Variety of beach concerns raised at first public workshop
Beach furniture left out overnight, plastic straws discarded on the sand and shark fishing scaring away tourism were just some issues brought up at the Captiva Community Panel’s first public workshop.
In the process of updating the Captiva Code, the panel is hosting a total of four workshops through February and March to obtain feedback from the community on subjects from beach issues and water quality, to transportation, traffic and development. An online survey will also provide more insight.
Held on Feb. 13, the first workshop centered around beach-related issues and concerns.
Many in the audience voiced concern about items being left for days on the sand.
“I do think there’s a problem with furniture, canopies, chairs left overnight,” resident Richard Sonking said. “I’ve noticed lately a lot of people are taking their furniture and storing it in the dunes.”
A women, who reported that she resides in the Gold Coast area, agreed.
“There’s a lot of chairs left overnight and in the dunes,” she said.
Another resident ventured that visitors may not understand the dunes serve to protect.
“I think it’s also an education issue,” she said. “I just don’t think everybody understands the value.”
Lee County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Sawicki, who was in attendance, explained that the beach and dune protection ordinance requires that beach furniture, equipment and such must be removed from the beach from May to October from 9 a.m. to 8 a.m. for turtle season. It does not apply to out of season.
Some in the audience suggested possibly extending the ordinance year-round.
“The question is, do we want to have a rule?” panel President David Mintz asked. “That’s a discussion that we need to have.”
Resident Lisa Riordan pointed out the plastic straws littering the beach.
“I know surrounding communities are addressing this issue,” she said. “It’s become a big issue.”
Riordan added that the Mucky Ducky has stopped using plastic straws and there is a visible difference and decrease in litter. She suggested looking into removing plastic straws as another possible rule.
Mintz noted that the town of Fort Myers Beach recently banned plastic straws.
Other issues covered not allowing non-leashed pets on the beach and prohibiting amplified music. One man posed reviewing the use of drones on the beach, while others targeted big holes dug in the sand.
Panel member Rene Miville brought forward the subject of shark fishing. He explained that people fishing for sharks bring kayaks and camp overnight, using large bait to attract the large prey.
“You bring in a shark and the little ones don’t want to get in the water,” Miville said.
He cited losses for rental units and local businesses.
“You’re literally costing tens of thousands in revenue,” Miville said. “It really does not help the swimming environment, the beach environment. It does nothing but hurt our economy.”
Another subject discussed was cleaning up the beach entrances.
The panel pointed out, however, that the entrance in question is a county park and county owned. Still, members made a note to discuss the issue at the next Captiva Erosion Prevention District meeting.
Mintz noted that the district can request a grant from the county’s Coastal Advisory Council.
“Sanibel gets money for such things,” he said.
Fish kills were also touched on.
“There’s nobody that’s responsible for cleaning up the dead fish,” Mintz said.
The next public workshop will be held on Feb. 28 at 10 a.m.
The topic is water quality, quality of adjacent waters and shoreline protection issues.
For more information, visit www.captivacommunitypanel.com.