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Sarasota Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 8 years ago

County targets signs blocking beach access

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Sarasota County is preparing an ordinance because waterfront property owners have been placing signs, fences and barricades on the sand to keep the public away,

The county held a workshop Nov. 3 to answer questions from the public about the proposed ordinance. The law would prohibit “signs, gates, barricades, fences, walls or physical impediments” seaward of a bluff or established line of vegetation.

The county commission is scheduled to vote on the ordinance at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Some Siesta Key residents have placed “no trespassing” signs, barriers, even crime tape, to keep the public from walking on the beach near their home. State law dictates that the wet, sandy beach belongs to the public, but some barriers blocked that access.

Some residents were afraid the new ordinance means the county is encouraging people who wander into their backyards or use their swimming pools illegally.

Rachel Herman, a county project scientist, said that is — and always has been — trespassing, an issue for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to handle, not this ordinance.

She said residents can still enforce trespassing by placing signs on top of seawalls or landward of the vegetation line.

Commissioner Nora Patterson, a Siesta Key property owner, attended the meeting, and she said people have the right to walk the beach.

“If you put up a barrier, you shoot yourself in the foot, because you can’t walk the length of beach either.”

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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