Customary Use in the News. South Walton Florida

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Teresa, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Beachcomber
    NOTES FROM THE APOCALYPSE
    It’s Not Augusta National
    Published on April 11, 2019
    By Charles Morgan III

    The beach that runs the length of the Panhandle of Florida was once known for its soft, snow-white sand. It is now getting recognition for the threatening and confusing “No Trespassing” signs that stretch for miles.

    The same beaches that have drawn millions of tourists and spawned the only industry the area has ever had are now a battleground. The epicenter of the battle is 30A. The legal proceedings that will decide whether the public has access to the beaches are underway.

    Daytona Beach v. Tona-Roma has been, for almost 50 years, the legal precedent that has dictated the public’s access to beaches in Florida. The court ruled that regardless of what a deed described, beachfront property owners purchased their property “burdened” with the knowledge of “customary use”—that the beach portion of the property had been used by the public for many years.

    Beachfront owners are, ironically, now in a situation analogous to another legal precedent. It involves “moving to a nuisance.” It is a common sense approach to a different kind of property issue. Its premise is that you can’t move next to an airport and then start complaining about the noise. Actually, you can complain about the noise but you can’t do anything legally about it.

    Those who purchased beachfront property on 30A and were expecting a quiet, bucolic, peaceful setting missed the turnoff to Vermont and must be both geographically challenged and terribly confused.

    Those who aren’t interested in following the rulings of the court might not like the teachings of the bible either. Mathew 7:24-27 speaks of “a wise man who built his house on a rock” and “a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” When “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house…”—well, you can guess what happened.

    As to the beaches, even beach house-owning, property rights activists like the ex-governor, preacher, presidential candidate and current talk show host Mike Huckabee understand one thing. If the state of Florida re-nourishes our beaches after a storm, those beaches become, inarguably, public property. Apparently, they’re willing to take that risk.

    Of course, our beachfront property owners have federal flood insurance, which is remarkably inexpensive (supplemented by all of us), to handle property damage. They’ll need it one day, because while you can deny climate change at your own risk, there’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

    Daniel Uhlfelder and Dave Rauschkolb have been fighting the privatization of the beaches for years. A lawyer and a restaurant owner, they both know the value of the beaches to the local economy. They know what’s right and they have lots of supporters.

    Two other people who have become allies in insuring the right of the public to enjoy the beach have come forward recently. They have remarkably different backgrounds. One thing they share is common sense.

    On both an international and (thankfully) local level, George Landegger may be the most important philanthropist in our area. He is a resident of Connecticut and has had homes in Walton County for 43 years.

    Landegger recently opted out of a lawsuit his beachfront community filed with the state. The suit claims that the beaches are privately owned and not for public use. He was the only property owner in his association to refuse to join his neighbors on 30A in the suit.

    “The status quo that has been in place for many years has provided beachfront owners and the general population with great enjoyment and a strong economy on 30A. Besides being a moral issue—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said.

    Joining Landegger in the efforts to secure access to the beaches for everyone is his friend and the only Walton County commissioner to carry every single precinct.

    Trey Nick, the owner of the iconic Nick’s Seafood Restaurant, is a throwback to the old days. Nick works Choctawhatchee Bay like his grandfather and has the largest blue crab operation in the Panhandle.

    “I just want to be able to take my kids to the beach the way my parents and grandparents took me when I was a little kid,” he said. “I’m not going to track sand in your house or swim in your pool.

    “99.9 percent of the people who live here can’t afford multimillion dollar beach houses,” he continued. “The beach has always been a place where people from all income levels can go. Just because people don’t have much money doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to enjoy a day at the beach.”

    I know many people who are South Walton natives. They’ve lived and played around the beaches of Walton County for many years. They were there before 30A was “branded” with the little blue automobile decals.

    In general, they’re a different type—in a really good way. You can find a bunch of them at the Red Bar in the late afternoon. They know who the beach belongs to.

    It’s important that the newcomers to 30A understand one thing. When it comes to the beaches, it’s not like being a member at Augusta National.

    The beaches belong to the people.
     
