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Belleair Beach residents ready to fight umbrella ban at nearby Belleair Shore

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Posted at 5:17 AM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 17:38:31-04

BELLEAIR BEACH, Fla. — You won't get far on the beach without seeing a tent or an umbrella. Native New Yorker Jacqueline Castaneta quickly learned why.

"We were here for a month, and the first couple of weeks, we didn't have an umbrella or anything. You can see I'm a little burnt. We just bought this the other day. We love it. It's our second time using it," she said while enjoying a beach day in Pinellas County.

One place Castaneta won't be using her tent is Belleair Shore Beach in Pinellas County.

RELATED: Man fined $100+ for using an umbrella at Belleair Shore Beach in Pinellas County

Back in 2020, the town passed an ordinance banning all temporary shade structures, which leaves beach-goers like Diamond Acklin and Jada Johnson upset.

"We were just talking about going to buy some (tents) just to enjoy it if we want to be here longer, but for someone to say 'yeah, no'. I don't like that," Acklin said.

"After like two hours, that sun is draining," Johnson added.

Belleair Shore is one of the nation’s wealthiest towns. It’s made up of about 60 homes right on the beach. The umbrella ban has been in place for a couple of years. But enforcement seems to have been stepped up recently.

Pete Redero hasn’t been back to the beach in Belleair Shore since June 12th. That’s when he got a $116 ticket for using an umbrella.

“I had never had a ticket in my life. Don’t know what a jail looks like. I’ve been a law-abiding citizen all my life,” said Redero.

For many, a tent or umbrella provides much-needed protection from the sun's UV rays. The Centers for Disease Control said most skin cancer is caused by overexposure to UV rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation said five or more sunburns doubles your risk of skin cancer.

"I get pre-skin cancer cells, so I need protection. We're doing a beach marathon. We're here all day," Castaneta said.

The Cancer Statistics Center estimates Florida will see 9,650 new cases of skin cancer this year. It's the fifth most diagnosed type, by the center's estimates. It also said 610 people would die. Many of those cases are estimated to be found in Tampa Bay.

"To not be able to have anything, that's discriminatory. That's harmful to people," Acklin said. "Not everyone has the ability to enjoy the sun, to take in sun. People sunburn, people have conditions. People should be able to enjoy the beach regardless."

There are multiple ordinances at Belleair Shore Beach, which include no food and no bikes. The ordinance banning temporary shade structures is the only one currently in the middle of a legal battle.

Belleair Shore said it was made "in the best interests of the health, safety, ad welfare of the community." But one town over in Belleair Beach, people are pushing back.

ABC Action News spoke to former Belleair Beach Mayor Joseph Manzo on July 19; he's also the attorney behind the lawsuit. He said he believes the ordinance was passed to give Belleair Shore's beachfront property owners a more private beach experience.

"It's ridiculous. It's absurd," Manzo said in an earlier interview. "They've got a view 24/7. All we want is some shade protection from the sun."

Monday night, some Belleair Beach residents plan to ask their town council to protect tents and umbrellas on their side of the sand while also asking to see what they can do about the ban just a mile away.