Earlier in 2018, Governor Scott signed a bill into law that had a substantial impact on beachfront communities in Florida as well as businesses in the surrounding area. While the exact impact that this law will have on many pieces of Florida property is uncertain, some people have responded to the law as a significant limitation on the rights of property owners.
The Basis of Florida Beach Access Ordinances
Beach access ordinances in Florida are based on the legal principle of “customary use,” which is that the traditional uses of Florida’s beaches are for public recreation even if the beach is on private property. The Florida Supreme Court has even held that if a private property owner attempts to place a fence around their property or contact law enforcement to throw locals off the beach, the local government can use this customary exception to let the public remain on the property. The recent ordinance blocks the government from adopting ordinances to permit the public to continue to enter privately owned beaches. Instead, under this new law, any county that wants to let the public continue to enter privately owned land must initiate legal action against the private landowners. As a result of this new law, Walton County’s recent beach access ordinance was blocked.
Response to the Beach Access Ordinance
Even though the bill passed in both the House and Senate, it has received significant criticism from beach-goers, realtors, business owners, and many others. The Governor’s office even reports that opponents to the law outnumber supporters at an 8 to 1 ratio. A professor at the University of Florida Law School has commented that a heavy burden was placed on the courts by making the only option to obtain public access suing beach owners. Environmental groups like Florida Wildlife Federation have also spoken out against the law. Other areas like Miami Beach have commented the ordinance will have little to no effect on the area because the entire beach is public.
The Effects of the Law
The law became effective on July 1, 2018, and since then has left many beach-goers confused about where public access has been cut off and what beaches are impacted. As a result, many county commerce chambers throughout Florida received a number of calls from confused beach-goers this summer. Fortunately, a large number of Florida’s beaches are owned by the state’s park system, which means that they can still be accessed by the public. Approximately 60% of Florida’s beaches, however, are privately owned and access to these locations is now forbidden in accordance with the ordinance.
Speak with an Experienced Florida Property Lawyer
If you have questions about how this new ordinance will impact your Florida beach front property, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney. At Adam Law Group, we have helped numerous people navigate a variety of complicated property issues including those related to beach front ordinances. Contact our law office today to schedule an initial free consultation.