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Beach Ordinance: What Changes are being debated at the BBC?

These changes, if approved by the BBC, will be implemented this summer and will have a significant impact on Inlet Beach. Among the key topics discussed were Beach Chair Vendor Regulations, Bonfires, Cones/Signs, and the Role and Permitting Process of Private Security.

Below are key points brought up in the Meeting on June 3 in the workshop on the proposed changes. No vote has been taken.

To voice your concerns or to share viewpoints, you know what to do... WRITE YOUR COMMISSIONERS.


Chairs Chairs Everywhere Chairs


Public and Private Beach Chair Vendors will need to follow stricter guidelines. Chairs must be set up only on dry sand, and in case of tides coming in, adjustments must be made even if guests are seated in the chairs. Violations will result in tickets with fines. We as residences of Inlet need to use the Walton County Beach Complaint app to register complaints. If you complain to your neighbors, it does nothing. When you fill out the formal complaint online, it goes into public record. You must enter your name and that can be uncomfortable. But this is one of the ways we can make a difference. Know the Code, Take photos and Be brave!


 

Bonfires! Why Is This Topic So Important?


In this first section, you set the stage for your readers. Bonfires were a hotly debated topic during the workshop. The AQI (Air Quality Index) in Inlet is very high on a summer night due to the bonfires and the Tiki Torches contributing to the poor air quality. The Tiki Torches are emitting hydrocarbon fumes, which at high levels is dangerous to lungs. Throughout 30a, there is a limit of 50 bonfire permits allowed per night. 9,022 bonfires were permitted last year, not including private gulf front homes. Gulf front owners (GFO) can apply for a yearly free permit and can have a bonfire every night with no restrictions. At this point in the season, WalCo Fire Department has already processed 4,000 permitted bonfires. When speaking with Fire Marshall, Sammy Sanchez about the bonfires on Inlet Beaches, he pointed out that the private home bonfires are not tracked. Therefore, there are a lot more bonfires than the 9,022 per year. Fire Marshall Sanchez thinks that there could be 75-100 on a given summer night. Inlet Beach has great parking and bathrooms therefore the bonfires setups are inundating our beaches more than other parts of 30a. Commissioner Donna Johns is championing to limit the number of bonfires allowed. We as Inlet residents can drive this issue if we email the commissioners to voice concerns. Please email the commissioners directly to limit the bonfires if you have strong feeling about this issue. We must strike while the iron is hot!
"Boots" McCormick (850) 835-4860. mccboots@co.walton.fl.us
Danny Glidewell (850) 892-4020. glidanny@co.walton.fl.us
Brad Drake (850) 892-8474. drabrad@co.walton.fl.us
Donna Johns (850) 835-4834. johdonna@co.walton.fl.us
Tony Anderson (850) 231-2978 andtony@co.walton.fl.us
 
Proposed changes to the ordinances regarding bonfires are:




The bonfire vendors wanted the bonfires to be extinguished by 11 pm, to be able to use public garbage and have Tiki Torches galore. And also to have no increases in their permit pricing. One of the vendors that harassed a woman to move to set up a bonfire denied it, but was voicing his displeasure that he could not use the county garbage because he has paid the county over $200,000 in permits a year. If you are taking out $200,000 in permits, that is a lot of bonfires hence garbage that the county is subsidizing. It was clear that we need to vigilant keep control over this issue. We are getting burned.

Private Security: What are the Nuts and Bolts?


Private beach security has been an issue on beaches to the west of Inlet. So much so that the commissioners feel the need to permit private beach security and put the genie back in the bottle. The commissioners are moving to request homeowners who hire beach security to register the company used and have some county standards they must follow. This topic was talked about at nauseum, but no real solutions.

Remember when you are relaxing the beach, when a private security is off the private lot, they have no authority. They become just a bully on the beach.

Protect your wet sand and stand your ground. .


Cones... Signs... And Other Annoying Things


No one wants the orange cones, purple cones, green cones, but there is a movement to have standardized white cones. The lifeguard needs cones to be about to have clear view to the water. Many don't want any cones at all! We are experiencing visual pollution on the beach.

The size of the signs are being reviewed. 18 x 24 seems to be the size that might be allowed, but the vendors are pushing for a larger sign. They have so much to say! A QR code could solve their problem. Donna Johns again is lobbying for the smaller sign. One red alert moment in the meeting was when a vendor who was unhappy with the size of the sign said "Fine, I'll put out 10 of these signs." Please write your commissioners to insure that we don't have 36 x 24 signs on the beach and a vendor doesn't create a fence with multiple signs. Two 18 x24 signs are good enough.

The storage of the chairs will be white canvas for properties that can not be legally driven to and wood boxes for those that a vendor can drive to.

Another annoying "work around" is that chairs are being dropped off by vendors in areas, which are not vendor managed beaches. This topic was not addressed in this meeting. Luckily, for the most part Inlet has vendor managed beaches. Some vendors are dropping off 30 chairs and blocking the front row of a public non vendor managed beach at 8 am (Ghost Chairs). There are few public non managed beaches left on 30a, but it has become a problem.

To this point... The Pointe is starting to creep back into Winston access. There were 3 The Pointe chairs with tags on them empty at the Winston access the other day. The Pointe is not a vendor and can not drop off any chairs. If a guest of The Pointe brings a chair down to the easement at that access, it is fine. Please help HIBNA and Inlet keep a watchful eye on this practice.

You can also remind them of other resources you have on your website as well as paid services or events that you offer. Don’t be shy. They may have more questions after reading (or in the future). Invite them to leave comments below the post so they stay engaged.

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