Explanation of Indicator
Conflicts often arise between private property owners, coastal developers, resort owners who wish to protect the privacy of their locations, and the general public which wants to have access to the coast. As demand for commercial and residential development continues to grow, more and more private ownership along the coast encroaches on public access to the beach. Many coastal areas are being developed as restricted communities, and a wall of private coast will limit public access to the beach. Thus, the public may be entitled to use the coast, but there may be no physical way to reach the beach.1
In order to access the coast through otherwise private development, it is necessary to have areas through which the public can pass. These locations are called access points. The points are usually no more than a narrow trail or boardwalk, and they enable the public to reach the coast where they would not have had access otherwise. Accordingly, the number of public access points along the coastline is an excellent indication of the ability of the public to access the beach. This information is important to the state because it can help determine whether the public trust of the coast is being protected.
Information concerning public access points can be obtained from Phil Flood, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Environmental Resource Permitting, Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000, or at (904) 487-1262.
The data on number of access points are available in hard copy format at no cost.
The information was collected statewide for only 1986. The data are available for each coastal county.
The Department of Environmental Protection should collect these data at five-year intervals. The data could be collected by surveying county planning departments. The planning departments would need to do visual surveys and then record the results. This would be the most inexpensive and perhaps the only way to determine the number of access points. Because the points are small, Landsat is not a feasible instrument for data collection, and because most of the areas are not recorded, the usual means of determining ownership are not available. Each county should determine which areas are public access points and then record the number of points and, if possible, record the size and type of access point (i.e., whether a path or boardwalk).