A couple weeks ago the Panama City Beach City Council passed an ordinance dubbed Leave No Trace that prohibits beach goers from leaving personal property on the beach overnight. Also known as the Tent Ordinance, the initial goal was to eliminate the left over tent skeletons that sometimes seem to pollute our shimmering white sands.
What the ordinance includes.
Specifically, the ordinance states that personal property left on the beach between the hours of 9 pm and 5 am will be considered abandoned and will be disposed of. Some of these items may include tents, chairs, coolers, towels, etc.
On public beaches or with the upland landowner’s permission, guests may store personal property overnight at the Toe of the Dune at their own risk.
The Toe of the Dune is the area of the beach immediately seaward of the dune and beach vegetation. To be specific, it is the area of the beach that is furthest from the water that is not in a sand dune or beach access point.
Items left at the Toe of the Dune will not be removed by the contractor. However, the owners of the personal property storing items at the Toe of the Dune, do so at their own risk. The County, City, TDC and its beach maintenance contractor, do not assume any liability for any items left on the beach after 9:00 pm.
When does the ordinance take effect?
The ordinance is in effect now. However, it’s not being enforced until Sunday, July 8, 2012. Local officials and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are getting the program prepared and beginning an awareness campaign so no one’s caught off guard.
How will the program work?
Each evening the beach maintenance contractor will travel the length of the beach and remove any items from the beach that are in violation of this ordinance.
The contractor may issue courtesy warnings for items left on the beach as they begin the implementation. When a courtesy warning is issued the material will be tagged informing the owner of the ordinance and the intent to remove the item the following evening if it is not removed.
However, officials are saying these warnings are a courtesy and that the contractor may remove any item from the beach whether or not a prior warning has been issued.
The release states that there may be times and circumstances that the contractor is unable to remove items from the entire length of the beach in a single evening. This inability to fully enforce the ordinance will not change or prevent the contractor from removing the items the next evening without notice.