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Who said things couldn’t get any worse?

By Staff | Jul 1, 2009

To the editor,

Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse…

Never mind the economy. Never mind plummeting real estate, declining Doc stamps and concomitant beach preservation revenues. Never mind a precipitous decline in tourism and associated revenues. Never mind DEP raids on beach grant monies and piggy bank raids by Lee TDC. Never mind the Florida legislature stampeding in an offshore oil and gas drilling bill.

Yes, just when we thought things couldn’t get more difficult – Wham! – along comes a potentially deleterious decision from the U.S. High Court to review an important piece of Florida Beach and Shore legislation.

Do mind that we now have the U.S. Supreme Court to wring our hands over, as it elects to weigh in on the constitutionality of Florida’s Beach and Shore Preservation Act (FBSP).

Who said things couldn’t get any worse? Keep your eye on a case called “Stop The Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)” wherein the U.S. High Court will review a significant and persistent challenge to Florida’s Beach and Shore Preservation Act (FBSP). Only last winter of 2008 we were presented with the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the appellate court, which in turn supported Florida DEP’s FBSP.

The FBSP act is considered cornerstone legislation for state funded support of “critically eroded beaches” via beach re-nourishment and beach restoration programs. But, according to the plaintiffs, Stop The Beach Renourishment, Inc., this FBSP act purports to take coastal property owners land rights between the state established Erosion Control Line (ECL) and the traditional mean high tide line, essentially the property owner’s access to water. That is to say, property owners riparian rights to lands that abut the ocean (Gulf, etc.) are alleged to be taken and are therefore purported to violate the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments.

According to one of plaintiff’s supporting attorneys, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF). “The (FBSP) law was enacted to enable the State to restore and expropriate beaches lost in natural disasters, like hurricanes.”

Mike Mullins

Chairman, Captiva Erosion Prevention District