TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott has taken executive action, signing an order calling on counties to not limit access to beaches.
"Relief, I'm glad he did the order," beachgoer Ann Dierickx said.
Dierickx said she's been worried ever since a state law that blocks local governments from adopting ordinances to allow the public to access privately owned beaches went into effect on July 1.
"My fear was that we weren’t going to be able to come down to the beach... it was really wrong what they were doing I was totally upset about it. I felt like it was a rich person's law."
Executive Order 18-202 urges the counties to protect public beach access and directs the Department of Environmental Protection to support the efforts.
“Florida is home to the world’s best beaches," Scott said. "And every Floridian and visitor has the right to fully enjoy our state’s natural resources. Florida beaches belong to all of us, and people from across the world visit Florida because of them – and we are going to keep it that way."
The Executive Order takes the following action to Protect Public Beach Access:
1. The Governor’s executive order imposes a moratorium on executive state agencies adopting any rule or restriction to inhibit the public’s access to Florida’s beaches, unless there is a clear risk to public safety;
2. The Governor directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to serve as an advocate for the public’s right to public beach access. This includes establishing an online reporting tool so Floridians with concerns about beach access can provide input. DEP will compile this input and submit a report to the Florida Legislature and the Governor before the next legislative session. DEP will also serve as a liaison to local governments to ensure the public’s right to access the beach is protected;
3. The Governor urges all local government entities to not adopt any rule or ordinance that would restrict or eliminate the public’s access to Florida’s beaches. He is calling on every county in Florida to not take any action that limits access to beaches; and
4. The Governor urges State Attorneys in Florida to protect Floridians’ constitutional right to access the beach.
“Today, I am ordering the Department of Environmental Protection to do everything in their power to advocate to keep our beaches open and public," Scott said. "Also, I am putting a moratorium on any new state regulation that could inhibit public beach access and also urging local government officials to take similar steps to protect Floridians’ access to the beach. Government’s job is to help solve problems, and in Florida, when there is an issue or confusion surrounding legislation, we take action to address it. Florida is the most beautiful state in the nation. We have hundreds of miles of pristine coastline and we are known for having the best beaches across the world. We absolutely cannot do anything that changes that.”