Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

2 minute read

June 7, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Sand dunes on beaches like this one near Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, protect coastline homes and infrastructure from wave damage from hurricanes. | Dmitri Kotchetov / Adobe Stock

Redington Shores, Florida, a “well-heeled beach town in Pinellas County” have a problem: the beach between them and the Gulf of Mexico is disappearing fast. According to a Grist article by Jake Bittle, “A series of storms, culminating in last fall’s Hurricane Idalia, have eroded most of the sand that protects Redington Shores and the towns around it, leaving residents just one big wave away from water overtaking their homes.”

The federal government, specifically the U.S. Corps of Engineers, has offered to haul in $42 million of new sand on the condition that 461 of waterfront homeowners provide public points of access to the beaches behind their homes. Pinnellas County officials tried to get homeowners to sign the easements, but half of the homeowners refuse.

“This situation highlights growing tensions between the federal government and homeowners in coastal areas that are threatened by climate change. As sea levels have risen and strong storms have caused greater damage than ever before, the costs of protecting and insuring beachfronts in Florida and other states have increased rapidly,” Bittle writes. He reports that the Corps put the easement policy in place decades ago so that it didn’t spent public money to restore private beaches.

Local and federal officials worry that Redington Shores, Florida, and areas like it where homeowners are more concerned about views and privacy than their homes being decimated are “sitting ducks for the next climate-fueled storm.” But for now, neither the Corps nor the coastal homeowners are willing to budge.

Updated on June 7, 2024 at 4:30 Eastern to reflect that the story was originally published by Grist. We first attributed it to Fast Company, which ran the it as a reprint.

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