The recent battle for beach access in Destin has left a lot of people asking questions about code enforcement.
At a Public Works/Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, the committee asked for an update on the Code Enforcement division.
Code Enforcement Manager JW Mahone said his department has three officers that are assigned to specific zones such as Crystal Beach and Holiday Isle. He said their normal hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and during the summer they have an officer on duty from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday who primarily focuses on parking situations.
Currently, the only way to find out the phone number for code enforcement is to go to the city’s website. Committee member Anthony Ramswell suggested putting a sign with the code enforcement number on the beach to make it easier for people to get in contact with them, but Mahone said that’s not for him to decide.
Ramswell also said he’s heard complaints from tourists who wait over an hour for an officer and suggested having an officer on the beach full-time. Mahone responded by saying the officers get there as fast as they can and that they work with a Parks and Recreation employee that are also certified for code enforcement to try to expedite matters.
Concerning the beach issues, committee member Tom Weidenhamer mentioned the special GPS device the city owns that pinpoints the Erosion Control Line, which is a line determined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection before two beach renourishment projects that used taxpayer funds to rebuild many of Destin’s beaches.
Wiedenhamer suggested putting markers in the ground along the ECL so that there would be no question where the private beaches ended and the public beaches began.
But Interim City Manager Lance Johnson said it’s not that simple.
“There’s some things that need to happen in Tallahassee for clarification … to know who’s got the jurisdiction over the land that is south of the ECL,” Johnson said. “Is it truly the city or the state? It’s a question we have to have answered.”
But regardless of who has jurisdiction over that portion of the beach, it would still be a public property.
“If it’s really public beach, we should not be allowing (beach vendors to set up chairs there on as much beach as) they can,” Widenhamer said.