An Opinion on Beach Access

Are we going to lose our access to park, camp, and horseback ride on the beach?

By: Eric Childers – For as long as I can remember there has been a concerted effort to remove Beach parking from our community. The people behind this effort have no regard for traditional and historic uses of our beaches. Our beaches are the sovereign property of all the citizens of Florida. Not just those who have recently arrived. Beach camping was all but eliminated when the County Commissioners passed a no-overnight-parking ordinance during the holiday, in December of 2018. County Government passes these unpopular ordinances when people aren’t looking. All to the end goal of removing beach parking, camping and horse back riding from the beach. Less than 1 mile of beach is currently utilized as a beach parking/camping area, yet new arrivals think this is to much. Even communities like Nantucket Massachusetts allow on beach parking and they are arguably the most environmentally sensitive community in the United States.

The claim has been made that “the homeless” will live there or kids are behaving irresponsibly, these are enforcement issues and would require no further discussion. Proper signage can deal with the safety issues. There is tireless group of squawking residents who purchased a condo near Peters Point and have decided they are more important than the any other county residents who frequent our beach. Our Beach. This is akin to buying a home near the airport and then complaining about the noise. Our leaders need to spend their time figuring out how to save our historic and traditional uses of our beaches through monitoring and permitting processes instead of banning them altogether. Of course, from anyone’s perspective the nefarious activities that sometimes result from people having “too good a time” needs to be mitigated, but not at the expense everyone else. This is an enforcement issue and to suggest that it is too difficult to permit and monitor is disingenuous or just plain lazy. I know our county staff and Sheriff’s deputies can handle this, it’s not brain surgery. People who film these shenanigans instead of calling the police have an agenda. They are not interested in law enforcement or they would have called the police.

In one instance, a few years back, there was post to Facebook that someone had left a mess on the beach, for 6 hours or so no one offered a solution, just complaining about how bad it was. Picture after picture and comment after comment were posted about how this can only be solved by closing the beach to vehicular traffic. Having a 4X4 I went down and cleaned it up myself. It was a mess, but it took me less than 20 minutes and you would never had known there had been a bon-fire there. It was bad and I’m not denying that, but that is the exception not the rule. Getting this stuff off the beach was the solution, not taking pictures and bemoaning that fact that things get out of hand from time to time, especially with young people.

It’s not just young people who use our beach parking. At about 4:30-5:00 the demographic changes to our senior population, who drive down in their SUVs, break out a Hibachi and make themselves a beach side picnic. With our aging demographic I dare say beach parking will significantly contribute to our ADA accessible efforts in the future. It is certainly my hope that when I can no longer walk to the beach or ride my horse on the beach, that I will still be able to drive down there, park, get out of my car and feel the sand between my toes. Once you take this away from us no Commission can ever bring it back, ever… come defend our beach rights.

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