Florida is often known as the Sunshine State thanks to the continuous hot weather it experiences. Some destinations within the country have reported 128 days in a row of sunshine. A new Florida law going into effect this summer is creating concern that many of the state’s favorite beaches could become off-limits to the public.
Florida could see some famous tourist beaches close thanks to this new law that means private landowners can shut them down. Also, the only way to get around it would be to sue the private landowners.
Furthermore, if private landowners decide to close their beaches, they will be able to ban anyone who isn’t staying on the property. Under the new law, towns that want to re-establish public access to privately owned beaches need to make a case in court. However, the Tampa Bay Times reports that visitors shouldn’t necessarily stress over HB 631, which prevents local governments from adopting ordinances to allow continued public entry to privately-owned beaches without a judge’s approval, including when a property owner wants to block off their land.
The bill faces strong opposition from the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Surfrider Foundation and the Florida Association of Counties, among many others. A Care2 petition to keep Florida’s beaches public has already received nearly 55,000 signatures of its 60,000 goal, including more than 10,000 in the Sunshine State.
The petition reads: “Beaches are an integral part of Florida’s tourism and should be open for all to enjoy. With more coastal regions in the hands of private property owners, there will be less oversight on how to protect these areas. Sign now to keep Florida beaches public!”
Beaches that are a part of Florida’s state park system are guaranteed to remain open to the public, and Miami Beach will be unaffected by the new law since the state owns the entire beachfront.
Although the bill has left many either upset or confused, the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department‘s beach management coordinator, Mike McGarry recommends a wait and see approach.