Fernandina locals argue against law affecting access to beaches

By Ashley Spicer - Reporter, anchor, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - A new law affecting owners of beachfront access is set to go into effect July 1, but there remains a lot of confusion surrounding access to Florida’s public beaches.

Many people think the law could give property owners the right to block access to part of the beach on their land.

READ MORE: Leaders clarify how new law will affect your access to Florida beaches

Fernandina Beach locals argue the new law reduces access to beaches in the state, and some have signed affidavits to save the dry sand at the beach.

Nassau County is asking for public input, seeking 10,000 affidavits from the public by June 20, to help further document and establish historic, customary “dry sand” use.

"It’s kind of silly to restrict access to people walking on the beach and such," beachgoer Chandler Stuart told News4Jax. "It seems goofy to not allow people to access back-and-forth, making them walk in the water and the wet sand seems unreal."

TO SIGN THE AFFIDAVIT: Customary Use of Beach

"I think some very rich people -- you have very influential legislators have decided they don’t want people to walk in front of their beach house and I think it’s wrong. Anywhere there is dry sand, it should be public access," said Linda Vacca, with the Turtle Tracking Group. "I’m not saying people have a right to come on your private property. You bought a plot of land with the house, of course you have a right to that house, but anything from the dry sand off the property to the ocean is open to the public."

During a public meeting last week, the city of Fernandina Beach discussed the new law.

State Rep. Cord Byrd, whose district includes the coasts of Duval and Nassau counties, said those who own property on the beach generally own the land up to the sand dunes, which are protected by the state and are off-limits.

Byrd said wet sand in between the water and the dunes is public property, and beachgoers have a right to access it. He said the new law doesn't change that. 

The county will review an ordinance related to customary use of the beach at 6 p.m. Monday.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.