After school ended, I participated enthusiastically in our library’s summer reading program. The library had powerful air conditioning units, and our home didn’t. Plus the library offered the chance to escape and evade menial tasks. Like many, I waste time on social media when I should be reading books. One of my gurus, Bill Bernstein, said for investing acumen, turn off your computer and pick up a book. Check out his recommendations at

This year I won’t be recognized as a star reader by our local library; I don’t read as many books as I did before social media. But the one book I finished this summer is a good one, “The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea” by Jack Davis. In addition to winning the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for History, it also snared the 2017 Kirkus Prize for non-fiction, a National Book Critics Circle Award and was recognized by the New York Times as Notable Book of 2017. The passage of H.B 631 and fight for customary use of Florida beaches provide Davis, should he choose, a timely epilogue. A Supreme Court decision is unavoidable and will affect beaches around the country.

According to legend, Colonel William Travis drew a line in the sand at the Alamo during Texas’ independence bid. Some beachfront owners (BFO) have done the same, but history will not remember their stand as heroic — quite the opposite. A BFO victory will be hollow and Pyrrhic, while a loss will be fitting and proper. Regardless, the litigation will be a time-consuming, expensive distraction.

Early every morning during the summer, I go to the Gulf; it’s not as hot and practically vacant. As contrasted to previous years, I see more stuff left overnight on the beach. It appears, at least from my vantage point, H.B 631 has affected the enforcement of Walton County’s Leave No Trace Behind ordinance, or we could be overwhelmed by jerks, vacay brings the worst out in some people.

To commemorate the anniversary of H.B 631’s July 1 effective date, locals and visitors joined hands in protest at local accesses. During the demonstration, and mirroring "The Wizard of Oz’s" Wicked Witch of the West, a plane circled above with the bizarre message that customary use would end 30A’s legacy. Gaslighting is when someone tries to make you doubt your perception of reality. The plane was gaslighting the community, look for more. Private beaches, not customary use, will hurt South Walton’s vibe. Private beaches will devalue non-beachfront property values, stifle rental demand while harming music, restaurant, and art venues. Our beaches get glowing press reviews, but our amenities make South Walton special, too. Every July 1 as long as H.B 631 remains the law of the land, people will protest on Walton County beaches. Mark your calendar.

You can’t always get what you want but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.