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Walton County beach vending permit costs go up, suspension rules outlined for violators

Jim Thompson
Northwest Florida Daily News

SANTA ROSA BEACH — Walton County commissioners have unanimously approved a "matrix" detailing the types and numbers of violations of the county's beach activities ordinances that will be allowed to beach vendors before they face suspension of their county-issued permits.

There are a number of private vendors working along the beaches of South Walton who offer rental of beach chairs, umbrellas and other amenities, along with bonfires and other services.

Umbrellas and people line the beach front near the Whale's Tail Beach Bar in Grill in South Walton County.

Concerns about their activities — most notably the placement of chairs and umbrellas along the county's beaches — were a focus of public comment during a comprehensive county review of the beach activities ordinance following last year's tourist season. The reviews are conducted each year.

More:Vendor boxes, set-ups, tents addressed at beach ordinance workshop

At Tuesday's meeting where commissioners considered changes to the ordinance, they also gave their approval to a suspension matrix presented by Tony Cornman, the county's code compliance director.

The number of violations allowed under the matrix decrease with the severity of the violation.

For example, it will take only a single violation of beach activities ordinance provisions regarding disorderly conduct on the beach, reckless driving on the beach, vending without a permit, or moving signs designating approved vendor zones, for a vendor to face permit suspension proceedings.

Vendors will be allowed two violations of some ordinance provisions, including vending on private property without the owner's permission, failing to meet liability insurance requirements and — for water sports vendors — failing to maintain certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, before facing permit suspension.

Most of the issues listed in the matrix will require three violations before suspension proceedings can begin. Those violations include not having the required permit for a bonfire, having glass on the beach, littering on the beach or failing to maintain a corridor wide enough for emergency vehicles to pass through.

But even outside of those sanctions, individual violations include fines, such as the $500 fine for vending without a permit.

More:Final hearing scheduled in Walton County beach vending fees and double-red flag fines

Any vendor who receives three permit suspensions within the year for which the permit is issued will have all of their permits revoked for the remainder of the year. Also, any vendor who operates with a suspended or revoked permit will have all of their permits revoked for the following year.

In other vendor-related action Tuesday, commissioners substantially increased vendor permit fees. Beach chair vendors will pay $1,000 for a permit for their first location, up from $750, with permits for each additional location rising from the current $50 to $100.

The same increase will be applied to personal watercraft vendors. In addition, those vendors will be assessed a $100 fee for each watercraft they offer for rent, up from the current $50 charge.

Parasail operators' permit fees will increase by $250, from $750 to $1,000, but the current $1,000 charge for each additional location will remain the same.