The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Walton County v. Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc., where novel questions arose concerning sea level rise and constitutional property rights of beachfront landowners. In Florida, the state government owns in trust, all beach property below the mean high tide water line, while beachfront landowners own the rights to any land above the mean high tide water line. The line shifts along with beachfront as the beach expands and contracts. In this Florida case, landowners challenge a state statute, which precludes the ocean property line from shifting in favor of the private landowner, even in situations where the state rebuilds an eroded beach. Private owners claim that refusal to shift the mean high tide water line effectively takes away their private ownership rights. This article discusses the constitutional takings issues presented by Walton County, including past Supreme Court takings decisions, and a discussion of pertinent Florida law. Finally, the article concludes with an overview of the legal issues raised by this case.
John R. Nolon, Rising Tides--Changing Title: Court to Mull Takings Issue, New York Law Journal, Aug. 19, 2009, at 5.