PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Memorial Day Weekend crowds have made a mark on Pensacola Beach. Dozens of canopy frames and tents were left overnight Thursday on the beaches ‘reserving’ spots for Friday. Local ordinance says fines can follow leaving personal property on the beach, and local authorities are reviewing the situation.
More than 50 metal frames, blankets, and even full setups littered the beach for Friday’s sunrise. Some return beachgoers even used the seagrass (sargassum) washed up to form a perimeter around their ‘spots’.
Leaving items on the beach is against the local ordinance and individuals can be fined up to $500 per item. Anything left overnight is considered county property per municipal law.
The purpose of this article is to ensure the Gulf of Mexico beaches on Pensacola Beach are free from any obstruction by any item of personal property in order to protect public ingress, egress, and regress to the beach, promote public safety, and to protect endangered sea turtles.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to leave an item of personal property unattended on any portion of the sandy gulf beach located on Pensacola Beach from sunset until sunrise daily, except as otherwise permitted in this article.
(b) Any item of personal property left on the beach unattended in violation of this article shall be deemed discarded by the owner and shall become the property of Escambia County, which may dispose of the item.Escmabia County Ordinance
Read the full ordinance from Escambia County here.
Emily Hoeflich, a sea turtle volunteer on the Gulf Coast, took a video of the set-ups Friday morning. She said while the ordinance is in place, enforcing it is the issue.
WKRG News 5 has reached out to the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA), the organization in charge of Pensacola Beach, for more information. SRIA staff said directors are reviewing the pictures and video from residents Friday morning.
To report a beach issue to SRIA, call 850.932.2257.