VILANO BEACH, Fla. – Some residents who live in the Porpoise Point area of Vilano Beach say they're concerned after they've seen people driving recklessly along the beach.
The beach, which was severely eroded after hurricanes Matthew and Irma, is open to vehicles. The gate remains open at night for most of the year, except during turtle nesting season.
"We'll look out here and see them doing donuts through the dunes," said Lisa Myers, a homeowner. “We’ve had drag races.”
Amy Gilbert, another homeowner, said daytime speeding is so bad that on one occasion, she intervened when she noticed a truck was coming dangerously close to a man who was playing in the sand with his child.
“I jumped and started waving my arms, then the truck veered into a different direction," Gilbert said. "The driver, at that speed, would not have seen a man buried in the sand.”
Residents said at night, reckless driving and behavior on the beach intensifies, and some people will drive onto private property. Myers said she and others have installed wooden poles in their backyards to keep the vehicles away.
“By the time we see these things and call police, it takes them too long to get here because they’re understaffed,”Myers said. “We’re not looking to get the beach closed to people. We just want police down here.”
The St. John County Sheriff's Office acknowledged the complaints and said deputies are working on a solution to the problem. An official said there is a limited number of deputies assigned to all the beaches in St. Johns County, which makes it difficult to have personnel constantly patrolling the area.
Officials have discussed keeping the gate to the beach locked at night. Homeowners said they're working with county commissioners to find a solution.