Who Owns Florida Beaches? New Florida Law Lets Beachfront Property Owners Erect Barriers on Beachfront Property
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. – July 3, 2018
A new fence restricting access to beach areas appeared in Indian Rocks, Florida, as a new Florida law went into effect July 1.
This law redefines the reach of beachfront property owners' claims to "the land above the mean high-tide level." This seemingly innocuous change means that beachfront owners can erect barriers on beachfront property. Beachgoers then must walk around barriers into high-tide areas. This also means that the police will be allowed to arrest people who put their beach blankets down in front of private homes and who refuse to leave.
Also included in the law is a ban restricting cities from creating their own rules to ensure public access to public lands.
This law provoked a strong public outrage. Wealthy visitors who have built multi-million dollar beach homes will be advantaged by the law, whereas county residents, tourists, surfers and restaurant owners will likely be negatively impacted. Some people believe that it is another victory for the oligarchy. “Big money always win,” said Dave Levine, a tourist visiting Florida. "Beach access should be sacrosanct for all. The notion of a private beach is an oxymoron," he added.
Critics of the law fear other homeowners across the state will put up similar barriers blocking access to their beachfront properties, but Governor Rick Scott, who signed the law, insists that the wealthy owners will not abuse their power. What impact this will have on the region and all of its inhabitants remains to be seen.