Frequently Asked Questions
What is Florida Beaches for All? - We are an established 501c4 non-profit for social betterment with a sole mission of preserving and perpetuating the doctrine of Customary Use on ALL BEACHES in Florida, and in all of Coastal America.
What is Customary Use? - A doctrine that describes the inalienable right of people to walk upon and lawfully and respectfully use ALL BEACHES for recreation as they have for thousands and thousands of years.
What is HB 631? – According to the Florida Senate website, House Bill 631:
“Authorizes person with superior right to possession of real property to recover possession by ejectment; provides that person entitled to possession of real property has cause of action to regain possession from another person who obtained possession of real property by forcible entry, unlawful entry, or unlawful detainer; prohibits local government from enacting or enforcing ordinance or rule based on customary use; provides an exception; creates, revises, and repeals related procedural provisions.”
So, in layman‘s terms, what does that mean? – Florida Senate House Bill 631 became law on July 1, 2018 and eliminated a Walton County Customary Use Ordinance enacted in October 2016 that was intended to preserve and perpetuate free use of all Walton County beaches. Basically, it means non-beachfront property owners are only able to traverse or set up for a day of recreation at the beach in that sand seaward of the Mean High-Tide Line.
What is the “Mean High-Tide Line”? – Mean High-Tide Line or High-Water Tide Line is a 19-year average of where the daily high-tide intersects with the land (sand) at the maximum height reached by a rising tide. Essentially, it’s the wet sand created by the high tide.
Didn’t Florida Governor Rick Scott recently declare that all beaches in Florida were open to the public? – Sort of, but not really. In July 2018, Governor Scott announced Florida’s beaches were open to all but failed to clarify he meant those Florida beaches at public accesses, not those beaches that are the crux of the issue.
Is it true Walton County no longer picks up trash on the beaches? – On August 13, 2018 Walton County changed its trash collection program. The County has discontinued all trash collection behind private beachfront homes. Trash receptacles have been removed from these areas.
Trash collection procedures remain the same as they have been for many years from the Okaloosa County line east to the approximate area of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park on the west end of the County, and from approximately Seacrest Beach to the Bay County line on the east end.
Walton County will continue to collect trash on a daily basis at all Regional Public Beach Accesses and Neighborhood Public Beach Accesses. However, efforts have been modified to collect trash from the top of these accesses versus driving County trash vehicles across sand above the Mean High-Tide Lines.
That sounds like a dumb plan. Why are they not just picking up trash on all beaches like they always have? – A handful of private beachfront homeowners threatened to sue the County for trespassing if County trash vehicles traversed the sands in question. And obviously, the County cannot risk driving its vehicles in softer, wet sand.
Isn’t that a case of acquiescing to beachfront homeowners’ threats? – In our opinion, yes. We believe customary trash pick-up procedures should have continued as they have for years, at least until this issue is ultimately settled, most likely in a State or Federal court of law.
How will this impact endangered sea turtles? – South Walton Turtle Watch volunteers are closely watching how the HB 631 debate will ultimately play out. Many have voiced concerns that uncollected trash left on beaches on private property, as well as unfilled holes in the sand, are a grave threat to sea turtles who come ashore to build their nests and lay their eggs, as well as the turtle hatchlings who must travel seaward from the nest to reach the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, it remains unclear if Wildlife Lighting Protection Zones ordinances can now be enforced on private property. HB 631 is a very serious threat to sea turtles.
Will my family be able to enjoy our vacation in South Walton as we have for many years? – Nobody knows for sure at this point. If use a public beach access and set up in designated public areas, you should be able to enjoy yourself, though you should expect these areas to be significantly more crowded than they customarily have been. If you’re renting a private beachfront home, you will likely not encounter overcrowding on the beach but you most likely can expect to pay significantly higher rental fees due to this exclusivity.
If I choose to return to South Walton for my vacation and am told to move my belongings from one area of the beach to another, what should I do? – We recommend you contact the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (Non-Emergency Phone: 850.892.8111). If you feel physically threatened in any way, do not escalate matters. We suggest dialing 911 and leaving the area until the emergency responder arrives.