New beach-access restrictions go into effect July 1

- Beginning this weekend, a new beach access law kicks in and some people are concerned.

In some spots along St. Pete Beach, it’s difficult to tell where the line between public and private property is drawn. You could be on a public beach one minute, but just a few steps away, and under the new laws, it’s private.

Starting July 1, if a beach touches privately-owned property, the owner could prosecute trespassers on that beach, down to the high-tide water line.

So if a hotel or homeowner wants to kick someone off the dry sand, they can. And that is not sitting well with locals or tourists.

"If they cut that then people are going to be squished into one area it will be hard for people to move," visitor Katie Carol told FOX 13 News.

Keith Overton is president of Trade Winds Resort. He says the new law does give his business more teeth if someone causes a nuisance, but for the most part, resorts want people on their beaches. It's good for business.

"We are not going to change our business model in any way," Overton said. "If someone is walking up and down the beach and they want to come and have a drink at our bar, we love that."

Where you are more likely to see controversy is if a homeowner or condo association that also owns the beach wants to cut off access.

Questions remain about whether it’s fair for taxpayers to fund maintenance on private beaches and how the new law will be enforced.

A regulation that remains, however, is a ban on signs and fences.

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