Public vs Private Beach [threads merged]

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by SoWal Staff, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. sunspotbaby

    sunspotbaby SoWal Insider

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    The reason we don't utilize the state parks is because there is no lifeguard. I have 2 kids so when we go to the beach, I want to be near the lifeguard station.
     
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  2. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    I love your Bolded question. This is my point. Thanks for helping make it.

    The SOP is driving this surge of signs.

    Does Adkinson require an owner on the Bay to survey their Bay Front property, etc.

    Just wait till tourist activity starts to move to Bay waters and "beaches".

    All of you complaining about no beaches for tourists, why don't you focus on the beach rules these people break each weekend. Glass bottles! Dogs, off leashes outside the allotted hours, leaving trash, etc.

    Perhaps the spoiled and self untitled beach front owners would be appreciative of that and let you on their beach...

    Saw it first hand this weekend and I'm sure I'll see it all summer. Never saw a deputy, never saw code enforcement. Was there for six hours!
     
  3. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    I believe certain state parks are very popular for beach goers. Grayton Beach State Park and Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.... I've seen these places filled with visitors to their beaches many times but not sure about numbers overall. St Andrews State Park in PCB is also very popular.
     
  4. Jimmy T

    Jimmy T Beach Fanatic

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    John G is right about the lack of enforcement. While I was at Grayton beach yesterday afternoon I saw:

    1. Glass bottles.
    2. Dogs without permits during non-dog hours.
    3. Vehicles on the beach without permits.
    4. Vendor beach set-ups outside of the vending areas.
    5. Folks throwing their trash all over the place.
    6. No deputies. No code enforcement.

    Unbelievable!
     
  5. steel1man

    steel1man Beach Fanatic

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    It was Sunday the busiest day of the week..enforcement starts at 1:00pm ( their words not mind) also WCSO doesnt work hard on Sunday's either, I call them 3 times yesterday for cars park totally over sidewalks...they never showed and lied to me over the phone twice.
     

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  6. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    I wonder if WCSO is too busy protecting and arresting kids at the hot spot beaches in Miramar Beach etc.
     
  7. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    Nothing occurs in a vacuum. I am sure John G is correct that a lack of enforcement of the rules, vendors out of control and draconian rules to enforce property rights are a contributing factor to our current difficulties. However, the truth is the public has always used the white sand part of the beaches and our economy is based in large part on this fact. That is the definition of customary use and the county must fight for these rights to protect the livelihood of a majority of its citizens. This problem has been coming for years and everyone knew it but did not want to deal with it. Because dealing with it will make no one happy and could be political suicide. But we are now to the tipping point where a failure to deal with it will seriously harm the county and its citizens. It would be in everyone's long-term interest to compromise. Allow people to use and traverse the entire beach without harassment but allow the owners to regulate vending, bringing large amounts of property and doing destructive things like digging holes. Code Enforcement should rigorously enforce all the rules of the beach on public and private property, more money should be spent on cleanup and law enforcement should assist property owners in maintaining their property. TDC should aggressively acquire more beachfront to take the pressure off the private owners and those properties should have sufficient amenities to attract the bulk of tourists and locals who do not own beachfront. Advertising should be targeted to educating the public on beach rules and etiquette. There is no magic bullet that will fix the problem but several small improvements to the situation combined can make things better and preserve our way of life.

    On the other hand, doing nothing will continue to inflame the situation and is political suicide and taking a hard line for the property owners will seriously harm the economy and is political suicide as well. There are far more voters north of 30-A and old 98 than there are south. But taking a hard line against the property owners will result in dozens of lawsuits and years of costly litigation. Nobody wins and the bitter feelings will linger for a long time. We need to work together to find an effective compromise.
     
  8. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    Thanks. This is helpful!
     
  9. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    Constructive suggestion, Danny. I think the question is what qualifies as use vs. bringing large amounts of property? It seems much of this conflict started with vendors and tents that give beach goers the idea that they can stay in the sun/on the beach for hours on end; therefore, they bring the large amounts of property that allow them to stay for all those hours or even all day. This is even more problematic in areas that have no bathroom facilities. All day with food and drinks with no bathrooms? Use your imagination.
     
