FLORIDA—A Care2 petition is calling for the repeal of a new Florida law that will give hotels, condos, and private residences more control over their beachfront property. The Care2 petition says the law will give property owners too much leeway to shut out the public from Florida beaches; it has gathered over 22,000 signatures.
“Beaches are an integral part of Florida’s tourism and should be open for all to enjoy,” the Care2 petition reads. “Sixty percent of Florida’s beaches are already privately owned. This new law will put even more power in the hands of landowners to further restrict where, when, and how people can access the beach.”
HB 631, the Possession of Real Property Bill, goes into effect on July 1.
Care2 says the law “isn’t just an inconvenience for beachgoers—it also has the potential to cause environmental harm. With more coastal regions in the hands of private property owners, there will be less oversight on how these areas are protected.”
“Customary use” is a legal doctrine that allows the public to use privately owned parts of the beach if they can show that it’s been used for years by the public, the Miami New Times reports. HB 631 prevents cities and counties from passing new ordinances that guarantees customary use access, instead forcing them to go to the judge to argue the public should have access.