New rules established by the Florida legislature revoking public access to private beaches "does not appear" to affect Longboat Key.
A Florida law that could deny public access to some beaches across the state “does not appear” to have an impact on Longboat Key, according to town counsel.
The new rules, adopted in late March by the Florida Legislature, eliminate vested public interest in beaches landward of a mean high water line — the 19-year average of high tides across Florida established by the state.
The law eliminates what has been known in the Legislature as “customary use” of beaches. This term defines private waterfront that has been accessible to the public because beachgoers have had prolonged, uninterrupted use of that stretch of coastline.
That right to property claimed by the public, under the new law, now returns the owner. Anything seaward of the mean high water line has been, and will remain, public.
But Longboat Key, as part of the state of Florida’s Coastal Management Program, does not use its mean high water line as a means of determining public access to beaches, according to a memorandum sent to the Town Commission from Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale.
The state beach management program establishes an erosion control line in lieu of a high water line, a designation that, at least on Longboat Key, is landward of the mean high water boundary, according to town documents.
The erosion control line is not unique to Longboat Key — it’s used statewide on beaches that are part of the state erosion management program. Surveyors established the line on Longboat Key when the town asked the state for funding to help with managing its beaches.