Back Beach Information

Jan 21, 2022

Beach Access and Use Update

Beach access and use for our association has become stabilized in 2021 with the acquired beachfront property by Walton County at the end of San Roy Road. This formerly leased property by Beachside Villas Owners Association provides excellent accessibility options to owners and their guests alike. This new (and very large) public beach (less than 1200-feet away), as well as other nearby options provide for excellent accessibility to the beach and the Gulf. To help owners and renters understand their options clearly, beach access and its use is summarized in our Beach Access and Use document which is available in our Library under “Articles of Incorporation, rules, and beach use.”, or under the Beach icon thumbnail on the top left of the BSVHOA Homepage.

February 11, 2021

An Excellent Summary of Beach Rights, Use, and Problems.

Dr. Ridley, Owner at Beachside Villas

Mr. Ridley says, “We have owned our unit for eight years, and have visited the area for almost 30 years.” We never had problems with use of the beach until HB 631 was hatched. Visitors come to the beach for beach activities, dining and shopping, and beach use is the primary activity. Denial of or restrictions based on use of the beach will damage the economy of the area with fewer renters. We have watched restriction of common usage of the beach shrink gradually, and are now being asked to further sacrifice rights to the beach by making various arrangements to visit only small unrestricted portions of it. This denial of convenient use of the beach from dawn until dusk is an attempt by owners of large beachfront homes to intimate that they ‘own the beach.’ However, this has never been the law.

According to Florida law, public trust doctrine, unless dry sand is already owned for public use, private beachfront property extends (only) to the Mean High Tide Line (MHTL). Also, customary use extends to dry sand. This is found in Article X, Section 11 of the FL Constitution. The state holds the land seaward of the MHTL.

Use of the ‘wet sands’ is expanded to embrace recreational uses. Bathing/swimming has not been challenged except by landowners who don’t understand the term Mean High Tide Line. One nearby landowner arbitrarily changed the MHTL by the hour as the tide encroached and then receded, having guards to enforce his knuckle-headed assumption. I doubt he is familiar with basic math or economic principles.

As we know, HB 631 destroyed the concept of customary use giving homeowners the right to challenge beachgoers for trespassing on dry land behind their homes. They are now using this as a means of preventing access to the beaches. The governor tried to walk back the controversial bill, still used by bull-headed property owners who would suffer no ill effects from sunbathers and children playing in the sand. I do understand that mere repeal of HB 631 would not ‘fix’ the problems. We need a new, comprehensive law.

Easement predates written history as a right. Humans have been traversing beaches of Florida since before recorded history. Specifically, the ‘bridge’ adjacent to Sugar Dunes has been used as an entry/exit point for many years. Easement from continued use even when land is privately owned would supersede laws allowing personal prohibition against using easement as a means of ingress/egress with no questions.

July 6, 2020

Information About Beach Usage

As you each are aware, Beachside Villas does not have deeded access to the beach and has historically relied upon Customary and Ordinary Use (public usage of beaches) as have all other non-beach landowners, tenants of condominiums etc. that are not on the beach. Several years ago the then governor (Gov. Scott) of Florida issued an order permitting deeded beach front property to be the domain of deeded beach front property owners which permitted exclusion from use under accepted (and long standing interpretation) of Customary and Ordinary Use. Some of the homeowners who had deeded beach frontage filed a lawsuit to make their beach property private from beach goers that include all of us at Beachside Villas.

This is an ongoing challenge and at present Walton County has a litigation suit in the courts to allow our beaches to go back to Customary and Ordinary Use (Public Usage of beaches). It is in appeal and a decision is expected within a Walton County Court (presided by Judge Green). He will be making the decision of going back to “Customary and Ordinary Use” or uphold the current law of the private beach property. We expected this to be resolved by the middle of June but recent events (COVID 19, etc.) have pushed this back. Our beaches have been enjoyed by the public forever so we hope soon it will be ordered to allow the public on all our beaches again.

January 13, 2020

Potential Beach Access Legislation

The below link provides information about legislation to return the beaches to customary use. The link is a good information item that discusses some of the history and a potential path forward which you may want to consider supporting. Click on or copy/paste the link in your browser.

Oct 8, 2018

Aug 22, 2018

July 12, 2018