Public beach access in the Town of Palm Beach includes two types of property. Public access easements or pathways, and public lands east of “Mean High Water” on the shoreline. The beach below mean high water is set aside by the State of Florida for the recreational use of the public.
Dedicated pathways have included signage so the public is able to understand where access points are located, and the Town has a long-standing record of keeping those points clearly marked. This is also a responsibility that has been enforced by judicial order. The Town has invested to ensure those gates remain open, and Surfrider Foundation recommends that beach hours be time-certain, rather than the often confusing “dawn to dusk” schedule. Previously the Town had hours set at 5am til 10pm, which allows the public to access public areas for sunrise and sunset year round. Surfers and many Town residents, on the best surfing days of the year, before and after work, are often on the beach and in the water before the sun rises, until the last light. In addition, locking gates that are activated automatically by timer, or remotely by police, are available with stainless steel components to prevent corrosion. This method will allow police to do more important duties.
The Palm Beach Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation does not condone, and is strongly opposed to the use of signage, markers or posts, placed on the beach barring the publics movement in any form. However, signs marking private property on the beach must not confuse or intimidate the public by appearing to post public access areas or the beach below mean high water. Signs on round pipes do this. Private property often is eroded or platted to include beach areas below mean high water, however, in any case, the public must be allowed access to the beach below mean high water. In some cases, the only resolution determining the mean high water line may be on the basis of individual properties and be judicial order. The Town of Palm Beach is encouraged to use the spirit of the law, via Code Enforcement, to protect the rights of the public. Surfrider Foundation stands ready to defend this right in court. And the State of Florida continues to defend public access to the beach below mean high water.