NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Siesta Key residents rope off beach and post 'No Trespassing' signs, claiming it is private property

Posted at 7:05 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 21:46:14-05

SIESTA KEY, Fla. -- Residents on Siesta Key are outraged by a homeowner who has fenced off part of the narrow beach off of Shell Road.

"They want to prevent the other 99 percent that aren’t rich from the beach," said Jim Skinner

Jim Skinner and Barbara Stephens say they’ve been coming to this beach for decades.

"My grandfather came here in 1924 and we’ve always been able to come to the beaches. I’m just incensed as a native that this is happening," said Skinner.

Boulders, stakes, and ropes fence off an area that stretches to the water at in the 3900th block of Shell Road. No trespassing signs are posted and threaten to prosecute.

Stephens says she got a letter in the mail summoning her to go to court for trespassing.

"I found the affidavit and it's their name and this address, saying I trespassed. It makes it sound like I trespassed inside a fence or something but they’re talking about me walking on the beach," said Stephens.

We tried contacting the homeowners but did not get a response.

But Catherine Luckner with the Siesta Key Association says illegal activity happening on the beach caused the homeowners to go this far.

"People who have used the area without any interruption feel that it's been taken away, but the truth is that it's always been private property," said Luckner.

She says only 80 feet of the beach — the width of the road — is what is public. Luckner says Florida law says the property up to the median water line belongs to the homeowner.

"If you want lateral access the law says if there’s private property that you have to go below the mean high water line," said Luckner.

But some say regardless, they’re going to fight it.

"We want the fence, signs, and boulders gone," said Skinner.

There is a petition called "Public Access to the Beach Shoreline along Shell Road Beach" for the homeowners to take down the barriers.

It can be found by clicking here.