  10. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    Does the tram at Topsail help with this situation in your opinion? If not, what do you think could be done to improve the tram situation?
     
  11. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    Last year, Walton County arranged free parking from Memorial Day to Labor Day (roughly) at Topsail. Unfortunately, even with that incentive, the parking lot was often almost empty. The tram ran every hour and half hour all day and was very punctual, but still very few vehicles. Bicyclists definitely made a showing though!
     
  12. BlueMtnBeachVagrant

    BlueMtnBeachVagrant Beach Fanatic

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    Danny, I'm just going to "pick at" some of your comments. Again, I just hope we can have an honest, intelligent dialogue.

    The definition of customary use is MUCH MUCH more complex. But of course your argument appeals to those who agree with you already.

    There may be some beach locations where the public has used much more than others in the historical past. I can't imagine the public historically and "customarily" treking down 30 to 50 foot dunes in Blue Mountain Beach with chairs, umbrellas and such in tow where there are no stairs or parking. This is in DIRECT CONTRAST in Daytona where the public was/is allowed to drive on the beach with everything nicely packed up in one's car looking for a place to stop and spread out. Heck, I was one of those when I 16 years old (That was just a couple of years ago :) ).


    I totally agree with part of of what you said - "political suicide". That's why the BCC does what they do for the most part - appease the masses, even when it runs against existing rules, regulations and private property rights. Their motto - "So sue us!" Why not, it's not their personal money. And no commissioner is ever held liable. Hopefully you can agree with that,


    This is where I disagree. More beach, more people, more businesses, more employees, more tourists, more beach, more people ..... It's a vicious circle. Slow the growth down and things will reach equilibrium. No one is hurting now. Restaurants, as an example, have been going in and out of business LONG BEFORE the beach access became a real issue down here.

    To this day, I haven't heard anyone say that they could not find a place on the beach....only that they were run off private beach. And probably they were upset because they were inconvenienced by having their views blocked by umbrellas in front of them....tragic.


    I have no problem with traversing as long as the people don't harass those authorized to be on the private beach and just follow simple courtesy.


    Again, I agree and disagree with this sentence. Yes they should enforce the regulations on PUBLIC BEACH, not on private. They don't have the authorization to enforce most of these laws on private beach.


    Now this is where you and I find GREAT COMMON GROUND!!! And isn't the TDC purchasing a $700,000 lot around Inlet Beach? There are millions of dollars sitting in the beach nourishment fund. I think we should be able to find a way to divert these funds for this purpose even thought the current rules state otherwise. Isn't that what governments are really good at doing? :)


    Again, individual citizens are protected in this great country from the idea that anything can simply occur by just a majority vote. The day this changes is the day we're all in very deep, deep trouble.
     
  13. jkmason

    jkmason Beach Lover

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    Before 30A was built people drove their vehicles down the beach to get to Destin and points in between.
     
  14. steel1man

    steel1man Beach Fanatic

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    Before space program there was no Teflon or #TeflonH
     
  15. jkmason

    jkmason Beach Lover

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    Yeah but before Teflon there was no customary use of Teflon........
     
  16. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    I have to disagree because Blue Mountain Beach is exactly where we went to the beach growing up. We parked at the end of 83 and walked down the dunes to the beach with our towels and blankets. When I was a teenager we continued to go to this beach without the adults but with coolers. Before Eloise the dunes were more extensive and we lost even more in Opal. If I were picking a beach that my family had "customarily used" over the last 50+ years Blue Mountain would be it. I have photos of my family using this beach before I was born. I also have photos of company parties my Father's company had at Grayton when I was a small boy. My Great-Grandfather brought his family over by boat to camp on the beach around where Ed Waline is now before the bay bridge was constructed. Be careful when you start refreshing memories of the old families around here.
     
