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lazin&drinkin

Beach Lover
Apr 13, 2010
174
154
Maybe they will prove me wrong but its looking more and more like this is over our BCC's head. I don't know if they are up to the David and Goliath challenge. It's probably a win/win situation for them locally. They will be able to say they "fought the good fight against insurmountable odds" no matter the outcome.

9 years ago, I was driving in DFS en route to my first BCC meeting, with a friend in the passenger seat. We passed a sign advertising a coming exhibit—Revisiting The History of Great Moments in Walton County Government.

I scoffed. “That ought to take no more than 5 minutes. Want to see it while it’s here next month?

My friend never missed a beat. “Why in God’s name would you want to see it twice?"
 

Emerald Drifter

Beach Fanatic
Jun 8, 2018
617
274
Santa Rosa Beach
Perhaps every March 23rd (the date that Scott signed 631) we should have a beachfront festival on the beach in Blue Mountain behind a certain BFO's house. Advertise like its Coachella/Burning Man (or Woodstock for some of you :)). Get the Grateful Dead (Deadheads) types to camp out. Renaissance Faire types too. Live bands, fireworks, live animals, beach vendors (we know they are approved). No glass bottles please and of course, leave no trace.

Of course I'm joking but one can dream...
 

Truman

Beach Fanatic
Apr 3, 2009
650
270
Perhaps every March 23rd (the date that Scott signed 631) we should have a beachfront festival on the beach in Blue Mountain behind a certain BFO's house. Advertise like its Coachella/Burning Man (or Woodstock for some of you :)). Get the Grateful Dead (Deadheads) types to camp out. Renaissance Faire types too. Live bands, fireworks, live animals, beach vendors (we know they are approved). No glass bottles please and of course, leave no trace.

Of course I'm joking but one can dream...
Sounds like every weekend on Grayton Beach.
 

Teresa

SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
30,308
9,310
South Walton, FL
sowal.com
https://www.floridaphoenix.com

Citizens rising up against the Florida Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott, and private property zealots

By
Julie Hauserman
September 17, 2018
2018.07.17.fla-beach-access-2.jpg

Cartoon by Andy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal
There’s a citizen uprising happening in the Panhandle’s Walton County. So far, about 8,000 people have signed sworn affidavits asserting that they use the beaches there. Probably not a single one of them thought they’d have to sign a legal document to prove they go to the beach – in their beach town.

About the biggest regional controversy used to be whether you ought to wear closed-toe shoes instead of flip flops to a wedding.

That was before Walton County got discovered by the mega-mansion crowd. So now, the grassroots effort to save the best of a good Florida place has begun. Because of an obnoxious law passed by the state Legislature (which targets Walton County specifically), locals are now fighting for public access to beaches they’ve enjoyed for generations.

“I moved here when I was six years old,” says Walton County Commissioner Tony Anderson. “My mama was an avid pompano fisherman. I have chased sand fleas up and down this beach. I’ve literally walked all 26 miles of beach here in my 63 years. I’ve crabbed, fished, and camped.”

A recent county commission meeting to discuss the issue was filled to bursting – some 800-1,000 attended. Residents have formed a new nonprofit group, Florida Beaches for All and a slogan #StandYourSand.

The troublesome state beach access law at issue was pushed by some Gulf-front property owners, including, as it turns out, a famous one: former Arkansas governor, past presidential candidate and Fox News darling Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee has a house on the beach in Walton County, and he doesn’t want the riff-raff in front of his place, playing Frisbee, letting their dogs run around, and hanging beach towels on his sand fence, he explained in an email he sent to a Republican South Florida state senator who helped push the bill, Kathleen Passidomo. Huckabee explains he’s just spent 18 hours flying back from Qatar (I’d like to know quite a bit more about that), but monitored the legislative committee meeting on the Internet and wants to thank her for the beach access bill.

