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Beach Access is a Universal Right protected under the Public Trust Doctrine. It gets a little tricky here in NJ since in addition to the Public Trust Doctrine, we also have “home rule” whereby the state allows the towns to govern their own affairs. Here are a few key court cases regarding beach access in NJ – Cape May Case, Spring Lake Case, Avalon NJ Decision, Sea Bright – Surfrider Club Settlement.
We have taken several towns to court including Deal, NJ for their restrictive ordinances against surfing. Here is the complaint against Deal in that case. DEAL COMPLAINT public trust-surfing And here is a NY Times article from 1994 about how that case was settled.
Governor Christie’s DEP has proposed new rules that take a giant step backwards for beach access and public access to all tidal lands.
DEP’s proposed beach access rules won’t increase oceanfront beach access, but they could make it easier for inaccessible beach towns to get state beach replenishment money.
If our taxes are going to dredge and dump sand on a beach, we should be able to get to that sand. These rules don’t do that.
The essence of the state’s proposal is to give towns more power to make decisions about access. In the handful of towns where access is already difficult, we fear it could get worse if the towns are calling the shots. And a spot whee you access a bay or river could be threatened by these new rules too.
The proposed rules are voluntary for the towns to comply with and the state would have no way to make the towns comply. This will not work. This will not increase access.
Take a minute to listen to John Weber, Surfriders’s Northeast Regional Manager, answer some common questions about beach fees and access.
Beach Access is Under Attack in NJ – Tell Governor Christie that you want more beach access, not less.
Learn more about Beach Access