Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Niels West


The decline in the availability of public beach access is hypothesized to be a function of the lack of local government implementation of a state-wide comprehensive plan on beach access. From this general thesis several sub-hypotheses will be tested. To be analyzed are the relationships among the three levels of government; state and federal, state and local, and federal and local governments.

Considering the stated an implied objectives of providing beach access to the population, this problem is relevant socially, economically, and environmentally. This study attempts to analyze the current inefficiencies in the system from a legal, political, socioeconomic, and legislative perspective. Proposals for making the system more efficient will be offered.

The case study approach was the principal method used to examine the problems associated with public beach access. Information was collected from a series of interviews with county commissioners, state, local and federal planning agencies, town managers, private consultants and engineers, and lawyers involved with pending litigation on public beach access.

The 1985 Beach Needs Assessment Study found that the 14.7 miles of additional beachfront is needed to meet the present demand of Palm Beach County’s 350,000 resident and tourist populations. There is presently 4.0 miles of undeveloped beachfront, of the 45 miles of shoreline in Palm Beach County.

The problems relating to beach access are multi-faceted. Four of these include; the fragmentation of authority of both state and local governments, the local level, and the need for a state-wide comprehensive plan.

The recommendations offered to address the inefficiencies resulting in a lack of public beach access agencies associated with beach access into one agency, easing tax and liability burdens of littoral owners if easements are dedicated, initiating more funding programs, and improving design and guideline standards of public beach access.



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