Supreme Court Will Rule on Florida Shoreline Protection Program


It’s a classic feud predicated upon the idea I have my land, now you cannot have yours.

In this case, the land is the pristine white beach that stretches along the Florida Panhandle, a beach that has been restored over the past 30 years through a renourishment and restoration program.

Turns out homeowners with wonderful views of the green waters of the Gulf of Mexico have challenged the program to save eroding shorelines because the new strips of sand imported belong to the public and not to them.

According to the Washington Post, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the homeowners’ property rights had not been infringed upon. And now those homeowners have produced a new challenge, stating their constitutional rights and 100 years of common law have been ignored in support of the program.

The  U.S. Supreme Court will hear the argument next week, considering whether a decision by the judicial branch, rather than the executive or legislative, can create the kind of private property seizure forbidden by the Constitution. The court has yet to decide whether restoring storm-damaged beaches is an unconstitutional taking of private property.

“It’s one of the great open questions” in property law, said D. Benjamin Barros, a law professor at Widener University who edits a blog on such topics.

Most often, the money spent on Florida’s beach renourishment and restoration program has gone to coastline ravaged by erosion and hurricanes. For example, Destin and Walton County spent about $22 million in 2006 to restore about six miles of beach in western Walton County and in the city. In he past, homeowners have appreciated the assistance and have filed no claims.

Main Image: Just Jennifer

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.