About that bill – which became law July 1. You may remember the viral video this summer which showed a couple of Walton County sheriff’s deputies trying to show a beachgoer where he was allowed to sit on the beach. They literally had to draw a line in the sand. The beachgoer was local attorney Daniel Uhlfelder, who set up chairs in front of a condo complex, and someone called the Walton Sheriff’s Department. Deputies told Uhlfelder and his friend they were trespassing. Uhlfelder and one of the deputies walked towards the Gulf and drew a line. The “public” area they identify is in the wet sand along the wave break line – pretty much in the Gulf.

Walton County Sherriff Mike Adkinson told the Phoenix that he doesn’t want to arrest beachgoers, and that the Legislature needs to fix the confusing new state law ASAP. “It puts us in a horrible situation,” he said.

The trouble goes back a few years, when some Walton County waterfront homeowners started putting up ‘No trespassing’ signs to keep regular people from sitting on the beach in front of their condos and houses. This was a shock to locals. Florida has long abided by “customary use” of our beachfront, meaning folks have been using the beaches for decades. Most Florida counties have a customary use law to ensure public access, but Walton County didn’t, so the county commission passed one in mid-2016.

That’s when private-property-rights zealots hired lobbyists to go to the Legislature to circumvent the local county commission’s wishes. They ended up with the stealthy H.B. 631, which passed during the 2018 legislative session and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law.

The law put a target on Walton County’s back, because it said any county that had a customary use law in effect on or before January 2016 could keep its law, and thus keep the status quo allowing public beach access. Except Walton County hadn’t passed its law by that date, and those pushing to close public beach access knew that. Walton County was now purposefully teed up to be a property rights test case.

“I’m very offended that Walton County was singled out,” Commissioner Anderson says. “This is just a disaster for Walton County. We have four million visitors a year. We’ve heard about visitors who came this year and were treated shabbily and they are not coming back.”

When news of the new law went public, Gov. Scott – Oh He of the Election-year Environmental Awakening – issued an Executive Order which “urges counties to protect public beach access.”

Except Scott’s executive order is not a law, so it doesn’t count. “Unfortunately the governor can’t nullify the law,” explained Sheriff Adkinson.

Scott – who is running for U.S. Senate against Bill Nelson – hilariously ducked out of his own campaign stop Sept. 9 at a Walton County restaurant after his jittered staffers saw some gray-haired protesters waiting. “He’s scared of little old ladies in tennis shoes,” one of the sign-holders told the Tampa Bay Times. One protest sign which must have peeved the Scott camp: “Republicans for Bill Nelson.”

Now a new chapter in the fight for Walton County beaches begins: In November, the Walton County Commission plans to vote on a new customary use ordinance, to try to put things back the way they were before the Legislature and Gov. Scott mucked them up. The lawsuits against Walton County from the property rights camp will begin again, and the county will have to pay handsomely to defend its right to keep public access on beaches.

“It’s going to be expensive, but it’s going to be more expensive to lose this case. Losing access to our beaches could be a total meltdown of our economy,” Commissioner Anderson says.

There’s a lot to unpack in the whiny email that Huckabee sent to the state legislator, begging her for help to keep the plebeians away from his castle, but I’ll share a few choice nuggets:

“This,” he writes, “should not be a political decision based on popularity…” (just let that sink in for a minute, all you non-monarchs) “but a legal decision based on the Constitutional premise of private property rights, the very foundation of liberty.”

Huckabee explains that he grew up “dirt poor” in Arakansas, and “never thought I would see salt water in person, much less live on a beach.” He says he gives to church, and to charity “and certainly to Walton County!”

His beef, he explains, is that beachfront owners are “demonized as ‘greedy, selfish, and rich’ owners who want to deprive the poor of their rights.”

Lemme think a minute. Do they have that old saying in Arkansas? The one about the pot and the kettle? I think they do.

Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book - Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles - comes out this fall.

logo-mobile_white_opt.png
 

bob bob

Beach Fanatic
Mar 29, 2017
727
423
SRB
Huckabee writes. But he says he's been appalled on what he's found on his beach property. "I've found used condoms on my walk-down, glass bottles broken, dog feces, litter. Sharp tent poles that can cut bare feet and worse. Large tents with large groups with boom boxes make using my own property very difficult during high season."
And yet his neighbors' beaches remain clean and treated with respect.... hmmmm.
 

SUP Boarder

Beach Lover
Jun 12, 2019
111
72
Seacrest
Did this kick off yesterday...

Trial Set for May 16 2023

At a Friday hearing [July 29 2022] County Judge David Green set May 16, 2023, as the start date for a trial that is expected to run eight weeks on a four days per week schedule, according to Ted Borowski, an attorney representing some of the 1,194 beachfront property owners impacted by the county's legal action.
 

Matt J

SWGB
May 9, 2007
24,663
9,505
Did this kick off yesterday...

Trial Set for May 16 2023

At a Friday hearing [July 29 2022] County Judge David Green set May 16, 2023, as the start date for a trial that is expected to run eight weeks on a four days per week schedule, according to Ted Borowski, an attorney representing some of the 1,194 beachfront property owners impacted by the county's legal action.

Not sure, but I know there was a meeting on Monday with the BCC. It was closed door, but my best guess was a last minute settlement conference before the actual trial kicked off. In 8 weeks we'll know if the real estate market will continue or tank.
 

miznotebook

Beach Fanatic
Jul 8, 2009
962
603
Stone's throw from Inlet Bch

By DOTTY NIST

With few details publicly available, on May 11 the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) approved a proposal to settle the customary use of the beach lawsuit—a case in which the county has been involved since December 2018 in Walton County Circuit Court.

The commissioners met at the South Walton Annex.

The customary use complaint had been filed by the county in line with requirements set forth in Section 163.035 Florida Statutes for local governments to affirm customary recreational use of the beach. Taking effect on July 1, 2018, the statute section had also negated Walton County’s existing customary use ordinance, which had provided for recreational customary use of the beach on privately-owned properties along Walton County’s 26-mile beachfront.

With some 800 parties having intervened in opposition to the county’s court effort, the case had been set to go to trial on May 22.

After meeting in closed executive session on May 11 to discuss the case, the commissioners heard from Clay Adkinson, acting county attorney, in the public session that followed. Adkinson advised, “Based on this board’s prior action and the discussion in executive session, we have discussed and the board has agreed to approve a settlement.” He then recommended a motion.

Adkinson stated, “First motion would be to accept an authorized entry into the terms of the settlement as previously reviewed by this board with the understanding that any parcel…who does not enter into a settlement, who wishes to voluntarily dismiss their claims against the county and bear their own fees and cost will receive a voluntary dismissal, without prejudice, from the county, with the provision that all of those dismissals shall become prejudicial, following one year from the date of entry of the settlement, unless either party has commenced…litigation—and authorize us to begin collecting those signatures, and so advise the court.”
 
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miznotebook

Beach Fanatic
Jul 8, 2009
962
603
Stone's throw from Inlet Bch

A May 15 decision in Walton County Circuit Court has resulted in the trial for Walton County’s customary use of the beach case, which had been set to begin on May 22, being continued for at least three weeks.

This is the case filed by Walton County in 2018 applying to 1,194 privately-owned beachfront parcels, in which the county is seeking to affirm the existence of customary recreational use of the beach.

At a May 15 hearing that had been scheduled for motions related to the case, Walton County Circuit Court Judge David Green, presiding judge, prioritized and heard a recent motion by Walton County requesting continuance of the trial.

Speaking for Walton County, acting county attorney Clay Adkinson discussed the reason for the request, indicating that the county and attorneys for the parties who had intervened in opposition to the county’s court effort had “reached what we believe will be a positive settlement agreement to the vast majority of the case.”

“There’s some time needed to put ink on paper for the sheer number of parties in this, as well as filing certain dismissals,” Adkinson explained as he addressed Judge Green.

Approximately 800 parties have intervened in the lawsuit since its filing in 2018.
 
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