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April 24, 2013

Kamie Carney Department of Environmental Protection 2900 Commonwealth Boulevard Mail Station 300 Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000

RE: 62B-36, Beach Management Funding Assistance Program Dear Ms. Carney: Please accept the following comments from the Surfrider Foundation on the proposed changes to the Beach Management Funding Assistance Program. Public Access As conveyed in our previous comments submitted January 8, 2013, our primary concerns with 62B-36 relate to public access. Our beaches are one of Florida’s most valuable recreational and economic resources, and a major reason why many relocate to or visit our state. Adequate parking and access has always been a concern for residents and visitors alike. As referenced in our previous comments, a number of studies have found some Florida beaches to be woefully short on parking. On April 3, 2013, the Tampa Bay Newspapers Weekly ran an article on the proposed changes to 62b-36. The article commented on, “A proposed rule change by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that would significantly lower the number of public parking spaces needed to qualify for beach nourishment funding…” The article went on to report that under the existing rule, Belleair Beach currently lacks 29 parking spaces. Under the new proposal, their required spaces would be reduced from 29 to 4, or as the article notes, “We could wind up just one bike rack short.” This is a perfect illustration of why it is inappropriate to consider relaxing standards for public beach access in 62B-36. Specifically, a Primary Beach Access, as defined in 62B-36.002(13)(a), should only apply to sites with a minimum of 100 parking spaces. We understand the intention of the criteria to maximize credit for parking areas that have public restrooms and between 50-99

Surfrider Foundation  Florida  Office:  1319  Cherry  Street  Tallahassee,  FL  32303   tel:  850.567.3393  email:  hparker@surfrider.org   www.surfrider.org  


parking spaces. This does not, however, lead to increased public access and does not incentivize local investment in additional parking. These rule changes should serve to promote enhanced public access, not accommodate existing projects that do not meet the current threshold. We believe that any proposed changes to project cost sharing should reward meaningful and substantial public access and suggest that a Primary Beach Access only apply to sites with 100+ parking spaces. Additionally, the Surfrider Foundation has outstanding questions relating to the inclusion of public lodging establishments in shoreline eligibility. Does the increased eligibility for public access for public lodging establishments apply even when the lodging establishment restricts public access landward of the mean high water line? That is to say, if a lodging establishment posts notrespassing signs on the beach, will they still be considered equally for access eligibility as a lodging establishment that allows for full public access above the mean high water line? We do not believe that these questions of public access have been sufficiently vetted. To that end, we believe the aforementioned proposed changes to project cost sharing do not reward meaningful and substantial public access. We strongly urge the DEP to designate a Primary Beach Access only when sites provide 100+ parking spaces. Thank you for considering the public interests represented by the Surfrider Foundation. Please feel free to contact me at hparker@surfrider.org or 850-5673393 if you have any questions. Sincerely,

Holly Parker Florida Regional Coordinator Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation  Florida  Office:  1319  Cherry  Street  Tallahassee,  FL  32303   tel:  850.567.3393  email:  hparker@surfrider.org   www.surfrider.org  

Surfrider Foundation 62B-36 Comments April  

FL DEP is reviewing their Beach Management Funding Assistance Program and will be making final decisions on the rule in May. This rule dict...