Flip flop territoriality: A participatory exploration of property rights tension across Florida's beaches

Authors: Jocelyn Evans, University of West Florida, John Morgan*, University of West Florida, Elizabeth Barrett, University of West Florida
Topics: Legal Geography, Urban Geography, Cartography
Keywords: participatory mapping, property rights, public access
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With an increasingly developed shoreline, the question of “Who owns the beaches?” becomes more relevant and pressing. The overall objective of this project is to utilize the lens of territoriality and field-based participant cartographic mapping to understand better the ways in which the developed shoreline is territorialized. Territorial tension is continually playing out along developed shorelines with spatial nuances specific to the boundary delineations, physical geography, and demand/preference for access to coastal amenities. For instance, in 2018 the passage of Florida’s House Bill 631: “Possession of Real Property” in Florida. This bill states that “Authorizes person with [a] superior right to possession of the real property to recover possession by ejectment” is focused on "...customary use on... (Florida's) beach. (The Florida Senate)"

This presentation will cover preliminary results of a sketch mapping exercise carried out by an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty where we visited a number of Florida beaches and literally mapped the accessibility from the vantage of the public. Conversely, this mapping exercise offers an implicit view of private property owners' access to Florida's beaches. Specifically, we marked which areas felt accessible and which areas did not according to 7 different metrics: physical safety, physical comfortability/practicality, trespassing signage, wildlife signage, physical barriers, cultural barriers, and cleanliness. We traveled along the length of the beaches and used numbers to represent each metric. Assuming a strong measure of interrater reliability our results provide an explicit study of the tension that is addressed in Florida’s House Bill 631.

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