Monday, June 21, 2010

Supreme Court Sides With State Over Beach Erosion

Froma David G. Savage article found on The Baltimore Sun:
The Supreme Court rejected a property-rights claim from some disgruntled owners of beach front in Florida Thursday, upholding instead the state's authority to pump new new sand onto an eroded shore line without paying compensation.

This extra sand became a new strip of public beach. That in turn prompted a group of property owners along Florida's East Coast to sue, contending the state had taken away their rights to a private beach. What was once ocean-front property had become ocean-view property, they said, demanding compensation for their loss.
This is a very interesting case.  In some ways I agree with the property owners but I also imagine that these same property owners would complain if their private beach eroded and the state did not step in to correct the damage that was done.  All the justices backed the decision, supporting Florida state judges, concluding that they had followed the state's historical law regulating beach property.  Looks like these property owners didn't fully comprehend what exactly they bought.

"Florida's efforts to restore eroded beaches, (the ruling) preserves the ability of state and local governments to respond to changing environmental conditions." said Doug Kendall, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington.  "As the oil spill now ravaging our coastline vividly demonstrates, it is crucially important that the government have the authority to step in and to protect our beaches and coastal communities."

Lora Lucero, a lawyer for the American Planning Association, said the decisions ensure "that local and state governments will be able to continue to protect their natural resources without fear of huge, unwarranted awards to private property owners."

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