Monday, November 19, 2007

Florida Signs Beach Protection Senate Bill 1472 into Law

Those of us who love the beach know how disappointing it can be to find fewer and fewer places where public beach access is available. Beachgoers are always in competition with beachfront developers. And the developers always seem to stay one step ahead of us.

With considerable supporting efforts from the Surfrider Foundation, Senate Bill 1472 was signed into law in November 2007 to add some additional roadblocks for developers to hurdle.

I suffered through 9 pages of the document's legalese and came away with these highlights:

  • Existing legally established public access across private property to the beach cannot be infringed by developers without comparable access being provided. One would think that this is a no-brainer, but apparently it needed to be codified into law to be more easily enforced. Note that this does not address the issue of parking. Public access just means "a path to the beach." It doesn't seem to say "and parking areas shall be provided." Nor does it provide for any new public access points. I'm not being critical, just stating the obvious.

  • Since offshore deposits of beach quality sand are limited, the bill provides that such repositories of sand be identified and managed, so there is enough to go around in beach renourishment projects.

  • Certain types of "beach armoring" are now subject to greater impediments to implementation. Specifically, "geotextile" tubes cannot just be thrown down willy-nilly. I had never heard of this type of armoring (Armoring, for those who do not know, means the construction of structures to "protect" the beaches, like seawalls, jetties, groins, etc) until the "geotubes" were installed at Upham Beach, on St. Pete Beach. They are hideously ugly and obstruct those of us who like to walk along the beach. They also screw up a good surf break and create hazardous conditions for swimmers. Photo below:

Above: Yellow geotubes installed at Upham Beach. Ugly!

For some great photos of Upham Beach and the geotubes visit my St Pete Beach website.

Read Senate Bill 1472 (opens a pdf file)
Visit the South Florida Surfrider Foundation
Read about the Bal Harbor beach access interference by a developer. Warning, contains language unsuitable for young children.

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