Public Access to Beaches on Private Property Could Be Limited

What to Know

  • The public's access to beaches could be further restricted if the beaches are private.
  • It will be up to each private business or homeowner to determine if sand not affected by tidewater will be off-limits to the public.
  • The law goes into effect July 1.

In a few months, private businesses and homeowners can decide if they want to restrict beach access to the public in certain stretches of dry sand after a bill signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

The "Possession of Real Property" bill bans cities and counties from "adopting or keeping in effect certain ordinances and rules based upon customary use" – meaning local government cannot force a private beach to be open for public use in certain instances.

When the bill comes into effect on July 1, it will be up to each individual business and homeowner to decide if a segment of its respective private beach will be available for public use.

However, any part of the beach that becomes wet due to the tide will remain public. The bill only applies to dry sand that is not affected by the high tide water line.

The new law is the first of its kind in the United States and counters the long-standing policy that deemed beaches belong to the public.

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