe that BPO's should have taken the chance to compromise because you just never know how a court will rule PLUS it is the right thing to do in my opinion.
     
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