'No Trespassing': Escambia County representatives respond to signs on Perdido Key
PERDIDO KEY, Fla. (WEAR) —
“No trespassing” signs are popping up on Perdido Key beaches. Beachgoers aren't happy, but the bigger concern - are these signs legal?
House Bill 631 was signed by Governor Rick Scott on March 23rd. The bill pertains to possession of real property and authorizes a person who has superior rights to that property to eject anyone from it.
With the exception of a few public access points, most of the beaches on Perdido Key are private and under this new bill. 'Customary use', which would let members of the public use certain dry sand areas for recreational purposes, is prohibited.
The new bill also prohibits governmental entities from adopting or keeping in effect an ordinance or rule establishing customary use.
However, the bill doesn't go into effect until July first. So why are these signs already up?
A representative with the county's office told Channel 3’s Hannah Mackenzie the signs aren't related to the bill, and as the beach is private, owners are legally allowed to post 'no trespassing' signs… "as long as the sign is three square feet or less and is safely constructed so as not to create a hazard or public nuisance."
Regardless, the signs don't mean the entire beach is off limits to the public. A statement from the Escambia County attorney's office reads in part:
"Generally speaking, anyone can use and walk on the beach in Perdido Key, south of the mean high water line, popularly known as the wet sand/dry sand rule. A landowner cannot prevent anyone from walking on wet sand or swimming in the gulf - even if the dry part of the beach is posted as being private and warning of "no trespassing".
According to Florida law, there are specific requirements for 'no trespassing' signs that must be met before landowners can bring a criminal trespass complaint.
Florida representative Doug Broxson told us over the phone, this law was never intended to stop people from getting access to and enjoying the beach, and if that's what's happening, then he won't be surprised if these cases are put to the test in court.