SIESTA KEY, Fla. (WWSB) - Some resort and condo owners on Siesta Key have placed signs on the beach telling people to stay off their beach property.
“That is a tricky one, even if you don’t own beach property, own a house somewhere and you let people onto your property, there’s a liability issue,” said Greg Godall, a Siesta Key beachgoer.
That is the main reason beach property owners have been putting up no trespassing and private property signs on the beach, around public beaches and especially near the main beach. Experts say that a private property owner owns the beach up until the point when dry sand meets wet sand, called the mean high water line.
“Private property rights exist out there and that what we consider the beach is not necessarily the public beach,” said Michael Barfield, a paralegal. “And private property owners have a right to enforce their rights to keep people off their property.
Michael Holderness owns the beach at the southern part of Sunset Point Beach. He not only has liability concerns but also concerns with vandalism and trash.
“It’s not wealthy condo owners closing their beach to the public, it’s the fact that there are no rules and regulations on their private lands,” said Holderness, with Beachside Management and a resort hotel owner. “So the county is a minority holder, they own about 10 percent of Siesta Key Beach but they speak for 100 percent of Siesta Key Beach.”
Sarasota County says they are aware of the situation and they are looking into the ordinance that governs the signage. Although some beachgoers are upset with what they’re seeing, many are very understanding.
“I turn around, you know it’s their property,” said Judy Williams, a Siesta Key beachgoer from Arcadia. “If it’s their property, I’m fine with that, there’s a lot more beach.”