LETTER: It's time to reclaim our beaches

Staff Writer
Northwest Florida Daily News
Northwest Florida Daily News

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When did we go from being a family-friendly beach destination to a place where families who don't get to the beach by 7 a.m. can't see the beautiful emerald Gulf waters because of the line of beach chairs and umbrellas set up in front of them by beach service vendors?

A few vendors have figured out how to share the beach with people who bring their own umbrellas, for example by putting the set-ups in a deep horseshoe rather than a straight line and leaving a large open area in the middle. Since the others won't follow their lead, the time has come for some much-needed regulation.

Many of those chairs and umbrellas go unoccupied much of the day. One obvious solution would be for the beach services to initially set up only a small number of umbrellas and add more as those become occupied.

A few (very few) of the beach services don't open the umbrellas until someone rents them, greatly improving the view for everyone. Let's have all beach services keep unoccupied umbrellas closed.

Most importantly, the beach services should do what other beachgoers do: Spread out, rather than monopolizing the shoreline with miles on end of closely spaced set-ups. Some of the umbrellas are so close together that it's hard to walk between them to get to the water.

Which brings me to another issue. In this time of COVID, social distancing is not an option for people who want to rent beach set-ups because they're so close together.

COVID-19, however, will end eventually.

The bigger issue is this: Do we really want only people willing to pay up to $50 a day for a beach set-up to have access to the gorgeous view?

Chris Lanoue, Destin