Daniel W. Uhlfelder P.A. | Attorneys At Law


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Florida’s beach battle

On Behalf of | May 22, 2023 | Real Estate Law

Florida is a popular vacation destination for many looking to get away from it all, particularly those who live in colder climates. Whether they are spending a week or the rest of their lives, the Sunshine State is a popular destination.

For outdoor enthusiasts, beaches are numerous, as Florida has more than any other state. However, with that record-breaking number comes controversy. Homeowners throughout Florida’s Panhandle have been involved in heated disputes over private property rights with resorts. Countless calls to sheriff departments are made to evict locals.

Beachgoers push back

Beachgoers continue to protect their customary use rights. Walton County passed a customary use law, only to be stopped by state legislators. That move resulted in a handful of local governments starting a complex legal process.

Traditionally, Florida and other coastal states accounted for fishing and gathering seaweed for fertilizer, regardless of the owner of the frontage. However, when public use became commonplace, laws were enacted to account for the change.

Lateral public access

Current law only presents more challenges in establishing what is known as “lateral public access.” A long-held tradition throughout the U.S. sees people moving down the beach between high and low tide. That zone is mostly accepted ad publicly owned. During the middle of the 20th century, the common practice was tolerated by landowners that people would cross their property.

Fast forward to today. More property owners dot the coast and are not as accepting of seeing an equally growing beachgoer population walking on what is their property. Meanwhile, ocean enthusiasts are limited in accessing fun in the sun.