ANNA MARIA, Fla — Many homeowners buy beachfront properties for the views, but how much of the sand do they really control?
Back in 2018, then-Governor Rick Scott signed a law that allows the public to stroll the beach where the sand is wet. Where the sand is dry belongs to the property owner. But, some say this relatively new law is still open to interpretation. Here’s an explanation of the law from the University of Florida.
We've seen a case in Siesta Key where a homeowner put up barriers to try to prevent people on the beach from leaving trash, urinating and even having sex behind her home. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is looking into the barriers there and whether they're allowed.
The Department of Environmental Protection sent us this statement:
“DEP is committed to serving as an advocate for the public's right to public beach access and acts as a liaison to local governments in these matters. DEP has an ongoing investigation into these claims. As part of this investigation, DEP will conduct a Compliance Site Inspection and report its findings in a Compliance Inspection Report.DEP has a number of enforcement tools we are able to use to address any identified violations. Depending on the nature of the violation and circumstances surrounding the event, DEP will determine which measure is best-suited. Along with the possibility of fines and penalties, which is one enforcement tool, enforcement can also necessitate mitigation, restoration and/or remediation actions through a Compliance Assistance Offer, Consent Order, or other enforcement mechanism.”
Now in Anna Maria, a couple of property owners are trying to block the area behind their homes with some wood pilings and rope. One owner, who doesn't want us to be named for fear of getting harassed from neighbors, said some people have been coming up on the dry part of the beach, and even onto their patio.
“We would appreciate if they would be respectful and just walk outside of our property. They’re welcome to walk the beach, just give us some space and peace. That’s all we want,” she told 10News.
The home has been in the family for nearly 70 years. But, she added it's getting harder to enjoy it with all of the disruptions. She said others are considering adding barriers to their properties too.
John Erickson walks around the obstacles. He said it doesn’t bother him, but he doesn’t understand why the property owners are taking the measures when there haven’t been any improvements to the beach.
"I don’t know why they can’t at least cut one of the ropes and shorten the poles a little bit. Again, by the state law, they should have it back to the high tide mark,” Erickson said.
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