Mrs. Baxley Austell and daughter Lavonia, visiting from Tallapoosa, GA, were arrested, handcuffed and taken away shortly after this photo was taken and charged with criminal trespass and the unlawful taking of sea shells from a private beach.
Said one resident as workers installed a chain link fence across the entrance to the Siesta Key beach parking lot, "We knew this is the direction the commissoners were headed when they failed to take any action regarding signs, barriers, rabid pit bulls and other deterrents designed to keep us beachgoers from walking on sand that is being claimed by those with property rights that, according to the owners, stretch out to the 15-mile limit where the waters then become Federal property."
"I guess the good news is that the property owners are at least putting up signs warning the public about the guard dogs they have patrolling the beach now."
Commented one unidentified commissioner, "You know the old real estate saying that goes, 'Beachfront property is expensive because God's not making any more of it?' When we decided to sell off this public beach, I felt a little like God. And it felt good!"
"We need our beaches to remain a draw for the two economic engines that drive this county," the commissioner continued, "namely, the tourists and the people with money. Without them, we'd be just another backwater blip on the map, instead of being the Cultural Capital of the West Coast."
Sarasota is apparently not the only municipality with beach access that has decided to turn a profit from selling formerly-public land. North along the Suncoast, these signs greeted drivers who tried to drive across the bridges at the north and south ends of Longboat Key.
The Town Commission of Longboat Key approved the revised expansion plan of the Longboat Key Club & Resort Islandside to take over the entire island. Residents were shocked to find eviction notices being affixed to their front doors this morning as the Key Police Dept. began the odious chore of explaining to homeowners that their property had been seized during the night by virtue of eminent domain and that, as of 2:30am this morning, they were trespassing on private property belonging to the Longboat Key Club.
When contacted, Longboat officials again cited economic needs. "When we found out that Sarasota was selling its public beaches, we went to the Longboat Key Club and offered them an expansion of their expansion plans. We understand that they intend to petition the state to change the name of the island itself to 'Longboat Key Club.'"
Private citizens up and down the Suncoast were outraged that their governments had acted so brazenly, essentially barring ordinary citizens from accessing the beaches. Said one commissioner, "Don't think for one minute that we're not sensitive to the needs of the taxpayers. It's just that we're more sensitive to our needs. We're hoping that one or more of those condominiums on the beach will operate some small smidgen of sand as a pay beach or offer discounted rates to locals, at least during the off season."
A proposal is already underway by the current and future beachfront property owners to petition the county, the state and the federal governments to pay for an extensive beach renourishment program. Said one condominium owner, "I'm a taxpayer. I'm entitled to more beach. I just don't want those barges and pipes screwing up my view while they're doing it though. And no noise, either!"
One local Point of Rocks resident was seen installing these signs in the sand along her stretch of paradise.