public beach access
I was thinking about this as I drove back from Asbury Park, NJ today. There are a lot of people where I'm from who work to keep the beach as public property. When did this change in the Northeast, and why did public beach access advocates lose their hand?
Does anyone else think the beach is public property?
Public beach access
The Public Trust Doctrine and beach access, here in NJ, have been defined by
the many court cases. We all have the right to walk along the shoreline between the high and low water lines. How we get there is often an issue as is what can we do there eg. sit, camp, etc. What we can do in the water has also been somewhat defined by the courts. That's why the recent DEP access hearings and proposals were so important
Bill... I have great respect for you and thank you for all you've done for the surfing community over your many years of public service. But to continue this discussion, I would argue that there's "right and wrong," and there's "what's been decided by the courts," and they're not always the same, particularly on this issue, IMO. Maintaining beach access at Ocean Lane was a HUGE victory. But just up the road, a "Private Property" sign hangs on a gate that is an official public access point. If I'm wrong, please let me know; but I'm pretty sure I'm right. Beach access through Sea Bright is a joke, and everyone knows it. Without parking, access is limited and that issue has never been addressed. Amazing how taking private homes and property in Long Branch to build Pier Village is acceptable, but taking private property in Sea Bright to provide beach access, parking, amenities, etc.... well... nobody's going to TOUCH that issue.
My point is that a lot of important gains have been made, thanks to you and others who have fought the good fight on the issue and upheld our rights. But much more work has to be done.
Hate to say it, but land snatch-and-grabs and the private/public property collusion for a few at the expense of many are a Northeast-grown concept that has disseminated throughout the South in the past with the first major wave Northern retirees moving down here (No, this is not a North vs. South thing--it's just what happened). I remember when Wrightsville was all of a sudden "discovered" in the late 80's. A very enterprising and wealthy Wilmington family (Zimmers) developed our area's first gated community (Landfall) in response to the Transplant's desire to have the same living situation down here as they did up there--come down and use the resources but lock themselves away from all us local "hicks." (Don't get me wrong, a lot of the development that happened at this time was good and remains so for our area. The folks who moved down in the initial wave are generally good people, it's just the cultural difference was so big back then.)
The trend caught on and soon Wrightsville and the surrounding area resembled nothing like I grew up with. Then, in true Charlotte and RTP fashion, our fellow statesmen from the big cities followed suit. Traditional WB houses were torn down by the hundreds to make room for the 4 story, rectangular, gaudy colored monstrosities some people call "houses" that really just scream "Hey, I'm a classless rich person and I will build something that will prove it." A Wings (still want to blow it up) opened up on the corner of Waynick and Lumina.
Soon, many of the transplants made their way onto the Wrightsville Board of Aldermen (Town Council), carpet baggers if you will, and began proposing more and more restrictive ordinances in attempts to privatize the beach. Luckily there has been enough opposition over the decades to quell too much advancement--but the intent is still there and must be attentively watched. Wrightsville is in a weird spot with Figure 8 (private island for the rich and famous) to the North and Pleasure Island (CB, KB--too "rough around the edges" for the prissy nouveau riche to fully consider as a place to live). So, Wrightsville gets the people who are vindictive because they don't have the means to live on Figure 8 and are scared to live on CB, so they go for the closest thing--trying to make Wrightsville a private beach.
Remember this every time the price for parking goes up, every time they reduce the number of public parking spaces on the beach every year and every time a proposal limiting public access and freedom comes under consideration.
Originally Posted by DrBill
Bill- I really appreciate all the work, time, effort and passion that you put into these issues. I know for me (and maybe alot of others) that I do not really understand all the politics behind these things, but do stand behind you and your efforts. Maybe I will see you soon at la -although I have not been there in years!!
Keep up the good work Bill!!!
as for me-its back to work on the ss minnow for the three hour tour! lol
Also- erock- super sorry to hear that your getting invaded by the jersey way of living... that really stinks... don't let it get to the extent that it is here- or you might be paying 100 bucks to surf and more to park...bummer bro...
Quoting Erock: Pleasure Island (CB, KB--too "rough around the edges" for the prissy nouveau riche to fully consider as a place to live)
Carolina Beach, Home of the nouveau middle class: the first generation to live in a home without wheels! I love "Crusty Beach" and all of it's characters, (which I hope I am considered one.)
Originally Posted by CBSCREWBY
Walkingonh2o: It's all good, part of the evolution of a town. People like to hate, but it did raise the standard of living down here for a lot of people. Plus, come to think of it.... I bet a lot of the folks aren't actually direct transplants, they are probably "half-backs" who moved to Fl first then decided they still needed some seasons! Fl has gated cities! ;)
Answering to this question could take hundreds of pages. I'm no expert, but have some experience acquiring easements for beach projects.
Originally Posted by surfX
In many states, private property can extend to the high tide line, low tide line, or even into the water. So private property owners can own the beach, portions of the beach etc. Thats pretty common.
However, ABSOLUTE RIGHTS as a property owner are tempered by case law, including the public trust doctrine, which goes back many centuries and holds that the public has certain riparian rights to streams, riverbanks, tidal waters, intertidal zones, and shorelines. This public right to the water's edge has historically applied to fishing and boating access (so it's not illegal -tresspassing- for you to come ashore during a storm, or fish along shorelines) less often to recreational activities.
So while you, or a hotel, or a condo associate may OWN the beach, you may not have the rights to exclude the public from accessing the ocean, traversing your property below the high tide line, low tide line, (varies by state). In addition, in almost any instance where public funds have been used to pump sand on the beach, the landowners who own the beach are required to grant public access easements to the beach, solidifying the public's right to USE the beach that they helped pay for but they don't OWN it.
Like i said its very complicated. In general the US and most states have property laws that strongly protect private ownership rights, over riparian public access, compared to many countries where excluding the public from the shoreline is a cultural taboo has become reflected in property ownership laws.
Thanks for the info!
Here is a link I found:
Here's a bit of history on access from a Massachusetts perspective (link to complete article below):
"Around the country, public rights to the tidelands (the land between high and low tide) remain governed by the public trust doctrine, which dates back to Roman times. The concept is that all rights in tidelands are held in trust by the state for the public. In most states, that means public ownership begins at the high tide mark.
But Massachusetts (and its then northern district of Maine) broke away from this in Colonial times (1641-47) when the Legislature transferred ownership to coastal landowners to encourage wharf construction. They shifted the property boundary to the mean low water mark but not farther than 100 rods (1,650 feet). Inter-tidal land is presumed to belong to upland (coastal) landowners unless stated otherwise. This was during the reign of King Charles I, and only a few years before the Puritans overthrew and beheaded him, so relations were not good.
Some public trust rights were retained after the transfer such as to the water itself and the right to use tidelands for fishing, fowling and navigation. The rights were refined under Chapter 91, adopted in 1866, which dealt with licensing structures such as wharves, docks, floats, revetments etc."
this got me wondering in a different direction - air access: do I own the airspace over my property? how high up? to the tops of the trees? could a helicopter hover inches above my yard and claim it's not on my property? :confused: