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Private vs Public beach. Response from Commissioner Meadows...

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by Joby, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. Joby

    Joby Beach Lover

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    Below is my email to County Commissioner Cindy Meadows and her reply.


    Ms. Meadows,


    I believe it is time for county officials to officially address the growing issue of Florida’s public beaches in Walton County. There has been a alarming increase in signs such as these with residents staking off what they are claiming as private beach. Some neighborhoods have hired private security guards to harass and chase off beach visitors. It is my understanding that the public portion of the beach is defined by the 18.6 year federal survey of the mean high tide water line. If so​, the line would change daily. The county should go on record and prohibit the staking and marking off of the fictional lines they are claiming and return the beach to it’s unspoiled state. Issues such as these destroy the very beauty and essence of the beach we all love and share.

    Response

    Thank you. I am meeting with our attorney, cty. Administrator, and TDC director to discuss this issue. Attorneys for the beach front land owners have told them to protect their “rights” by posting signs.

    This won’t be solved quickly.
    Keep atuned.

     
  2. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Not anytime soon and I'm sure it will be a drawn out battle akin to good vs. evil.
     
  3. Porpoise

    Porpoise Beach Crab

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    If You're Going to Post a Sign, Post It on the Line!

    With very few exceptions, most beachfront owners in Walton County only own the property to the mean high water line (MHWL). Where this is the case, the land seaward of the MHWL is owned by the state of Florida. Given that, a beachfront property owner whose property only goes to the MHWL and who posts signs to the contrary is engaging in a type of theft. They are claiming as their own property that which belongs to all citizens.

    The only complicated issue here is that the MHWL is a line in the sand so it may not obvious where exactly it is. However, beachfront property plats will show the line in reference to fixed lines such as the construction control line or erosion control line (ECL). These fixed lines are themselves fixed from other lines such as the front property line. As an example, the MHWL may be said to be X number of feet south from the ECL in one corner of a property and Y number of feet at the other end. In other words, while the MHWL may not be obvious, it can be determined.

    And here's the thing, if someone claims to own something, it is up to that person to prove ownership. If the person can't do that, legal authorities should not support the claim. Imagine someone driving around in a stolen car and claiming to be the rightful owner and you get an idea of what is going on here. If an owner wants to post a sign, the county should require that owner to either post the sign at the MHWL with a notice telling the public that the property ends there or post the sign landward of the MHWL with a notice that the property ends X number of feet seaward. Here's a catchy slogan: If you're going to post a sign, post it on the line!

    Now to some technical issues. As mentioned above, the MHWL is calculated over a long period of time. However, the line doesn't change daily. The MHWL is set until such time as a new survey of high tides, which is an average of the high tides taken over a long period of time, replaces the existing survey. What changes daily are the high tides for that day.

    In practical terms this means that some of the time the land seaward of the MHWL will be high and dry and some of the time it will be under water. This doesn't mean that every day it will be dry at some point and wet at some other point. Remember, the MHWL is an average (mean) calculated over many years. Tides are higher and lower at different times of the year. So, for long periods of time there may be many yards of public land available for enjoyment by the public.

    Walton County should make every effort to ensure that county citizens and visitors are protected and require beachfront owners to prove where their property ends. They can do this by applying my proposed slogan: If you're going to post a sign, post it on the line!
     
  4. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Or they could get over themselves and remember that the beach is for everyone. I'd understand it more if people were all stacked up in the dunes on chairs, but most people want to sit as close to, if not in, the water.
     
  5. Jim Tucker

    Jim Tucker Beach Fanatic

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    Know why sharks don't bite lawyers?
     
  6. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Professional courtesy.
     
  7. Joby

    Joby Beach Lover

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    Further Response from TDC director........

    “Owners are allowed to put a mono-pole sign on the beach marking their property. They are not allowed to string rope or chains between multiple posts.”



    “The signs cannot be on the third of the beach closest to the water.”


    “All our public beach accesses have public beach at the end of them. It may only be 10’ of width of public beach but it is still public.”


    Picture at Seaside is typical of the many signs being placed at “private” beaches. FDEP rule we are using as guidelines is – monopole sign, 1/3 of beach from toe of dune.
     

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