State Legislature on Path to Take Beach Access from Residents/Visitors
* House to Vote Wednesday, 2/14, to block customary use ordinances
On Wednesday, 2/14, the Florida House will vote to take beach access from residents and visitors. After passing the House Judiciary Committee with a 15-3 vote, HB 631 was placed on the special order calendar and comes up for a floor vote this week. This bill — and SB 804 — would block public access to our beaches, usurp local decision making, and cut into tourism dollars. Meanwhile, beachfront property owners enjoy the financial benefits of a booming tourism economy and beach maintenance supported by our tax dollars.
As explained by the Surfrider Foundation:
SB 804 & HB 631, “Possession of Real Property” by Senator Kathleen Passidomo and Representative Katie Edwards-Walpole, would prohibit all local customary use ordinances, requiring instead a judicial determination customary use claim be determined by a court on a parcel-by-parcel basis. Unbelievably, this legislation comes just weeks after a court upheld Walton County’s Customary Use Ordinance. In that case, Judge Rogers correctly held that Florida counties have authority to recognize, regulate, and protect the public’s right to use their dry sand beaches, based on custom. If this bad bill were to pass, St. Johns, Volusia, and Walton counties would all be at risk of losing their customary use ordinances.
These bills could have effects far beyond beach access, by limiting local government’s ability to make decisions to protect its citizens. Filed by south Florida legislators, the bills would force local governments to court, lot by lot, to allow visitors and citizens to enjoy our God-given beaches, maintained by our tax money when threatened. How long would that take? (Some Daytona area beaches are exempt.)
* Senate Bill Sailing to Floor
While not yet scheduled for a vote, SB 804 received a 7-3 vote in Judiciary Committee and is now in the Community Affairs Committee.
Call your legislators!!
Walton County . . .
Senator George Gainer
Panama City Office: 850-747-5454
Niceville Office: 850-803-8395
Representative Brad Drake
Capitol Office: 850-717-5005
Defuniak Springs Office: 850-951-0547
Urge your friends and neighbors to ACT NOW! Share this news with them NOW!