  17. Misty

    Misty Banned

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    LETTER: Selfish beachfront property owners threaten Walton's economy

    The public’s right to use the sandy beaches of South Walton is under assault by beachfront property owners who are claiming the beaches for their own private and exclusive use. Beaches where we grew up fishing, swimming and sunbathing are now littered with “No Trespassing” and “Private Beach” signs and over a hundred fences put up by these selfish owners. The Walton County Sheriff has been called on numerous occasions about alleged “trespassing.”Walton County’s entire economy is in grave danger. If this is allowed to continue, tourists will go elsewhere. Homeowners within walking distance of the beach are not exempt as they also are being treated as trespassers. Without the tourist economy, businesses will close, jobs will be lost, vacation rental income will decline and property values will follow for all but the privileged few who can afford beachfront.A recent Board of County Commissioners meeting held for the purpose of discussing this situation was attended by over 400 people who spoke in favor of public beaches 10-to-1.There is a remedy, the Customary Use Doctrine, which protects public use of the beaches. At the next BCC meeting, commissioners are expected to consider hiring an attorney who is an expert in the field. If you want to protect your job, your property values, please attend and voice your support.
    - CATHERINE HOFFER, Santa Rosa Beach

    Copied from NWFL Daily News
     
  18. catmoney

    catmoney Beach Comber

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    I'm with Danny, I live in Covington County, AL, but my family has resided in Walton County for five generations and I still own the family land there. I grew up going to blue mountain beach because that is where my mom grew up going. She went there and Grayton because that is where her dad went. His mom went by boat just like Danny's family. I really don't know about her mom and dad. My wife and I go down almost every weekend in the Summer. I figure my family has been using the beach from Seagrove to Grayton for over one hundered years, and I intend to keep up the custom. When I was a kid we walked down the dune to get to the gulf. At some point the county started building beach walkovers. Why did the county spend the money on the beach walkovers if no one was using the beach? They built them in these locations because these were the places where the public customarily went to the beach. That seems pretty simple to me.
     
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  19. BlueMtnBeachVagrant

    BlueMtnBeachVagrant Beach Fanatic

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    It certainly must have been breath takingly gorgeous in those days. It probably had the same feel as one gets today when driving through Gulf Islands National Seashore.

    I can imagine that the locations you mention provided some form of vehicle access and parking as you mentioned. And all 3 of the places currently have public beaches and access (Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton and Ed Walline).

    I say this very conservatively... there might be areas that could possibly be argued using customary access where there was convenient access. An occasional boat trip to a beach location and camping would probably would not be one of them. The end of 83 and Grayton would be.

    In your great-grandfather's day, your grandfather's day and even your father's day, they probably didn't have to venture very far from these "access" points to find plenty of space.
     
  20. BlueMtnBeachVagrant

    BlueMtnBeachVagrant Beach Fanatic

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    Catmoney, thanks for your input. And as I mentioned above, " ...there might be areas that could possibly be argued using customary access where there was convenient access." And I'll clarify my statement a bit by adding the following - "and there still is." Customary use supposedly cannot be interrupted from what I understand.

    The following is more for lawyers but it clarifies what one of the attorneys said to the BCC... if the county pursues customary use across the entire beach, the county will have 1100+ lawsuits on its hands, not just one.

    The FL Supreme Court has recognized, in a limited way, the “custom doctrine” (as applied to a specific area of a particular beach) in City of Daytona Beach v. Tona-Rama Inc., 294 So. 2d 73 (Fla. 1974). However, in Reynolds v. County of Volusia, 659 So. 2d 1186 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995), the Fifth District Court of Appeal clarified the geographic scope of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Tona-Rama. The court stated that the doctrine of custom requires "courts to ascertain in each case the degree of customary and ancient use the beach has been subjected to and, in addition, to balance whether the proposed use of the land by the fee owners will interfere with such use enjoyed by the public in the past." Therefore, unlike Oregon, the doctrine of custom according to Reynolds is applied on a tract-by-tract basis in Florida.
     

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