SIESTA KEY, Fla. — One of the best parts about living in Florida is enjoying the amazing beaches.
The Siesta Key area is known for its soft sand and crystal waters, which make it a destination for beach visitors and a huge benefit for nearby property owners. One couple with property on Shell Road says beachgoers have been causing problems.
Michelle Olson and her husband released surveillance images, showing people urinating, partying, having sex and leaving trash on the beach behind their property. They live adjacent to beach access point #1 on Siesta Key.
The Olsons hired a company to construct a barrier on the beach behind their property fence. It has a "no trespassing" sign.
Neighbors and frequent beach visitors are not happy about the fencing, claiming it restricts public beach access. The Olsons say they've constructed it along the mean water line. According to Florida Law, the public has the right to use the beach below the mean high tide line, or the highest point where the water comes up on the sand.
"You can see it (the mean water line) right down the center, and she's covering it up with rocks and boulders. It's corrupt," says one beachgoer, who wanted only to be identified as 'Q.'
Another visitor who lives just down the street, John Tympanick, says, "I think it's absolutely abusive and what a shame to a beautiful beach we've been enjoying for years."
Other neighbors who frequent the beach say the battle for public access has been going on for about a year.
Sarasota County's Beaches and Water Access Manager Cindy Turner sent the following statement:
"Sarasota County has many public beach access points along our 35 miles of beaches. Siesta Key alone has 13 public beach accesses, including Shell Road or Siesta Beach Access 1, plus Siesta Public Beach and Turtle Beach. The beaches and public beach accesses are open to the public to enjoy. Siesta Public Beach, Turtle Beach, and the 13 Siesta public beach accesses are not private, however, there are also private beaches/properties along Siesta Key adjacent to public beach accesses. Private property owners cannot block access to public beach accesses/property."
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