  2. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Andy Marlette Pensacola News Journal

    #Florida cartoon: God gave us the Gulf of Mexico, but on what day did the Lord create "no trespassing" signs? Mike Huckabee

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  3. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    Charles needs to hop his boat and go to May Day Island there as he knows the beach is all public.
     
  4. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    They do not have Harbor Docks there but they do have the Basin Bayou Supper Club .
     
  5. Suzanne Harris

    Suzanne Harris Beach Fanatic

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    For those who care about the truth Mike Huckabee NEVER had a private property sign or a white chain fence or any other designation that his beach was private.

    I do think MsyDay Islsnd is private. Just ask Charles Morgan or Scott Brannon.
     
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  6. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Florida Beaches for All
    April 17

    We are pleased with Judge Green‘s decision to allow Florida Beaches For All to intervene in the case in affirming the existence of recreational Customary Use in Walton County.

    #CUattheBeach @ Walton County, Florida

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  7. boomerang

    boomerang Beach Lover

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    Maybe Susanne Harris need to go to an island far away.
     
  8. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    Maybe not..but he is the one that started sending emails to legislators in far away places that dont have a horse in this race to get this entire $h1t show going. He probably thought if it got started by someone in Naples that it would not be noticed up here.. he was wrong.
     
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  9. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    People always want someone/something to blame. In this case, we can point fingers at the government for selling huge tracts decades ago, the County for continuing to allow beach parcels to be sold off to developers, developers for wanting to have private beaches to help sell their properties and some of these even gated the accesses so that ONLY their residents and invited guests could access the beaches conveniently, vendors, the public for thinking that going to the beach requires pickup and SUV loads of "stuff" and then reserving their spot all day whether they are there or not and the list goes on. No question that people on both sides did not help and are still not helping to find a solution other than going to court, which is likely a years long situation. There are a lot of smart people in this area. If the focus would change from seeing how much we can divide our citizens to helping us make the best of a bad situation while this is determined in court, seems like that would be better for everyone, including our tourists who aid significantly to our economy. A good start would be a map that clearly designates the areas available to the general public and visitors and a clearly written explanation of beach "etiquette", along with some County installed designation of east and west boundaries of the public beach areas.
     
  10. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    Tourism is down. Real estate sales are down. I ask why and local business people are telling me it is because beachfront owners have made South Walton unfriendly.
     
  11. jkmason

    jkmason Beach Lover

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    I live just a few houses away from the beach. I no longer take the long beautiful walks from Blue Mountain to Grayton. It’s too depressing seeing the hostile private beach signs. I have talked to my neighbors and they are of the same mind.
     
  12. beachmax

    beachmax Beach Comber

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    Noth8ng has changed over the last thirty years or so relative to customary use. Perhaps things are sooo crowded 30-A is no longer an attractive place to visit.
     
  13. Jenksy

    Jenksy Beach Fanatic

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    BS

    The mcMansion and luxury condo owners are assholes.
     
  14. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    I can't imagine that all the bad publicity is helping. Maybe helping visitors understand that there ARE places to go (50+% of Walton County beaches are public) and encouraging people to practice Walton County's definition of customary use sole uses: “traversing the beach; sitting on the sand, in a beach chair, or on a beach towel or blanket; using a beach umbrella that is seven (7) feet or less in diameter; sunbathing; picnicking; fishing; swimming or surfing off the beach; placement of surfing or fishing equipment; and building sand creations.” There are places along the beaches where beach owners are sharing the beach with people engaging in the listed sole uses with no signs and no animosity or conflict.
     
  15. bob bob

    bob bob Beach Fanatic

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    Way too many words needed to explain and people still confused. Perception is reality and we are getting the reputation of police shoving people off the beach, and they will go elsewhere. Which is exactly what some people want.
     
