Story and Photos by STACY MARTIN
On Jan. 30, around fifty Walton County residents and Customary Use (CU) supporters from all over turned up to participate in a Town Hall style meeting in support of two identical bills making their way through both houses of the Florida Legislature. The meeting was held at A Simple Faith church in Santa Rosa Beach.
They are HB 6063 and SB1680; if passed, they would simply repeal Sec. 163.035, Florida Statutes, popularly known by its legislative designation of HB 631. That legislation has had the effect of negating Walton County’s customary use beach ordinance, instead setting up a court process which local governments must follow to affirm customary recreational use of the beach. Sponsors and supporters of the bills hope the repeal will restore CU to the beaches in Walton County.
Dave Rauschkolb and Samantha Hope Herring with Florida Beaches For All gave a brief explanation of the two repeal bills that are currently in legislation and talked about ways community members in support of CU can advocate for HB 6063. They are encouraging everyone to reach out and contact Civil Justice Subcommittee members as well as attend a rally and press conference on Feb. 10 in Tallahassee sponsored by House Representative Evan Jenne, who is also the sponsor for HB 6063.
“This is a bi-partisan issue, the most bi-partisan issue in the state” states Rauschkolb, and continues “They would like to make this into a private property rights issue, Its not about the left and right, its about right and wrong.”
Rauschkolb and Herring answered questions from the crowd. They encouraged the attendance of other town hall meetings before the February 10 rally, with potential locations in DeFuniak Springs and Miramar Beach with details announced at a later time.