Property Rights

Goodwin v. Walton County, Florida

Florida ordinance unconstitutionally silences property owners while taking their property

Under a new Florida law, signed on March 23, 2018, Walton County, Florida, can no longer try to steal free access to private property. County officials had enacted an ordinance banning signs on privately owned beaches, in hopes of allowing the public to trespass on private beaches without having to pay for the use. County officials threatened PLF clients Edward and Delanie Goodwin with large fines for keeping in place two “private property” signs and one small sign saying “If Walton County Wants My Property, It Must Pay For It — U.S. Constitution.” The Goodwins argued that the First Amendment protects their right to post signs on their property, and that the ban left the Goodwins with no reasonable alternative means to alert the beachgoing public to their property rights. The new state law now requires the county to go to court if they want to claim any right for the public to use private property.

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