Can Anyone Justify The Jersey Supreme Court's Ruling Making Private Beaches Public?

Apparenty, the assault on private property owner’s rights & ‘residents-only’ policies continues. It’s a trend I notice to be more prevalent in the Northeastern US.First, 2001’s state supreme court ruling that Greenwich, Connecticut’s Residents Only beach policy was unconstitutional. Followed by present day complaints about its exorbitant out-of-towner fees (Or would that be generous resident discounts?)

Of course, the recent US Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Kelo vs New London is still stuck in a lot of people’s craw. (As a small, pit-like aside, I’m still hoping Logan Darrow Clements is able to get Weare, NH to kick Souter’s ass to the curb).

Now today, we have a New Jersey Court ruling that says Private N.J. beaches are open to all

The first 3 things I noticed in that report:
Who knew there’s a special interest group that calls themselves 'Beach-Access Advocates ’

The New Jersey Court were able to find language in its State’s Constitution that says $3 for a daily beach pass a day is a fair market price. Legislate much?

This ruling could really have some slippery slope implications. Why beaches & not golf clubs or country clubs - for starters. (Disclaimer: IANAE[litist])I guess it’s time to sublet the cabana in Cape May, cancel my memebership at the Country Club - pack up the beach chairs, sunblock, Grey Poupon & Big Bertha drivers and fly on down to St. Thomas.

Basically, this is a new wrinkle, maybe not even that much of a wrinkle, in an old dispute over beach access. Basically, rich people who can afford beachfront homes and membership in private clubs claim the beach as their property, and by restricting access to the beach they try to make that claim stick. They don’t care for all the dirty, unwashed proles who can only afford to go to the beach for a single day in the sun cluttering up “their” sand and absorbing all “their” sunlight.

The courts have called “bullshit” on that time after time. I’m all with the courts on this one, John.

That’s not how I read the article. This passage:

seems to suggest that the courts only told the Department of Environmental Protection to set a fair price, and that the DEP then determined what that price was. It doesn’t look like the courts had any input on what the final figure was.

I’m as pro-property as they come, but only a zealot would deny a state interest in the shoreline. Issues of erosion, public safety, recreation, wildlife management, national defense - the list is pretty long.

The actual seashore (or rivershore) thus becomes a legitimate use, in most cases, of eminent domain, and will get no complaint from me. As long as the taking is for a legitimate public good, and is compensated for, it may proceed.

Replace the word ‘beach’, with ‘gated community pool’ - do you still have the same sentiment? Not a strawman, just pointing out that argument is emotional populism Nothing wrong with it, it just makes me uneasy if powerful judges feel the same way).

I’ll cede the fine point, but also draw attention to this sentence

It sound to me, at a minimum, that private property rights are being trumped in the name of ‘public resources’

The entire shoreline? North to south, east to west, foam to concrete? Of course the state has an interest in the shoreline, quite similar to the way they protect wetlands and watersheds. The point is, the Atlantic Beach Club owns a small stretch of beach. If they have no right to make a profit from the land because of location, why are fish hatcheries, beachfront condo developers, farmers, landlords, business owners, etc. allowed to do so? The club’s rules were, in my opinion, rather draconian: “Anyone attempting to use, enter upon or cross over club property for any reason without club permission or who is not in possession of a valid tag and authorized to use such tag will be subject to prosecution.” But they didn’t post a sign reading: Trespassers will be shot.

Did the community build the pool? Did they build the ocean and the beach? Do you see a difference?

NO, Because this is a matter of ownership - not venue. Trees and grass aren’t constructed. What do you say we go crash the Hienmighty Golf Club and play a round?

Well, sure, they’re allowed to profit from their location to the extent that it is legal to do so. And the state has a say in how that is legal.

Forbidding people from crossing a beach wouldn’t be legal here.

The hell they aren’t. When’s the last time you found a wild putting green?

It’s possible that they did. Lots of folks will cart in truckloads of sand to improve their beach. If the people in this instance did so, would it make a difference in your opinion? How much must a landowner invest in the beach before they can regain control over it?

All right, the hell with the links. What do you say we climb that estate’s gate over there & go for a dip in their large lake?

The land on a golf course is not a public resource. The courts have ruled that beaches and the shoreline are a public resource. Beachfront condo developers build on the land behind the dunes. But for reasons mentioned above the dunes to the water are considered public.

Tell you what, tell these guys that they should pack and go home:

You shouldn’t be able to own the beach any more than you should be able to fence off parts of a river. Some things should be available to all. The beach is one of those things. I don’t want to be walking happily along the beach on a beautiful summer’s day and run into some fucking cranky ass old man chasing me off with a shotgun for tresspasing on his property.

An important fact here that makes this case different from some of the other examples here is that under common law, all tidal waters are public land and cannot be privately owned or controlled. And that means you cannot prohibit access to them by fencing off the dry beach that is adjacent to it. This is not new law here. This is the result of centuries-old doctrine – the shoreline must be open to the public.

We don’t have to fire them, just put them on an extended vacation here. But someone better warn the proprietor’s to cease earning a profilt.

Here’s the thing, though: treating the beach different is hardly new. The surf-to-sand statement is old, old law.

There has to be a line somewhere. What if I want to sail a boat past your beach? If I’m 10 miles away? 5 miles? 1 mile? 20 yards? what if I want to swim by? There are no private waters off the coasts. The courts needed to draw a line somewhere to decide where property rights end, and they drew it where the sand becomes wet.

Bushkill Falls (linked above) is a privately owned waterfall. They charge $9 admission and make a few bucks at their souveneir and snack stands. Unless I’m misunderstanding you, they should be forced to either (a) operate at a zero gain - or (b) turn their property over to the state of PA.

Many people own property with rivers running through them and own the land right up to the banks of the river. I just don’t see your point.

I’d like to second Ascenray’s point. This is not a typical property-rights issue, it’s an issue of the common law going back a long time, particularly for states in the Northeast (if you call Jersey the Northeast). Here in Massachusetts, they’ve been arguing about this since the 17th century, and it’s an issue complicated by the fact that the shorefront encompasses many sorts of things – not just beaches, but tidal flats, marshes, inlets, filled land, breakwaters, etc., etc. See this site if you have an appetite for how complicated this issue can be.

A note: Is this unconstitutional as regards the state constitution or the federal one? There’s a difference, as the language sometimes is much more inclusive in the state.