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Customary Use Battleground in Walton County, Florida - Public Hearing Nov 3

October 15, 2018 by SoWal Staff

Many visitors to SoWal are shocked to find out that much of the stretch of beach between Miramar Beach and Inlet Beach is deeded to beachfront owners. As parking has gotten scarce and chair vendors have taken over much of the public space, competition for a place to relax is getting heated.

There has been much discussion on the SoWal Forum with debate among people on all sides of the issue. The legal battle has extended to the State Legislature and is destined to move its way up the courts in an extended confrontation. There is much confusion and misinformation about the issue. And much passion!

Details FOR NEXT PUBLIC MEETING

What: Walton County Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing: Customary Use

When: Saturday, November 3, 2018

Time: 9:00 am

Where: South Walton High School

PUBLIC HEARING: ORDINANCE PROTECTING THE PUBLIC’S LONG-STANDING CUSTOMARY USE OF THE DRY SAND

[Update 11/4/18 - at the meeting on Nov 3, the Board of County Commissioners for Walton County has declared that Customary Use applies to 26 miles of South Walton Beaches (less the state parks) and voted 5-0 to proceed to file suit in Circuit Court to ask for a declaratory judgment as outlined in HR 631.]

The Walton County Board of County Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing  on the ordinance protecting the public's long-standing customary use of the dry sand on Saturday, November 3, 2018, beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the South Walton High School located at 645 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

The Walton County Board of County Commissioners proposes to adopt the following by ordinance:

AN ORDINANCE OF WALTON COUNTY, FLORIDA, PROTECTING THE PUBLIC’S LONG-STANDING CUSTOMARY USE OF THE DRY SAND AREAS OF THE BEACHES, clarifying which uses are permitted and prohibited for members of the public on the dry sand areas of the beach that are owned by private entities; PROVIDING FOR A BUFFER AREA AROUND PRIVATE PERMANENT STRUCTURES; PROVIDING FOR PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THIS ORDINANCE; PROVIDING AUTHORITY, SEVERABILITY, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

This public meeting regarding Walton County's intent to move forward with the customary use ordinance is the first step required by the State of Florida's legislation that went into effect July 1. There will be a large crowd for the public hearing so arrive as early as possible. The public will be given the chance to speak at the hearing.

SUBMIT AFFIDAVIT & PHOTOS BY NOV 3

Walton County is requesting that members of the public submit a notarized affidavit and/or photos showing evidence of customary use of yourself, your family or others on South Walton beaches during previous visits (prior to July 1). Locals, second homeowners, visitors and everyone who has visited our beaches can participate in this important process. The deadline is November 3 when the Walton County Board of County Commissioners will have a public hearing to affirm customary use and draft an ordinance. 

We need every affidavit, so if you've ever set foot on the Beaches of South Walton and are over 18, please submit your affidavit. Locations and instructions below. It only takes a few minutes to submit an affidavit, email photos, or both actions. Take a stand in the sand and help us regain our Customary Use of all beaches once and for all. 

Walton County Website: homepage includes Customary Use affidavit instructions and info

Submit an Affidavit
View Affidavit Instructions
Download Affidavit Form
View Map of County Beach Areas
Download Full Packet

Visit these Walton County offices where you can pick up an affidavit, have it notarized for free, and submit. Bring your driver's license/ID:

  • Walton County Planning Department, South Walton Courthouse Annex, 31 Coastal Centre Boulevard, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, 32459
  • Walton County Attorney’s Office, 161 East Sloss Avenue, DeFuniak Springs, Florida, 32433

Many local businesses are also hosting affidavit events where you can fill out the paperwork, have it notarized and leave it for submission by the event organizers. Follow the conversation for the latest information and updates at SoWal Community Forums - Local Governement & Groups forum. Anyone can read posts but you must be registered and logged in to post in the forum.

Submit Your Photos
Include Name, Location and Date
Email to: BeachIssues@co.walton.fl.us or drop them off at

Out of Town?
If you live out of the area, please download the affidavit and have it completed according to instructions and mail in to Walton County. Mail to: 161 East Sloss Ave, DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433. Email photos to BeachIssues@co.walton.fl.us. Your affidavit is important to attest that you have visited South Walton beaches especially those that are not currently public beach accesses.

Please help SAVE OUR BEACHES by submiting your affidavit today! If you have any questions regarding the Affidavit or submitting photos, please contact the Walton County Attorney’s Office at (850) 892-8110. 

If you're a South Walton local, you can visit the following locations to pick up customary use affidavits with free notaries:
South Walton Annex, Planning Department on Mondays through Fridays from 8am-4:30pm
Walton County Attorney's Office in Defuniak Springs on Mondays through Thursdays from 8am-5pm and Fridays from 8am-3pm
30A Local Properties in Grayton Beach, Florida Monday through Friday
Daniel W. Uhlfelder, PA Law Office on Mondays through Friday from 8am-5pm​​
UPS Store Inlet Beach M-F 8am - 6:30pm

CUSTOMARY USE

A doctrine that describes the inalienable right of people to walk upon and lawfully and respectfully use ALL BEACHES for recreation as they have for thousands of years.

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