Save Our Beaches, Inc.
Shortly after the City of Destin and DEP conducted a public workshop in May 2003 on the beach restoration project, a number of property owners informally formed a group to fight the loss of private property rights that would result from the beach restoration project. In January 2004, when it was determined that legal action would be necessary in order to protect our property rights, Save Our Beaches was incorported in order to:
- To protect and defend the natural resources of Destin beaches from unauthorized and/or inappropriate beach restoration activities.
- To protect the members’ of Beachfront Owners of Destin Inc. private property rights.
- To seek redress of past, present, and future unauthorized and/or inappropriate activities and public uses in on and around Destin beaches by any and all legal means, including but not limited to judicial and administrative litigation.
What You Need To Know About The Beach Restoration Project
- The beach restoration project is a permanent loss of private property rights.
- Your property line will no longer be determined by your deed, but by an erosion control line established by the State.
- Currently, if any amount of beach is added to your property naturally, this is known as accretion and you own it. If the erosion control line is established, you will no longer own this added beach.
- You will no longer own to the Gulf. Instead of waterfront property, you will have public park front property with the view of beach goers, umbrellas, tents and possibly vendors renting or selling services and wares.
- You will lose your right to the water’s edge. Those rights will belong to “first come, first serve” (whoever sets up on the beach first).
- Currently, vendors licensed by the City of Destin must get permission of property owners to use their land. A simple majority vote (4 to 3) of the City Commission could change that ordinance, allowing the City to do whatsoever they want on their new “public beach.” The City would welcome additional funds from licensing more vendors.
- The City of Destin is using scare tactics by telling property owners if they don’t support the beach restoration project, their property is in danger. DEP (Dept. of Environmental Protection) admits this beach restoration will offer no protection at all during a category 2 or 3 hurricane.
- Destin City Commissioner Cyron Marler has said, “ Beach restoration is not going to protect anything right on the beach, but will protect the road and structures across the street.” The City has never told beachfront owners they will give up their waterfront property to protect the road and structures across the street.
- Walton County is also participating in this project. If sand is added to their beach, DEP admits we may get a foot or two per year of accretion on our beaches. This will become our property if we can stop the beach restoration project in the Okaloosa County portion of Destin where your property is located.
- There is a natural ebb and flow to the beach and it changes year to year. Storms can replenish our beaches just as easy as they can take sand from our beaches. Photographs show that most property owners had regained most of the beach lost to Opal in 1995.
- Hurricane Ivan did take sand from our beach but in time that will be replenished. Brad Pickel, Director of Beach Management for Walton County Tourism Council said, “Overall, I don’t anticipate a long recovery at all, but it will take awhile to get our dunes back. Normally after a storm, within the first two or three months, we see a rapid recovery of the beaches.”
- Hurricane Ivan has showed that sand can cause more damage to structures than water.
- Some private property owners offered to pay their share of this project in order to maintain ownership of their land to the water. DEP has told them they can pay for it, but they will not own it.
- An interesting note is that the project stops at and does not include Henderson State Park. Is this because this is already public land, so they don’t need to take it over?
- At a Destin City Commission Meeting, Commissioner Tom Rice quoted DEP official Dr. Christy as saying, “The way to get control of the beach is through a beach restoration project.”
- The construction easement they are requesting will be from 25 feet to as much as your walkover. This will be a public use easement for a period of 3 years as requested by the City of Destin.
- Three years ago, the City of Destin, through a city ordinance, attempted to reduce private ownership of beach to 25 feet from the south side of our structures. The Southeastern Legal Foundation fought for us and private property rights were protected at least until now.
- Even if your property is exclusively rental property, you can see how this can affect your rental income and value of your investment.
To Sum It Up:
The only objective of the City of Destin is to make all privately owned Gulf front beach open to the public.
We have only touched on the highlights of this project and have not even included the numerous environmental concerns we have. Please call us if you want to discuss this more fully. We must stand together to protect our property rights.