Beach Access Updates:
Staff has completed the design and permitting phase for the Scenic Gulf Drive Regional Beach Access in Miramar Beach (907 Scenic Gulf Drive) earlier this fall and has moved forward with the bidding process for construction, which will begin in January. Once it begins, construction should take between 8-9 months and this beach access is expected to open in late summer.
The proposed Seagrove Beach Regional Beach Access, located across the street from Café Thirty-A, has reached 85% completion within the design and permitting phase. Construction is expected to begin in the spring and last 8-10 months.
Efforts are underway to enhance the Walton Dunes (258 Beachfront Trail) beach access. Design and permitting is expected to be completed by March 2021. Improvements will include 16 parallel ROW parking spaces, restrooms and an ADA-accessible boardwalk.
Work is underway at the Santa Clara Regional Beach Access located in Seagrove Beach. Boardwalk and dune walkover renovations are expected to take 90-120 days to complete.
The Holly NBA remains closed due to erosion caused by Hurricane Sally. Staff, state and federal emergency management teams and representatives from the county's coastal engineers have been conducting surveys along area beaches to assess damages, measure erosion and determine costs related to any necessary repairs.
Capital Improvement Updates:
Progress continues as the county and representatives from NUE Urban Concepts work through plans that would add additional parking for visitors and residents at four properties in South Walton. The Board of County Commissioners gave the green light in October to move forward with design and permitting for the CR 283 project, which includes paving, a shelter for passengers awaiting the Grayton Beach Shuttle and a restroom facility.
- The Driftwood Road parking project is on a 1.119-acre parcel located at 76 Driftwood Road in Miramar Beach.
- The County Road 393 parcel is 2.3-acres and located north of the Gulf Place Town Center on the west side of County Road 393.
- The County Road 283 parcel, also referred to as “Grayton Central” parking lot, is 6.995-acres and located on the eastern portion of County Road 283 South, across from the Shoppes at Grayton. This property has been leveled and improved with more than 300 designated parking spots currently used by visitors to Grayton Beach, employees and patrons, as well as a shuttle location for Grayton Beach, Seaside and other nearby businesses.
- The Eastern Lake Road parking project consists of two neighboring parcels, located at 392 and 406 Eastern Lake Road in the Seagrove neighborhood. 392 Eastern Lake Road, .215-acres, is located just south of Williams Street on Eastern Lake Road. 406 Eastern Lake Road, a .278-acre parcel, is located just next door (east) of 392 Eastern Lake Road.
Managed Beach Vendor Program:
The 2020 Managed Vendor Program celebrated a successful summer, with approximately 27,500 rentals setup throughout South Walton’s nine regional beach accesses from March to October.
In 2019, the pilot program began at the Ed Walline RBA, Inlet Beach RBA and Grayton Beach NBA. In 2020, the program was expanded to all regional beach accesses, with 12 active vending partners serving both locals and visitors throughout the year. The program has helped eliminate “ghost sets” and the “morning race to the water’s edge” by educating visitors and providing setups only when needed.
In the winter months, staff and partners will review the 2020 program in preparation for the 2021 season and discuss the possibility of expanding the program to neighborhood beach accesses.
The Managed Vendor Program, overseen by the South Walton Beach Service Association, is now in effect at all regional beach access points, as well as the Grayton Beach Neighborhood Beach Access. This program has drastically reduced the amount of “ghost chairs” and has been well received by the public. With multiple participating vendors, the program has proven to be effective. As mentioned above, discussion to expand the program into neighborhood access will be considered as the program progresses.
So how does this new program work? Beach Vendors all have equal opportunity to participate in the managed vendor program. They have to be a permitted vendor in Walton County; sign the Association’s Agreement; drop off/pick up equipment as needed or store their equipment in the association’s storage boxes on the beach; are not allowed to set up/tear down equipment on their own; and pay a fee based on how many beach sets rented out.
A beach attendant, who is on site daily, works directly with guests to set up their beach equipment, whether it be chairs, or an umbrella. When the guest is done with their equipment, the attendant removes the equipment from the beach. This is designed to alleviate the issue of "ghost sets" or empty chairs on the beach.
The program regulates Walton County beach vendors for beach chairs/umbrellas. The program does not regulate or have any association to Special Event Permits/vendors, (including photographers, officiants), sandcastle lesson vendors, bonfire vendors or the like.
For more information about the program, contact Phillip Poundstone at email@example.com or call (850) 832-8715.
See a complete lineup of South Walton's beach access locations.
Beach Access & Customary Use Reminder:
While there have been changes for customary use of private beachfront property, much is still evolving currently. If guests have concerns, we hope the below information will be helpful.
Things to keep in mind:
- Visit South Walton currently maintains 58 public beach access points, including nine Regional Public Beach Accesses complete with parking, restroom facilities, and lifeguards. South Walton also enjoys additional miles of public beach thanks to our State Parks. The customary use changes do not affect our public beaches, only privately-owned beachfront property.
- A user-friendly interactive map of public beach access points can be found here: https://www.visitsouthwalton.com/beach-and-bay-access-locations
- Many beach neighborhoods and resorts already have dedicated beach areas available for guests staying with them.
What is customary use?
- Customary use is a common law term referring to the public access of the privately-owned beachfront property. Some Gulf-front properties in Florida have a property line that extends to the mean high-water line.
What is changing?
- Essentially, some beachfront homeowners are restricting access to the dry sandy areas behind their homes. All wet sand areas remain undisputed public property and beachgoers cannot be excluded from these areas. The Walton County Sheriff’s Department will be the governing force for any conflicts or complications that may arise on the space in front of properties now considered private property.
Does that mean I can't walk all 26 miles of our white sand beaches?
- No, you can absolutely still walk our beautiful beaches for as far as you wish. There will still be plenty of space in the wet sand area for beach-walkers to enjoy, and plenty of public beach where access is in no way under dispute.
Customary Use Information:
Walton County Beach Maintenance Department has been denied access to collect trash on private property by some beachfront property owners. As a result, beach garbage pickup by TDC crews is no longer available on about 40-percent of beaches. That percentage not only includes the beachfront properties that owners will not allow access to or across their property but in some cases also adjacent properties that can no longer be accessed for garbage collection because crews are blocked on either side by property owners that will not allow collection crews to cross their property. The affected owners were notified. Public Regional and Neighborhood Beach Accesses will not be affected, and garbage collection will continue as usual on those beaches.