Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State May Debate Beach Access; A Fernandina Beach Lawmaker Proposes Making It Illegal to Block Public Access to a Beach

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State May Debate Beach Access; A Fernandina Beach Lawmaker Proposes Making It Illegal to Block Public Access to a Beach

Article excerpt

Byline: LILLY ROCKWELL, The Times-Union

TALLAHASSEE -- For Charlotte Kolb, beach access means the difference between a five-minute walk and an inconvenient car ride.

Kolb, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, said she took her five children to Jacksonville Beach to enjoy the sun and sand because Ponte Vedra's eight access points were not well-maintained.

"You can't see the ones that are unmarked because there are utility lines and cable boxes," Kolb said. "There is landscaping, so you just can't use them because it looks like private property. Where one yard ends another one begins -- even when there is an access you just can't tell."

Beach access, customarily considered a county problem, this year is falling into the hands of state government. Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, proposed a bill that would make it illegal to obstruct public access to the beach.

His proposal prohibits someone from erecting a sign, structure or any other kind of barrier, including landscaping, on undeveloped land. Mostly this would apply to land adjacent to private beachfront property.

"The No. 1 issue is a lack of legislative oversight in state law," said Scott Shine, director of a beach access organization called the Surfrider Foundation of Jacksonville. "If you look at the big coastal states, like California and Texas, in Florida we're kind of unique in that we don't have a set of laws that specifically protects access."

Shine wrote an initial 100-page version of the bill called the Open Beaches Act three years ago. He has lobbied the Duval County delegation for support since and finally found an ally in Bean. Shine said he hopes it will be a "small step" toward his cause.

But, this small step has big opposition. County governments oppose it because it encroaches on their power, many private property owners don't like it because along with more beachgoers comes noise and trash, and House Speaker Allan Bense expressed reservations about bringing it to the House floor.

"I caution Rep. Bean to make sure it's well thought out and to get a lot of feedback," Bense, a fellow Republican, said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.