Thankfully the Mayor and City Commissioners of Miami Beach agreed with Surfrider and the local ocean watersports community that enforcing a 1960′s era ordinance was not in the public’s best interest. Read the Miami Hearld article here http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/11/2584452/surfers-beware-miami-beach-enforces.html .
However the issue is not dead and we must work with the City to modernize the laws regarding surfing and other board sports. To get involved in this or other Surfrider initiatives, send a note to email@example.com .
Prior post: On very quick notice, the local saltwater sports community came out for the Surfrider-hosted public meeting to discuss the alarming issue of banned watersports on most of Miami Beach. Thanks to the crowd of concerned, hard-core locals who participated and helped nail our strategy.
Surfrider will communicate the below talk points to the City of Miami Beach Mayor and Commissioners tomorrow at 12:15 pm in the 3rd Floor Commission Chamber at 1700 Convention Center Drive.
YOUR PARTICIPATION is welcome and needed. During the 12:30 Citizen forum session, anyone can have three minutes to speak up to reinforce our points and/or speak your mind about the issue.
Talking Points on Surfing and Stand-Up Paddling Rules on Miami Beach
The recent prohibition of surfboards, stand up paddle boards, and kiteboards has created a huge uproar and has taken away basic rights to beach access.
- The current code is outdated and disregards the growing popularity of many watersports.
a. Surfing and stand up paddling (SUPing) are enjoyed by many residents on Miami Beach. In fact, in recent years the number of surfers and SUPers has increased substantially.
b. A few blocks of beach near Government Cut is not adequate space for those who currently enjoy these activities. This presents an extreme safety hazard.
c. Due to the growing tourism for these sports, it is very important for Miami Beach to have a proactive policy in place that provides sufficient access for surfers and works to protect the safety of surfers and beach patrons in general.
d. US Open of SUP was held on Miami Beach in Sept 2011 with $35,000 in prize money and international participants. Orange Bowl of SUP.
2. The differences in various water sports are important for making decisions about where they are allowed. This is critical for the safety of all water sports enthusiasts.
a. SUPs move slowly , and on flat water do not present a significant hazard to bathers/swimmers. We are not aware of any accidents/harm to bathers caused by an SUP on flat water.
b. It is desirable that kiteboarding be done away from surfers and SUPers – not in the same few block stretch of beach as surfers.
c. A paddled surfboard is not intended as a means of transportation. It is intended to ride waves.
d. It is dangerous to relegate SUPs and kiteboards to “channels” that are used by jet skis and other motorized vessels.
3. We urge the City, in the short term, to clarify which code it is using.
a. The 1993 code (Sec. 82-467, 468, Appendix 1), which seems to have been intended to replace the 1964 code seems to allow for use of “watercraft” outside of restricted swim areas.
b. It seems that, currently, the features of Sec. 82-468 – “Watercraft prohibited in restricted swim areas” are being applied to areas that are not “restricted swim areas” as described in Sec. 82-467 and Appendix 1.
c. Otherwise, we urge the City Manager to exercise the discretion described in Sec. 82-440 and to allow use of surfboards and SUPs in restricted swim areas in addition to zones 1 and 2.
4. In the longer term, the code should be revised to reflect the changes in water sports technology and popularity. This should be done by a committee that involves Surfrider.
a. The input and judgment of experienced waterpersons is needed. Ocean Rescue’s input also needed.
b. The ocean conditions are the major factor in the safety of swimmers, surfers, SUPers, etc.
c. When Miami Beach gets large waves (even waves with face heights of 2 or 3 feet) the conditions are typically quite dangerous for swimmers. So there isn’t a lot of competition between surfers and swimmers for use of the ocean.