BELLEAIR BEACH (FOX 13) - Living in a condominium on Belleair Beach is about to get even better for John Miller. A new state law goes in effect July 1, which says private business and homeowners can decide if they want to restrict beach access on the sand their property. It would extend to out to the high tide line.
“That’s a lot of beachfront...Give it to me!” exclaimed Miller.
Think of it this way: Any wet sand is open to the public, however, the dry sand could be private.
Governor Rick Scott signed the bipartisan bill. He was not clear on how it might affect future beach re-nourishment projects, especially those near private owners.
“The way the bill works, you're going to continue to have access to the beach, but we're also going to protect property rights," Scott said. "We should be doing both those things."
Still, several beach-goers opposed the idea. The state's long-standing policy had been that the beaches belonged to the public.
“I think the beach should be accessible by anybody,” said Joel Jahnke, a visitor.
“When the beaches are crowded, people are restricted access. It could affect businesses,” added Jeff Lamster, another visitor.