Public, landowner opinions split on Florida's new beach rules

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The battle over the beach continues.  

A new Florida law will soon let private property owners restrict access to beaches connected to their property.  

Starting July 1, beachfront property owners in Florida will be able to restrict beach access to the public on the sand behind their properties, up to the high-tide water line.

In other words, if the sand is wet, anyone can walk there. However, if it’s high and dry and behind a hotel or house, you could be asked to move along.

 “I really do think it’s a great thing,” the president of TradeWinds Resort on St. Pete Beach, Keith Overton said.

TradeWinds already owns its beach area.

“It'll allow us to have a little more ability if someone comes on our beach and we don’t want them there we can intervene with some authority” Overton said. “Being a commercial establishment, we welcome people to drink and have a great time even if they're not staying in the resort.”

Addressing reporters Monday, Governor Rick Scott said the new law is aimed at protecting property owners while still providing access to the beach.

The state’s long-standing policy had been that the beaches belonged to the public. Many expressed anger about the new rules on social media.

“This is a terrible idea,” wrote one person on the FOX 13 News Tampa Bay Facebook page.

“This is a bunch of garbage!” another said.

Another potential problem is the nesting sea turtles and what happens if a nest winds up on private property.

“We would hope that the private property owner would use common sense and allow us access to that area so we can help our friends from the sea,” said Bruno Falkenstein, the founder of Sea Turtle Trackers.

We did reach out to FWC to ask about the turtles but have not heard back.

Falkenstein isn’t concerned. He says he hasn’t had an issue with a property owner in more than 25 years of working with the sea turtles.