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  16. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    It may be what some want, but look at who is truly publicizing that the beaches are closed (NOT), there's nowhere to go to the beach (NOT TRUE), only 36% of the beach is open to the public (NOT TRUE), you'll get arrested for trespassing (NOT TRUE), you'll get kicked off the beach (MAYBE IN SOME PLACES, CERTAINLY NOT ALL), beachfront owners don't want ANYBODY on their beaches, they don't want to share (SOME FEEL THAT WAY, NOT ALL), the entire public has been turned into trespassers (NOT). Signs were not governed by the passage of HB631 and beach owners don't like having to put them up to protect their property rights, but some feel it is necessary or have been advised to do so. HB 631 (now Florida Statute 163.035) was/is about a PROCESS for establishing customary use. If people will be honest, they'll see that the customary use leadership is making real sure that tourists think beach owners don't want them here. What could the CU leadership do instead while the court handles this situation? Encourage the "sole uses" that the proposed customary use ordinance designates. Encourage people to visit our state parks where parking is readily available and miles of pristine beach are uncrowded. Encourage use of our regional accesses that have parking, bathrooms, and lifeguards. Encourage people to walk or ride bikes if at all possible to the beach since parking is at a premium. I know some rental management companies that are doing these things and people are still renting. If all you saw on social media and in newspaper articles was one version or another of "You're not welcome," would you come here?
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  17. BlueMtnBeachVagrant

    BlueMtnBeachVagrant Beach Fanatic

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    Whew!! I barely skated by that one.
     
  18. steel1man

    steel1man Beach Fanatic

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    Ditto...past BMB home owner ( 3 homes off beach)...sold for a small fortune and walked away....found spot on a 950’+/- private beach to re build on....let the Crazies have it.....
     
  19. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Peyton LoCicero WMBB

    Do you believe the beaches are private property or for public enjoyment? A group of locals and visitors hosted a "Stand Your Sand" rally on South Walton's beach, to show where they stand on the matter.

    In the meantime, the House Bill 631 battle is ongoing... out on the beach and inside the courtroom.

    Find out what Florida Beaches for All and Floridians for the Preservation of Customary Use have to say about this hot topic, by watching my news story: Public V. Private Beach Battle: One Year Mark Since the Beach Battle Escalated

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    NOTE: WMBB reached out to several Beachfront Property Owners to ask for an on camera comment, to which they refused.
     
  20. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    mypanhandle.com
    July 1 2019

    Public V. Private Beach Battle: One Year Mark Since the Beach Battle Escalated
    WALTON COUNTY
    Public Verse Private Beach Battle: One Year Mark Since the Beach Battle Escalated

    by: Peyton LoCicero

    SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)- July 1, marks a year since the battle for Walton County’s beach has escalated. The customary use battle with public verse private beach continues.

    It’s been 365 days since “No Trespassing” signs started popping up along South Walton’s shoreline. On July 1 of last year, House Bill 631 spurred the private verse public battle on the beach.

    Dozens of locals and visitors gathered on Monday, to rally in support of customary use. Some locals toted a banner saying: “Florida beaches are for everyone!”

    From local doctors, congressional candidates and even visitors from other states all stood hand in hand lining the beach, they made a human chain symbolizing their message, that the beach belongs to all people.

    One longtime visitor explained that it’s a tradition for each generation of his family to vacation in South Walton.

    “We’ve been coming to the beach all our lives and I want my grandchildren to be able to enjoy the beaches like we did when we came as children 50 something years ago,” said Mauray stead, Georgia tourist.

    Stead has 9 grandchildren, which he takes to the beach each summer. “We’ve seen signs in other places that won’t allow you to go on the beach.”

    Before the customary use ordinance was made null and void, visitors and tourist could use South Walton’s beach for recreational activities, like walking on the beach and sunbathing but, that’s all changed.

    “There are some areas here where it is very contentious and dangerous….there have been some angry videos that have been posted and there is armed security that are on these beaches. And being a stand your ground state, this is a concern,” said Dr. Carolynn Zonia, Customary Use Advocate.

    “What we have are people who are kind of sowing a little bit of discord by asserting rights, property rights that are in violation of the custom and the property rights issue is based on false legal analysis,” explained Phil Ehr, Congressional Candidate.

    The customary use lawsuit will be on the August 5, 2019 docket for a case management conference.

    Walton County is actively working to reaffirm that customary use has always existed on the beaches in South Walton. We will keep you updated.

    Public V. Private Beach Battle: One Year Mark Since the Beach Battle Escalated
     

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