NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Trips to Florida beaches will soon come with more restrictions.
Gov. Rick Scott recently signed the "Possession of Real Property" bill into law, allowing beachfront property owners to restrict access to the sand behind them. It includes owners of hotels, condos and beachfront houses.
But the new law is not sitting well with many beachgoers.
"How can he do that to us, without a referendum for the whole county," said Jeanette Ferrell, who was visiting Neptune Beach on Tuesday. "It's everybody's beach."
The law will be the first of its kind in the entire nation.
For example, One Ocean Resort and Spa in Neptune Beach will control access to the beach directly in front of it.
The new rules giving property owners the right to restrict access to their part of the beach means the millions who visit Florida's sandy shores every year will need to pay closer attention starting this summer.
"Leave it open. Make it easier for people to go on the beach, not harder," beachgoer Ken Nugent told News4Jax.
Beachfront property owners will also be allowed to put up signs, rope off the area or even have people removed. Only one portion of the sand will still be open to the public.
According to the new law, the dry sand would be controlled by the property owner, up to the water line.
"That sounds silly," Nugent said. "Wet sand, dry sand -- it’s too many rules and regulations for nature, for having fun at the beach."
In a statement from Scott’s office, his press secretary told News4Jax:
This bill passed the House and Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support and nearly every county that this bill affects supported this legislation. This bill makes zero determination on the status of local beaches, nor does it prohibit public access. This bill simply creates a process for local governments and property owners to go to court for a judge to make the determination on the status of a beach.
The bottom line is that this bill protects both people’s access to Florida’s coasts and individual’s property rights.”
The law will go into effect in the middle of the summer rush. It starts July 1.