Public Beach Access up for a Vote

By: Kavontae Smalls Email
By: Kavontae Smalls Email

Panama City Beach -- There are about 50 public beach access points along Panama City Beach, but the future of one of them may be up for grabs during April’s Panama City Beach elections.

Imagine your home sandwiched in between two public beach access points. The owner of a house on Orleander Street in Panama City Beach finds herself in that position and wants one of the public beach access points running parallel to her home shut down.

The property owner does not live at the site, but rents it out to guests. When she contacted Panama City Beach City Manager, Richard Jackson about closing down Beach Access 45, he told her the city cannot simply close a public access point.

“Our charter does not allow the city council to simply abandon an easement” said Richard Jackson, Panama City Beach City Manager.

Since 1982, the public has been allowed to vote on a referendum, on whether or not to close public beach access points.

“The council is in a position where they can either support it or speak against it, it’s just something the people get to look at and form their own opinion and vote on it” said Jackson.

For beach goers using the access points near the home, access point 44 seem to get more attention than access point 45.

“I do think there seems to be too many [beach access points] around their home, but this one seems to be a major one, I’ve sued it the entire Spring Break” said Jessica Strong, beach goer.
“Obviously there’s not too much difference as far as distance between them so clearly not huge deal in this particular location” said Brian Bell, beach goer.

Chris Gallo is renting the property for the week. He says since he has been staying there, he noticed one side definitely gets more foot traffic.

“Staying here for the week, I’ve noticed that 44 is more advertised and obviously used more than 45” said Gallo.

On April 17, voters get to decide whether or not beach access 45 remains open, and only if they decide to close it, can the Panama City Beach City Council take action.

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